The week of March 9, 2020 was the first that it was recognized that Covid-19 was transmitted in the community and the state of alarm was decreed.

A health worker cares for a Covid-19 patient.

At two in the morning on Sunday, March 8, 2020, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appeared on television to announce the closure of the Lombardy region and fourteen other Italian provinces.

The total number of cases detected was close to 5,000 throughout the country and the deaths numbered in the dozens. The chaos that followed the announcement was tremendousNo one knew when the closure would come into effect. Until four in the morning, Conte did not sign the decree and it was not published until Monday the 9th.

In between, train stations, airports and highways they were filled with people trying to flee from Milan, without the carabinieri they knew very well whether they should prevent it or not.

That same Sunday, March 8, in Spain several events were held to celebrate International Women’s Day. In addition, preparations for the Faults in Valencia and for the Holy Week in much of the country.

Hundreds of meetings of different sports disciplines had also been scheduled and the VOX political party had decided to hold in the Vistalegre Palace a rally.

Javier Ortega-Smith attended him along with 10,000 other followers and leaders. Ortega-Smith was not feeling well, but, well, what?who has not had a flu in winter? With a handkerchief in his hand and a decomposed gesture, he distributed greetings and hugs like a good politician. At his side, the leader of the formation, Santiago Abascal.

Ortega-Smith had been in northern Italy about three weeks earlier. The same north of Italy that was closed that Sunday. The previous week he had been in Vitoria on a pre-electoral campaign for the regional elections that were to be held in the Basque Country on April 5. Vitoria had been, together with Haro, the first focus of community transmission in Spain.

The common bond was a burial and subsequent funeral on February 24 to which, supposedly, a couple from Italy had attended. At this funeral, held in the Basque capital, residents of the Riojan city attended en masse. Within days, up to 40 of them were in quarantine while the isolation of the entire municipality was ordered.

Despite evidence of community transmission, no one suspended any of the events scheduled for the afternoon. Not the demonstrations in much of the country, not the football or basketball games, not the holiday preparations or anything. What was seen that Sunday afternoon was a celebration of life in the face of the myth of the coronavirus with a lot of recollection.

Valencia, who had played in Milan on February 19 against Atalanta, were preparing for the second leg of the Champions League after having played on Friday the 6th against Alavés at the Mendizorroza field, in Vitoria. Betis, who had played against Valencia the previous week at a crowded Mestalla, hosted Real Madrid at night in what would ultimately be the last open-door game of the championship.

Fernando Simon

On Monday, March 9, Spain reached 673 infected and they were registered seven new deaths in a single day, “All of them from patients of advanced age and with previous pathologies”, as was repeated over and over again at that time.

Asked at a press conference, Fernando Simón insisted that, beyond the outbreaks of Haro and Vitoria, there were no reasons for special alarm. Both were also under control.

To the statement of the chief epidemiologist of the CCAES that it was absurd to close schoolsMadrid responded that evening by announcing its closure for two weeks starting on Wednesday 11. From 288 it went to 542 positives in a single day in the capital. The Valdemoro hospital joined the Torrejón hospital as a source of transmission after the outbreak in a local residence.

By then coronavirus alarm was right-wing and to defend that it was not so bad and it was not worth limiting the economy or the movements was left-wing. Vitoria joined the Madrid decision immediately.

In Castilla La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page warned against those who “want to spend two weeks on vacation.” In Valencia, the eighth was held without problems mascletá of the fallero cycle. The next day, Tuesday, March 10, the novena would be held, also in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, to the applause of those gathered there. Hours later, the cancellation of the Fallas was announced on the advice of “health experts”. Losses were immediately estimated at € 700 million.

That same Tuesday, Pedro Sánchez, with an air between contrite and solemn, announced at a press conference a package of measures to help companies in the face of the possible effects of the coronavirus.

The possibility of a recession was not yet contemplated, but rather a growth slowdown. At a press conference, Simón announced a small decrease in the number of cases detected (418 compared to 634 the day before) although with a total of 35 deaths, more than half in the last twenty-four hours.

I was following the containment scenario. No further action would be required. In the best of cases, Simón assured, the epidemic would be controlled in two months. At worst, in five. Hours after the press conference, the positive of Javier Ortega-Smith would be known. Although the contagion was immediately linked to his stay in Italy, we now know that it is highly unlikely that he had incubated the virus for that long. Vitoria seems like a more sensible option. Perhaps, directly, Madrid.

At night, Italy announced its total closure. Restricted mobility throughout the country except for work and in those essential professions. The WHO declared the global pandemic due to coronavirus when realizing that it was out of control in half the world.

Fernando Simón regretted “the pressure” that was put on the Ministry to take more measures but insisted on wait “at least two weeks” to see if the ones already taken would work.

“If we find that this is enough, we will not have to limit transport,” he said at a press conference. In the early hours of Wednesday through Thursday, the Utah Jazz announced the positive of their players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. The NBA was immediately suspended. It would not be resumed until August in a “bubble” set up at DisneyWorld.


On Thursday, March 12, the rumor of a complete closure in Madrid. The authorities immediately denied it. It was not necessary and President Isabel Díaz-Ayuso made it clear that “she was not going to allow it.” We learned to cough into our elbows and to wash our hands a lot. Social networks were filled with messages in English such as “stay at home”.

Fear turned into panic: 2,950 cases detected (almost a third only in 24 hours), 84 deaths, 190 patients in critical condition. In the afternoon, the Generalitat announced the closure of the town of Igualada (70,000 inhabitants) before the inability to control virus transmission. The images of the Mossos d’Esquadra cutting the roads and the nurses in “astronaut” suits taking little girls to the hospital filled the newscasts.

That same Thursday, Santiago Abascal and Macarena Olona would also test positive. In a few hours, the ministers Irene Montero and Carolina Darías. The two, obviously, had participated in the demonstration in Madrid the previous Sunday, just four days before.

The vice president, Pablo Iglesias, was quarantined, as well as the entire VOX parliamentary group. Former minister Ana Pastor also announced her positive. On the first day without classes in Madrid, it was learned that the rest of the autonomous communities joined the measure, including, of course, Castilla La Mancha.

The IBEX reacted by falling 14%, the hardest descent in its entire history. Real Madrid had to close Valdebebas due to the positive of Trey Thompkins, a player in the basketball section, while the LFP announced the postponement of the next two league days. It was necessary to avoid at all costs soulless images of empty fields that we had seen for two weeks in Italy.

Thus we come to Friday, March 13. The data from the morning press conference were solemnly bad: more than 1,000 infected in just 24 hours. 120 deceased. 272 patients in critical condition, with the first alarm signals activated in the Madrid health sector.

Precisely in the capital, the closure of the terraces was announced and the one inside the bars was recommended. We didn’t know about aerosols. Practically no one wore a mask because it was a sign of scaremongering and it was “selfish”.

The meter of separation became two meters without distinguishing between exterior and interior. Although on Thursday afternoon, Sánchez had ruled out the immediate application of the state of alarm for Madrid, the rumor was still active.

With New York in a chaotic situation, Donald Trump, reluctant to acknowledge the severity of the pandemic, was forced to declare a state of national emergency in the United States.

The Episcopal Conference issued a statement inviting the total suppression of Holy Week processions. ICUs began to run out of respirators. The residences became mousetraps from which thousands of people never managed to get out.

The non-essential shops closed in Madrid and Galicia while Quim Torra asked the government to shut down Catalonia and the Igualada outbreak was still completely out of control. Faced with the frantic progression of events, Pedro Sánchez had no choice but to address citizens on television.

“We may reach the 10,000 affected next week,” the president began by saying, without knowing that they were already many more who had actually contracted the virus without having passed a test because the tests were very few and were restricted to very clear cases.

He then announced the convocation of a new extraordinary Council of Ministers for Saturday, March 14, the third in a week. In it, he announced, a state of alarm would be declared for the entire country. Thus began the worst of a tragedy that has been with us for a year. The year of three million positives and 70,000 deaths. Or more. We still haven’t been able to agree on that.