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Satellite voter registration called super spreaders

Task Force Displina photos of registrants queuing as early as 4 a.m. to register at the Comelec satellite registration at USLS, Bacolod City*

The ongoing satellite registration of the Commission on Elections at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City is a super spreader activity with the hundreds, if not thousands, of prospective out-of-town transferee-voters being unloaded from trucks, buses and ambulances and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) vehicles of different Negros LGUs at the USLS grounds and Ayala Malls the past two weeks.

The task force also took into account the report of law enforcement agencies that the out-of-towners are in violation of curfew hours as they mass up at the registration site as early as 12 midnight or 1 a.m.

This was the analysis of the Emergency Operations Center-Task Force (EOC-TF) as it pointed out that the spike in COVID-19 infections began with the onset of the voter registration.

“Is it just a coincidence?,” City Administrator Em Legaspi-Ang, concurrent EOC-TF executive director and COVID-19 Vaccination Council (CoVaC) coordinator, asked in an interview yesterday, with DYRL broadcasters Sammy Nuarbe and Reynold Diosana, who are both COVID survivors.

Ang has reasons to believe the ongoing voter registration has something to do with the surge of cases, recalling that two months ago, before these daily “hakot” registrants from out-of-town were being unloaded in satellite venues, Bacolod City cases slowed down with infections averaging everyday only between 20 to 30.

“Today, we are breaching the 100-mark daily and rising, on top of the death rate recorded at 122 as of September 28,” she said.

“We now have an extraordinary spike (of infections) and extraordinary spike in the number of deaths, too. It is also sad because in the list of fatalities were people I know personally. But it’s the reality,” she related.

It is with a heavy heart that I learned of friends who died from COVID yet, at the same time, there are still many people who continue to have doubts with the vaccine because they believe in fake news being propagated by anti-vaxxers on social media, Ang continued.

During the last two months, Bacolod City became a model for Western Visayas LGUs because of our low COVID cases. Some were adopting our strategies in the prevention and vaccination drive, she recalled.

But things changed when people from different towns and cities started to flock to Bacolod to transfer their Comelec registration. They were on board trucks and buses, while others were loaded on DRRMO vans owned by various LGUs. We, at the EOC, do not think it was mere coincidence. That was when the surge of COVID infections began, she added.

So who is responsible for bringing these transferee-registrants, she continued to ask.

“I am very vocal about this because it is the city and the people of Bacolod who are most affected. I have seen the daily records, I have seen the data analysis of the EOC. It is very alarming. I get stressed everyday looking at the data. I’m afraid for all of us,” Ang said.

The EOC executive said that she is not trying to scare the Bacolodnons but from the data that the task force is analyzing every day, Bacolod is being surrounded by LGUs with higher cases, Ang said.

Medical experts also believe that the sudden increase in the rise of COVID cases was because many of those coming from other areas, who freely sneak in and out of Bacolod are unvaccinated.

If you look at the Department of Health records, Ang said, it showed that as of September 28, the vaccination rate of Negros Occidental is only at 13 percent as against the Bacolod City’s vaccination rate of 50 plus percent coverage.

She also expressed alarm that with the reported extension of voter registration until October 31, COVID cases in Bacolod may turn for the worse, noting that as shown in the photos and video footages forwarded by concerned netizens to the EOC showed that those lining up at the USLS do not wear their face mask properly and fail to observe proper physical distancing.

I even doubt if Comelec even has thermal scanners to check on body temperatures, she said.*

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