Towering 150 feet above Maracanã Stadium, firefighter Elielson Silva plays uplifting songs on the trumpet for residents living nearby.
Silva has performed all over the city, including hotspots that these days are eerily empty of tourists — like Copacabana beach and the base of Sugarloaf Mountain — and working-class communities like Rocinha and Jacarepagua.
His music provides relief to a city that has been in isolation for several weeks because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Rio’s firemen were the front-facing institution of the state government’s initial push last month to raise awareness about the need for confinement measures. They patrolled Rio’s legendary beaches, playing a recording that urged beachgoers to head home in order to prevent the virus’ spread and taking questions. After Rio’s governor imposed restrictive measures, fireman have been seen waving people off the beaches.
Brazil is in the midst of a pitched battle over the effectiveness of quarantine measures, with President Jair Bolsonaro dismissing the virus’ severity and publicly taking aim at governors who impose shutdowns he says could cripple the economy. His instructions counter those from international health authorities and his own health ministry, and pollster Datafolha found 76% of Brazilians surveyed support quarantine measures.
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