Coronavirus in St-Cirq, France
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Oct 12, 2020 Update
We Asked: What is currently happening with regard to the Coronavirus outbreak in your area? Please provide as much detail as possible. She replied...
While much of France, mostly large urban areas, has been experiencing an alarming rise in cases (almost 27,000 yesterday), we in the Dordogne are not.
Now that the summer tourists (mostly Europeans, many of whom seemed cavalier about restrictions) have departed, the locals remain vigilant and observant of mitigation efforts. Most everyone wears a mask while out in public and always indoors, people maintain social distancing, and those of us in high-risk/vulnerable categories tend to stay home as much as possible.
Nearby Toulouse and Bordeaux are having surges, but we won't travel to those cities. The trains are running, but word has it that sanitation on the trains is less than pristine, so for now we are not traveling even though train tickets are dirt-cheap at the moment. There is no question that we are not traveling by plane anywhere.
Every couple of weeks we may go to a favorite café for a drink or a sandwich, but always outdoors and always with masks. The weather has been foreboding, so even that is a rare treat.
Once every week or two weeks we also go to a farm cooperative to buy whatever food we don't grow. That's our major outing. Mostly we stay home and work around the house or in the gardens and cook. We're doing a lot of preserving of fruits and roasting of vegetables for what is likely to be a cold winter to come. And of course, we're building up our wood supply, because we heat our house with wood stoves.
So far, we don't know a single person here who has been diagnosed with COVID, though of course we read reports that there have been cases. When we interact with workers and neighbors, everyone stays far apart and wears masks.
All in all, this seems like a safe place to be in today's world.
How People are Coping
We Asked: How are people handling the situation in your area? She replied...
We Asked: Describe how the government of the country about which you are reporting is handling this situation. She replied...
As a US citizen, I'm always pretty proud of the way the French government handles things compared to the travesty in the USA. Though France hasn't been perfect, and we are now encountering a "second wave," that's the virus's fault, not the government's. The new health minister seems to be leaving matters up to local governments, like Trump, which IMO isn't ideal, but I still have faith that France will weather the coming second crisis.
Supplies and Shortages
We Asked: Is there a shortage of supplies in your location? She replied...
There is certainly no shortage of testing. Any one of us here can get free testing in Périgueux, Sarlat, Bergerac, and larger cities. I have no idea what the status of availability of PPE is, though I have read reports that hospital systems are worried about being overwhelmed soon as cases spike.
Travel Restrictions and Related COVID-19 Testing
We Asked: Are non-citizens allowed to travel to your country? Describe travel restrictions, COVID-19 testing requirements and any details about traveling into your country. She replied...
I think anyone from the EU can travel here without restrictions, though I can't specify country by country. I know US citizens can't come because many of our friends have had to cancel their trips to visit us.
Health Insurance Requirements
We Asked: Is health insurance required when traveling into the country? Is it required when applying for residency? Is this a new requirement since COVID-19? Describe the health insurance requirement. She replied...
I have no idea. I have dual-citizenship (Irish/American), so even though I had to go through the usual French bureaucratic hoops to obtain insurance, it wasn't as bad as it was, for example, for my American husband, who has been waiting for five (!!!) years for the sign-off on his.
FWIW, my US Medicaid was invalid the moment I arrived here. I believe I could have opted to pay a certain amount to maintain the ability to be evacuated back to the USA in the case of emergency, but I opted out of that - who would want to be airlifted back to the USA in the even of a medical emergency when the healthcare here is so good?
We Asked: How easy or difficult is it to get a COVID-19 test locally? Where can you get tested? Do you need to have symptoms or a prescription from a doctor? Describe the process. She replied...
Here, you can go to drive-through testing stations in Bergerac, Sarlat, Périgueux, and maybe more places by now. You can also get a referral from your GP to any local lab. My husband did that and got tested within 2 days and got the results 2 days later (negative). There is no cost for the drive-through tests. A test at a local lab costs a small amount (not sure because he got tested for several things at the same time and the total cost was about 30 euros).
Public Healthcare & Public Hospitals
We Asked: Are you enrolled in the public healthcare system where you live? Do you feel that the public hospitals are handling or preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak effectively? She replied...
Yes, I'm enrolled, and we get excellent care, though getting appointments with specialists can take some time (like several months if your condition is not deemed urgent).
I have no idea how they are handling COVID, but I read France Bleu daily, and it seems they are feeling about to be overwhelmed.
Private Health Insurance & Private Hospitals
We Asked: Do you have private health insurance? If you have private insurance, does this give you access to private hospitals? Are private hospitals or clinics better prepared, less prepared, or the same? Please explain. She replied...
No, we do not have private health insurance, though we are researching mutuelles and plan to purchase a plan in the next year.
Hospital of Choice for Coronavirus Treatment
We Asked: Would you choose a public or private hospital if you needed treatment for Coronavirus? Why? If there is a specific hospital that you would go to in the event of severe illness? Which hospital and why? She replied...
It may be naive, but I have total faith in the healthcare system in France. Maybe it's because it's so easy to compare it to healthcare in the USA and see how much better, overall, it is.
If I needed treatment for COVID, I'd go wherever my doctor recommended - private or public - in Sarlat, Périgueux, or Bordeaux. We have had excellent experiences with the Hôpital Pellerin in Bordeaux for other treatments, but also great care in Sarlat.
Residency & Visa
We Asked: Are new residency applications being processed? Have there been any changes or extensions made in terms of residency and other visa renewals? She replied...
We Asked: Are you considering returning to your home country due to the Coronavirus? Would this be a temporary move or a permanent repatriation? Please explain. She replied...
My attitude about living abroad since the pandemic is "DAMN! We got this right." We are safe, we are self-sufficient, we don't have to deal with Trump anymore, and most of all we're happy. We escaped.
Our plans for the future, however, have indeed changed since we encountered COVID. One reason we moved here (not the only one by any means - I always meant to move to France) was the ease of travel from here. In the 5+ years we've been here permanently, we've traveled all over - Great Britain, Hungary, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Iceland, Morocco... - we spent months traveling every year, and that was part of the plan.
We can't do that now - or we don't feel entirely comfortable doing it - but I think people have to adapt to circumstances. There are hundreds of places within driving distance of our house that are worthy of traveling to. So we have to shorten our sights for some time? Some people, many people, in the world can't even begin to imagine taking a vacation or traveling to another country without pleading for the opportunity to shelter under a tent or aluminum foil and beg for food and water and assistance for their sick babies.
Can I alter my plans for the future because of the horrific conditions of millions of refugees in the world? Oh yes, I don't need more vacations. I've had thousands of vacations in my life and been granted a wonderful opportunity to be an expat in rural France. There are SO many people right now who, despite COVID or not, are in misery. That's my focus now, not traveling.
We Asked: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share? She replied...
No, I think I've said it all, except: If you're an American, vote for Biden. Not perfect, but Sooooooo much better than that orange monster in charge now. Thank you
Expat Health Insurance in France
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