Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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“You Are Not Alone”: King, Clergy, Artists Offer Hope as Västerbotten Mourns First Coronavirus Death

• 126 total infections confirmed; 24 in the hospital, eight in Umeå intensive care • Umeå's “Quarantine Art” balms public’s fears and loneliness during pandemic • Pincho’s manager Peter Haghjoo donates three months of meals to city’s poorest • Umeå Green Party backs plan for restaurants to provide free lunches to high schoolers • Jump trampoline hall in Ersboda announces bankruptcy
  • 126 total infections confirmed; 24 in the hospital, eight in Umeå intensive care
  • Umeå’s “Quarantine Art” balms public’s fears and loneliness during pandemic
  • Pincho’s manager Peter Haghjoo donates three months of meals to city’s poorest
  • Umeå Green Party backs plan for restaurants to provide free lunches to high schoolers
  • Jump trampoline hall in Ersboda announces bankruptcy

ÅLIDHEM – An 80-year-old man died in Skellefteå Hospital today due to complications from coronavirus, Västerbotten officials said this afternoon, making this the first death in the region due to the pandemic sweeping through Sweden and the globe. The man had pre-existing health conditions and had been under isolation before his death.

When announcing his death, officials pointed out that the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are those who become sickest from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“It is important that we do everything we can to protect these groups from being infected,” said infectious diseases specialist Gunilla Persson. “Take care of each other, especially old persons, avoiding physical visits and trips. Instead, make the phone call you have long intended, or connect by videochat.”

“Our thoughts go out to the person’s family and friends,” she said.

Regional officials also said today that Västerbotten now has 126 total confirmed infections, with 24 patients in the hospital, and 10 in intensive care. Eight of those in intensive care are at Umeå University Hospital, according to national statistics.

Furthermore, Västerbottens-Kuriren reported this afternoon that a pre-school staff member in Umeå tested positive for coronavirus. A city official told the paper that schools would be using “extra vigilance” to check for symptoms of infection among both workers and children.

Church of Sweden Umeå Hospital Chaplain Gustav Ericsson

Church of Sweden Priest and Umeå University Hospital Chaplain Gustav Ericsson wrote to Umeå Today with words of solace, intended for the people of Umeå, now that death from coronavirus is geographically near. “You are not alone. You are embraced by the love of many others. And you are embraced by the love of God, now and always,” he said. “May we come together and rise to this challenge as one human family, and let us lean into that light.”

Umeå Today has reached out to leaders of the city’s Muslim community, and is expecting a response by tomorrow.

Yesterday evening, King Carl XVI Gustaf spoke to the nation in a rare televised speech, with words of encouragement in the face of the coronavirus crisis. “Today,” he said “I am thinking especially of all the children in our country who are now at risk of losing grandparents. Of missing out on the security and wisdom they can offer.”

“For their sake, we must act responsibly and selflessly. Everyone in our country has this obligation,” he continued. “Did I think about other people? Or did I put myself first? We will have to live with the choices we make today, for a long time to come.”

“The journey is long and arduous,” he said. “But in the end, light triumphs over darkness, and we will be able to feel hope again.”

“And though it might be hard, remember: you are not alone,” he concluded, in the same words as the pastor.

The full official English translation of the king’s speech can be found on the Royal Family’s website.

A group of artists, three of whom are based in Umeå, is using painting and photography to help create imagery with humor and compassion to reflect the community’s feelings during the pandemic. Karanatänkonst — “quarantine art” — started posting on Instagram about two weeks ago, with the intention of “encouraging art as a peaceful tool for change both on a personal and social level,” according to one of the artists who goes by the name Sanna. “We are adapting the project to the current situation,” Sanna said.

“Quarantine art” comic with a speech bubble: “God, so lovely with a little self-care!” -Karantänkonst

Images include a springlike canvas with the message, “where flowers bloom, there is hope”; a group of women packed into a can of sardines; a person hugging a plush heart surrounded by the words “never, never alone, always alone here”; and a man with dyed blonde hair appearing to say, “in normal crises I usually have an extreme longing to clip my bangs, but now it takes all I have to not go full Blown Joe Exotic!”

An image from “quarantine art”. -Karantänkonst

Meanwhile, the manager of city center restaurant Pincho’s, Peter Haghjoo, spoke with Umeå Today this afternoon about his donation of three months’ worth of meals to the charity Umeå Stadsmission, which, among other activities, provides food to the homeless, people suffering with substance abuse, single mothers, and others who are facing financial difficulties.

Haghjoo said that the Stadsmission is “handing out breakfast for free but selling lunch. I asked,” he said, “What about dinner? Is it possible to give them two boxes of food?”

“They calculated what the costs are for them right now per month, and I tripled it.”

“I just donated what I could,” Haghjoo said. “It doesn’t matter the size of the donation. Everyone can do something.” He called the staff at Stadsmission “heroes”.

Umeå’s Pentecostal Church (pingstkyrkan) Pastor Ulf Sundkvist today explained his organization’s motivation to open its soup kitchen and provide further support for immigrants, particularly homeless ones, during the crisis, which Umeå Today reported yesterday. “Homeless and EU-migrants are among the most vulnerable people right now,” Sundkvist told Umeå Today.

“If people had fear for their lives before,” he said, “coronavirus has made that fear stronger.”

“It is not easy to take care of personal hygiene and disinfect your hands when you do not have a home or live in a car,” he said. In addition to helping homeless migrants by donating money or food, Sundkvist explained, “you can also actively decide to show warmth and humanity to these groups of people.”

Umeå’s Green Party this morning told Umeå Today that it supports a city proposal, reported upon Friday, to provide for lunches to students whose schools are closed during the crisis. Party Vice President Mariam Salem said her party supports “secondary school students picking up lunch boxes at restaurants in the city. With this solution, we have a win-win, where the city has shown it wants to take responsibility for financially vulnerable young people, while showing solidarity with the business community.”

Finally, the trampoline hall Jump in Ersboda has announced it is going bankrupt, Västerbottens-Kuriren reported this afternoon. The company is quoted as saying that “lack of profitability became acute as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which basically stopped all customers.” Jump opened in 2018 and made a profit of some 650,000 SEK last year.

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