"Today, I see what Covid is. Compared last year, we had nothing. And we don't know when it will stop. It is like going to war blindfolded, not knowing what the enemy can do."
This is how Mayor Isaú Fonseca (MDB), from the city of Rondônia de Ji-Paraná, in the middle of the Amazon, defines a pandemic situation that has exhausted the region's hospital system.
From north to south, cities in the country's interior saw their health systems collapse earlier this year amid the second wave of Covid-19, in many cases much more devastating than the first.
No resources, no vaccines, no vacancies, no oxygen, and now even without medicines, mayors on their own have imposed restrictions and closed their cities—and businesses and residents resent them for this.
Shutdown is the most urgent measure in regions where the situation is serious. It relieves the health care system, says epidemiologist Ana Luiza Bierrenbach.
Araraquara, in the interior of São Paulo, implemented a lockdown in February, with a ban on driving around the city. "Hospitalizations continued to happen, so did deaths, but at least people are not going to die in the queue waiting for a bed," she said.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon