Businesses in London have returned from lockdown this summer
Carl-Johan Karlsson

It's now been four months since most of the world reached the agreement that Sweden's no-quarantine strategy had failed. In the end, it was the only European country to never go into lockdown, and as the virus spread inside nursing homes, Sweden's death toll raced beyond that of its Northern neighbors to eventually pass the 5,000-mark in June.

Still, this week, some in Sweden are claiming "vindication" for the country's policy — partially based on the approach of herd immunity — as all-time low numbers of cases have been registered this week as neighbors face rising infections.

For many of the rest of us, our lives have been a constant alternation between mask-on and mask-off, open borders and closed borders, back to office and telework and back to the office again — all to keep the economy going while avoiding our hospitals filling back up. Israel's decision this week to reimpose a three-week lockdown is a notable exception to what has otherwise become clear the past month: Sweden's springtime strategy is now essentially the world's strategy.

Of course, Sweden's healthcare system was never overburdened in the first place, and that everyone else is now emulating the model doesn't necessarily give the lie to the claim of failure. After all, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said himself the country had failed to protect its elderly.

We're still in a fog of uncertainty.

But it's worth considering that had Swedish nursing homes not reeled from decades of neglect and lack of resources, the death toll could have been less than half, and the denunciations heaped upon the health authorities might instead have been praised for not buckling under misplaced international criticism.

This is hypothesizing after the fact, but it's just one more attempt to try to cull meaningful lessons from outcomes we still don't fully understand.

Yet, it's only natural that both policymakers and the rest of us are left trying to establish the limits of our own freedoms, while making sense of often contradictory numbers and reports continuously cascading around us: What does it mean that in many countries infection rates are rising to their highest levels, but death rates continue to plateau? And what to make of the muddled public message when someone like Boris Johnson — who not so long ago was fighting for his life in London's St Thomas' Hospital — tells reluctant Brits to gather "courage" and go to the office? Meanwhile the French government, which imposed one of the world's strictest quarantines in March, is now dismissing even the possibility of another general lockdown even as cases multiply by the day. "It's called "living with the virus," Prime Minister Jean Castex was quoted as saying by Le Monde.

The bigger question tying together the persistent COVID uncertainty: How are we faring against the pandemic?

At a lakeside beach in Stockholm last August — Photo: Wei Xuechao/Xinhua/ZUMA

Established "certainties' continue to prove all but that, not only regarding how the virus spreads (mask-on, mask-off) but also what it does to our health. As school openings are in full swing across the globe, an article in Danish daily Politiken reports a growing number of young people suffering from persistent headaches and respiratory issues months after having recovered from the initial infection. And then there's the ceaseless trickle of new crunched-down medical studies and theories on symptoms ranging from the most trivial ailments to chronic brain damage — all daily and promptly delivered to a population unable to tell the science and the bogus apart. And we haven't even mentioned the vaccine!

Indeed, despite all our efforts, we're still in a fog of uncertainty. And beyond our physical health, the uncertainty itself risks real damage to our mental well-being. Yes, we've gotten through pandemics before, but not in a digital age where we must also battle our addiction to information.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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