Numbers of the week: May 23, 2020

. May 23, 2020
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This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week’s topics: the much-anticipated Bolsonaro cabinet meeting video, Covid-19 — the cases and deaths update, billions boosting the coronavirus budget, Enem postponed, emergency salary extended, a six-day weekend to avoid lockdown, fake news Covid-19 info winning the battle on YouTube, revenue drop and workforce cut on major hospitals, more state governors test positive. And more.

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37 expletives

The video recording of a now-infamous April 22 cabinet meeting was made public on Friday. The footage — riddled with profanities — gave the public an explicit depiction of Bolsonarism. The Environment minister said the government had a golden opportunity, with the press focusing on the pandemic, to deregulate land use, the Education minister called for the arrest of Supreme Court Justices, and the president lamented the fact that Brazilians are not armed to defy governors. 

Brazil’s leading TV station, Globo, counted 37 expletives said during the meeting — 29 by President Bolsonaro alone. You can read editor-in-chief Gustavo Ribeiro’s analysis of the meeting here.

21,048 deaths, 330,890 cases

According to the latest coronavirus update published by the Health Ministry,

Brazil has surpassed Russia in total Covid-19 cases and is now the country with the second-highest number of infections in the world — only the U.S has recorded more. This Friday, Brazil recorded 20,803 new cases, taking the overall total to 330,890. Another 1,001 deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll up to 21,048.&nbsp;</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2487272" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2487435" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 343 billion for Covid-19</h2> <p>The Brazilian Congress <a href="">authorized</a> the federal government to increase the Covid-19 budget by BRL 343.6 billion. According to Brazilian fiscal responsibility laws, the government could not raise public spending before being greenlit by lawmakers. The money will be distributed to all ministries, as well as state and municipal governments. The lion’s share, however, will go to the Economy Ministry (BRL 228.9 billion), while states and municipalities will have BRL 403.2 million to share among themselves. The proposal will now be sanctioned by President Bolsonaro.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>5,530 tests per day</h2> <p>Researchers at São Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital have developed, in the space of just two months, a genetic test to diagnose Covid-19. It is the first in the world to use next-generation sequencing (NGS), a flagship technology that makes large-scale whole-genome sequencing accessible. The hospital expects to expand its test-processing capacity from 2,200 to 5,530 tests per day. We explain the breakthrough in detail on our <a href="">May 22 Daily Briefing</a> (for premium subscribers).</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>30- and 60-day delays</h2> <p>The Education Ministry finally decided to postpone Brazil’s National University Entrance Exam (Enem) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic after mounting pressure led the Senate to <a href="">push forward a bill</a> postponing the exam. Now, both the in-person and online versions of the test will take place within 30 to 60 days after the original dates — November 1 and 8 for the former, and November 22 and 29 for the latter.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 200 for 3 months</h2> <p>Economy Minister Paulo Guedes is reportedly considering extending the emergency aid paid out to informal workers by another two months, but reducing the installments to BRL 200 — one-third of the current BRL 600 payment. “What does society prefer, one month [receiving] BRL 600, or three with BRL 200? That’s the kind of calculation we are doing. We may extend it. But do we have money to extend it at BRL 600 [per month]? I don’t think so,” said Mr. Guedes. Initially, the economic team had proposed to pay BRL 200 per month to informal workers that had their incomes by the pandemic, but Congress increased it to BRL 600, including a double payment for single mothers.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>3 times more eyeballs&nbsp;</h2> <p>According to a study entitled “Contaminated Science,” Brazilians watch over three times more YouTube videos containing <a href="">Covid-19 misinformation</a> than content from reliable sources. The study focused on the <a href="">spread of falsehoods</a> concerning the pandemic and was a joint effort by multiple institutions, such as the University of São Paulo’s Health Law Studies and Research Center. Videos with a high production value can persuade people and researchers, regardless of their misleading content. Meanwhile, the <a href="">Brazilian Health Ministry’s official YouTube channel</a> has just 235,000 followers.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>6-day weekend</h2> <p>To encourage social isolation, the São Paulo politicians passed a bill which creates a 6-day ‘weekend,’ in an attempt to avoid a full-scale lockdown in Brazil’s most-populated city, as the local healthcare system nears collapse. It transfers two public holidays — Corpus Christi (June 11) and Black Consciousness Day (November 20) to this last week’s Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be an optional holiday for companies. However, São Paulo residents seem to have ignored the meaning of social isolation.&nbsp;</p> <p>After the unexpected “vacation” was announced <a href="">people flocked to the beach</a>, generating traffic jams. Meanwhile, statewide social isolation rates remained at 49 percent between Wednesday and Friday. In the city of São Paulo, there was a slight bump to 52 percent on Friday — but below the 55-to-58-percent range seen during weekends.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>2 governors test positive&nbsp;</h2> <p>During the week, the number of Brazilian state governors who have contracted the coronavirus increased from three to five. Both Paulo Câmara, from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, and Antonio Denarium, from the northern state of Roraima, announced on Instagram that they had tested positive for Covid-19. Wilson Witzel (Rio de Janeiro), Helder Barbalho (Pará), and Renan Filho (Alagoas) also tested positive.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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