May 22, 2020


1. State governors support Bolsonaro’s plan in order to obtain funds

President Jair Bolsonaro gained the support of state governors to freeze the salaries of public servants until the end of 2021. With the deal, the federal government will send R$ 60 billion (USD$ 11 billion) in financial aid to states and cities. The administration will also offer R$ 65 billion (USD$ 12 billion) by suspending the payment of debts. The truce between governors and the administration comes after a series of clashes due to differences in opinion over how best to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The deal was made through a videoconference in which the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies were also present. In the meeting, Bolsonaro promised that the financial aid bill will be sanctioned “as soon as possible”, after “minor technical adjustments”. One of the issues under discussion is whether the amount of money the federal government is paying for state government debts owed to international institutions will or will not be deducted from the aid. Governors have asked for congressional support to ensure that the aid is approved quickly. “We’ll act in peace, Mr. President, we’ll act for Brazil and we’ll act together. It is the best way to beat the pandemic,” said João Doria, governor of São Paulo. Since the beginning of the crisis, Doria has had a number of public disputes with the President.

Valor Econômico: Em trégua com governadores, Bolsonaro libera verba
O Estado de S. Paulo: Após reunião, Doria evita criticar presidente
Folha de S.Paulo: Guedes quer que estados e municípios paguem dívidas

2. 13% of families have been affected by layoffs

According to a study by the Brazilian Institute of Economics at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 13% of Brazilian families have been affected by layoffs, with at least one family member losing their job. The study was conducted from May 2nd to May 13th with 2,528 companies and 1,300 people. According to the poll, when considering layoffs, contract suspensions or cuts in salaries or work hours, the percentage of families affected by this issue increases to 54%. Brazilians with a monthly income of up to R$ 2,100 (USD$  377) were the most affected. Nearly 40% of the companies that participated in the study are hoping to get back to normal by the end of the year or by 2021. This week, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said that there is a possibility of extending the payment of emergency financial aid for unemployed and low-wage people by another month. However, the R$ 600 (USD$ 108) will be paid in three instalments

Folha de S.Paulo: 13% das famílias já foram afetadas por demissões
O Estado de S. Paulo: Governo aceita pagar mais um benefício, em parcelas

3. Bringing holidays forward does not decrease risk of lockdown in São Paulo

The government of São Paulo – the state that is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil – walked back their restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed on the roads, as it resulted in too many people using public transport. In an attempt to increase the number of people in social isolation, the state government brought forward two state holidays to this week. Social isolation rates are currently at 49%, well below the 70% target. Governor João Doria has also brought forward another holiday to next Monday and said that there is still a possibility of putting the state on lockdown. Bringing the holidays forward led to coastal and countryside cities shutting down roads, fearing tourists amid the pandemic. Such concerns are justified, as the number of cases outside the state capital are increasing at a higher rate and their public health system is limited. Brazil has the third largest number of coronavirus cases internationally, behind the US and Russia. Yesterday, the country registered 1,188 deaths due to the virus. COVID-19 had killed over 20,000 people in Brazil and there are currently an additional 3,500 deaths under investigation.

Folha de S.Paulo: São Paulo antecipa feriados para evitar lockdown
UOL: Megaferiado é prova de fogo para definição de lockdown em SP
Folha de S.Paulo: Número de mortes por dia bate recorde
G1: Acompanhe notícias sobre a pandemia
O Globo: Taxa de isolamento social ainda é pequena no Estado

4. Federal government approves use of chloroquine to treat less serious cases

The federal government has authorized the use of chloroquine to treat patients with less serious coronavirus symptoms. The World Health Organization and Brazilian experts do not recommend the use of the drug, noting the risk of side effects that can lead to heart attacks. The Ministry of Health admits that there is no scientific evidence to justify the use of the drug against the coronavirus. President Jair Bolsonaro has argued for the use of chloroquine since the first cases of COVID-19 were registered in Brazil. The document approving the use was published twice, after medical societies and politicians criticized some details, such as the lack of a signature from the person responsible for the new protocol. There are now seven professionals in the Ministry of Health endorsing the new rules. However, the interim minister, General Eduardo Pazuello, has not signed the document.

O Globo: Governo recomenda uso de cloroquina para todos os pacientes
O Estado de S. Paulo: Presidente admite falta de comprovação científica
Folha de S.Paulo: Entidades médicas vão à Justiça contra recomendação

5. Under pressure, Ministry of Education postpones test for 4 million students

Following pressure from Congress and facing judicial lawsuits, the Ministry of Education decided to postpone the Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (National High School Exam) for another “one or two months”. Due to the decision, the 4 million students awaiting the test may now take it in December or at the beginning of 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the new dates for the test have yet to be determined. In a press statement, the Ministry of Education said that the decision was made to meet the demands of the people and “concerns expressed by the Legislative Power”. ENEM – as the exam is known – is one of the largest evaluation processes in the world and it is the main test for students from public schools and from low-income families to get into university. According to professors, the cancellation of classes and a lack of access to online courses could impair the performance of these students. “ENEM already highlights inequalities, as people with more learning opportunities have a better chance of getting into a university. We now have students who have all sorts of support to learn and those who have no access to education,” says Marcos Neira, director of the School of Education at the University of São Paulo.

Folha de S.Paulo: Ministério da Educação recua e adia o Enem
O Estado de S. Paulo: Governo adia o Enem após pressão