Spain sees 19,851 cases, regions seek state of alarm
Spain registered 19,851 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the second-highest daily jump yet, as several regions tightened restrictions and asked the government to declare a state of emergency so they can take even stricter measures.
More than 170,000 new infections have been reported in the last two weeks and much of the country now finds itself in a situation of "extreme risk," according to a newly released government alert system.
Active COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped by nearly 500 to 14,539 over the last day and the Health Ministry reported 231 more deaths.
To try to flatten the curve, a number of Spain's regional governments announced a slew of new measures and petitioned the central government to declare a state of emergency to provide a legal backdrop for more drastic action.
Leaders of the Basque Country, Navarra, Murcia, Extremadura, Asturias and La Rioja all said on Friday that they would ask the Spanish government to declare a state of emergency so that they could legally enforce measures like curfews.
As it stands, local courts would likely knock down that measure, although Valencia and Murcia have already announced they will try to enforce local curfews without waiting for the central government to make a move.
According to local press, the Spanish government could organize an emergency meeting within days or hours to declare a state of emergency now that political support is clear.
In the capital Madrid, where a much-contested local state of emergency will expire on Saturday, the regional government announced that all social gatherings will be banned between midnight and 6 a.m. and, although the confinement of the entire capital city will be lifted, the hardest-hit areas of the capital region will be cordoned off.
The Asturias region, which in the summer was considered an oasis after going nearly a month without detecting any infections, also announced that its three largest cities will be cordoned off and that bars will shut down at 11 p.m.
On Friday, the Spanish military began setting up a field hospital in the northern region's most populous city.
Spain's state of emergency ended in late June, after it served to bring down contagions to very low levels. Yet almost the moment it was lifted and Spain returned to the so-called new normal, new infections accelerated almost unremittingly.