COVID-19 DIARY – THE FOURTH QUARTER: NEW YEAR – SAME PANDEMIC

Image result for broken hill

January 1

Well we all know the story now. Everybody posted on social media that 2020 could go to hell and that 2021 couldn’t happen soon enough.

That somehow dates on a calendar would change everything like magic.

I’ll admit, I thought what a bunch of idiots but honestly who could not begrudge people this hope.

It is human nature to take stock of passing time and to look to the future with hopefulness but I found it annoying because life gets better by making individual efforts to make it better.

In Australia we really did seem like the lucky country. Sure the Avalon cluster had spoiled some of our Christmas fun but looking abroad made us recognise how much we had to be grateful for. My sister was in the UK where there were daily increase of cases that were the sum total of all recorded Australian cases.

People were suffering worldwide and I’d sat in a hotel lobby on New Years Eve and had cocktails and seen friends.

After years of being on contracts, I had a job as many people’s financial situation fell out from underneath them, after years of watching others go overseas I finally took a holiday locally and drove out to nearby country towns.

I felt uneasy…when was the other shoe going to drop?

Having experienced hardship in my own past and been saved by others,  I now looked for ways to help not just worry.

But its true that I mostly felt grateful for what I was lucky enough to have in my life, my work, my friends and family and time to be with them.

I think most people felt a sense of hopefulness in the New Year. By the end of the first week we would have painful reminders that a lot can happen in a day dramatically.

January 04

Last year around about the time COVID-19 took off across the world there was a resurgence of interest in Steven Soderberg’s 2011 film Contagion. I even had friends talk about it and I watched an excellent video from the Youtube group The Take.

But alas in our age of disparate audience groups, I have Stan and Netflix but neither had Contagion so that was that. In the new year of 2021 with a year of the pandemic having played out in real life Contagion hit even harder.

In March 2020, the opening of the 2011 film spoke to the fear and anxiety as the virus hit the West and quickly spread. Watching people touch surfaces and their fellow human beings while sick and not knowing gets the blood pumping now like a horror film.

Watching it in January 2021 it hits even harder.

If you have not seen it, then I suggest you do but I would not judge you if watching it is just too hard at this time.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

In 2011 I suspect if I had seen the film, I would have thought it was pretty solid and low key. That is Soderberg for you. I recently started watching Logan Lucky and just never went back to it. But I am a fan of Traffic and Erin Brockovich. The guy runs the gamut.

He pulled together an all star cast, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle and Elliot Gould.

Matt Damon in particular shows a knack for playing an everyman in stark contrast to the capable Jason Bourne he made famous or the wise cracking Will from his break-out film Good Will Hunting. Kate Winslet plays the heroic capable figure we need in such a story but even that gets subverted.

Commentary around the film picks up on two running themes in the film, yes there is the pandemic of the virus but also a parrallel pandemic of misinformation. Government of the most part is capable and partisan but there are local figures early on that question if it is a just scare that will pass like SARS, the backlash from the public if they’re seen to overreact and budgetary haggling.

In our own world the misinformation from Fox News from March that this kills just as many as the flu, the anti-vaxxers, the protesters, the riots, the anti-malarial drug that Trump championed, all have eerie parrallels.

The virus in the film spreads faster and kills more than COVID-19. Martial law is declared at one point and there is a run on in food and isolated towns rife with looting. Garbage remains uncollected on the streets.

I guess we can be grateful COVID-19 was not as deadly as what is depicted here.

But panic buying in the shops, border closures and one shot that took my breath away of mass graves are all here.

Coronavirus makes 'Contagion' movie hot rental on Amazon Prime, iTunes

An image from the film Contagion used to show COVID-19 victims |  Fact-checked | COVID-19 Facts

The virus itself starts in Hong Kong with a bat.

A vaccinne takes a year and a while to roll out to everyone, creating anxiety. The film does not show a concern to get everybody vaccinated before too many mutant strains make it no longer effective. Maybe we’ll be that lucky too.

How did in 2011 did they release a film that got this all so eerily right?

Well for starters this had already happened with SARS and MERS and secondly the filmmakers went to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation and asked them what is likely to happen.

What I observed in the early days of COVID-19 is how we all react differently in telling ways.

There are those of us who watched the news religiously, those who did not, those of us who took our kids out of school, those of who still went into work when we believed we should be in lockdown.

Those of who looked to our institutions for leadership, those of us who questioned every decision and every piece of information that was parceled out.

Those of us who grew fatalistic and decided we had to live our lives, those of us who constantly thought of our health care workers and elderly, those of us who lamented our freedoms, those of us who wondered how we could benefit from the stocks changing and those of us who looked for ways to donate more to charities and get involved in volunteer work.

Contagion may not go into such specifics but constantly throughout there is a theme of people making moral choices with good or selfish intentions and good or bad results that come from that. The film I believe is simply observing the human factor of why people make the decisions they make. With no

judgement just the randomness of that and how small decisions can have major consequences.

I believe ultimately the film is optimistic about the human race.

I like to think I am too.

Cars line up at a COVID-19 testing clinic

January 05

An 18 year old Sydneysider had contracted COVID from the Berala cluster and then travelled through regional New South Wales while infectious. This prompted contract tracing to occur in Orange (250kms away from Sydney), Nyngan (550kms away from Sydney) and Broken Hill (1,140kms away from Sydney) with people who had been in certain locations at certain times to get tested and self isolate for 14 days even if their result comes back negative.

[He] woke up, had a little bit of a runny nose just yesterday. And went out and got a test and did the right thing. Can I thank this individual,” New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant praised the 18 year old for getting tested with the mildest of symptoms.

Good stuff!

On the fifth of January, World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,504 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 21. There had been 909 deaths.

Image result for uk school shut down covid

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland schools were being shut down…thank fuck!

I understand this was not great news for many families, that it would present a range of challenges for educators and their students, but if it saved one life I was all for it and there was no doubt in my mind that it would save thousands.

Following a return to school on the 4th of January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new lockdown shutting down schools from Tuesday the 5th of January until at least the February half-term.

Similar to moves to remote learning here in Australia, schools remained open to take students of key workers and vulnerable youths.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were already ahead of BJ with those countries have been doing remote learning for students already and extending them in light of the predicament they found themselves in.

On the 5th of January, the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 2,713,567 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 58,784. There had been 75,431 deaths with a daily increase of 407.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AULD LANG SYNE

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                                                                  Copyright Lloyd Marken.

December 31

In the days after Christmas I returned to work in what was a very busy period.

I did see my friend from Sydney though who felt odd being in Brisbane where no one wore masks and were closely packed in restaurants. Afterward dinner we hung out at the Hilton Hotel lobby where we discovered cocktails called…i can’t remember what they were called but they were creamy with ginger and delicious.

I went to see Wonder Woman 1984 in Gold Class on the 29th of December after work. It was the fourth time I had gone to a cinema since March, 2020 and the first time I was paying for a ticket rather than doing it as part of my work as a freelance writer.

On New Year’s Eve we were back at the Hilton Hotel lobby enjoying a catch-up with a few friends.

We enjoyed the creamy ginger cocktails again and some Bryon Bay Pizza company pizzas. Some of us had the Hawaiian with ham and………….pineapples! Hahaha.

I decided rather than have a Scotch on the rocks I would like to have a Scotch based cocktail but being a sweet tooth raised concerns about what be a good fit. I googled the popular ones and talked it over with the bartender who suggested Blood and Sand and it was a bloody triumph.

Topic turned to a hopefulness for 2021 but I was afraid that the virus does not take note of calendars.

I did hope 2021 would see less death from COVID-19, that more people would have jobs, that the vaccine would bring real change and make a difference.

We all hoped.

2020 had been a rough year for many, I prayed 2021 would be less eventful.

Certainly the first week of 2021 had its own ideas.

Global end of year

On the 31st of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 82,401,956 cases around the world with a daily increase of 716,411.

There had been 1,801,312 deaths globally with a daily increase of 14,230.

In New Zealand there had been 1,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 25 New Zealand deaths.

Australia end of year

In Australia there had been 28,381 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31. There had been 909 deaths with the last daily increase two days earlier of one.

In the Republic of Ireland there had been 90,157 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,718. The had been 2,226 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

Canada end of year

In Canada there had been 565,506 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,442. There had been 15,378 deaths with a daily increase of 156.

On the 4th of May Canada has seen its largest daily increase of cases ever with 3,793. 

A new record for new daily cases was set on the 15th of October, 2020 with 4,042.

Two weeks later 28OCT2020 a new record with 4,109 new daily cases.

The 5th of November a record of daily cases with 4,672.

Nine days later 14NOV2020 a new record again at 5,516.

18NOV2020 four days later, 6,115 makes a new record.

A week later on the 25th November an even higher number with 7,052 new daily cases.

On the 2nd of December, 7,861 new cases and a new record.

A week later on the 9th of December, 7,872 new daily cases.

That record is broken 16DEC2020 with 8,119 new cases that day.

On the 28th of December the highest number of new daily cases reported so far in Canada is made – 9,827.

Top 6 end of year

6-12 end of year

In Mexico there had been 1,401,529 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,099. There had been 123,845 with a daily increase of 990.

In Argentina there had been 1,602,163 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,650. There had been 43,018 deaths with a daily increase of 150.

In Colombia there had been 1,614,822 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,015. There had been 42,620 deaths with a daily increase of 246.

Image result for colombia covid

In Germany there had been 1,719,737 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,552. There had been 33,071 deaths with a daily increase of 964.

In Spain there had been 1,995,444 with a daily increase of 19,560. There had been 51,804 deaths with a daily increase of 127.

The next day Spain would cross two million cases with a total of 2,016,292. 

In Italy there had been 2,083,689 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,202. There had been 73,604 deaths with a daily increase of 575.

UK end of year

In the United Kingdom there had been 2,432,892 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 50,023. There had been 72,548 deaths with a daily increase of 981.

In France there had been 2,556,708 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,308. There had been 64,004 deaths with a daily increase of 303.

In Russia there had been 3,159,297 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 27,747. There had been 57,019 deaths with a daily increase of 593.

In Brazil there had been 7,563,551 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 58,718. There had been 192,681 deaths with a daily increase of 1,111.

India end of year

In India there had been 10,266,674 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21,822. There had been 148,738 with a daily increase of 299.

US end of year

In the United States of America there had been 19,346,790 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 199,163. There had been 335,789 deaths with a daily increase of 3,366.

We were now entering the fourth quarter of this thing. Annual anniversaries would start being noted.

-Lloyd Marken

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

Chorus:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

COVID-19 DIARY – THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

December 25

So I had a very nice Christmas.

Not everybody did.

A lot of people spent Christmas with a loved one missing for the first time.

Some couldn’t see the people they care about. Some had to skype, some people don’t have skype.

They don’t have a lot of things and its hard to see if are things are going to get better if you can’t find work, can’t do work and your health is failing.

That was Christmas in 2020 for a lot of people and, not that it’s worth anything but, I couldn’t write anything further until I acknowledged that.

Because I did have a nice Christmas.

Yes I was worried about family in the UK and yes I am still worried. We did skype them.

But I did see the rest of my immediate family, I did see my in-laws, we did have a nice time, with pleasant conversation, good food and presents were exchanged.

It was a great Christmas but something struck me even here in Australia where we have proven to be the ‘lucky country’.

It seemed when discussing Christmas Day there was not much talk about going away, big plans, massive catering, it seemed that everybody was focused on just getting the people they loved in the house as best they could even if it had to be by digital means.

They just wanted to be with each other.

At work I was involved in trying to spread Christmas cheer, and it grew from there. Secret Santa gifts put a smile on people’s faces, photos of Christmas trees with treasured decorations and cherubs putting them up were shared, there were winners of silly sock-off competitions and money was raised for various charities.

Paper Christmas hats were made and face masks decorated to wear at team meetings that sported new versions of traditional carols and T’Was The Night Before Christmas and raised spirits.

And God bless her! One member of the IT staff became the GOAT at doing Christmas when she won the first round of the silly sock-off, retired from the sport with an on point resignation press release, had one of the best Christmas trees, sported some reindeer antlers and I kid you not arranged a Frosty snowman hunt in the office.

If you found a photo of a Frosty snowman you got to exchange it for the most exquisite treat.

It seemed the importance of spreading some cheer and supporting others was alive and well this most recent Christmas and I just hope we take something from that.

I belatedly wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS – PART II

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19 December 22 While state border closures affected many Christmas plans, the majority of the Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney were more interested on what their fates would be in their own home town. Given the case numbers I would have probably gone with a wider lockdown. Look in the video below at the two minute mark where they note where all the venues contract tracing had covered. Testing was through the roof. 44,000 Sydneysiders got tested in 24 hours alone. Well done Sydney! Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

As I’ve said previously, we’ll be looking to make a decision tomorrow based on what we know and understand during the day,” confirmed Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

We’d consider mental health issues, we need to consider what people are going through as part of that decision as well as what it means for 8 million citizens across the state. If it wasn’t this time of the year, the decision would be much easier,” she said.

The UK strain was certainly making the news here and I worried about family and friends in Great Britain. They were facing a very different Christmas and given the rising numbers you couldn’t help but worry. You just couldn’t. Contract tracing revealed confirmed cases had travelled as far as 250 kilometres away in the town of Orange which could see the spread of cases further across the state.
December 23 Wednesday. With eight new confirmed cases in the region and now 97 linked to Avalon cluster. The day had come when Sydney learned how it would spend Christmas. For the 250,000 residents of the northern beaches who had been in lockdown since Saturday they were advised restrictions were going to be split into the north and south of the region itself. For those north of the Narrabeen Bridge you were still in lockdown. Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

You can’t accept anybody [from] outside your community and I apologise for that but we have to maintain a lockdown in that area — with one exception. On the 24th, 25th and 26th, you’re allowed to have five people into your home, but they must be people from within that region. If, you know, you have a neighbour and all their relatives live outside that area, please consider being a good neighbour and perhaps spending that time with them,” advised Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Those in the southern area of the northern beaches would be able to have over 10 people but could not leave the area either.

We don’t want people from the [southern part of the] northern beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage, but you can welcome people in,” Berejiklian explained.

Everything would be looked at again on the 27th of December, the day after Boxing Day. Residents of Greater Sydney could have 10 adults and an unlimited amount of children over Christmas. On December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 78,442,765 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 674,228 across the world. There had been 1,727,847 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,310. In Australia there had been 28,238 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 908 deaths. In Canada there had been 521,509 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,195. The second largest country in the world had reached over half a million confirmed cases just three days earlier with 501,594 on the 21st of December. On December 24th there had been 14,425 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 93. In the United Kingdom there had been 2,149,555 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 39,237. There had been 69,051 deaths with a daily increase of 744. In India there had been 10,123,778 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,712. There had been 146,756 deaths with a daily increase of 312. In the United States of America there had been 18,090,260 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195,151. There had been 320,180 with a daily increase of 3,148. -Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIII

Image result for qld nsw hard border closure 21dec2020

December 21

On 25MAR2020 Queensland had closed its borders.

On 10JUL2020 borders had opened with New South Wales.

08AUG2020 following a break-out the borders In were closed again.

03NOV2020 the border between QLD and NSW opened with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

01DEC2020 they were welcome too.

Now 21DEC2020 thirty-five New South Wales Local Government Areas centred around Sydney but going as far as Katoomba and Woollongong were on the list. If you came to Queensland through or from those 35 LGAs then you had quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at your own expense.

The next morning on the 22nd of December at 6am, the hard border went back up between New South Wales and Queensland.

Police checking a line of cars

That morning Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy told ABC Radio Brisbane, “We’ve had to turn around 115 cars yesterday and at the airports in the last 24 hours, we’ve denied another 38 people we’ve had to turn away on alternate flights. There are a number of people travelling through we still need to turn around.

With over 70 points of entry along the border with 17 alone on the Gold Coast there were timely reminders why such measures were put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski advised that officers conduction random check on Monday the 21st had turned around 81 travellers trying to cross over in breach of the rules.

I have no doubt that a number of those people were deliberately trying to get into the state — they did not have passes … or they had the incorrect pass. We’ve tried to do a system where it relies on the integrity and honesty of the community coming in, and some people are not doing the right thing. We can’t give the community confidence that we are picking everyone up as they come across the border, hence the need to move to a hard-border closure,” Gollschewski said.

On Monday 658 vehicles came through Goondiwindi with 40 people sent to home quarantine.

Speaking of home quarantine, four people had been caught breaching the rules of that and been placed in government hotel facilities and fined $1,330 each. Home quarantine was for people who had visited a hotspot recently but had returned home to Queensland before the new restrictions.

Other states had already closed.

Western Australia from midnight Saturday night 19DEC2020 had closed its hard border with all of New South Wales.

I know these changes are going to be hard to take for many people. I know it will throw Christmas and reunion plans into disarray if it hasn’t already. These are now extraordinary circumstances. I wish I didn’t have to be making this announcement but as Premier I have a responsibility for every Western Australian and I need to do what is right to keep our state safe and strong,” the WA Premier Mark McGown had said.

We hope it’s only for a short period and we can reassess our border controls when the health advice says it’s ok to do so.

Image result for albury wondonga border december 2020

Victoria had already closed to Sydney and the Central Coast on Sunday announcing any Victorians returning from Sydney could self isolate for 14 days but from midnight from Monday night people had to go into hotel quarantine. Everybody else coming from Sydney had to go into hotel quarantine from Sunday.

Everybody coming into Victoria from New South Wales had to go into quarantine.

On Sunday Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton had advised, “These are proportionate measures, because what we see today in Sydney is not what the situation will be like a week from now. We do have to hang onto this precious COVID-free situation in Victoria. And even though we haven’t got community transmission, we have flagged now, Victoria really is or should be on high alert.

Thirteen vehicle checkpoints were put in place on the New South Wales and Victoria border. Albury/Wodonga residents were likely in for a fun time again.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had been clear too that the measures made in Victoria regarding the Sydney cluster would not be reviewed at the same time that New South Wales Premier would consider changing the restrictions in her capital city on Wednesday.

“These arrangements will not be lifted on midnight Wednesday night. They will apply for as long as they need to,” he said.

Image result for south australia nsw covid border

South Australia had also set up border checkpoints from Sunday and anybody coming from Greater Sydney they could not enter the state. Those who had come back since December 10 had to self quarantine.

There’s always a risk when you have this nasty virus in your state, but I truly believe that we have gone above and beyond to make this as safe as possible for South Australia because I can tell you, I personally do not want to go through another Parafield cluster,” South Australia Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said.

South Australia moved to a hard border closure with New South Wales from New Years Day.

The Australian Capital Territory had also made a decision on Sunday.

Anybody travelling to Canberra from one of the affected areas will have to fill out a form declaring they are entering the ACT.

They will then be required to privately quarantine, not leaving their home for any reason for 14 days.

In Sydney itself New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard was not happy. You could use QR codes at venues to register your details and attendance on your mobile phone. But there were also old fashioned clipboards and sheets to sign in on. But a change was in the wind and in a few days I would find myself having to master using my phone to log in using QR codes up in Brisbane.

Why?

What we are finding is that some of the visitors to various venues still think that it is funny to be caught putting in there that you’re Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a false phone number. That must stop. This is a worldwide COVID pandemic and thinking it’s smart to call yourself Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse is about as stupid as it gets. So that must cease,” I wholeheartedly agree but had to admit that when dear Mr Hazzard said so in the news it did make me snigger.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – LAST CHRISTMAS THE UK GAVE ITS HEART

Christmas lockdown: What can the UK learn from China? - CGTN

 

December 21

In the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put London and the south-east of England into Tier-4 lockdown. The new UK strain of COVID was skyrocketing case numbers had forced his hand. For some it was too little, too late. For others it was a maddening last minute cancellation of Christmas. I think where my stance was.

Tier 4 was stay at home except for work or education.

You could meet up with one friend in public unless you live with them. 

If you were outside a Tier 4 area the advice was don’t travel to one.

This caused a mad rush at the train station to leave London before the restrictions came into place.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty speaking at Downing Street advised that yes the mutation made the virus a lot more contagious but in terms of symptoms and treatment the preliminary findings were promising including whether it was resistant to the vaccine. 

I think this is a situation which is going to make things a lot worse, but there are some really optimistic things if you look once we get the vaccine out, assuming the vaccine works against this, which at the moment is the working assumption,” he said.

Terrific.

 
UK Coronavirus LIVE: Crisis Cobra talks as fears over Covid variant closes  borders, causes travel chaos and risks food shortages - News Press Live
 

Many countries banned UK residents from travelling to them, such as Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland and Italy.

France did so too setting it for 48 hours causing lorries loaded with freight to be backed up in the port of Dover.

 

 
From Boxing Day Scotland was headed for Tier 4 restrictions too.
 
No going to another household. Six adults and children under 12 from two households could meet in public. Providing care was an exception. Singles from a household of their own could be considered part of another household. The government didn’t want people lonely at Christmas.
 
Restaurants, cafes, and pubs were closed. Take-away venues needed to operate with face coverings and social distancing. Accommodation venues were only for essential workers. Room service in hotels was allowed. 
 
Supermarkets were open, non essential retail was not. That included hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists, tattoo and piercing places and indoor photography.

Cinemas and gyms were closed but outdoor non-contact sports were permitted. 

 

 

Churches a maximum of 20 people, weddings the same but no reception. Funerals 20 guests too. 

Schools, universities and childcare were still open.

Public libraries were not but you could order and collect books.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/janey-godleys-latest-nicola-sturgeon-23202150

The day before the island nation had breached two million COVID cases with 2,004,223. 

On the 21st of December the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 2,040,151 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,928. 

There had been 67,401 deaths with a daily increase of 326.

From my limited Australian perspective lockdowns are a tool and one that has not been brought to bear soon enough in the UK.

I hoped the hardship for the the British people during this Christmas period would save lives.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS

Covid restrictions tightened across Sydney as northern beaches cluster  grows to 68 | Coronavirus | The Guardian

December 20

New South Premier Gladys Berejiklian put in place restrictions for the Greater Sydney area in the wake of locking down the Northern Beaches where there were now 68 cases linked to that cluster with 30 new inflections overnight.

The new restrictions for Sydney, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains were to start at midnight and run until midnight Wednesday.

They included only having 10 visitors around to your place.

The Premier advised this was, “a precaution, because we know that indoor settings and small areas are actually exacerbating the spread.

Hospitality venues and churches could not have more than 300 people and dancing was out.

Although a bridal part as large as 20 people could dance at weddings.

People in the larger area were urged to stay home as much as possible and to also not to visit aged care facilities unless needed.

The Blue Mountains, NSW – Find Accommodation, Restaurants & Walks

Residents of the Northern Beaches were already living under stricter restrictions since 5pm Saturday due to run until midnight Wednesday.

You could only leave your home there for essential shopping, exercise, medical needs, providing care, getting to childcare or compassionate reasons.

People could only enter the Northern Beaches for the same reasons.

Public gatherings of more than two people were out unless it was say for work or with your own family.

Breaking the rules could see you face up to a maximum penalty of $11,000 and police could issue on spot fines of $1,000.

With the exception of takeaway, hospitality, gyms and take-aways were shut down.

Anybody who had left the area before the 10th of December still needed to comply with same restrictions where they currently were.

Sydney Northern Beaches lockdown: the four reasons residents will be  allowed to leave home

While masks were not mandatory the government advised people to wear them in public indoor spaces like shops and at work and on public transport.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard advised, “It may well be wise to wear those masks going through Christmas, New Year in the Greater Sydney area.

It appeared Premier Berejiklian was hedging her bets, giving herself until the last minute to completely cancel Christmas or to grant a reprieve if the numbers didn’t rise.

She ran the risk of snookering herself though, if the numbers present and the medical advice is to retain or increase restrictions it would be a tough sell. If the measures were effective but there was a stalemate she was leaving it until the last minute to give the bad news. For some pundits her compromised approach probably meant she’d made the right call, for others it might she’d failed to commit.

Time would tell.

In full candour I looked at all the listed places where contract tracing was occurring and just thought it’s out there, they need to lock it down.

But it wasn’t my Christmas being ruined was it.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant warned, “If we end up seeing greater seeding events outside the Northern Beaches, that would be of concern. If we see an increase in unlinked cases and, particularly, a spread outside the Northern Beaches, that is of concern to me.

On the 20th of December the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,128 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 34.

There had been 908 deaths.

P.S. I wrote up a draft of this post but the whole thing got lost so I had to do another draft.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XII

A pop-up testing clinic in Avalon on Sydney's northern beaches.

December 18

Friday.

There was the growing Avalon Cluster in Sydney’s Northern Beaches which now stood at 28 confirmed cases.

One close contact was self isolating at home as far away as the Central Coast awaiting test results.

I stress to everybody in and around Avalon and the Northern Beaches that for the next three days you shouldn’t leave your home unless absolutely necessary,” New South Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

If we get on top of this in the next two or three days, all of us will be able to have a better Christmas. If we don’t get on top of it, it could mean further restrictions down the track.

Nobody should be getting on public transport without wearing a mask, nobody in Greater Sydney should be going to a supermarket or a place of worship without wearing a mask. It would just be crazy.” she also advised.

 

Sydney COVID northern beaches cluster grows by 15 all linked to Avalon

 

Premier Berejiklian also announced there would be new rules for international airline crew from next tuesday. Instead of self-isolating at home they would not stay in two police operated hotels. Lack of compliance had led to the change, at least one airline worker had gone out breaching quarantine.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 2,000 to 3,000 airline crew arrived in the state alone each week.

In Queensland there were only eleven active cases in the state as 3,274 tests were carried out in a 24 hour period.

With Sydney’s Northern Beaches declared a COVID-19 hotspot, anyone who had entered Queensland since the 11th of December must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

That was the idea anyway.

 

 

It seemed a lot of people were changing plans to get into the state before 1am on Saturday and I don’t think it was to self-isolate.

I guess this raises all kinds of questions about the effectiveness and the side effects of such actions particularly at Christmas time when so many families were attempting to reunite.

I guess my default is always to play it safe, I had a friend coming up from Sydney who was not from the northern beaches but none the less changed her flights and came up a little earlier as she saw what was developing on the news that week.

And I caught up with her over the Christmas period.

 

WA border with NSW to remain open for now after Sydney coronavirus  outbreak, Premier says - ABC News

 

Western Austalia had just opened back up to the rest of the country.

Premier Mark McGowan warned, “This may well mean that the hard border with New South Wales needs to return in the near future. I will not hesitate to do that, if that is what the health advice recommends. Can I ask all West Australians to avoid travelling to New South Wales. If you can avoid travelling, please do.

New rules had been implemented Thursday.

Anybody who had arrived between 11DEC2020 and 17DEC2020 were told to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate until they get a negative result. Like I had earlier in the week in Queensland. They would not be required to self for 14 days it was decided for the time being.

The Western Australian President of the Australian Medical Association Andrew Miller backed the government’s play.

It is appropriate to respond rapidly and restrict travel. It will be very difficult for some people and our hearts go out to them … but if they manage to spare Australia from lockdowns and disease, they will be the true heroes,” Mr Miller said.

Since the 11th of December over 5,000 people had arrived from New South Wales. On Thursday, 2,000 of them rocked up to get tested at the COVID Fever Clinics forming long queues. Some didn’t get tested before closing time.

 

Long queues form outside WA COVID-19 clinics for virus testing | The West  Australian

 

Perth business owner Scott O’Keeffe who went to get tested told ABC News, “[There were] hundreds of people that were here yesterday. We all did immediately what we were told to do, but then the Government wasn’t prepared because they couldn’t test all the people that were here. You’d think they’d get extra staff in and say, ‘We’re sending out these emergency texts to all of these people to come for testing, maybe we better prepare’. You can’t tell people to come here and they can’t get tested and you send them away. I understand what [we’ve] got to do and it’s important, but they’ve dropped the ball on this one. There was nobody informing anyone [in the queue] … they just let everyone wait. No communication, just bad organisation.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup didn’t miss the opportunity to comment.

We now know Western Australia clearly is not prepared to deal with a surge in testing that is required when there is a possible outbreak,” Mr Kirkup said.

The government allocated extra resources to the testing effort.

 

Perth Airport to remain open to support freight | Infrastructure Magazine

 

It was reported 87 of the 5,000 travellers were from the Northern Beaches and in contact with contract tracers.

I understand this is a difficult period for many and I understand this must be very upsetting for families looking to reunite and spend Christmas together. But our best defence to keep COVID-19 out of our community is border controls. We didn’t create this situation, but I think we are well prepared for it,” the Premier said.

We will test furiously to get to the bottom of it, but of course we are worried. I can’t know what the testing will show,” he added.

McGowan’s hope was that the government and people of New South Wales could learn from the outbreaks in Victoria and South Australia and get on top of things early.

It is debilitating for the country and debilitating for everyone else. So the sooner New South Wales crushes it, the sooner they kill it, the better it is for everyone,” he said.

 

I love this man | Tom Cruise | Know Your Meme

 

December 19

Earlier in the week a leaked tape came to light of superstar Tom Cruise cracking the shits with some crew members on the set of Mission Impossible VII for not following COIVD protocols.

I’ve been a gopher on a film set and had some people act like some absolute pigs talking trash to me and others beneath them when they weren’t even that high up the totem pole. I heard many more horror stories and far worse.

Nobody likes being yelled at and it represents nothing but a loss of control and a lack of professionalism.

On the other hand, when people are working under pressure and others repeatedly don’t follow instructions and flout rules expect certain workplaces to have consequences.

We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we’re doing. I’m on the phone with every f—ing studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf—ers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!” the superstar and producter said.

Sometimes you get told when you’re doing the wrong thing in the strongest terms.

 

Inside Tom Cruise's On-Set Outburst: 'He's a Perfectionist,' Says Source |  PEOPLE.com

 

Cruise swore a little and outright threatened people with being fired.

You can tell it to the people who are losing their f—ing homes because our industry is shut down. It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That’s what I sleep with every night – the future of this f—ing industry! So I’m sorry, I am beyond your apologies. I have told you, and now I want it, and if you don’t do it, you’re out. We are not shutting this f—ing movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re f—ing gone,” Cruise said.

Am I clear? Do you understand what I want? Do you understand the responsibility that I have? Because I will deal with your reason, and if you can’t be reasonable and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired. That’s it. That is it. I trust you guys to be here.

But the moment felt oddly cathartic for many who had lost their jobs and would be more than happy to follow the rules on the film set and even more so for people who lost a lot more because people had been flouting COVID rules.

That’s certainly how it rang for me but I also think about the human factor. The capacity to make mistakes and how a leader losing their temper rarely is the best way to handle it. Then also I sometimes think it gets to the point where it is the only way to handle it?

Who knows where this was.

I wondered how many times these peoples hadn’t followed the rules.

 

Entertainment: Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell are handcuffed for Mission  Impossible 7 - PressFrom - Australia

 

There was a great piece over at The Atlantic about it by Shirley Li which you can read if you like.

Five crew members quit the set following the leak.

The production had been one of the most major Hollywood productions to shut down during the first COVID wave in Italy.

Following resumption in Italy, 12 people got COVID in October causing further delays. Production got back on track and moved to the UK.

 

How NSW's COVID-19 cluster on Sydney's northern beaches and border closures  could change your holiday plans - ABC News

 

Back in Australia, testing in New South Wales had brought 23 new cases overnight bringing the Northern Beaches cluster total to 50 down south.

The Northern Beaches were going into lockdown from 5pm until midnight on Wednesday. Residents could only leave for work, exercise, shopping or compassionate reasons.

When Qld’s Education Minister Grace Grace when asked, advised “All of that will be done with the health minister, the Premier and [Chief Health Officer] Dr Young will be in consultation with the chief health officer in NSW, we’ll have a look at those cases, analyse what it means and we’ll announce those as soon as we possibly can. I know that Sydney is very concerned and anxious about it, that makes Queensland concerned and anxious. We need to be vigilant, we need to make sure that we follow the health instructions – social distancing, proper hygiene and those kinds of things.

Sydney’s northern beaches will lock down from 5pm on Saturday until midnight on Wednesday – people can’t leave their houses except for work, exercise, shopping or compassionate reasons.

From 1am Saturday morning, anybody entering Queensland from Queensland’s northern suburbs had to go into 14 day quarantine.
 
The hope that Australia would be open and free to celebrate Christmas together was quickly fading. The virus didn’t care what day it was on the calendar.
 
On the 19th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 75,170,679 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 712,982.
 
There had been 1,671,995 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,586.
 
In Australia there had been 28,094 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 22. There had been 908 deaths.
 
In Canada there had been 488,638 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,008. There had been 13,916 deaths with a daily increase of 117.
 
 
London streets packed as Christmas shoppers spark Covid fears
 
 
In the United Kingdom there had been 1,977,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 28,507. There had been 66,541 deaths with a daily increase of 489.
The next day with 27,052 new daily cases the small island nation would breach 2 million confirmed cases with 2,004,223.
 
On the 19th of December, India reached more than 10 million cases.
 
There had been 10,004,599 confirmed cases with a daily increase 25,152. There had been 145,136 deaths with a daily increase of 347.
 
In the United States of America there had been 16,912,564 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 229,915. There had been 308,403 deaths with a daily increase of 3,443.
 
06APR2020 America has a record daily increase of 33,510.
 
President Donald Trump Tweetstorm – The Sunday Edition – Deadline
 
11APR2020 – New record – 35,386.
 
26APR2020 – New Record – 38,509
 
27JUN2020 – New Record – 40,526
 
3 Reasons the Protests Probably Won't Help Trump Get Re-elected | GQ
 
28JUN2020 – New Record – 44,458
 
29JUN2020 – New Record – 44,580
 
Biden Leads Trump by 8 Points, a 2020 High, as Floyd Protests Continue -  Morning Consult
 
03JUL2020 – New Record – 54,271
 
06JUL2020 – New Record – 57,186
 
Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message -  The New York Times
 
10JUL2020 – New Record – 64,630
 
12JUL2020 – New Record – 66,281
 
17JUL2020 – New Record – 67,165
 
Why the Donald Trump-West Point ramp story actually matters - CNNPolitics
 
18JUL2020 – New Record – 71,484.
 
19JUL2020 – New Record – 74,354
 
Trump takes stock after rally embarrassment
 
25OCT2020 – New Record – 82,630
 
31OCT2020 – New Record – 89,048.
 
Trump Risked Lives Because He Was Bored!
 
01NOV2020 – New Record – 99,356.
 
06NOV2020 – New Record – 106,050.
 
07NOV2020 – New Record – 116,780.
 
Republicans back Trump challenge to Biden election victory | Donald Trump |  The Guardian
 
08NOV2020 – New Record – 131,821.
 
12NOV2020 – New Record – 133,935
 
13NOV2020 – New Record – 142,076.
 
Trump′s coronavirus treatment was based on fetal tissue research |  Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW |  09.10.2020
 
14NOV2020 – New Record – 193,734
 
04DEC2020 – New Record – 195,769.
 
Donald Trump releases video statement repeating baseless vote fraud claims  | Donald Trump | The Guardian
 
05DEC2020- New Record – 218,671.
 
11DEC2020 – New Record – 230,852.
 
President Donald Trump Turns to Raw Power to Upend Election | Time
 
13DEC2020 – New Record – 243,209.
 
On the 20th of December there was a new record of daily new confirmed cases in the United States of America.
 
402,270.
 
At Least 8 Test Positive for COVID-19 After SCOTUS Ceremony | PEOPLE.com
 
A daily increase of 172,355 from the previous day’s count.
 
Bringing the total number of confirmed cases the United States of America had seen to 17,314,834.
 
Let’s hope this is a record left intact.
-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FOURTH TIMES A CHARM

December 16

Tuesday night I finished work, went home, had dinner and started to feel a little sore in my throat.

I didn’t think I had it.

But I thought about other people who had displayed gone to work and how unlikely it was at the time they found out they were positive.

Where I work we had been keeping to only 50% staff working in the office but we were going into a busy period with my team in particular.

If one of us got COVID, contaminated the rest that would severely impact our ability to carry out work having to quarantine for 14 days. 

But far more importantly than that.

It would mean people I work with had been put at risk, their loved ones had been put at risk.

I had the capability and the support to get tested and to not have my income affected in any way.

It was a simple decision.

So on Wednesday morning I called my supervisor who agreed it was better to be safe than sorry. I would work from home and I would go and get tested. 

Since Karen has to isolate at home with me too until we got the results I decided I would get tested early in the day in the hope the results would get back sooner. Last time they had come back early the next morning which was very fast.

I packed a bag with all my work stuff to take to the office and back every day. I had done these for several weeks every day. But on Tuesday I was tired and the bag was heavy and I just decided I would leave it there, after all I’d be back in the next day. 

It had the masks my sister in law had made for me.

So instead I took the one she had made for Karen. Karen’s mask had received some modifications from her – there was a pipe cleaner in one side instead of elastic string.

The COVID-19 Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles was open from 9am.

I drove over and went to the buildings where the Fever Clinic had previously been but clearly things were now different. 

I asked a staff member who advised me it was now in the Emergency Department. 

So I as a potential COVID carrier walked and the entered the Emergency Department of the hospital.

I followed the signs and went down a long corridor away from the ward. 

Finally In entered the new clinic, there was a Christmas tree on the desk. A series of row of chairs off to the side and I sat down on one. 

I was alone. No one was there. 

The test no longer involved a nasal swab. Just my mouth.

It was painless.

By the time I left two people had entered and were seated or at the front desk.

I left the ward. 

I was in and out of the ward between 0943Hrs and 0957Hrs.

I went home. 

At 10:00pm I received a text message advising my test result was negative.

For the rest of the week I worked from home.

It was Karen who told me that someone had tested positive at the same clinic that week.

A woman travelling from Sydney on a Virgin flight attended The Glen Hotel near where I grew up on the southside of Brisbane. She had a rental car and drove up to the Sunshine Coast. On Thursday December 17 after a friend told her about the growing cluster in Sydney she got tested at the Prince Charles Hospital COVID-19 Fever Clinic at 1019Hrs – 1026Hrs. She was already back in New South Wales when her test came back positive.

The call went out for people to get tested and quarantine for 14 days if they had been “Passengers from rows 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 on Virgin flight VA925 on Wednesday, December 16 and Close contacts from the restaurant at the Glen Hotel – 24 Gaskell Street, Eight Mile Plains – on December 16.

On Friday Dr Young said of the Sydney woman in her 50s, “The individual did go to that restaurant after 11.30am and at that stage she didn’t realise she was potentially at risk. There is a risk there at the Glen Hotel – it’s small, but we just want to make sure we’re contact-tracing every single person who possibly could have been exposed to the virus.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BACK IN THE GAME – PART II

Coronavirus live updates: US marks deadliest day since pandemic began - ABC  News

December 10

Dr Anthony Fauci was quoted saying in the lead up to Christmas, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.”

The 79 year-old Director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would most likely talk to them via Zoom along with his wife of 35 years.

The advice he had for his fellow Americans was to do the same.

Ten people inside during the holidays he felt was likely too many and a surge in numbers from Thanksgiving gatherings would only start to reach their heights as we entered the longer holiday period of Christmas and New Years.

Speaking to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo he advised, “We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city. [That] could be a really dark time for us.

Hospital admissions had soared over 70 per cent in the previous two weeks with ICU availability at less than ten per cent in the state. In Southern California it was 4.2%.

In areas where ICU wards were at less than 15% California Governor Gavin Newsom had issued stay at home orders.

America had set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalisations in December with more than 109,000 patients with 21,200 of them in Intensive Care.

The New York Times calculated that hospitals that serve more than 100 million Americans were at 15 per cent ICU capacity – no more.

On the 10th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of American there had been 14,972,356 with a daily increase of 216,360. There had been 283,994 deaths with a daily increase of 2,552.

December 11

Close to three million kits of the Pfizer vaccine were getting ready to roll out of the Pfizer vaccine.

The CDC Director Robert Redfield advised on the same day that daily deaths in America in the coming weeks were set to exceed total fatalities from the attack on Pearl Harbour or September 11, 2001.

December 12

The American Food and Drug Administration gave approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used in the United States late Friday there.

California Governor Gavin Newsom advised more than 300,000 doses were coming to his state.

Experts warned the vaccine would not affect the rising American death toll from COVID-19 for the next couple of months at least.

US Launches Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution, First Inoculations Possibly  Monday | Voice of America - English

December 13

Sunday.

More than 184,000 vials left a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan on trucks bound for air freight across the country. United Parcel Service and FedEx planes would take off from Lansing and Grand Rapids to hubs in Louisville and Memphis from where the vaccines were loaded onto planes and trucks to go to the first 145 of 636 vaccine staging areas across America.

Planes, trucks and ultracold boxes: Pfizer preps massive COVID-19 vaccine  distribution effort | FiercePharma

It was hoped 2.9 million doses would be given by the end of the year with health care workers and the elderley the first in line to receive a jab.

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the F.D.A. said it was possible 20 million Americans could receive both jabs by the end of the month.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to the government’s vaccine development, told “Fox News Sunday” that 100 million Americans might be vaccinated by the end of March. 

Slaoui advised that the U.S. needed to acquire herd immunity from the virus to halt transmission and that would mean 75-80% of the population had to be immunised. Some polling showed only half of Americans were keen to get the vaccine, others put the number at a quarter. Let’s hope the latter were more accurate.

It was hoped three quarters of the country would have been vaccinated by the May or June.

United States Pfizer vaccine shipments begin after emergency authorisation  - ABC News

Even as relief was in sight, the reality of the situation was still pronounced as numbers skyrockteted.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy whose state had suffered so much in March and April advised, “The next six to eight weeks are going to be hell.

Shipments were being dispersed to 145 distribution sites on Monday, 425 on Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. Each state is receiving an amount of doses based on their adult population.

The vaccine is transported using containers with dry ice and GPS sensors to ensure shipment stays 94 degrees below zero.

Meet Sandra Lindsay, the first US person to get COVID-19 vaccine - Business  Insider

December 15

Twenty seven year old Intensive Care nurse Sarah Lindsay became the first American to receive a COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech jab.

She received it at the Long Island Jewish Medical Centre in Queens, New York City.

Part of the Northwell Health System which has treated 100,000 COVID patients since the pandemic began.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo watched via live stream and told the veteran nurse after, “Sandra, you didn’t even flinch.”

It didn’t feel any different than taking any other vaccine,” she replied.

I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” she said.

On the reluctance of some to get vaccinated Governor Cuomo said, “We just have to do it. The vaccine doesn’t work if it’s in the vial.

Lindsay is a nurse. An intensive care nurse. She’s a New York ICU nurse.

She has been a hero for a long time.

Now she’s a symbol.

COVID-19 Memory Project- Sandra Lindsay Interview - YouTube

A symbol of hope, a symbol of the nurses who have borne the brunt of this terrible disease and risked everything, not just their lives but the lives of their loved ones who battling this disease.

They’ve seen death on a scale most war veterans have not.

They’ve gotten sick.

Some have died.

Some are fighting right now to be paid out after their health has deteriorated and they can no longer work.

Minorities per capita have gotten the brunt of this disease and it is minorities who per capita not without reason are wary of government administered vaccines.

Nurse Sandra Lindsay represents that too.

She also represents the best of us.

Thank you Nurse Lindsay and God bless.

Meet Sandra Lindsay, the first US person to get COVID-19 vaccine - Business  Insider

There were other stories across the country as reported by The Washington Post.

I just lost my 27th patient today,” said Louisville physician Valerie Briones-Pryor. “So the vaccine I took today was for her family and for the other 26 I lost.”

African American emergency medicine physician Sylvia Owusu-Ansah in Pittsburgh took her jab.

“There is a skepticism there that is not unwarranted,” she said, referencing the seed of distrust among Black Americans about experimental medicine — planted with the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which Black men in the study were left untreated. “Basically, if I can do it, they can do it.”

African American nurse, who works in a COVID ward, Mia Yepez got her jab in Jefferson saying, “We want to be able to stop the many admissions.

The Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart at her place of work, Ochsner Medical Center, described Yepez as, “She is in the middle of it day in and day out.

President Walter M. Kimbrough of Dillard University and President C. Reynold Verret of Xavier University, both historically black colleges of the state, both said publically they were happy to get vaccinated.

Hope': Burned out health workers buoyed by vaccine

Anesthesiologist Raymond Pla was the only black staff member of the George Washington University Hospital to be vaccinated Monday.

His message, “If you want the funerals from the covid-19 infection to slow down and stop, you got to get the vaccine.

Deni Kamper on Twitter: "The @UPS truck carrying the COVID-19 vaccine  arrived at UofL Hospital. @WLKY… "

UPS driver Byron Bishop pulled his truck up to the University of Louisville Hospital greeted by applause and an elbow bump from the Governor of the state Andy Beshear.

It’s humbling being a part of this vaccine process, because it’s going to save a lot of lives,” said the driver.

Referring back to the date that Kentucky recorded their first COVID-19 cases, the Governor told this was the best, “The best I’ve felt since March 6. Today is the day we start winning the war against covid.”

He told a story about a close friend who had lost his mother to the virus and had to quarantine for two weeks unable to grieve with the rest of his family. Just one more devastating story from the pandemic.

The vaccine will liberate our workforce, the people who are really working, taking care of patients, from worrying about whether they face a death sentence from accidentally getting infected,” said David Lubarsky, chief executive of the University of California at Davis health system.

The United States of America would breach 300,000 dead on the 17th of December reporting 301,536 deaths with a daily increase of 2,942.

Days before the U.S. reached 300,000 dead Dr Fauci had said, “The numbers are staggering — the most impactful respiratory pandemic that we have experienced in over 102 years, since the iconic 1918 Spanish flu.

It took four months for America to reach 100,000 dead and it was now believed a further 100,000 could die in the following six weeks.

Leon Kelly, the coroner of El Paso County in Colorado and the Deputy Medical Director of its health department had seen a lot of death in the past few months.

It can certainly feel like you’re standing on the beach and sandbagging a tsunami,” said Kelly.

To me it represents an extraordinary failure in our response. To think, now we can just absorb in our country 3,000 deaths a day as though it were just business as usual. It just represents a moral failing,said John Hopkins health researcher Jennifer Nuzzo.

Multimedia: The State of Biopreparedness: Lessons for Leaders, Proposals  for Progress

Jennifer Nuzzo was not wrong, none of this was good enough or justified. President Trump has blood on his hands and always will. That in my opinion is and always will remain his biggest crime. That and any of his allies, enablers and supporters.

On the 15th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 72,467,704 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 507,504.

There had been 1,620,942 deaths globally with a daily increase of 8,797.

In Australia there had been 28,039 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 908 deaths.

In Canada there had been 460,743 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,891. There had been 13,431 deaths with a daily increase of 81.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,869,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,263. There had been 64,402 deaths with a daily increase of 232.

In India there had been 9,906,165 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 22,065. There had been 143,709 deaths with a daily increase of 354.

In the United States of America there had been 16,041,095 with a daily increase of 180,420. There had been 296,840 deaths with a daily increase of 1,434.

But this was not just a day of doom and gloom. All the days of December showed death. Showed heartbreaking loss.

December 15 was a day of hope too. A vaccine being distributed against in just nine short months after COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world and changed our lives forever.

A miracle performed by scientists.

Delivered to our greatest heroes and our most vulnerable.

First doctor in US receives coronavirus vaccine: 'I went in today feeling  very hopeful' | Coronavirus | The Guardian

Back in Queens at the Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, the second person to receive a shot was Yves Duroseau, the emergency medicine chair at Manhattan’s Lennox Hill Hospital.

Like nurse Lindsay before him, he got the needle from Michelle Chester, the Director of Employee Health Services for Northwell Health.

“Ready?” Chester asked him.

“Please,” he replied.

“Let’s do this.” she said.

Duroseau had lost an uncle to COVID and had another family member in hospital fighting the disease.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BACK IN THE GAME – PART I

UK woman Margaret Keenan the first person to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine  | The West Australian

 

December 07

Monday and a new week and while I was off sick Monday and Tuesday hotel quarantine started up again in Melbourne, Victoria.

For the first time since late June international flights with returning Australians were landing to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

The Australian city that had experienced the most loss of life and the longest lockdown period and government imposed restrictions following an outbreak when security protocols failed at a hotel quarantine site.

In the new hotel quarantine system 300 police officers will be deployed to do the work every day. One hundred and seventy-two Australian Defence Force Personnel are deploying to do front desk tasks and no private security guards will be involved. 

ADF officers lined up on arriving in Melbourne wearing blue surgical masks.

The use of private security companies had been a fixture of the COVID-19 Hotel inquiry. 

From the ABC News website.

Former Family Court judge Jennifer Coate, the inquiry’s chair, said in her interim report that it was mostly private security personnel working in hotel quarantine who had “seeded” the major community outbreaks in Victoria’s second wave.

Lawyers for the inquiry have said the failure of the program was responsible for more than 760 deaths, and more than 18,000 infections.

The inquiry heard in August that 90 per cent of the state’s active cases at that time could be traced back to a family of four who stayed at Melbourne’s Rydges on Swanston hotel.

Concerns were raised about guards and other staff members working across multiple locations, as well as the level of training they were given in infection control.

There were a range of rules for those quarantining to follow.

Three police officers talk on a Melbourne street.

They couldn’t leave their rooms for fresh air or exercise unless there are relevant reasons. They won’t be able to receive care packages from their families.

Everyone working in the quarantine hotels, with the exception of the cleaning staff, will be employed or directly contracted by the newly established Covid Quaratine Victoria.

Cleaners will be employed through fixed term contacts to avoid the need to work across different locations as casuals.

They will be tested for COVID-19 every day, while the members of their households will also be tested on a regular basis.

They will work together on the same rosters with colleagues to limit the spread if one of them becomes sick. 

Hotel quarantine will cost the returnee $3,000 dollars, $1,000 per additional adult and $500 per child over three years of age.

On the 7th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 908 deaths.

 

 

December 08


In the United States of America, Ballbag continued to try and steal the election whilst proclaiming it stolen.

It’s funny to say this but no matter the lack of legal grounds, what the pundits said, Ballbag just created anxiety with his actions.

Here was an elected official undermining an election result.

For his followers this was real, although you can’t protest a count in one state and insist it go ahead in another because its going your way.

That clearly shows its not about the principal of the matter.

US election sees protesters confront vote-counting centres in Phoenix and  Detroit, 50 arrested in New York - ABC News

Having worked in an election warehouse counting votes albeit in a different country with different systems it seemed crazy to me how you could pull off such a miscarriage of the count.

I guess nothing is impossible but its not like every election official is affiliated one way or the other. The fact that security was needed at such sites is shocking to me having it never be a concern here in Australia. 

Right now, democracy is fragile in America in a way I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

You would hope when a bunch of people die and the President talks about using bleach in the human body, yells at reporters for asking simple questions, leaves states to bid for medical supplies and hands out pens to health officials rather than hear their cries for help that Americans would strap on the biggest boot they could find and send it right on up his wide load tennis shorts size ass! 

US happiness hits lowest point in 50 years: New poll finds just 14% of  Americans are 'very happy' | Daily Mail Online

The fact that they did that and then the only work he did for the next two months was bleat about it and then go off and play golf rather than deal with the real crisis in America which were COVID cases and deaths skyrocketing is just really sad.

How did it get to this and why is any of this tribally political? Regardless of age, political disposition, race, colour, or creed why would anyone not think this President has been horrible in dealing with COVID-19?

On the 8th of December the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of America there had been 14,570,523 confirmed COVID cases with a daily increase of 173,388. There had been 279,913 deaths with a daily increase of 1,107.

 

UK woman Margaret Keenan the first person to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine  | The West Australian

In the United Kingdom a young lady named Maggie originally from Enniskillen in Fermanagh made history. 

Ninety-year old Margaret Keenan become the first person to receive the COViD-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccinne following trials and approvals.

Attending University Hospital in Coventry to get her jab from Matron May Parsons, Ms Keenan said, “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.

We couldn’t hug her but we could clap, and everybody did so in the room,” Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, said.

COVID-19: British woman first to receive vaccine - Vatican News

She was one of thousands getting the first of two scheduled jabs across the UK. The hope was to have 4 million Britons vaccinated by the end of 2020 primarily health care workers and people over 80 years of age.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Western General Hospital amid the spread of the coronavirus disease

Today we should all allow ourselves a smile – but we must not drop our guard,” said Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon did say watching the video of Maggie getting her first dose put a lump in her throat.
 

Sister Joanna Sloan

Sister Joan Sloan who will head up the vaccine rollout in Belfast was the first to get the jab in Northern Ireland at Royal Victoria hospital.

When asked what her thoughts were as she received the jab, Sister Sloan replied, “At last. At last we have got to this point. We have worked hard to get here so it felt great.” 

Palmerston care home

Palmerston, a purpose built Dementia care home in East Belfast had twenty residents vaccinated the same day with thirty five staff to follow.

There had been 55,795 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland and 1,073 deaths.

In the Republic of Ireland there had been 74,682 cases and 2,097 deaths.

The latter had more than three times the population of the former.

The first person in Wales was 48 year old home care worker Craig Atkins.

The BBC weren’t specific about who was the first person in Scotland but consultant anaesthetist Dr Katie Stewart at NHS Borders and senior charge nurse Andrew Mencnarowski who will vaccinate colleagues at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital were among the first.

It’s a huge step forward in the battle against the Covid virus. I feel very proud and excited to be part of it all,” said the Scottish nurse.

Dr Katie Stewart

After a very long hard year looking after patients with Covid and staying apart to protect each other, we finally have something to celebrate. The new vaccination has been tested on over 43,000 people around the world so I am truly delighted to be one of the first people in the Scottish Borders to receive one,” Dr Stewart said.

Visiting London’s Guy’s Hospital Prime Minister Boris Johnson listened to 81 year old Lyn Wheeler who was the first to get vaccinated there. 

Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine which is less than enough for a third of the population to get vaccinated. There are reports to achieve herd immunity 70 per cent take up a national population is required.  

NHS Doctor Veer Gupta summed it up nicely to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “We have a vaccine for a disease that was never before seen on Earth, and within one year now we have something that can actually prevent it from spreading.

Vaccine

After receiving the first jab, 21 days later a second jab is administered with full immunity believed to take effect at the 28 day mark from the first jab.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised it would take several weeks for just health care workers and people over 80 to get vaccinated. The need for it to be kept in ultra-cold storage rather than just refrigerated like the vaccine developed by the Oxford University was going to create challenges for distribution. 

But we had a vaccine. 

We had a vaccine.

Covid-19: First vaccine patient has her second jab - BBC News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson believed it was a turning point in the country’s fortunes against the virus but one step in a battle that was far from over.

Today marks a huge step forward in the UK’s fight against coronavirus. As the program ramps up in the weeks and months ahead, it is as important as ever to keep to the COVID winter plan: Follow the rules in your area and remember the basics of hands, face and space,” he said.

On the 8th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland there had been 1,737,964 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,718. There had been 61,434 deaths with a daily increase of 189.

Victoria had recovered enough to ramp up hotel quarantine again, most state borders were open as Western Australian opened up to the rest of the country, Ballbag was getting shown the door whether he liked it or not and against all odds and thanks to so many unsung scientists and health care workers vaccines were rolling out across the world.

Gee….

Anybody would have thought it was Christmas after all!

But the virus of course didn’t care what the calendar said.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘HOTMESS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

December 06

I was very fortunate to be back on assignment for Scenestr magazine, this time my first live event since COVID shut down the Brisbane Comedy Festival in March.

It was at The Sideshow in Brisbane’s West End. West End has its own character and history as a southside boy from the suburbs I am fairly ignorant of.

It’s down from the city’s South Bank precinct which I am more familiar with which is a giant cultural and restaurant hub with museums, art gallery and markets.

West End is the cheaper hippier end of this.

I remember going to see show with David Hasselholf years ago and seeing young people eating on a window sill out of saucepans in an apartment above a set of shops and just being delighted by it.

Places like West End are in danger of losing such culture with increased urban development but it was alive and well on sunday night December 6.

Scenestr4

We entered what looked like a regular cafe, went up some stairs, got served at some makeshift bar and sat on pretty simple chairs. Nobody was wearing masks, we just didn’t do that in Queensland.

There were 13 active cases in the state.

The venue had the setting of being in someone’s large living room for a get together on a sunday arvo for a few laughs.

It was good to have a laugh.

The comedians were diverse in their styles and backgrounds and led by MC Steph Tisdell who got the crowd supporting them fully and open to the experimentation of the event.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/hot-mess-comedy-brisbane-review-the-sideshow-20201208

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

With some delight we saw some Christmas decorations and entered a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant we had seen packed only two hours later completely empty.
As someone who has always enjoyed quiet places Karen and I settled in for some fried rice.
There was a garden inside with a pond and we had the whole place to ourselves as West End started to quiet down for the night.

The West End Garden Restaurant staff were so good to us, the food was fantastic and the whole place was just wonderful. Karen and I really enjoyed our night out.

Numbers were climbing around the word, I was worried about people who lived there. It was almost surreal what was happening in Australia. It felt like we being kept out of some sick game although I’m sure Victorians would agree they had had their fill.

On the 6th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 66,184,789 cases globally with a daily increase of 652,608.

1 million 5 hundred 2 twenty 6 six thousand and 6 hundred and 6 sixty 2 two deaths.

1,526,662 deaths globally from COVID.

With a daily increase of 10,767.

In Australia there had been 27,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 908 deaths.

In Canada there had been 402,569 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,299. There had been 12,496 deaths with a daily increase of 89.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,705,975 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,539. There had been 61,014 deaths with a daily increase of 397.

In India there had been 9,644,222 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,011. There had been 140,182 deaths with a daily increase of 482.

In the United States of America the day before, the 5th of December had been a day of big numbers. A new record for daily increase in confirmed cases – 218,671. The highest number of daily recorded deaths since March and April – 2,844.

On the 6th of December there had been 14,191,298 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 213,127. There had been 276,503 deaths with a daily increase of 2,426.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FACES OF A PANDEMIC

Doctor seen comforting distraught elderly coronavirus patient in viral  photo speaks out

 

December 01

 

It popped up on social media and went viral.

Just a simple photo.

Just a simple tale.

One of far too many but for perhaps just a moment we stopped and spare for what was hidden from view far too often or that we had just turned our eyes away from.

The photo is of Doctor Joseph Varon holding an elderly man crying. 

The man is COVID-19 patient in the ICU unit of the United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas where Dr Varon works. 

The photo was taken by Getty Images Photographer Go Nakamura.

On the day the photo was taken, Dr Varon was working his 252nd consecutive day in a row.

It was Thanksgiving.

I’ll let Dr Varon speak for himself as per this excellent article by SBS News in Australia.

 Dr Varon saw the man, “Out of his bed and trying to get out of the room. And he’s crying. So I get close to him and I (ask) him, ‘Why are you crying?” recalled the Doctor.

“And the man says, ‘I want to be with my wife.‘ So I just grab him and I hold him,” Dr Varon said. “I was feeling very sorry for him. I was feeling very sad, just like him.

Dr Varon told CNN, “Eventually he felt better and he stopped crying.

I don’t know why I haven’t broken down,” the doctor said. “My nurses cry in the middle of the day,” he said.

The good Doctor told of how difficult isolation in a COVID ward can be for many patients in particular the elderly. Anybody who has worked in nursing home or hospital ward could attest to that. 

You can imagine. You are inside a room where people are coming in spacesuits. When you are an elderly individual, it’s more difficult because you are alone,” he said.

“Some of them cry. Some of them try to escape,” he said. “We actually had somebody who tried to escape through a window the other day.”

Days on from when the picture had been taken, Dr Varon advised the man was, “Doing much better. We are hoping that before the end of the week he’ll be able to get out of the hospital.

Sadly that is not always the outcome from the treatment of patients within the Dr Varon’s intensive care ward.

Below is a picture of a patient who had passed away also taken in the same ward by the Getty photographer with Dr Varon second from the left supervising.

Dr Joseph Varon (2nd L) supervises the handling of a patient after death in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on in Houston

The doctor had some simple advice for all of us.

People are out there in bars, restaurants, malls. It is crazy. People don’t listen and then they end up in my ICU.

What people need to know is I don’t want to have to be hugging them.

They need to do the basic things – keep your social distance, wear your masks, wash their hands, and avoid going to places where there are a lot of people. If people would do that, healthcare workers like me could hopefully rest.

On the 1st of December, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported in America there had been 13,234,551 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 151,674. 

There had been 264,808 deaths with a daily increase of 862.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XI – BORDER PEACE IN OUR TIME

RACGP - Vaccine policy identifies priority groups – but order proves  'contentious'

December 01

On the 4th of September, 2020 the National Cabinet had met and agreed to move towards their borders being open for Christmas with Western Australia a hold out.

On the 13th of November, 2020 following another National Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had advised of a plan to have public health measures to ensure once states open they don’t close down again. An ideal that seemed ludricrous given the immediate benefits closing borders had given to protecting against the spread of the virus.

The task is to reopen safely and then to stay safely open. By staying safely open you’re giving confidence to businesses, to people in jobs, to people who are making decisions about their future and what they’re going to do. Stop-start, stop-start, does not provide that,” he had said.

That same National Cabinet Meeting on the 13th of November had also highlighted that more than 400,000 Australians had returned home from overseas but there were still 30,000 seeking to return home.

On the 13th of November the possibility of most state borders being open in Christmas seemed unlikely.

It had seemed but a pipe dream on the 4th of September.

Yet on the 1st of December, following Queensland opening its borders the previous week, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced he would re-open WA to Victoria and New South Wales the following Tuesday on the 8th if there were no new cases.

Travel from South Australia to Western Australia was still severely restricted with very strict exemptions. But that was in place until only December 11. All the borders could be open after that.

Premier McGowan was very happy Victoria had reached 28 days without community transmission and he expected New South Wales would reach the same milestone on Friday the 11th of December.

Western Australia had gone 233 days without community transmission.

“I just warn people that if there’s an outbreak, we’ll put a hard border up again. Western Australia does remain susceptible to an outbreak given nearly all physical distancing and gathering restrictions have been removed,” warned the Premier.

This did give hope for families that had not seen their loved ones for months that now they would and just in time for Christmas.

I know the border arrangements have put pressure on families and have at times been hard to comprehend. I have sympathy for those who’ve been impacted. My parents live in New South Wales, so personally for me it’s a relief knowing they’re now safer at their home and hopefully I might be able to see them some time in the future,” Mr McGowan said.

Relief as WA reopens to NSW, Victoria | The Young Witness | Young, NSW

I had seen my parents twice in six months and lived in a state where restrictions had been fairly relaxed because the danger had not been so great.

Others had endured a lot more.

Others had lived a handful of kilometres from the Queensland border and been unable to see their grandchildren for the first year of their lives or close to it.

There have been a lot of stories like that.

About loved ones unseen at cancer wards or funerals or weddings.

But there have also been stories like Newmarch.

Stories about nurses who got COVID-19 after weeks of fighting to save lives in COVID wards who’s health has been compromised.

I’ve always believed border closures are part of an arsenal of measures that should be brought to bear if it minimises spread and save lives.

Wodonga Mayor calls for NSW-VIC border to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions  are tightened in Victoria - ABC News

But as the risk receded in a matter of days and the country opened up there was a hopefulness in the air.

It seemed this was happening and as I worked out in my gym on the 1st of December I wondered if this was a good thing. Given the number of cases I guess I leaned towards yeah it was a good thing.

But if it didn’t seem possible two weeks ago that only showed that the situation can, as had been proven again and again throughout the pandemic, two weeks could see the situation change radically again.

On the 1st of December the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of eleven.

There had been 908 deaths with a daily increase of one.

The first Australian deaths due to COVID-19 reported since two on the 29th of October.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr3

 

November 29

 

On Sunday the 29th of November, 2020 I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? at New Farm cinemas and I got to take Karen with me.

Just another milestone that things were pretty in our neck of the woods while case numbers continued to rise astronomically abroad. 

I enjoyed the documentary, it rang very poignant for me given Barry Gibb’s advancing years. I can tell you there were quite a few people of Barry’s and my parent’s age in the audience. I even floated the idea of taking my Mum but she had to decline. Maybe in the audience there were people who had known the Bee Gees from their days in Redcliffe. They certainly laughed and nodded at points like they were flicking through the pages of a photo album. Your culture remains your’s for life – it takes hold you of for life.

I grew up in a household of The Beatles and The Bee Gees. I heard The Rolling Stones and David Bowie but they weren’t in the house. I’m prety sure at one point there was a copy of every Bee Gees album on at least LP, tape or CD.

I enjoyed the documentary of which you can read the review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-bee-gees-how-can-you-mend-a-broken-heart-film-review-20201201

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

It sent me down a bit of rabbit-hole of Youtube clips.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There is an interview Maurice Gibb had in the wake of doing rehab for alcoholism, (I thought he got clean well before Andy Gibb’s death not after) and Barry Gibb talking about his brothers, his wife – his family to Piers Morgan.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There are personal favourites here like The Nights on Broadway (I had no idea they were that broke when they recorded that album), and younger hits like You Win Again which is soooo 80s, their last hit single This Is Where I Came In which I will defend to the death is proof they were still crushing it in 2001, their first big hit as they left Australia in the 60s – Spicks and Specks which is a personal favourite and maybe lesser known to Americans and even Brits I think.

Songs like Alone and Immortality from 1997 which resonates even more now. Absent are the disco hits which I loved as a kid but have listened to a lot more than these gems and I suspect you have too.

Anyway enjoy. 

 

On the 29th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 61,990,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 604,549.

There had been 1,451,964 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,520.

In Australia there had been 27,885 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 907 deaths. 

In Canada there had been 359,064 confirmed cases with daily increase of 5,967. There had been 11,895 with a daily increase of 95.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,605,176 confirmed cases with a daily increase 15,871. There had been 58,030 deaths with a daily increase of 479.

In India there had been 9,392,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,810. There had been 136,696 Indian deaths with a daily increase of 496.

In the United States of America there had been 12,939,666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 175,669. There had been 262,736 deaths with a daily increase of 1,276. 

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE

20201128_220402
                                Our Christmas Tree. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 28

On Saturday the 28th of November we put up our Christmas Tree again for the second year in a row.

I never really got around to getting a Christmas tree when I was a bachelor.

But as soon as Karen and I moved in together she got one for our apartment.

It was 2011 and I was temping and working nights at BIG W. We lived pay to pay.

It was an old fibre optic tree that no longer worked that she picked up at a Salvos store.

Half a metre tall, bent over we had no decorations but Karen placed a Christmas Penguin toy at the foot of it and voila we had a Christmas tree.

A year later a colleague at QUT offered me is Christmas tree lights that he was throwing out because a third of them did not work.

With all of them wrapped en masse around that tiny tree you couldn’t tell.

Christmas Tree 2012

Last year I was made a permanent employee after years of working contracts. 

I decided I was getting our first proper tree.

I had always wanted a fibre optic tree but the ones in the shops seemed lacklustre in their lighting. I remembered ones that shone like the embers of a fire, not these little specks of light.

Resigned to having to temper my expectations my mother suggested we try the Christmas Warehouse just down the road from our place.

There we found a tree.

People advised us fibre optics don’t last.

The guy at the warehouse suggested not to get lights to go with the fibre optics, it would be overkill.

Karen worried I was spending too much by getting our first decorations but I saw it as an investment and at my urging she picked out some.

A consistent Christmas grinch I found myself excitedly putting up the tree and placing the ornaments with care.

Finally the sun went down and I flicked the switch.

My God it was beautiful, so beautiful that Karen beamed and we hugged each other.

Over a tree.

Why?…

I guess in that moment, we felt we got some points on the board.

I hope that tree may end up in our first home. 

I picked out ornaments to maybe one day be hung by the hands of a child or two.

Regardless of what the future may bring, looking at that lit up tree I felt I had one to look forward to.

If Christmas is truly about giving then my place of employment in 2019 gave me a truly generous gift and one that I will always be grateful for.

More so even given what had transpired for so many in the twelve months that followed.

One more final thing. 

A shout-out to my wife. 

I tried months earlier to untangle the Christmas tree lights.

Eventually I had decided I would hand them over to a charity store and buy a new set. A stupidly extravagant waste of money but one that I had resolved to make. 

One morning Karen said she’d give it a go untangling them if that was my decision. 

I went off and got ready for work and ten minutes later I come back out and she had them all untangled.

My wife had saved Christmas.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY -BORDER WARS – PART X

Change that could open Qld border | Daily Mercury

November 23

This shit is bananas.

November 24

On the 25th of March, 2020 Queensland had closed its state borders. As time went on and the threat receded they opened up to other states but not to New South Wales where cases numbers remained high.

Yet the numbers did come down and on the 10th of July the borders were opened with New South Wales.

Following a break-out of cases the borders were closed again on the 8th of August.

On the 3rd of November my home state opened up to NSW again with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

On the 24th of November it was announced that residents from the greater Sydney area would be welcome too from the 1st of December without the need to quarantine for 14 days. This followed 28 days of no community transmission in Sydney.

Much of Greater Sydney has been barred from entry since August 1.

Queensland closed its borders to parts of Victoria in mid-May, and all of the state from the start of July.

There were high hopes to open up to Adelaide soon too.

The important thing is to recognise that this virus is circulating throughout the world, that the case numbers are increasing. We’re very safe here because of international border restrictions, but it could happen at any time. It was so unexpected when they got that case in South Australia and their hospital system down there is to be commended, that they picked up that case so quickly. Any cough, cold, sniffle, sore throat, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, any symptom, anywhere in the state, please just come forward and get tested,” Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young advised.

A middle-aged woman in business suit talks in a garden in front of older woman in black dress.

November 25

Wednesday.

The next day the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would open borders with Victoria on the 1st of December following 28 days of no community transmission.

“Can I congratulate [Victorian Premier] Daniel Andrews, their Chief Health Officer and all of Victorians because this is just such fantastic news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Residents of 20 hotspots in Adelaide could not do the same yet but given recent developments with the South Australia lockdown that could just be a matter of time.

[The Chief Health Officer] is still concerned about that cluster, but we will make further announcements about that at the end of the month,” the Queensland Premier said.

Coming from those kind of hotspots in Adelaide and or overseas in the past 14 days would see people required to complete a border declaration to enter the state.

The “hard border” it was announced the same day would be dismantled come the first of December. The operation spread across the state had been a huge undertaking manned by Queensland Police, the Australian Defence Force and the State Emergency Services.

Those travelling from hotspots would have to fly into Queensland.

Flights in domestic airports direct from any hotspots would be me by police and random checks of other flights would be conducted.

Failure to comply with a travel obligation could lead to a $4,003 fine.

Coronavirus: Victorians fined trying to cross Queensland border

Importantly, for those people that have been in Adelaide, or any hotspot that may be declared, or overseas within the 14 days, they will need to complete the online border declaration pass application, and fly into Queensland. They won’t be allowed to travel across the road borders and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days, unless they have an exemption,” explained Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

That didn’t mean it would be a free for all driving into Queensland.

You won’t see the fixed checkpoints on Queensland’s borders anymore — on the roads that is. Police will still be conducting random intercepts of vehicles and checking, in particular, people that may have come from South Australia. We’ll also be checking for people who may have travelled from the hotspot and have not completed their border declaration,” the Deputy Commissioner explained.

It did mean the closure of Queensland’s state borders for the first time in a century was about to end.

For now.

Flight Centre boss prediction: 'Qld borders will open to NSW in weeks'

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said more than 1 million vehicles and 640,000 travellers  had been checked during the border closure and more than 50,000 people into quarantine.

The policeman was also proud of his fellow officers.

“That’s a long haul … nine months of standing on borders. It’s a great relief for us to be able to return those officers to their normal duties,” he said.

Interestingly given the scope of the operation he advised the hard border could be brought back within a day if need be.

With the announcement of opening up the border the Queensland Premier spoke of hope for families to come together and tourist towns like Cairns and the Gold Coast to see some extra business having suffered so much in 2020 due to the loss of international and at times domestic travellers.

Kuranda Scenic Railway - Tropic Wings

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner who had to shut 100 of his centres across the country earlier in the year told ABC Radio Brisbane that his company had received more domestic online booking yesterday than any other day in the history of the company.

It just shows you how quickly people will come back,” he said.

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner told ABC Radio Brisbane the business received more domestic online bookings yesterday than on any other day in their history.

The Queensland Premier was adamant, “I can’t predict the future.”

However she spoke about what people had endured with the border closure and allowed to admit she hoped.

Queensland border to open to Victoria on December 1 after 28 days with no  COVID-19 community transmission, Premier says - ABC News

Let’s hope, fingers crossed, that that won’t happen, let’s absolutely hope that families can get together with families over this Christmas period,” she said.

Some words ring truer now in light of recent events than they already did back then.

We have to make sure that we manage our international borders. If Australia’s going to open up to Australia, the last thing we want to see, to put Australians at risk, is for a whole scale opening of our international borders — that would be catastrophic. Our hotel quarantine across our nation — now that we’re opening up Australia to Australia — needs to be even tighter. We still have to live in a COVID-safe world, unfortunately things are not normal, and what we’re seeing overseas in the Northern Hemisphere, you only need one outbreak in hotel quarantine and you’re back to square one,” she said.

In regards to state border closures she indicated the following of the National Cabinet decision to define hotspots.

The threshold will be that we will go to a hotspot regime, which is what we have done in the past. We’ve had a High Court case which said very clearly that states do have the option to close borders to protect the health of their citizens.

I will post here an interview that the Queensland Premier had with a Morning TV crew who are based down south.

Palaszczuk has chosen her words poorly in the past but she is all class while these two clowns make absolute fools of themselves.

She also spoke perhaps for the first time publicly about personal losses during the time she led our state through the greatest crisis of modern times. She hasn’t played this card in the past when pushing us through these contentious decisions, she hasn’t felt sorry for herself, she has stayed the course, put the lives of others before any other consideration and made the tough calls.

That’s a leader!

Thank you Premier Palaszczuk and thank you Professor Young.

In Queensland on the 25th of November, there had been 1,291 cases of COVID-19, six deaths, 1,675,612 tests conducted. There were currently 29 active cases in my home state.

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY FLYING MUSUEM AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

20201121_120424
                                    Copyright Lloyd Marken. The view of Oakey airfield.

At the gym on Friday night I saw on the TV that India became the second country to pass 9 million COVID-19 cases. The only one since the U.S.

Per chance I was about to catch up with my brother from another mother the next day who had family in India. 

It was a scary time but we intended to have a nice day out in each other’s company.

 

November 21

 

We were driving out west to the small town of Oakey.

Famous for the race horse Bernborough and where I had recently been reminded my grandmother had been born.

As a result I wore a hat that my grandfather had worn in travels when I was a boy. The hat fitted his head better but I wanted to wear it and pose at the statue of Bernborough like he had in a photograph many years ago. 

It’s true.

They live on in us.  

20201121_132935
                                Copyright Lloyd Marken. Me with Bernborough.

I was with my wife Karen, her sister and her husband, as we had been a few weeks earlier when we travelled to Capriccios Pizza in Maleny in the wake of his Uncle passing from COVID-19 in India.

I’ve never met a man who didn’t work harder. As we drove along he passed along information of everywhere we went. A ride share worker who had previously driven cabs and worked his way up in trucking to drive semis interstate. He knew when we were coming up to the well known Fernvale Bakery in Ipswich, he told us of businesses off the main track he’d gone to as we started to get out in the country. He quietly advised and offered stories of so many places.

We did stop at the bakery in Fernvale although I went for the sweets rather than their famous and beloved pies. We will have to return and partake properly.

Around people I truly love I relaxed a little and even started to sing songs like Don McLean’s American Pie and Cold Chisel’s Flame Trees. I am not a singer so spare a thought for the poor people in that car who had to conjure their best poker faces as they realised, “Oh man Lloyd’s really going for it!”.

It was a beautiful sunny day,  the Museum is housed in a hangar that is located on the perimeter of the fencing of the defence base. You do not need to enter the base to enter the museum as a result. Very cleverly located. 

 

Maintained by local volunteers it is a wonderful display of aircraft and stories from Australian Military Aviation. 

I wrote a review which I was lucky enough to have published on Weekend Notes which you can read here Australian Army Flying Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

 

Weekend Notes 20

 

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

We had a late lunch at the Oakey RSL Club.

 

 

Having driven north from Ipswich through Fernvale, past Wivenhoe Dam and through Esk I decided on the way back we would drive through Toowoomba.

I was hoping we would find the University of Southern Queensland campus where there is a beautiful Japanese peace garden but we actually googled just a public garden in Toowoomba and ended up there. A callback to simpler times when sometimes you just turned down a road and found you were where you wanted to be.

The Japanese Garden are well known and are quite beautiful and peaceful in these troubled times.

At one point we went over a bridge and looked down at ducks in a pond. In the late afternoon I exclaimed with excitement when I saw a creature underneath the water and realised it was not a fish. I grabbed everybody’s attention and the words escaped me on instinct “Look a platypus!”

A platypus sighting at that time of day with those amount of people would have been very special indeed but alas what became abundantly clear in the next couple of seconds was we were looking at turtle.

Oh well, still pretty special.

 

 

As we drove out of Toowoomba my sister-in-law spoke of working as a speech pathologist in the town years ago making long commutes for the job. My wife had also worked around as a speechie. 

In the late spring of Australia, the jacarandas were in full bloom in Toowoomba and so much more beautiful there. 

It was only a 2 hour drive out of Brisbane but it had been years since I had come to Toowoomba and I had no memories of Oakey. Seeing this part of the world buoyed my spirits in the way only getting out and about can. I understood I was becoming older and now came to understand weekend trips as a child where we were packed out and driven out to dams and beaches that held no interest for me then.

As much as I appreciated my freedom which earlier in the year had not been possible and was not currently for so many around the world. 

What I appreciated more was the company I kept. 

It was a good day out.

 

20201121_131057
                                                             Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 22

On the 22nd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 57,939,958 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 625,981.

There had been 1,380,494 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,831.

In Australia there had been 27,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 320,719 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,968. There had been 11,334 deaths with a daily increase of 69.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,493,387 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19,875. There had been 54,626 deaths with a daily increase of 340.

In India there had been 9,095,806 with a daily increase of 45,209. There had been 133,227 deaths with a daily increase of 501.

Coronavirus news highlights: Delhi continues to post high Covid-19 numbers  with 7,486 new cases, 131 deaths | Deccan Herald

In the United States of America there had been 11,789,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 191,033.

America surpassed a quarter of million deaths due to COVID-19 on the 21st of November, 2020.

250,607 with a daily increase of 2,036.

On the 22nd of November there had been 252,460 deaths with a daily increase of 1,853.

Ballbag played golf over the weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SCARE DOWN SOUTH

Parafield coronavirus cluster now officially 'closed' 28 days after last  case entered isolation - ABC News

November 16

Monday.

Hotspots.

From government websites, “Hotspots are places in Australia where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19, or places that are at risk of a lot of COVID-19 infections. Hotspots are legally listed so that people travelling from those high-risk areas into Queensland can be identified.”

In November Australian states were focussing on Hotspots for how to define travel between them and the scope of their border closures.

Western Australia had just opened up to the rest of the country on Saturday now slammed the border shut to South Australia from midnight with a handful of exemptions including Federal politicians,  senior government officials, military personnel and transport or logistics workers.

Western Australians who had just travelled to South Australia and wanted to get home could also apply on compassionate grounds.

In Queensland, 32 NSW LGAs were considered hotspots but residents coming from anywhere else could cross the border since the 3rd of November.

We remained shut to Victoria as a whole and on the 16th of November we closed off travel to Queensland from 20 South Australian LGAs.

Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory citizens faced no restrictions to enter Queensland.

So why?

COVID-19 SA: Two new cases linked to Parafield cluster | The Advertiser

They called it the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north stemming from a medi-hotel worker testing positive. Seventeen cases were linked to the cluster as on Monday and the South Australian government went into action.

All international flights into Adelaide were cancelled.

Gyms were closed and all sporting activities cancelled, funerals were capped at 50 people, churches at 100, weddings every guests had to be registered, private gatherings at venues that served alcohol were to have 50 maximum.

Public gatherings at pubs, clubs and restaurants was 100 per venue – no more than 4 square metres, cinemas and theatres had the four metre rule too.

No more than 10 people over to your home.

Masks were mandatory in tattoo parlours, nail salons and hairdressers and masks were also mandatory in aged care with only two visitors per day.

If you’d set a COVID management plan for an activity and had it approved it was now off the table for the next two weeks.

All up there were 34 actives in South Australia as authorities raced to get on top of an outbreak.

“We are facing our biggest test to-date. We are working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster, no effort will be spared. We must act swiftly and decisively to stay ahead of the game,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

Coronavirus restrictions to be reintroduced in SA from midnight, but no  cluster growth - ABC News

The first thing we need to do … is the testing, contact tracing and getting people into quarantine very, very quickly. The other way of getting ahead of this and to stop that second wave, and to suppress it, is to put some restrictions in place to reduce the number of close contacts between people,” advised South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

Ninety-six police officers were in quarantine awaiting test results but the Premier advised enough police were still available.

We are maintaining our border arrangements, we’re obligated to do that, and we’re undertaking compliance checking for those people who are quarantining at home, so this is just an additional factor we have to build into our current operations.

There were two positive cases at a SA Anglicare aged care facility.

Holy Family Catholic Primary School shut down because one student had been a close contact of a known case.

The school described the decision being made out of an abundance of caution.

A whole school locked down because of one close contact.

Imagine that?!

I hope you’re listening Boris!

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in Australia there had been 27,725 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14. There had been 907 deaths.

US surge in coronavirus cases darkens outlook for economy | Financial Times

In America Dr Anthony Fauci advised, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.

The health professional warned 10 people at family gatherings over the Christmas season would most likely be too many and a spread of the disease could result in a very dark January.

We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city,” he told.

It was reported that hospital admissions had soared 70% in the past two weeks in California. ICU availability was at 10% or less across the state with Governor Gavin Newsom issuing stay at home orders in regions with low ICU capacities.

The United States had set a record for COVID-19 hospitilsations with more than 109,000 patients – 21,200 of them in ICU.

The New York Times calculated that most American hospitals were at a similar ICU capacity as the ones in California.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,796,432 confirmed cases with a daily increase of with a daily increase of 155,001. There had been 243,758 deaths with a daily increase of 1,216.

Even in this year of Covid, New York just can't say no to Thanksgiving |  Thanksgiving | The Guardian

November 18

On Wednesday it was announced that South Australia was going to go into a six day lockdown from midnight on Thursday following the Parafield Cluster.

Pubs, cafes, takeaway food outlets, universities, outdoor sports, elective surgery, weddings and funerals were all gone for now and the construction industry would close.

Only one person per household could leave the house and only for specific reasons.

Exercise was not one of them.

Children of essential workers would be the only ones able to attend school

Medical services would remain and public transport would still run.

Court houses would be closed and only urgent matters like bail applications would continue.

Aged care and disability residencies were in full lockdown.

Fly-in – fly-out work and regional travel was also banned.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall referred to the measure, significantly shorter than previous ones as a “Circuit Breaker”.

“We continue to face our biggest test to date. We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence,” he said.

There were two new cases in South Australian, 23 cases were now linked to the Parafield cluster and a further seven were suspected.

If we leave this any longer … then we will be in this for a long haul and we will be like the experience in Victoria. We don’t have any time to wait. If I just thought about this all day and then told the Police Commissioner and the Premier tonight, we would already be that 12 hours behind,” explained Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier.

Masks were not mandatory but were encouraged to be worn outside of the house.

Coronavirus testing starts for South Australian hotel workers

“We will be looking at having more stricter conditions for wearing masks, but we know that it takes people a little bit of time to get a mask,” Professor Spurrier said.

A staff member of Woodville Pizza Bar had been linked to the cluster and had been on food delivery apps which could lead to significant spread in a short period.

“This is my very significant concern. This is one of the reasons we’re putting in place the restrictions,” Professor Spurrier advised.

That is really, really important. They must go directly to the testing location, wear a mask and alert the staff that they have visited the pizza bar. If you have people and friends and family living in Woodville, get hold of them now and ask them have they been to that pizza bar,” the Chief Health Officer urged.

Woodville Pizza bar guarded by police after worker lied to contact tracers  | The Advertiser

On the 18th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,756 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of six. There had been 907 deaths.

The six day lockdown was to be followed by a strict 8 day period with certain concessions all things going well.

The whole city was gridlocked': Brisbane heaves as fans allowed back en  masse | State of Origin | The Guardian

At the same time South Australia was going through this crisis Queensland set a world record for the largest attended sporting event post COVID-19 spreading globally.

49,155 people attended the deciding third match at the 52,500 capacity stadium Lang Park. State of Origin is regularly the biggest sporting event in Australia every year.

A grudge match between Queensland and New South Wales the two dominant states of the Australian rugby league competition.

Pre professional sports, rugby league clubs down south were able to make money out of pokie machines and poach the best Queensland players to come play down south. Regularly these players would return in blue jerseys and thump their home state in inter-state competitions.

Including the great Arthur Beetson who played for the Sydney Easts for many years. Artie was past his prime was he was picked to Captain the first State of Origin Qld side. The Sydney crowd talked it down, said the competition was a non-starter. Beetson came out belted his Easts teammate on the NSW team and had a blinder of a game.

Story behind a classic Beetson Origin moment - NRL

Origin had arrived even New South Wales don’t talk about it too much until 1985 when their passionate Steve Mortimer from Canterbury lived and breathed getting his side to their first Origin victory.

My father played Rugby League, he never forced his interests on me but for brief periods I came to enjoy watching League and Rugby. There were even a couple of years where the men in my family would sit around a TV set and watch it.

I hadn’t watched it since 2016 but spurred on by a picking contest at work and the return of the greatest coach of all time Wayne Bennett returning to coach Queensland I sat down and watched this decider. The game has changed a lot since I watched it at the turn of the century but it was a great game.

State of Origin 2020: Queensland Maroons coach Wayne Bennett looking for  next Allan Langer - NRL

Abroad a massive decision was made in regards to streaming wars and cinema business. With other 50 per cent of cinemas closed in the United States and growing COVID-19 numbers Warners Bros announced it would release it’s oft-delayed blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 on the streaming service HBO Max on Christmas Day as well as in U.S. cinemas that were open. Internationally it would strictly a release in cinemas including in territories that were seeing a rise in COVID numbers as well as places like here in Australia where the disease had receded for the moment. This was a huge decision given Mulan had not done well on Disney Plus and also came in the wake of Warner Bros. own Tenet failing to draw big cash with a cinematic release.

Most blockbusters were moving to 2021 like Universal’s Fast 9, Disney’s Black Widow and Sony’s No Time To Die and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick to name just a few and it was originally expected Wonder Woman: 1984 would do the same. It was suspected that the potential, and given what happened with Tenet the word potential could not be underlined enough, earnings of the blockbuster sequel was being foregone in the hope to give the conglomerates late arrival to the streaming wars with HBO Max some momentum in that venture.

20 Great Patty Jenkins Quotes for Writers and Filmmakers

Director Patty Jenkins tweeted, “The time has come. At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season. Watch it in theaters, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!) And available in the safety of your home on HBO Max where it is not. Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.

November 19

November 20

On Friday South Australia announced it would come out of it’s short six day lockdown after only three days on Saturday night.

The decision was made when it was established that a medi-hotel worker who had tested positive had initially said he got the virus after ordering pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar. Then he had come forward to advise that he actually worked at the pizza bar too.

The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was not pleased.

SBS Language | South Australia eases restrictions as premier reveals close  contact 'deliberately misled' authorities

One of the close contacts linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled the contact tracing team. We know now that they lied. To say that I’m fuming is an understatement, we’re absolutely livid about the actions of this individual. I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual keep SA in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary,” he advised.

However, this lie still means that our contact tracers need breathing space to contact people, but not for as long,” he said.

I’m not sure how that works but that is what he said.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stephens confirmed the man would not be fined or charged, citing “Increased penalty wouldn’t force information underground. We’ve got to look at this, we’ve got to [find a] balance.

That I understood more clearly.

We are not out of the woods yet. We still have a significant number of close contacts and contacts of close contacts, because we are doing that double ring-fencing, or sandbagging, as it were, around everybody who is a case. And we have had a focus on the Woodville Pizza Bar, but we have also got that large family cluster,” warned Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

She also expected more not less positive cases numbers in the next couple of days.

“Please do not be alarmed by that, it is something we are expecting,” she said.

On the 20th of November the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,784 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE DAYS AHEAD

Stillwater Memorial Day Ceremony: 2019 Details | Stillwater, MN Patch

November 11

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program The 7:30 Report Leigh Sales interviewed Dr Anthony Fauci. A point of interest for me during the interview was when Dr Fauci advised lockdowns should be used as a last result and that due to COVID-19 fatigue such measures would not be well received by the public.

He later went on to add, “Australia is an example of a very successful result of a lockdown. They locked down for a period of time. They got down to zero and now they are at a very, very good baseline, which means, getting back to your prior question, that it is much easier to identify, isolate and contact trace when you start off with virtually no infection in your population.

Essentially he was pointing out a great deal of luck that Australia had by acting fact and being isolated to begin with. That maybe now trying to change the situation in America in a similar manner may not be possible and even if it was selling it to the public was as much a necessity as simply having the political will or wisdom to take such action. Not for the first time did I feel very fortunate for what has occurred in Australia and sad at what other countries were going through.

 

In 9/11 Chaos, Giuliani Forged a Lasting Image - The New York Times

November 12

Planet America covered Ballbag’s rhetoric about illegal votes and lawsuits and Rudy Guiliani who led New York through the harrowing days of September 11 and stood outside landscaping businesses and mocked networks calling elections and shat all over his legacy as a politician, a lawyer and a leader during one of the worst days in American history.

We’re not even at the farting and My Cousin Vinny references or the absurd fucking witnesses he let sit beside him in a court of law. 

I don’t give two shits if hair dye was running past the poor man’s face, I do care why the hell he was hopelessly trying to undermine the democratic process when so clearly they didn’t have a leg to stand on!

I don’t know if I really have it in my heart to go over this again but I have never been so heartbroken to see how fragile democracy is in America. This country celebrates and exports the idea of it across the world.

I remember once watching TV with a group of people, I think it was the Olympics.

The Americans stood up, placed their hands on their chests and bowed their heads. Us Aussies thought my God they really do love their country. They believe in it. They believe it is the greatest. So its kind of heartbreaking to see so many Americans complacent or downright in conflict with the things that were once celebrated about it by all. 

Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund launches - Lenfest  Institute

Co-host and journalist John Barron spoke of Joe Biden’s who when he joined the Senate was the second youngest ever elected to the U.S. Senate became the oldest man ever elected President of the United States of America. It’s powerful stuff.

I know that Joe Biden may not be all of these things. He certainly is not the man he once was.

But the storyteller in me likes the story, a young hotshot who a lifetime later rallied the last of his gifts to take one last turn at destiny and not out of personal ambition but to serve his country. To take back the people’s house from a self-serving lying bullying fool who had blood on his hands due to his own interests and incompetence and belligerence.

President-Elect Joe Biden faces a pandemic, a recession, a house divided and a populace much the same. There will be no magic wand waved here.

Maybe the story of Biden doesn’t ring true for you.

It probably isn’t true.

But maybe just maybe we’re about to have a President in the White House who cares when Americans die every day and will do everything he can to prevent as much death as he can.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

As Ballbag refused to concede he’d lost the election Americans continued to die.

Planet America reported hospitalisations were as high as they had been across the country and that once the hospitals were overrun beyond capacity, the death rate would rise. 

 

November 13

On Friday Western Australia took down its hard border with the rest of Australia. Travellers from Victoria and New South Wales could enter if they were prepared to self quarantine for 14 days.

All would have to undergo a health screening, a temperature check and prove they have not been in New South Wales or Victoria upon arrival, and register their travel arrangements on the “G2G PASS” app.

Since April for 222 days Premier Mark McGowan had kept the border closed with even WA residents kept out except in extreme cases and polling showed the Premier and his policy was hugely popular.

Months earlier the Premier had promised, “It won’t be forever,” and now he made good on his promise.

Western Australia had been a hold out from the National Cabinet’s decision to open state borders before Christmas. This gave many families hope they would see loved ones during the holidays. 

There were concerns and quite a ramp up to make sure that Western Australians were ready for the new arrivals and to not be complacent about COVID-19. 

Perth Airport | Aurecon

On Friday night Planet America also covered the continuing fall-out from the U.S. election and all the legal efforts to contest the outcome as Biden’s national popular vote continued to grow. Also discussion about how polling went in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

It was at around about this time as well that I donated to not only the Salvation Army again here in Australia but also to Meals On Wheels in America. Food security for many Americans is an issue particularly following the pandemic and mass unemployment and I wanted to help some of the most vulnerable in society. Meals on Wheels America doesn’t just feed older Americans it shows them that people still give a shit about them. 

Since Philadelphia citizens in 1954 started delivering to senior neighbours the organisation has grown to help nearly 2.4 million Americans annually. 

As per their website, “Every visit comes with a nutritious meal created to address the specific health conditions of the senior, a safety check around the house and an assessment of any changes that might impact future medical needs. This can mean the difference between independent living at home and an unwelcome transfer to a costly long-term care facility.

Thanks to so many donors, Meals on Wheels America were able to deliver over 19 million more meals in 2020 serving more than one million additional seniors.

In Australia my grandfather lived down the road from us, he babysat us growing up. He kept his drivers licence and independence until very near the end. Often my parents cooking would be enjoyed by him following a quick walk up the hill. Yet even under those circumstances he benefitted from some Meals on Wheels delivered to his house in his last few years. 

 

November 14

On Saturday the 14th of November the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 53,219,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 668,057.

There had been 1,303,062 deaths globally with a daily increase of 10,005.

Over fifty million cases worldwide had been reached the previous Monday with 50,348,362 and a daily increase of 532,475.

In Australia there had been 27,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 907 deaths.

In Canada there had been 282,577 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,516. There had been 10,768 deaths with a daily increase of 83.

In India there had been 8,773,479 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,684. There had been 129,188 deaths with a daily increase of 520.

In the United Kingdom on the 24th of September there had been a new record of daily new cases reported – 6,178.

The next day a new record – 6,634.

The two days later a new record – 6,873.

Six days later, 30th of September a new daily record again – 7,143.

Ten days later on the 4th of October a new record – 12,871.

Eleven days later on the 5th of October there were 22,961 confirmed new cases reported.

Twenty eight days later on the 22nd of October a new record of daily cases again – 26,687.

That record was broken again on the 13th of November – 33,470.

In fifty days the record of daily new cases in the country has gone from 6,178 to 33,470.

UK honors war dead in scaled-back Remembrance Sunday service | KRNV

One million cases had been reported in the United Kingdom at the beginning of November – 1,011,664 to be exact.

The day after Remembrance Day Great Britain surpassed 50,000 deaths from COVID-19. 50,365.

On the 14th of November in the United Kingdom there had been 1,317,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 27,301. There had been 51,304 deaths with a daily increase of 376.

The World Health Organisation had reported on the 8th of November a record number of new daily cases in America of 131,821.

On the 12th of November they reported a new daily record of 133,935. America also reached more than 10 million cases with 10,124,555.

On the 13th of November a new daily record of 142,076.

On the 14th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,460,365 confirmed cases with a new record of daily new cases reported of 193,734. There had been 241,186 deaths with a daily increase of 1,142.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBRANCE DAY

Photos: Brazil's mass graves, experts predict 125,000 COVID-19 deaths -  Business Insider
 
 
November 11
 
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

I donated to Legacy Australia which helps 52,000 Australians currently,  families of soldiers who have passed on. 

In 1923 Legacy made a promise to help families carry on with their lives after the loss or injury of a loved one due to military service. Their work continues today.

I think [people] think a ‘digger’ is an old veteran in a wheelchair being marched down Anzac parade. But anybody that’s done one day’s service, as far as the government is concerned, is a veteran, which is an interesting change in the way we think about our veteran community,” said Legacy’s President Mark Lax in a recent interview with the ABC.  

Mr Lax understood there might have been a belief once that as the generations of World War II and Vietnam veterans grew old and passed on that there may be a belief in the community that Legacy would become a smaller operation.

Not anymore.

Well, once East Timor started, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas … we’ve had more service men and women deployed than for the Vietnam war. We’re now starting to see a younger generation coming through, and that’s something we’re very conscious of, that the population we support is changing,” Mr Lax said.

Like other charities COVID affected collecting for donations this year particularly around the time of Remembrance Day where the biggest fund raising occurs. 

We would normally send our [supporters] to the shopping centres with the badges and the bears, but this year we’re not able to do that,” Mr Lax said.

In Queensland in 2020 Legacy was there to help 153 people with a disability, support over 5,800 widowers, more than 60 families with and 217 youths.

They do realise people are thinking of them, and I think that’s really important,” said Mr Lax.

One example is a young boy named Javas who needed a new laptop when the switch was made to online schooling during COVID.

“That laptop, it is more than a computer for Javas. It’s love. It’s support. Looking at it reminds him of Legacy and that connects him to his father.” – Yulia, Javas’s mother.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE PROMISED LAND

People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as they celebrate after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Over the next few days I watched the U.S. election coverage with great interest and a swirl of emotions.
You can’t have supporters show up in one state and insist the vote be counted and in another demand the count be stopped. It becomes very clear that your intentions then are not about ensuring the democratic process.

I don’t like to give into the hyperbole of the moment but it was with some concern that we watched the election coverage and were simply stunned by just how fair Ballbag was willing to undermine the election process and also how many people were happy to step in and support him.

I have worked in the past at elections here in Australia. I’ve stood in a warehouse on election night and counted votes and in the days after. People of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs worked with me. There was a lot of supervision, oversight and cross checking. I couldn’t imagine people chanting outside the building and the need for security at such places doing such work.

Democracy is a privilege and something fragile, I certainly thought so even more during these days.

You can hate on Ballbag if you like but he’s a symptom of something much larger and scarier than just his own misbehaviour and hubris.

I turned 40 that Saturday night. I went out and had dinner in the Valley with some friends at a Chinese restaurant. This was the first time I saw some of my closest friends in person all year. Some the second or fourth time. We certainly felt lucky to do this given what was happening around the world.

In fact walking around The Valley that night past lines outside nightclubs you could have been excused for not knowing there a pandemic was on but there was.

The Valley is on the perimeter of the Brisbane CBD, noted for its night life. I walked past the alleyway where a short film was shot by Kelly Chen. I realised there were 20 years of history with me and this part of the world. I could see clearly where a younger man had had adventures but I no longer was the man, I would much prefer to stick to the restaurants even then and I was eager to get home. It was good to see my friends though.

On the 7th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 49,219,511 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 615,945. There had been 1,242,899 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,134.

In Australia there had been 27,645 confirmed counts with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 251,338 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,635. There had been 10,381 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

In India there had been 8,462,080 with a daily increase of 50,356. There had been 125,562 deaths with a daily increase of 577.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,146,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,287. There had been 48,475 deaths with a daily increase of 355.

In the United States of America there had been 9,504,758 with a daily increase of 116,780. There had been 233,292 deaths with a daily increase of 1,126.

November 08

The next day I awoke to find that former Vice President Joe Biden had become President-elect Joe Biden.

On the first day of the month there had been 8,952,086 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 99,356.

On the 6th of November there was a new record of the daily increase of confirmed cases – 106,050.

On the 7th of November a new daily record again with 116,780 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November there was a new daily record of 131,821 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November the United States of America had 9,636,579 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 131,821.

There had been 234,500 deaths with a daily increase of November.

Ballbag went out and played golf.

Donald Trump Goes Golfing As US Media Declares Victory For Joe Biden

In Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the ring of steel around Melbourne would be gone come midnight along with many more easing of restrictions.

Victoria will be once again united as one single state,” Premier Andrews said.

This announcement came following nine days of no new cases or deaths in the state. What was referred to as Double Doughnut days. There were only four active known cases in the entire state.

From Monday restaurants and pubs could have up to 40 people inside and 70 outside depending on density. Gyms could have 20. Religious ceremonies 50. Cinemas and theatres – 20 people. Weddings remained ten plus the couple, celebrant and photographer.

Visitors to care facilities and hospitals were now allowed.

The Premier urged people to not become complacent and to get tested even for mild symptoms.

“Nine days of zero is not the same as a vaccine,” Mr Andrews said.

I have to admit I was concerned at the time that they were opening up way too fast but they did only have four active cases something I did not realise at the time.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE

US election 2020: Election Day shadowed by threats of legal challenges

November 03

It was Wednesday the 3rd of November in Australia when the U.S. election took place on the other side of the world.

In Australia there is growing interest in U.S. elections, since America entered the Pacific war and with its allies turn the tide of war, Australia has taken a great interest in America and forged a partnership with it and other nations.

As a kid who loved the movies America captured my imagination with its culture and aspirations. Since blogging I have come to know some Americans and admire them.

1980s Lower Manhattan Skyline At Night Photograph by Vintage Images

I was angry and heartbroken when the towers fell, angry and heartbroken again when the bombs dropped on Baghdad and have made it a point to support Australians of those wars.

Of course I couldn’t imagine Ballbag winning in 2016, my heroes were President Roosevelt (both of them), President Truman, President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Ford, President Reagan, President Clinton and President Obama. Politicians like Senator John McCain and John Kerry.

But I got it.

Ballbag was a moment of great disappointment but the hyperbole in 2016 struck me as odd, surely he would get a good team around him. It wasn’t like it was the end of the world.

….

Well.

It’s no secret I am angry, appalled and vitrolic about my disdain for Ballbag on this blog. If you support him you may not want to read the rest of this post and that is fine by me.

Heading into the U.S. election I watched the 60 Minutes interview with President-elect Joe Biden and Ballbag.

I am always angered by Ballbag’s demeanour and disrespect to others. But also how his followers espouse him as a tough guy when he so often acts like a little bitch and toddles at the first sign of a challenging question.

Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was still covering the election. As Ballbag sang one of his standards, that case numbers were going up because we were testing the best. Well testing was up by 13 per cent and case numbers were up by 51 per cent. Do the maths Ballbag.

Over 69 million Americans had already voted and 46 million of those by mail in votes. Chas Licciardello also advised that if Democrats won either North Carolina, Florida or Arizona they’d be looking good. The Republicans would need all three.

Heading into the U.S. election I mentioned it to a family member my concern that Ballbag may once again surprise despite recent changes to polling.

Despite a Planet America episode interviewing a election analyst Dave Wasserman who discussed the changes that had been made to increase accuracy of polling since 2016.

I hate being right sometimes.

That episode also pointed out how COVID cases were on the rise as well hospitalisations but at least hospitals had not been overrun yet and that was good news in terms of keeping the death rates down.

I would say that John Oliver maybe summed up my thoughts best in the closing moments of the 2nd of November episode of his show Last Week Tonight.

I would urge anyone to listen from the 16th minute, Oliver speaks for five minutes at that point and sums up succinctly what has occurred under President Trump during COVID-19.

Highlighting how Ballbag doesn’t care about anybody else certainly not our brave health care workers who have done so much when Trump has done so little (hell fuck that! – he’s done damage), noted how the numbers don’t stack up – case in point America has four times the population of Germany who sure as hell had its fair share of cases and yet America has 17 times the number of cases as Germany and also mentioned the personal toll of the pandemic.

Never forget America, never forget any of us.

I won’t.

I didn’t give much thought to mirages on election days as Florida swung to Trump I was shocked and appalled. Ohio followed which was the state that decided the 2008 elections. Arizona being called for Biden by Fox News didn’t even get my attention.

Checking the New York Times election page I left work at 6pm to find that Biden may lose Pennsylvania with commentary about the fracking fracas from the debate being the turning point.

I wondered after all those dead Americans that Trump didn’t care about, an opportunity had been missed to give him his marching orders. Fake news worked both ways.

I could deny it now but I really did think something was really wrong in the country.

With talk of civil strife I did suggest maybe it was time to burn it down. Not in the sense that I wanted rioting or people to get hurt and not in the sense that I wanted anybody on either side to just hate and protest each other. But just in the sense if that is where we were surely the system and the culture needed radical reform and that could only come from real action.

Even with hindsight it seems there is still some truth to this.

US presidential election: New York skyline lit up to mark Election Day |  South China Morning Post

Just like in 2016 despite which ever candidate claims victory, they inherit a nation divided. I believe most of us are sick of that. That division is not just present in America but throughout the West and here in Australia.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison was elected last year, lefty commentators up in their glass tower commented on television in the wee small hours on how Australians just didn’t get it having denied the opposition a win for their ideas. My first thought was maybe you guys didn’t get it, after all the people had spoken and they’d said that dog won’t hunt.

I like to think that the majority of us agree on the big things, you only have to see how many conservative governments give bailouts and fund major programs. That progressives mostly espouse traditional family and religious values.

As a young Senator once said in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention,

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America —

there is the United States of America.

There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.

But I’ve got news for them, too:

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States.

We coach Little League in the Blue States, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

At home during dinner I watched special election night episode of Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

President Trump at 2:30am in the morning in America claimed “We were getting ready to win this election – frankly we did the election. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want all voting to stop.”

One week in an America riven by politics and the plague - New Haven Register

With that the endgame of Trump’s efforts to undermine postal voting during a global pandemic (with anybody with a scrap of thought for the lives of Americans would have promoted) was now out in the open for all to see and it was pretty scary and it was only going to get scarier.

Former Vice President Joe Biden perhaps to avoid the mistakes of the 2000 election came out before that to say that while the results were not in he was confident Americans would ultimately choose him.

Going off the votes as they currently stood I was pretty worried. I went to the gym after dinner and watching the news on the TV screens in the gym America woke up to the next morning and there was hopeful new numbers coming out of Michigan and Wisconsin.

I actually thought about the movie Moneyball and Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane working out in the gym and listening to the results of the baseball game while he did it.

Nevada was still in play and as time went on Pennsylvania and even Georgia would come into play as more postal votes were counted.

Arizona while called by some news outlets was still in play too.

While I worked out I listened to The Rewatchables podcast cover The American President. I was slightly moved as they recalled the idealism and reverence that we used to have for politics at least in the movies and how things that were said about elections back then are oddly prescient now. 

We need to know the difference between the sand and the water.

On the 3rd of November, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 9,108,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States of America with a daily increase of 75,888. There had been 229,442 American deaths with a daily increase of 444.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART IX

Australian States Close Borders as COVID-19 Threat Intensifies | Voice of  America - English

November 03

Just hours before Queenslanders went to the polls Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced that travel would be allowed between New South Wales and Queensland with the exception of greater Sydney from 1am 03NOV2020.

Despite opening up thousands of people to travel Daniel Cschwind, CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council seemed non-plussed advising that tourism business from Sydney was normally worth $3 billion a year.

If the cynics amongst us thought Palaszczuk was playing politics on the eve of an election she firmly denied it. 

I have accepted her [Dr Jeannette Young’s] recommendations to me lock, stock and barrel. I am honest with the people of Queensland, that is what I said I would do,” she said.

The Premier held firm about putting health concerns above economic ones.

When you have a virus that is out of control your economy is locked down. There was one or two cases in Victoria, the virus got out of control and the whole state was locked down and we saw 700 deaths — I do not want to see 700 deaths in Queensland,” she said.

To read the ABC coverage it certainly seemed to indicate that the Qld Premier would get no boost from her decision with the QANTAS CEO and Tourism Vendors being asked to offer their two cents all of which was negative. 

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young was more concerned with stopping the spread of the disease. 

I have reviewed the situation in NSW and prior to yesterday they had four LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney that had had cases of community transmission that NSW was unable to link to any known clusters, which means that they have transmission and they don’t know where it is coming from,” she said.

People travelling from rural New South Wales into Queensland through Sydney would not be able to enter for 14 days. Queenslanders who landed in Sydney airport could travel onto rural New South Wales as long as they didn’t stop in Sydney.

When asked about opening up fully to the southern state Dr Young advised, “I will always give advice to make sure that Queenslanders are kept as safe as they can possibly be kept safe. Anything could happen, but also there’s a strong possibility that we’ll be open because NSW is getting on top of these cases,” she said.

We have always said as a national cabinet we have an aspiration that families can be reunited around Christmas time, but once again anything can happen so we need to monitor community transmission,” Premier Palaszczuk advised.

That week there had been two positive sewerage tests of COVID-19 in Ipswich and Brisbane’s bay area urging Dr Young to tell people, “There is a concern, that we may have virus circulating and the best way to deal with that is to come forward and be tested.

In Queensland on the 30th of October there had been 1,325 cases, 6 deaths, 1,421,147 tests carried out since the pandemic began. I was three of those tests. There were ten active cases in the state.

In New South Wales on the 30th of October there had been 4,228 cases, 55 deaths and 3,042,039 tests carried out. There were 71 active cases and one person was in Intensive Care.

On the 3rd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

The NSW-Victoria border is reopening after the coronavirus shutdown —  here's what to expect - ABC News

November 04

Wednesday Premier Gladys Berejiklian put her money with her mouth was and announced a plan to open the border with Victoria 1 minute past midnight on the 23rd of November, 2020.

Berejiklian has closed the borders to Victoria with great regret on the 8th of July.

They may have, because of the lockdown, actually gone down a path of having eliminated it at this point in time. Come a minute past midnight on November 23, there will be free movement between NSW and Victoria,” Premier Berejiklian said.

There were nine new cases in New South Wales, three local and six in hotel quarantine having returned from overseas. More than 17,000 tests were carried out in the state.

Victoria had gone five days with out a new case of COVID-19. There had been 20,345 COVID-19 cases and 819 deaths in the state.

The Australian Capital Territory followed suit with NSW in regards to Victoria.

“Waiting a full two weeks before making changes will allow enough time for ACT Health to assess the impact of restrictions and ensures the ACT is consistent with NSW,” ACT Health Minister Rachel-Stephen Smith said.

The Premier of NSW wouldn’t be opening her border if she didn’t have confidence Victorians could maintain the low numbers,” advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

However, he urged Victorians not to be in too much of a hurry to leave their own state.

“Don’t go to Sydney for Christmas for summer holidays. We have lots of places here you can visit,” he said.

Victoria has never closed its borders to residents from other states.

On the 4th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,610 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. The death toll remained 907 Australian deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WELL YOU’VE HEARD OF ME NOW

Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaking to the media in Brisbane in  February, 2015 - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

October 31

The Queensland State Election was held on Saturday. A third of voters turned out on the day, the rest had either voted via post or through pre-polling. This was unprecedented. If the election was a referendum on how Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk had handled COVID-19 then it was a resounding affirmation of her policies. Fifty two seats were won by the Labour party, 34 by the Liberal National Party and 7 going to independents and smaller parties.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had done well given we were in the middle of a crisis to win so many seats but was replaced within days of losing the election.

Many years ago I had been working in government walking past somebody being interviewed outside the executive building. A colleague mentioned that it was the Opposition Leader Anastacia Palaszczuk.

I’d never heard of her.

Within a year she had won an unlikely victory in a election called in a calculating move by the LNP over summer 2015. No one had expected her to win and nobody knew how she would fare.

She won again in October 2017 and now again in October 2020. State elections will now run every four years at the end of October. If she sees out this current term she will become the second longest serving Labour Premier in the state and the fourth overall.

That is if nobody knifes her or her political fortunes do not radically change.

I guess what I’m saying is the unlikely leader with the hard to spell name has become a figurehead in her party and a Premier who has done the job when history threw down a moment for her to meet.

I had not heard of her then.

Now everybody knows Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk.

A lovely smile for Sunday. | Sean connery, Lovely smile, Photo

As I watched the state election unfold that night on the TV a piece of news came in that Sir Sean Connery had passed away at the age of 90.

A lot has been written about Sir Sean in recent days. I won’t have much to add except that I enjoyed his work. I watched The Russia House for the first time upon hearing of his passing and I thought it was really wonderful. I think Connery liked roles like that particularly in his later years. He’s very vulnerable in The Russia House and very real. Then you see him in something like The Rock or The Hunt for the Red October and you think what a movie star. But going back and looking at some of his work like the early James Bonds or even A Bridge Too Far or The Untouchables it is amazing even in the big films in star roles he always seems so flesh and blood. It is with no small delight that I look back and think that Connery became a bigger star later in life and a sex symbol for the fact that he was real and always played it so.

Vale Sir Sean Connery.

November 01

On the 1st of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 46,067,515 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 518,856.

There had been 1,196,274 deaths globally with a daily increase of 7,046.

In Australia there had been 27,590 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 907 deaths.

In Canada there had been 231,999 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,457. There had been On the 29th of October with a daily increase of 28 deaths the country had recorded more than 10,000 Canadian deaths due to COVID-19 at 10,001. On the 1st of November there had been 10,110 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

In the United Kingdom on the 1st of November the country reported there had now been more than 1 million reported cases. There had been 1,011,664 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21,915. There had been 46,555 deaths with a daily increase of 326.

In India there had been 8,184,082 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 46,963. There had been 122,111 deaths with a daily increase of 470.

In the United States of America on the 26th of July there had been a record of new daily cases – 74,235.

On the 25th of October there was a new record of new daily cases – 82,630.

On the 31st of October a new record of daily cases – 89,048.

I remember my father talking back in July of 60-70,000 new daily cases in the country with real dismay and a little fear.

Now on the 1st of November there had been 8,952,086 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 99,356. There had been 228,185 deaths with a daily increase of 1,007.

During the news coverage there was talk about how smoothly and peaceful the election was carried out in the state as thoughts turned to the upcoming U.S. election which was fraught with anxiety.

How sadly true those thoughts would prove.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WORLD TEACHER’S DAY

QCT2

 

October 30

The Queensland College of Teachers held their TEACHX Awards on Thursday night the 30th of October, 2020 digitally via video conference with some live components and some taped components. The next day was World Teacher’s Day. 

The previous year we had held the event in Customs House.

Last year I had been tapped to accompany the former chair of the Board of Teacher Registration (QCT’s predecessor) Miss Merline Muldoon last year. Miss Muldoon had just become the award eponym for the Innovation in Teaching category. She shared war stories with the finalists of the category. Long retired their individual experiences remained the same – their passion for education shared.

On that night as each Finalist received their certificate and each winner gave a short speech there was a feeling in the air that is hard to explain but contained good will, pride and optimism for the education of students across the state. It may be hard to quantify how such events elevate the profession but if you were there on the night you were left in no doubt that they do.

With COVID the challenge was always going to be how to create as much of this in a new setting without human contact.

I still remember 2019 winners Principal Andrew Peach speaking about education or the touching moment when Norah Parsons won – a teacher who had given so much to the mining community of Moura.

Last year I had been introduced by my manager in front of the finalists as the one who wrote half of their stories – a proud and rewarding moment for me.

I had been honoured to wait on Miss Muldoon.

This year I sat at my desk and listened to the ceremony on headphones.

The ceremony went well I believe and hopefully the teachers and their schools got something out of it. The nominees, finalists and winners were as deserving as any other year. 

 

 

Afterwards I was very kindly invited to go out with the rest of the team and celebrate the completion of all of our hard work. We had a little champagne at the Regatta and toasted each other and what we had achieved as a team.

Last year the TEACHX Awards, rebranded significantly by some very hard working and talented colleagues and with the media releases prepared by me and my manger, received unprecedented media coverage. 

At the time it was discussed that this would be highly unlikely to be repeated two years running due to the Awards being held in the final week of the Queensland State elections. 

Then COVID-19 happened and one result of the that was the shrinking of media offices in the country.

Despite this and due to the sterling efforts of my manager there was a lot of coverage in the press.

Of the teachers I interviewed.

Media Sponsor The Courier Mail wrote a large article about the Awards and all Finalists.

Quest Newspapers also covered the Award Categories and Finalists and highlighted five Logan teachers Ping Ding, Donald Cameron, Sophie Gruhl, Margaret Sherrington and Michael King. It also covered Cameron Lynch and Gavin Jones. I had interviewed Ping Ding, Donald CameronGavin Jones and Cameron Lynch.  

The Sunshine Coast Daily wrote an article about teachers Chantelle Amson and Alexandra Calligaris.

The Daily Mercury published an article on Clermont teacher Carly Bell.

The Morning Bulletin did an article on Ron Armstrong who runs the boarding of students at The Cathedral College.

CQ News also did an article on Ron Armstrong.

The Queensland Times wrote an article of Ipswich teacher Jodi Audoss.

Finalist Ben Habermehl was interviewed on ABC Breakfast Radio Brisbane by Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan. 

Breakfast – Breakfast – ABC Radio

Finalist Donald Cameron was interviewed on ABC Breakfast Radio Brisbane by Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan which is linked below.

How sports psychology could help your teenager excel in final exams – Breakfast – ABC Radio

A message from the Director of the Queensland College of Teachers was also published in The Courier Mail and can be found on the QCT’s website too.

Finally I will share one final story about one special teacher. 

My manager wrote about a shortlisted nominee 82 year-old teacher Dell Rathbone, she then interviewed Dell and wrote about her as a Finalist.

She won in the Outstanding Contribution to Teaching category on the night of 2020 TEACHX Awards.

Then no doubt with some help from my manager, Dell Rathbone was featured on the national television program The Project. To have shared Dell Rathbone’s story with such a wide audience is such a wonderful thing to have happened. 

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – STAYING THE COURSE

Coronavirus Australia news: 'Now is the time to open up,' says Daniel  Andrews after Victoria records zero new cases - ABC News

 

October 26

Monday.

For the first time since June 9, the state of Victoria recorded no new daily cases of COVID-19. And no deaths from the virus.

The day before Premier Daniel Andrews had pumped the brakes on lowering restrictions following new cases in Melbourne’s north including seven mystery cases.

Once again Sky News commentators had a pink fit about the Labor Premier saying how could he do this. 

I don’t know… maybe because he didn’t want people to get sick and die and have to stay in lock-down any longer than they had to?

Maybe that. 

The Premier reported 14,024 tests including 3,196 in those communities had been carried out in the past 24 hours and 1,157 just that morning.  

The Federal Government had been agitating for Melbourne re-opening.

“We’ve seen Victoria have a process where they have reached the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s target of under 10 cases a day on a rolling average, they’ve reached their own target of under five cases a day. If they do believe in their contact tracing system, then there is no reason not to move to the next stage and to do so today,” Chief Health Minister Greg Hunt had said pointing out that the state government who had endured the longest lockdown in Australia had given themselves a higher target in hopes of stabilising the spread of the virus in the community, more so than the federal government. 

The 14 day rolling average of cases in Melbourne was 3.6 and in regional Victoria 0.2.

The tests had all come back negative.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation was quick to report the economics of it all. 

It told us the Commsec State of the States Report had cultural powerhouse Victoria from second to third in the economic ranking of states. 

That consumer spending was so low that Victoria had gone from second to fifth in the Retail Trade category.

Unemployment in the quarter was 6.7 per cent.

The Victorian Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley pointed out, “We’re behind Tasmania and the ACT and it’s driven by collapse in business investment and this unemployment.” 

Which you know is related to…. oh yeah – a pandemic!

Maybe Tasmania being the best performing economy in the country for the third month in a row had something to do with the fact they had not had one case of coronavirus for 75 days.  

Which I’m sure these pundits were aware of but they seemed to fail to make the connection that one leads to the other not the other way around. 

So Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media for his daily press conference and presented different statistics that hold far more importance for him, for me for anyone who values human life.

There were 91 active cases across the state and there were zero new cases. It seemed his voice cracked a little as he advised it had been 139 days ago since that had happened. 

There were seven Victorians in hospital and he was pleased to say none of them were in intensive care. 

There had been over 3 million tests in Victoria and over 14,000 since yesterday.

Can you imagine, lockdown, testing, mandatory wearing of masks. In the UK I’m being told about people testing positive in schools and year levels going home. Has anybody actually ever been in a school? One positive case here and a whole school locks down.

There were six health care workers with active cases of COVID-19. The Premier wished them well and thanked them and their colleagues for their service.

There were now just four active cases in residential aged care and the vulnerability and loss of the elderly was highlighted by the Premier.

The Premier announced the following of lowering restrictions for Melbournians who had been in stage 3 lockdown since 09JUL2020 and Stage 4 since 02AUG2020 would lift come 11:59pm Tuesday 27OCT2020.

Covid-19 soars in Australia's Victoria despite second Melbourne lockdown

The four essentials reasons to leave home were gone. You could leave your house for any reason.

You could leave your house for any reason.

….

My how the world has changed. 

Retail businesses would re-open, hospitality venues could seat patrons subject to density quotas. 

More than two households could catch up outside but with a limit of 10 not including babies. 

From Wednesday beauty and tattoo parlours could re-open if masks were worn by all. 

Outdoor contact sports for 18 and under will start-up again as will non-contact sport for adults. PT, Fitness and Dance classes could be held outdoors with ten people. Outdoor pools could have 50 people depending on density. 

Libraries, community venues would be open for outdoor events as well as entertainment venues within limits.

Faith communities could hold outdoor ceremonies for up to 20 people plus the people running the service. Indoor could have ten people.

Weddings could have 10 people and funerals up to 20. 

Masks would remain mandatory and people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible.

Years 8 to 10 had returned to the classrooms that Monday with one student Turker Cakal noting, “They had enough of me, I’ve been home too long.

Now is the time to open up. Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course,” Andrews said.

There were reports of cars honking at school pick-up as the announcement was listened in car radios. People cried.

Premier Andrews advised he would provide clear instructions on how home visits would be conducted on Tuesday. 

He did warn, “We must understand, all of us — the most dangerous environment for the spread of this virus is in your home. When you have visitors, you let your guard down, and they go back to their house, they have visitors and all of a sudden there are chains of transmission that spread silently.

From the Premier’s prepared statement he advised further changed for November 8 as regional Victoria and Melbourne became whole. 

The “ring of steel” around Melbourne was on track to be removed 11:59pm Sunday the 8th of November.

“The state will be one again,” Mr Andrews said.

Australia has a contentious history of curfews — will one help Melbourne  beat coronavirus? - ABC News

The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase, with up to 40 inside and 70 outside.

Religious gatherings will expand with up 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 outside.

Gyms and indoor fitness will be able to reopen – with some strict safety precautions in place.

And because Melburnians will have well and truly earnt a holiday, accommodation will also reopen.

The border between the city and the rest of our state will also fall away.

I know personally – deeply – just how much this will mean for thousands of Victorians who haven’t been able to see loved ones for far too long. 

It will mean families are whole again. Our state is whole again.

In relation to the testing blitz and pumping the brakes Andrews said, “We took the time to wait to make sure we did not have widespread community transmission in the northern suburbs. It was worth waiting to be absolutely confident, to be sure that our team had their arms around those positive cases and fundamental control of the outbreak, and that is exactly what these numbers show us.

The Premier pointed out that the freedom and stability that had been reached was fragile and the responsibility of all Victorians to protect and accordingly he acknowledged it was the achievement of every Victorian and deflected any praise suggested for him as the leader of his state through this tremendous crisis.

Fundamentally this belongs to every Victorian.

But it is not over, this virus is not going away – it is going to continue to be a feature of our lives. It is going to be of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up.

These are big steps, we’ve all given a lot. I’m so proud and impressed and humbled by by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made. If this is to mean something then we have to take our COVID responsibilities to stay safe and to stay open, to stay safe and to stay connected – we have to take those responsibilities seriously.”

“There cannot be bending of rules, they cannot be people on an endless search for loopholes. We are all in this together and just as we have stayed the course and yes we have stayed apart but remain fundamentally connected as a strong and united state we have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come. Until a vaccine comes – there’s no normal there’s only COVID normal.”

So much has been given to build this precious thing and all of us need to make sure we honour it and value it and protect it in all the chances that we make every single day.

I could not be prouder than I am today to lead a state that has shown the courage and compassion and the character to get this job done.

“But it not yet absolutely finished. Only a vaccine can give us the ultimate protection against this so we need to be proud today, we need to be optimistic, we need to be confident but we also need to be COVID safe and I’m very confident that is exactly what Victorians will do.” 

A zero case number today is not the same as a vaccine against this. We all need to keep our guard up. We all need to be very careful about how we safeguard this precious thing that we have built as a Victorian community because we have stayed the course.

“Because we haven’t been pushed by the loudest voices in our community into making irresponsible choices. The decisions we’ve made have given us the number that we have got today, all of us, the sacrifices we’ve made and now we just need to lock that in by making smart choices for the future.”

In March at the beginning of lockdown Premier Andrews had remarked that you can’t have mates around to get on the beers. 

A reporter asked him in the press conference, “Can I confirm you are saying we can finally on the beers?”.

Andrews wryly replied, “I might go a little higher up the shelf.”

This was a great day for all Victorians, they had endured, they had triumphed. However fleeting, this victory was hard earned and their own.

My condolences. My thanks. My admiration.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THERE’S A THIRD WAVE COMING

Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones on crowd-surfing at a Macon Trump rally |  firstcoastnews.com

 October 18

From the 13th of September I had started going back to my gym late at night, often spending an hour on the bike but this had been unpredictable. Once my secondment ended on the 12th of October I began to more regularly and consistently get there during the week.

For the month of September I went eight times and for the month of October and November I went 9 times each. Occasionally I worked out on the treadmill and did weights but mostly I would do an hour on the bike. My weight fluctuates but I weighed 114 kgs the first time I went and I have been consistently getting around 110kgs since October. 

Hardly a lifestyle change but I have been enjoying exercising more regularly. I have been warned by my GP that changes need to be made in terms of my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Apparently I’m high risk of a heart attack in the next five years so it’s the least I could do.

I certainly pursued a better work life balance.

As I worked on my health, the world kind of went to shit. Second and third waves abounded and the US prepared to hold their Presidential election and we also had the state elections here in Queensland. 

On the 18th of October the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 39,689,767 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 413,315.

There had been 1,109,960 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,193.

WHO 11DEC2020

In Australia there had been 27,383 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 904 deaths.

WHO Australia 11DEC2020

In Canada there had been 194,106 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,374. There had been 9,722 deaths with a daily increase of 23. On the 15th of of October Canada had suffered their largest daily increase of cases – 4,042.

WHO Canada 11DEC2020

In the United Kingdom there had been 705,432 confirmed new cases with a daily increase of 16,171. There had been 43,579 deaths with a daily increase of 150. On the 5th of October they suffered the largest daily increase of new cases in the country of 22,961. On the 22nd of October this record would be surpassed with 26,687 new cases reported that day.

WHO UK 11DEC2020

In India there had been 7,494,551 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 61,871. There had been 114,031 death with a daily increase of 1,033. On the 3rd of October the tragic figure of 100,000 Indians dying from COVID-19 had been reached. 100,842.

WHO India 11DEC2020

In the United States of America there had been 7,966,729 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 69,834. There had been 217,071 deaths with a daily increase of 998. 

WHO USA 11DEC2020

There were a few things that grabbed my attention over the rest of the month in the lead-up to the U.S. election.

On the 18th of October John Oliver did an episode Last Week Tonight centred around World Health Organisation. Their achievements, their limits, their flaws and the fact that Ballbag had given notice that the most powerful country was withdrawing from the organisation that eliminated smallpox and also during a global pandemic.

October 19

Monday. Pre-poll voting started in Queensland which I did in the afternoon having been ill earlier that day.

I was one of 100,000 early voters who voted that day. To put that in context about 820,000 voters turned out on election day itself.

1,210,000 Queenslanders did pre-poll voting, 10,000 more than the local council elections that were held in March and up from 740,000 who did in the 2017 Queensland State Election. 900,000 postal votes were issued by the Electoral Commission Queensland.

October 21

A favourite of mine David Letterman returned to Australian screens on Netflix with season 3 of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. The show has proven a mixed bag, fans of Letterman’s acerbic wit don’t know what to make of him fawning over Kim Kardashian, the gentle kinder and yes older Dave make you miss that smart alec Hoosier but what remains is someone with a fervent curiosity who wants you to see the whole individual. I also enjoy watching Dave now in his 70s find ways to relate to people younger than him simply through curiosity and common ground. Maybe some interviews go on too long but I still think this is a good show, that David Letterman is a national treasure and has a way of getting to things in an interview that others may have missed.

There were four episodes, the weakest is Kim Kardashian, she’s enjoying being at the height of her powers, the audience is packed with her crowd and she’s maybe ready to have one over Letterman but she gets him to open up and talk about the time she was robbed and show that there is always a human being at the centre of a headline and lest we forget it. His goal and her vulnerability is admirable.

The interview with Robert Downey Jr is polished with some Hollywood flair. RDJ is on and ready to have a laugh but also talk about his past. It’s the closest to what we might have expected, The Late Show but longer and on location with an entertaining star.

The one with Lizzo is great in watching how the two connect to each other and talk careers and families. A highlight is Lizzo telling Dave not to be so hard on himself with his rapping.

But the greatest episode is easily the one with Dave Chappelle. an artistic and witty figure who is arguably the greatest stand-up comedian working today. Dave probes him here but it is Chappelle who makes the show so special in light of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. I absolutely agree with everything he says about community, about how we are all victims of prejudice but some more often than others and how we have to all come together to fix our problems. The people of Yellow Springs, Ohio should be proud of themselves too. They take care of each other, such communities are special.

October 22

It’s fascinating to look back at an episode of Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In which they pointed out that in many states postal votes were as 40% of turn-out and also indicated that Democrat voters were twice as likely to have voted via the post. Not a surprise given that Ballbag downplays the threat of COVID-19 and urges his supporters that the long established practice of postal voting, which would be the most ideal and safest way to carry out the election during a pandemic where thousands of Americans have died and hundreds of thousands have gotten sick, is more likely to lead to voter fraud.

I will admit I didn’t recall too much of this nor hear much about the mirage of votes. When the results started coming in on Election Day this previous commentary did not come to mind. I was just too shocked by the results even though it backed up my nerves that Ballbag was still in the race despite polling. Speaking of Trafalgar polling called it for Trump which is covered in this episode too.

Ballbag’s niece, a trained psychologist and author Dr Mary Trump was interviewed as well on the show. Her discussion of the lack of respect that Ballbag has for COVID-19, for media, for the lives of others and for the office and how as a result he should not be shown the respect that the office deserves certainly rang true for me.

The show also covered the accusations of Hunter Biden.

October 24

Planet America covered the next election debate between candidates. It also covered how teh third wave was occurring in America. The first wave predominantly occurred in coastal states, the second wave occurred more in the south and centre. The third wave was taking off across all of the country which was hardly a surprise when the country was led as Dr Fauci pointed out by someone who held a party with major leaders with no COVID precautions which led to the President getting himself sick as well as major players in the government. They can’t protect themselves why would they protect the average citizen.

Democrat Vernon Jones from the Georgia House of Representatives spoke eloquently about his support of Ballbag, advising of laws and funding business that have helped African-Americans. He compared prison reform carried out by Trump and contrasted it with the crime bill which President-elect Joe Biden supported. He spoke of President Obama post retirement going to Martha’s Vineyard rather than say Chicago. No real talk of President Obama’s early work in Chicago. I didn’t agree with everything he said but at least he articulated another perspective very well.

October 25

On the 25th of October the World Health Organisation reported there had been globally 42,643,811 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 481,597.

There had been 1,150,317 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,097.

In Australia there had been 27,499 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15. There had been 905 death.

In Canada there had been 211,732 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,584. There had been 9,888 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In the United Kingdom there had been 854,015 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,012. There had been 44,745 deaths with a daily increase of 174.

In India there had been 7,864,811 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 50,129. There had been 118,534 deaths with a daily increase of 578. My brother in law, a man I call my brother from another mother is Indian. His family still lives there. His Uncle passed away. We caught up and went up to Maleny for Capriccio’s pizza. He spoke of a sweet good natured man who had worked hard and always been kind and warm to his family particularly children. A good man, gone too soon. One loss amongst many. One story repeated over 118,000 times and counting.

In the United States of America there had been 8,403,121 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 82,630. There had been 222,507 deaths with a daily increase of 943.

Things were getting worse as the northern hemisphere headed towards winter. All we could do was pray and try to help however we could.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY AND OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO TEACHING FINALISTS FOR 2020 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

QCT2

October 13

The TEACHX Awards are held annually by the Queensland College of Teachers to recognise some great teachers in our community and to elevate the profession.

In the year of COVID-19, the need for teachers to be flexible, hard working, innovative and dedicated to the education of students was on display more than ever.

The QCT received close to 400 nominations of which 74 nominees were shortlisted.

In each of the six awards categories there were five finalists.

Out of those 30 teachers I personally interviewed 15 of them and drafted 14 media releases.

These are their stories.

Outstanding Contribution to School Community

Chantelle AmsonChantelle teachers at the Nambour Special School and if Mohammed won’t come to the moutain, well Chantelle brings the mountain to her students. An incredibly dedicated teacher she has created two major events at her school and is part of the school’s choir named Sing, Sign, Sway which participates with mainstream schools in a Chorale Spectacular every second year. The two major events at NSS are a Market Day (the school’s fair) and Gold Pass Day where and this is for real, they set up a water park on the school oval including a massive slide. For some of the students this is the first time they are able to experience something like this. Chantelle Amson leads a school, a community in making this happen. She does not do it by herself but it happens because she sought to do it. Just another example of the amazing teachers who were Finalists.

Ron ArmstrongWhen the zombie apocalypse occurs you might want to look up Ron Armstrong. Growing up on a dairy farm he spent 3 hours a day commuting to school and as a teenager he played rugby league and competed in track and field at state level. As an adult he learned martial arts and became a Muay Thai instructor, climbing instructor and archery instructor. Having been a teacher most of his working life he has also worked in corrective services, employment services, ran a school in Papua New Guinea and had a book of poetry published. For well over a decade he has been involved in the boarding of students and been called upon for his expertise. When COVID hit, he and his team worked hard liaising with various agencies to meet safety requirements and be one of the first in the state to open up their school’s boarding facilities.

Carly BellIn a town of about 3,000 people, Clermont teacher Carly Bell makes a difference. Having moved there sixteen years ago she has boosted numbers of students from the town going onto university and she has been heavily involved in community activities. She became the first female rugby league player from the town to play for the Queensland side. Talking to her gave me a wonderful insight into the appeal of living in Clermont and the idea that in such a community you get out what you put in.

Outstanding Contribution to Teaching

Ping DingA teacher with a remarkable story of growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China. Her entire generation valued education and made the most of their chances to pursue it. As an immigrant to Australia she has overcome language and cultural difference to build one of the state’s largest Chinese language departments. She continues to grow ties between Chinese and Australian school students. Like all these teachers, despite such accomplishments she is very self-effacing.

John AllowaySeventy-two year old John Alloway is the bedrock of the Iggy Park and larger Townsville community. He’s been teaching since 1978 and was part of a push to get Catholic students and state school students to compete together in the brotherhood of sports. He worked twenty years for the North Queensland Cowboys part time tapping him into the innovations of professional sport while he remained Head of Sport at Iggy Park. A lifelong athlete he pedals to school, has shins that put most of us to shame, and can be found lifting weights during the day but when he talks about building the confidence of young students regardless of their athletic ability it touches something in your heart. This is a teacher in the most important sense of the word. Interestingly enough he worked odd jobs after school before deciding to consider going to night school. My own father had a similar experience and so I found something familiar in Alloway’s experiences.

John AloizosWas a wonderful man to speak to about his background growing up in a migrant family and how it gives him insight into the students at his own school where English is not their first language. He has been involved in many projects and been a heads of department often over the years, but a current program where he recruits students to be part of the school’s Stage Crew taking care of all the AV needs for school and external productions is what we mainly discussed. Many of these students are shy and withdrawn, they become proficient, confident and self-reliant as a Stage Crew member. A small measure of John’s impact and maybe the most important one.

It will always remain an honour to have interviewed these wonderful teachers.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP IN LEARNING AND TEACHING AND INNOVATION IN TEACHING FINALISTS FOR 2020 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

QCT2

October 13

The TEACHX Awards are held annually by the Queensland College of Teachers to recognise some great teachers in our community and to elevate the profession.

In the year of COVID-19, the need for teachers to be flexible, hard working, innovative and dedicated to the education of students was on display more than ever.

The QCT received close to 400 nominations of which 74 nominees were shortlisted.

In each of the six awards categories there were five finalists.

Out of those 30 teachers I personally interviewed 15 of them and drafted 14 media releases.

These are their stories.

Excellence Leadership in Learning and Teaching

Donald CameronDonald Cameron was a lovely teacher to talk to, he is highly intelligent and can break down big concepts centred around the way the brain works that make it highly relatable and practical. He was fascinating to listen to and has contributed to the mindfulness of teachers and students at his school.

Keith GrahamKeith Graham has the distinction of being the second person I have interviewed twice. I interview him in early 2019 for QCT when he received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). Our conversation then covered the positive role sport can play in the development of young people. Now we discussed the International Baccalaureate Program, dived deeper into his early years, his role as a Principal and ideas around leadership and building school communities. Graham is a first rate speaker, articulate and concise but also expansive on his points. It’s a dream to interview him but the best part is clearly hearing his passion as an educator and building up people of all ages to reach their best potential.

Ben HabermehlIt was great to chat Ben, an extremely dedicated maths teacher who has made a significant difference to the maths department at his school and the students who learn there. His school, Yeronga State High School partnered with Griffith University in the research project Y Connect which saw artists engaging students in maths through movement with tremendous results particularly with many students whose first language is not English.

Innovation in Teaching

Gavin JonesGavin Jones like every other teacher I interviewed was wonderful to speak to. An arts teacher who set up the second remote pilot course for high school students in Australia and the first in Queensland. Jones who obtained his Commercial Pilots Licence in the early 1990s, has put his school on the map with the program. He was full of amusing stories and we discussed the impact that teachers can make in a student’s life.

Cameron LynchHave you heard of eSports? Well I hadn’t. But it is a growing billion dollar industry of video game tournaments where players are paid to compete professionally. More importantly the industry employs many to market, plan, run such tournaments in a range of specialities with universities offering scholarships, running tournaments, putting together teams and teaching skills for the sector. Thanks to Cameron Lynch students in his high school are doing the same building inroads to tertiary study and industry careers. A teacher with a vast array of experience and great dedication, it was magic listening to him recall a moment coming out of COVID where two of his students reached the grand final of an eSports tournament and they arranged 100 socially distanced peers to cheer them on in the school’s auditorium.

It will always remain an honour to have interviewed these wonderful teachers.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – EXCELLENCE IN BEGINNING TO TEACH AND EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING FINALISTS FOR 2020 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

QCT2

October 13

The TEACHX Awards are held annually by the Queensland College of Teachers to recognise some great teachers in our community and to elevate the profession.

In the year of COVID-19, the need for teachers to be flexible, hard working, innovative and dedicated to the education of students was on display more than ever.

The QCT received close to 400 nominations of which 74 nominees were shortlisted.

In each of the six awards categories there were five finalists.

Out of those 30 teachers I personally interviewed 15 of them and drafted 14 media releases.

These are their stories.

Excellence in Beginning to Teach

Peita BatesI happened to drive up to Maryborough a handful of days before I interviewed two finalists from Maryborough State High School. It is a beautiful town but both teachers I spoke to were eloquent of the challenges that Maryborough students face and that even on the coast 3 hours from Brisbane the community can become isolated like many regional towns. Peita is a former business consultant who in her short time as a teacher had already made great strides for her students becoming part of a school audit of the school as a Registered Training Organisation. She set up computer coding as a language program at the school and a Roboacademy. In the year of COVID she created the Game On challenge for students to design a game around the theme of connection. Along with Cecilia Kovacic, Peita Bates is a great advocate for her students, her school and her town.

Alexandra CalligarisAllie is a whip-smart innovative and perceptive teacher who has already made a big impact in her chosen career. We spoke about the difference a teacher can make in a student’s approach to life and how she has structured subjects to be engaging and contemporary whether it be how geospatial tech could be used to survive a zombie apocalypse or about podcasting. She created a Year 9 elective which aims to cross curriculum with excellent results. As a teacher, Calligaris has already left her mark but she is only getting started.

Excellence in Teaching

Jodi AudossIt was an honour to speak to Jodi Audoss. Jodi had worked in early childhood for many years before becoming a school teacher. A brain bleed saw her leave the profession and gradually with great effort and resilience work her way back to being a full time teacher. She now works with students with disabilities to reach their full potential alongside their peers. She has a lifetime of insight and an unwavering passion for the individual development of young students at a critical time in their education. She is a very special teacher and individual.

Cecilia KovacicCecilia Kovacic who also teaches at Maryborough State High School and spoke with great passion about creating employment opportunities for students in the town through several initiatives including trade training and the FraserPop Pop Culture Festival which drew 15,000 people in 2019 which she co-created. She was full of pride for the resilience and flexibility her students had shown as COVID forced them to change plans for the festival. My manager wrote the piece on Cecilia.

It will always remain an honour to have interviewed these wonderful teachers.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

October 11

There is not a lot to say here.

My secondment working for the media team came to an end Friday the 9th of October. The following monday I returned to regular work in administration. I find the work of both rewarding for different reasons.

The secondment is not the hardest thing I have ever done but I am also not the man I used to be.

I like to think I worked hard and did everything I could to tell the stories of some wonderful teachers and to support of team of individuals I was very honoured to be a part.

In my experience you don’t regret the things you did as much as the things you didn’t do and that is certainly true here.

Perhaps as a result I was always going to have to be pulled away from the job.

It was a difficult year due to COVID but also other matters and so my goal was to stand up and be counted.

In the closing days as I worked to some final deadlines and felt fatigue I even played this video on Youtube to gee myself up with the amazing Rocky score from Bill Conti and Australian Rugby League Legend Wally Lewis going the distance.

 

So I don’t have a lot to cover about COVID-19 this week but I will check in on the usual stats.

On the 11th of October the World Health Organisation reported there had been Globally 37,185,844 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 373,669. There had been 1,072,974 deaths globally with a daily increase of 5,805.

In Australia there had been 27,244 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15. There had been 897 deaths.

In Canada there had been 178,117 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,558. There had been 9,585 deaths with a daily increase of 28.

In the United Kingdom there had been 590,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,165. There had been 42,760 deaths with a daily increase of 81.

In India there had been 7,053,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 74,383. There had been 108,334 deaths with a daily increase of 918. The numbers in India were trending down but still tragically high.

In the United States of America there had been 7,583,748 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 57,828. There had been 212,229 deaths with a daily increase of 918. The same amount of deaths reported in India that day.

Sunday night I awoke, went to Capriccios Pizza at Maleny and had the best pizza in the world and shared ice cream and waffles for dessert. I drove back home, went to the gym and started back at work the next morning.

I am an extremely lucky and blessed man.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BALLBAG DROPS THE BALL

Trump defies Covid: Recklessness or strength? | eurotopics.net

October 02

In the modern world there a few times you can jump out and proclaim news that you can comfortably believe will interest everybody. It was Friday afternoon in the office and one of my work colleagues walked out of his office and declared to the floor that “Trump has COVID.”

Without fail there was all kinds of discussion. I thought of President Reagan and the boost in the polls he had received after being shot, he once remarked when he was facing headwinds that maybe he should get shot again.

EE.UU.: murió el agente del servicio secreto que salvó la vida al  expresidente Reagan en el atentado de 1981 | CNN

I worried that death would make Ballbag a martyr, that recovery would make him sympathetic and that people would rally around their leader and when considering his failings as a leader had cost American lives – I was concerned.

That doesn’t mean I wanted him to die or live, I just didn’t want him or anybody else to have this terrible disease.

In hindsight it seems obvious, Trump isn’t a leader like President Ronald Reagan was. He lacks his wit and warmth and his patriotism.

President Reagan was shot by a troubled individual, his near death brought on by no measure of incompetence or belligerence on his part.

Archive: 1981 Assassination Attempt on Ronald Reagan

His goal to recover quickly was to put others at ease not just his own ego, and he listened to his doctors.

Trump went out in an airconditioned car still sick with staff stuck inside with so he could make a show of the fact Jesus I don’t fucking know.

In the operating room, President Reagan lifted his oxygen mask and joked, “I hope you are all Republicans.”

The doctors and nurses laughed, they were led by Joseph Giordano a Democrat who replied, “Today, Mr President, we are all Republicans.”

Reagan’s Secretary of State James Brady was seriously wounded in the shooting, for the rest of his life he used a wheelchair, had slurred speech and partial paralysis. He remained Press Secretary during Reagan’s Presidency. He later advocated for more gun control and saw the Brady Prevention Act pass in 1993. President Reagan who had opposed increased gun control even after his own shooting made some calls in 1994 and secured passage of a Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

Ballston Lake nurse recalls 1981 Reagan shooting

In support of the Brady Act he once said, “Anniversary” is a word we usually associate with happy events that we like to remember: birthdays, weddings, the first job. March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot… four lives were changed forever, and all by a Saturday-night special – a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol – purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now – the Brady bill – had been law back in 1981… If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land. And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March 30.

Upon returning to the Oval Office and receiving a standing ovation, the former thespian told his team, “I should be applauding you.”

I don’t recall Ballbag deferring to others or doing anything really inspirational like President Reagan which is a shame really. I did joke to friends that hadn’t Melania Trump been through enough.

Trump inauguration balls and parties - CBS News

But at least 29 of his circle had caught the disease at an event celebrating the new appointment to the Supreme Court and before his diagnosis he had gone to rallies. This kind of incompetence and ignorance really should indicate to everybody that getting rid of this fuckhead was just common sense.

He is proving incredibly competent at getting people to catch the disease and since it kills you really got to wonder if he shouldn’t be up on manslaughter charges but hey 73 million people voted for him so what the hell do I know.

Planet America was capturing all of this including discussion about what were the possible worst case scenarios and then as events unfolded, his return to the White House a few days later with helicopters and the White House adding production value. Reminds me of the expression, “Wear the suit, don’t let the suit wear you.”

I want to tell you that I value every life, I want to be a good person, I believe in God and I have to say if for nothing else but that I wish anybody a speedy recovery from COVID-19. But I thought first and foremost about all of those Americans who had died from COVID-19.

I had been extended for one more week with my secondment and I have to admit I was pretty busy with that, Ballbag’s diagnosis the only thing that really cut through the fog of getting stories drafted and ready.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE THIRD QUARTER

COVID-19 HIGHLIGHTS | Death toll reaches 15 as Saudi-returnee Gujarat woman  succumbs; 2 new cases in- The New Indian Express

October 01

And so we entered the third quarter of living with this thing we called COVID-19. In fact such a big part of our lives throughout 2020 it was simply referred to as COVID. Some called it Coronavirus and some called it the Rona and one dipshit called it the Chinese virus. Stop trying to make fetch a thing Ballbag – its not a thing.

In Queensland we had had a few moments of alarm, the two young women who came back from Melbourne “bag shopping” and the Wacol cluster. We would look to the south and figured it was only a matter of time before we were in trouble. We still felt that way but on the 1st of October the government announced certain restrictions were going to be lowered.

Outdoor density in businesses with a COVID Safe Plan would be one person per 2 square metres. The maximum number of people at an outdoor event went from 500 to 1,000. Outdoor stadium capacity increased from 50 to 75 per cent. These directives replaced previous ones made 24JUL2020.

Queensland planned to re-open with New South Wales from 01NOV2020 if they achieved 28 days of no community transmission. The border had previously been opened with NSW from the 10th of July before closing again on the 8th of August. 

Standing, eating and drinking at bars and restaurants would be allowed in Queensland too.

Stage 5 in Queensland would start on the 1st of November too, allowing 40 people at private gatherings and 40 people will be allowed to dance at weddings. That cap of 40 was hoped to go to unlimited in December.

“The reason we can ease more restrictions is because families have done a good job,” advised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Stage 6 restrictions scheduled to begin in Queensland on the 1st of December would have gatherings of 50 people in homes and 1,500 people will be allowed to attend outdoor events.

Dancing at weddings rather than clubs was explained by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

It’s about that close interaction. At venues there are a lot of people who don’t know each other, you wouldn’t normally interact with them. That’s why we want to start with weddings, where people genuinely do know each other,” Dr Young said.

Dr Young did give the green light for wriggling your hips while standing at a bar.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised she had not spoken to Premier Palaszczuk but was happy with the possibility of opening up in November.

I would welcome that with open arms. If that is the case, I’m ecstatic about it. I would’ve hoped it happened sooner but I can live with the 1st of November because it gives hope to our local residents,” Ms Berejiklian said.

There were two new cases reported overnight in my home state, both in hospital having been onboard a ship in quarantine. 5,200 tests had been carried out overnight in Queensland. 

There were now six active cases in my home state.

In Victoria there were seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 overnight and two deaths – both linked to aged care. Spare a thought for them and their families for the moment. There is a lot of talk about how lucky Australia has been and there has been a lot to be grateful but a lot of Australian died, most of them elderly, most of them without their family able to say goodbye and I don’t care how old they were they still had some life left to live. 

Chadstone butcher in ICU, as authorities investigate Box Hill Hospital  coronavirus outbreak - ABC News

Eleven cases in Melbourne were now linked to a Butcher at the Chadstone shopping centre. The Victorian Premier pointed out this group of cases could’ve been worse if restrictions had been lower. 

There’s been a bit written and a bit said in recent times, and perhaps for a long time, about superspreaders and how a very small number of cases can lead to a very large number of cases. Just for a moment imagine what a normal Chadstone would have looked like … if that scenario had played out when we had had literally, in the course of a day, hundreds of thousands of people moving through that setting,” Andrews said.

He warned that the modelling showed if restrictions were lowered too soon then an event like Chadstone could lead to hundreds of cases. 

Despite this, he believed at the moment Melbourne was still on track to see further restrictions lowered come the 19th of October. Although it would depend on how things panned out. He did suggest travel outside of Melbourne may not be on the cards at that exact point. 

I can’t at this stage say that that ring of steel, as it has been called, will just be thrown open and you can travel throughout the state. That might not be a smart thing to do at that point. But that shouldn’t also be read to mean that for all of the second half of October and all of November that those rules would stay in place, it might be a shorter period,” the Premier advised.

Biden spends July 4 with son, other troops in Iraq - The San Diego  Union-Tribune

In America this week Ballbag and former Vice President Joe Biden faced in their first debate. There were no winners on the night Ballbag was a pig who couldn’t speak with any grace or respect, a mockery of his office which he invokes whenever anybody asks him simple questions in press conferences.

We also got news of why Ballbag was so desperate to hold onto the Presidency, he was in debt. Some businessman.

President Elect Joe Biden was hardly the debater of his former years but when he repeated my son until being he was able to finish his sentence he showed a grace and strength that Trump for all his bluster has never been able to muster even an atom of.

Eyeballing the camera, Biden addressed Americans and showed where his attention was focussed. Trump leaning over his lectern because he can’t stand up straight deflecting away from any of his own failings showed what he offered the country in crisis.

Like his shrivelled-up mushroom it was nothing of substance.  

 

October 02

As COVID-19 was on the decline for now in Victoria and therefore Australia it was on the rise in other countries, some of which were yet to have really ever have received a respite of serious note like the United Kingdom where I had loved ones.

I was consumed with the last week of my secondment but in the weeks ahead it would come to pass to new waves in Europe and the Americas far worse than those experienced in March and April would come to pass. 

For now here were some of the stats as reported by Crikey on the second of October.

For the month of September 23 countries recorded zero deaths up from 21 in August.

Total deaths in September across the world were 158, 543 down form 173,778 in August. For Crikey that was progress albeit it was different for each region.

In Europe deaths per million were 7.8 in Switzerland, 6.8 in Italy, 5.5 in Ireland and 2.4 in Germany. All of these countries had suffered deaths per million per month above 70 in April. Ireland and Italy were above 230. 

COVID-19 was already making its presence felt again in France and Spain. In September there were 1,321 death at twenty per million in the former and 2,697 deaths at 58 per million in the latter. 

Coronavirus: France sets another daily record for infections with 13,500  new COVID-19 cases | Euronews

Also North, South and Central America were now far and away the worst hit. Six American nations with 9.9 per cent of the world’s population accounted for more than half of the 158,543 global deaths due to COVID-19. They were the USA (24,134 deaths), Brazil (22,581), Mexico (13,005), Argentina (8,439), Colombia (6,634) and Ecuador (4,799). Of the 16 countries with the most deaths per million, 13 were in the Americas.

The article noted that data, “only as reliable as the agencies in each source country. We must accept that several nations cannot report infections and deaths accurately, including some which showed zero deaths in September.

These include poor African countries Burundi, Eritrea and Niger which have basic health facilities, and China which, with 1.44 billion people spread across 9.6 million square kilometres, seems unlikely to have had no deaths at all.

Five advanced nations which suffered no fatalities in September were Estonia, Iceland, Luxemborg, Singapore and Taiwan. Malaysia only recorded nine deaths and New Zealand three. 

The following countries Finland, Latvia, Cyprus, Norway, Lithuania, Germany, Slovakia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Uruguay recorded deaths below three per million.

Six countries lost more than 30 to 70 people per million in September, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Oman, Spain, Romania and Israel.

Only three countries fared worse in the same month, America with 73 deaths per million, Chile with 76 per million and Argentina with 186 per million. 

Just three countries fared worse than 70 deaths per million: the US,  Chile and Argentina (186).

In Australia there had been 234 deaths in the same month which equalled out to 9.2 people per million. In August 455 deaths had equated to 17.8 per million. Of fifty four highly developed nations Australia ranked 29th last month just outside the top half. 

The United States of America ranked 52nd out of those 54 advanced nations with 23,134 deaths at a rate of 73 per million. Chile with 1,452 deaths equalled a  rate of 76 deaths per million and Argentina with 8,439 deaths equalled the worst rate of 186 deaths per million in their population.

Crikey noted, “September confirms that most governments which are following the science, speaking the truth to their citizens and implementing appropriate preventative and remedial strategies are making progress. But not all. Random surges are still bedeviling several nations, despite their best efforts. Those regimes not yet following the science, not being straight with their people and not implementing the recommended policies are experiencing serious and worsening outcomes.

As we began the next quarter there was hopeful signs in Victoria and troubling ones abroad. Europe and North America were about to head into winter too.

Can we stop the inevitable winter surge of COVID-19? - Los Angeles Times

On the 2nd of October the World Health Organisation reported there had been 34,216,443 confirmed cases globally with a 324,784. 

On the 29th of September we had reached over one million deaths globally with 1,002,734 with a daily increase of 3,896.

On the 2nd of October there had been 1,013,318 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,274.

In China there had been 91,082 reported cases with a daily increase of 21. There had been 4,746 deaths with a daily increase of none. I mean that is really something extraordinary. 

In Fiji there had been 32 confirmed cases so far and two deaths.

In Cambodia there had been 278 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. There had been zero deaths reported which was still the case. 

Coronavirus Success Story: How Rwanda Is Curbing COVID-19 : Goats and Soda  : NPR

In Rwanda there had been 4,843 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. There had been 29 deaths in the country. 

In Malaysia there had been 11,484 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 260. Malaysia was about to see a sharp rise in case numbers. There had been 136 deaths in the country.

In Norway there had been 14,027 with a daily increase of 113. There had been 274 Norwegians die from COVID-19.  

In Australia there had been 27,096 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 888 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Ireland there had been 36,597 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 442. There had been 1,806 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Singapore there had been 57,784 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 27 deaths. Singapore who were noted for managing COVID-19 better than most during the dark days of March eventually saw case numbers rise in April and continue to be of significance through to July. Their highest daily increase in cases numbers was 1,426 on the 21st of April. There had been a daily spike of 908 cases on the 6th of August but throughout September there had been no daily briefings that reported more than double digits. They had never reported more than two deaths in a daily brief. 

In Japan there had been 84,215 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 652. There had been 1,578 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

In Oman there had 98,585 confirmed cases with no daily increase. There had been 935 deaths with no daily increase.

Morocco has confirmed 20,278 cases and a relatively low 313 deaths from COVID-19 [File: Anadolu]

In Morocco there had been 126,044 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,391. There had been 2,229 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

In Canada there had been 158,758 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,797. There had been 9,297 with a daily increase of six.

In Israel there had been 247,411 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,078. There had been 1,605 deaths with a daily increase of 37.

In Indonesia there had been 291,182 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,174. There had been 10,856 with a daily increase of 116. 

Pakistan: COVID-19 response | ICRC

In Pakistan there had been 313,431 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 625. There had been 6,499 with a daily increase of 15. 

In Italy there had been 317,409 confirmed cases with a daily increase 2,548. There had been 35,918 deaths with a daily increase of 24.

In Turkey there had been 320,070 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,407. There had been 8,262 deaths with a daily increase of 67. Throughout October, Turkey would see a steady rise in numbers before experiencing an even sharper increase. 

In the United Kingdom there had been 460,182 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,914. There had been 42,202 deaths with a daily increase of 59.

Spraying disinfectant at Tajrish bazaar in Tehran, Iran, during the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images.

In Iran there had been 461,044 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,825. There had been 26,380 deaths with a daily increase of 211.

In Chile there had been 464,750 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,759. There had been 12,822 deaths with a daily increase of 81. 

In France there had been 552,249 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13,959. There had been 31,808 deaths with a daily increase of 62.

In South Africa there had been 676,084 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,745. There had been 16,866 deaths with a daily increase of 132. South Africa suffered worst in the middle of the year when a lot of countries were in between their first and subsequent waves. Their highest daily increase of cases was 13,944 on the 25th of July. Their highest daily amount of reported deaths was 572 on the 23rd of July.

Covid-19 restrictions are shattering Argentina's short-lived political  truce | Argentina | The Guardian

In Argentina there had been 751,001 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,392. There had been 16,937 deaths with a daily increase of 418. On the 3rd of October there had been 3,351 deaths reported in the daily report.

In Spain there had been 810,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,124. There had been 34,225 deaths with a daily increase of 145.

In Russia there had been 1,194,643 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,412. There had been 21,077 deaths with a daily increase of 186.

In Brazil there had been 4,810,935 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 33,413. There had been 143,952 deaths with a daily increase of 1,031.

Gujarat Covid-19 surge: 1,281 new cases, highest single-day tally in a  month | India News,The Indian Express

In India there had been 6,394,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 81,484. Numbers were going down in India but they had been severely high. 97,894 had been their highest daily case increase on the 17th of September. There had been 99,773 deaths with a daily increase of 1,095. The next day on the 3rd of October, India would surpass 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19 with 100,842. 

In the United States of America there had been 7,160,476 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,985. There had been 205,666 deaths with a daily increase of 1,024.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – VICTORIA COMING OUT OF THE DARK

September 25

Friday.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away this week and Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covered the highlights of her career and the implications it meant for the U.S. Supreme Court. 

 

 

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 32,156,937 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 314,655.

Globally there had been 982,235 deaths with a daily increase of 6,393.

In Australia there had been 26,893 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 861 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 147,753 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,090. September was seeing a steady rise in case numbers in Canada which was only going to get worse in October and November.

There had been 9,243 deaths with a daily increase of nine. 

The highest daily loss of life in Canada recorded had been the 4th of May with 235 dead due to COVID-19. As case numbers increased over this time, the rate of death did not go back up to the numbers earlier in the year. 

In the United Kingdom there had been 416,367 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,634. There had been 41,902 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

In India there had been 5,818,570 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 86,052. There have been 92,290 deaths with a daily increase of 1,141.

In the United States of America there had been 6,868,828 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,043. There had been 200,725 deaths with a daily increase of 1,125.

Remember when Ballbag played golf on the eve of crossing 100,000 deaths?

Remember when he got asked by a reporter to reassure the American people and he responded with “I’d say that you a terrible reporter.”

That was the 20th of March and less than 200 Americans had died at that point and Ballbag didn’t have an answer.

He didn’t have an answer for 100,000 and he doesn’t have an answer now at 200,000.

Extraordinary.

People keep dying and he just makes it about him.

He’s out playing golf again while Americans die, he plays golf and tweets.

200,000.

Two hundred thousand.

 

September 27

In Melbourne on Sunday restrictions were due to stepped back a little as Premier Daniel Andrews reported five new cases and three new deaths in Victoria.

It was the lowest daily increase of cases since June 12 when there had been four reported.

As Reuters reported it was the first time single digits had been reported in months for daily cases down form 700 daily cases in early August. 

The nightly curfew for five million Melbournians in place since the 2nd of August was now lifted.

We are so close to being able to take a really big step, a big step towards that COVID-normal. What’s incredibly important, and I think every Victorian knows this… is that everyone keeps following the rules, keeps doing the right thing,” he said.

The Head of Coronavirus testing for the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeroen Weimar reported 164,000 Victorians had gotten tested in the past fortnight and he wanted them to keep up the good work. 

That’s the equivalent of one in 40… In order for us to sustain those numbers … in order to be confident that we’re beating this thing, we need to sustain our high testing levels. We need to ensure that at least one in 40 Victorians come forward to get tested and we carry on in that way,” Weimar said.

Weimar advised for every positive test in Melbourne there had been 387 tests come back negative in the past fortnight.

For regional Victoria the ratio had been one positive for every 2,500 negative test results. 

The numbers followed news that students would be able to go back to school on the 12th of October, permits were no longer required for childcare and up to five people from two households could gather outside.

It was also reported that further lifting of restrictions would be guided by case numbers and public health advice rather than scheduled dates. 

Rural Victoria had moved to Step 3 on the 16th of September, Melbourne was set to reach it on October 19th.

After a two week grace period to use scarves, now fitted face masks were mandatory but already there was talk about if this would be necessary as case numbers went down and the Premier said yes given the increase contact as people became more and more able to get out and about.

Compared to everyone being locked in their homes and people needing machines to breathe? I reckon I can deal with foggy glasses. I reckon you can too. I think they [masks] play a really important part. There will come a time when they’re not needed and when that time comes, then people won’t have to wear them,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Reuters reported, “Australia has so far reported just over 27,000 cases and 875 deaths, with Victoria accounting for about 75% of infections and nearly 90% of all deaths.

In Queensland the focus wasn’t in coming out of lockdown, we had been very lucky so far. The talk was more in lost revenue for the government due to the pandemic. 

The public transport network has seen a drop in patronage by almost 20 per cent over the past year costing $71 million in fare revenue. 

Before COVID-19 the expectation had been for 193 million trips to be taken but only 152 million had, down from the previous year which had been 189 million trips.

Speed camera revenue was also down from $191 million dollars to $172 million dollars. 

The annual report noted “The target/estimates for these measures will be reviewed in subsequent years to take into consideration the longer-term impact of COVID-19.

Speed camera revenue was also down from $191 million dollars to $172 million dollars. 

Interestingly while the report noted $71 million dollars in lost fare revenue the Department of Transport and Main Roads were still operating at a surplus of $126 million across the financial year.

 

September 28

In Melbourne all eyes were on the 14 day rolling average which it had been decided would prompt lowering of restrictions ahead of schedule. Melbourne had moved to step two and gotten rid of the nightly curfew ahead of schedule.

To move to step three, Victoria’s daily average had to be less than five for a fortnight as well as less than five cases overall for the same time that had come from an unknown source. 

Regional Victoria who had moved in steps out of restrictions and case numbers would not be able to move to the final stage until the numbers were down across Victoria.

0.6 was the daily average over the past 14 days for rural Victoria and 20.6 for Melbourne but Premier Daniel Andrews was encouraged.

We are well ahead of schedule. Today’s numbers are proof positive, beyond any doubt, that this strategy is working. This is the lowest daily case number for a very long time and it’s not so long ago that we were reporting not five cases, but 725 cases. We’ve come a long way. Victorians have given a lot. They have sacrificed a lot. And I am proud and deeply grateful for the work that every single Victorian is doing in partnership with me and a massive team of dedicated workers,” said the Premier. 

Whenever things start moving in the right direction there is a rush from some quarters to jump ahead of the science, thankfully Premier Andrews was holding firm.

We just have to see it through … as difficult as it is to live under these restrictions, albeit with modifications yesterday, for another three weeks. If we can do it, and I’m confident that we can, we will be able to take big steps in just three weeks,” he said with indications that a move to step 3 could take place by October 19.

Step Three would allow no restrictions on leaving home, public gatherings of up to ten people, up to five people visiting another household, more year levels back at schools, outdoor hospitality re-opened and all retail except for personal grooming.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SHORTLISTED NOMINEES FOR 2020 TEACHX AWARDS AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

QCT2

 

September 24

I have been lucky enough to be seconded twice to the Media Team at my primary employer building upon my experience as a freelance writer. Both secondments were centred around lending support in the lead-up to the TEACHX Awards. 

The Queensland College of Teachers is the registration authority for teachers in the state of Queensland. Every year they do a call out for nominations of teachers from the community. 

In 2019, the QCT received over 200 nominations and during my secondment I wrote pieces on 115 of the nominees while others were tasked to write the rest.

This year there were almost 400 nominations received of which 74 were shortlisted.

Out of those 74 shortlisted I wrote pieces based off their nomination forms on 24 of them.

They are as follows according to their nomination category.

 

Excellence in Teaching

Jodi Audoss 

Ben Collier

Lisa Collins

Adam King

Mathew Lourigan

 

Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning

Grant Stephensen

 

Excellence in Beginning to Teach

Naomi Kitching

 

Innovation in Teaching

Gavin Jones 

Cameron Lynch

Brett Murphy 

Kelli Parr 

Jason Sepetauc 

 

Outstanding Contribution to Teaching

John Alloway 

Trevor Auer

Terri Barton-Thomas

Pearl Donovan

Judith Fewtrell

John Aloizos

 

Outstanding Contribution to School Community

Chantelle Amson 

Ron Armstrong 

Kylie Barrett 

Josephine Belchamber 

Carly Bell

Garrath McPherson

 

The TEACHX Awards are just one way to celebrate the hard work and challenges teachers face and the appreciation that we have for the role they perform in our society. I was grateful to write about them and celebrate them along with so many other hard working and talented colleagues. 

The publishing of the shortlisted nominees was the culmination of three weeks of intense work but already I was consumed with interviewing and writing about the Finalists in each category.

Hence there are links to only shortlisted nominees that I wrote about that did not later become Finalists who were interviewed and written about by me or my manager.

If you click on any of the links you will find a story about an extraordinary teacher and person.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – 101 YEAR OLD SERGEANT BERT LE-MERTON SOLDIERS ON

Soldier On on Twitter: ""They all need care" Bert said and he is doing his  part and keeping fit in his quest to raise money for Veterans and their  families. Bert is

September 22

The Rats of Tobruk in 1941 denied Axis forces a sweeping advance through North Africa. Similar to the halting of the Japanese advance on the Kokoda Track a year later it is a significant part of Australian military folklore.

Sergeant Bert Le-Merton was there with the 2/13 Battalion.

2/13th Battalion (Australia) - Wikipedia

Now at 102 years young he has been echoing the achievement of Sir Thomas Moore and walking in the name of charity. Where Sir Thomas Moore raised money for the NHS, Sgt Bert has been raising funds for Soldier On, a not for profit charity founded in 2012 to support veterans by John Bale, Cavin Wilson and Danielle Clout. Bale had been close friends with Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan. 3,000 veterans and their families are supported by the charity with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

ACA - Honour Roll

It’s a matter of interest to me that this organisation was assisting younger troops. That was very interesting from my viewpoint. It’s been a very interesting pastime if you like, for an old bloke. In my view what we’re doing is extremely important. What I find is the young troops, who are retiring, for whatever reason don’t seem able to fit back into civilian life. To my mind it’s glorious that so much has been raised because it puts Soldier On in such a fine position to help young members of the service,” Sgt Le-Merton has said.

After the war, Bert worked for the Australian Taxation Office for 41 years before retiring at age 61. Sgt Bert whose children and grandchildren have continued to serve the nation and the community set out to walk 96kms and raise $10,000 Australian dollars. Bert who is known as ‘The Walking Man’ around his local suburb averaging 1-2kms every day has reached his milestone and has just kept on walking daily. He is now at 107.3kms and has raised $107,191 from 92 donors of which I am proud to say I am one.

March On Sgt Bert.

While mentioning this great Australian and soldier and the ongoing work to support veterans in our community which is an interest of mine. I should maybe address recent news coverage of Australian special forces allegedly committing atrocities in Afghanistan.

War crimes have occurred since war began, there are some who have said junior soldiers are being thrown under the bus from a hypocritical command and politicians who sent them into fight a dirty war where these things were going to be inevitable.

Others have pointed to the culture in the special forces as a contributing factor.

My own take is that people do terrible things in war, at some point the potential to cross a line can occur.

If any Australian soldiers at any level are found to have done something illegal contrary to the law of the army then they should be held accountable by the laws they operate under.

Same for anyone higher up who encouraged, covered up or turned a blind eye to such things.

We hold ourselves to standards, we are accountable when we fall short of them otherwise it all falls apart.

But if we merely use these soldiers as scapegoats expect the military to become more disillusioned with their leadership.

For those who have come forward to tell their story and hopefully have truth come to light. If the allegations turn out to be true well then we owe them thanks for their courage. Some of them are no longer with us already.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VIII

September 10

Thursday the Prime Minister Scott Morrison had made a call to the Queensland Premier making a request to see if a young woman based out of the Australian Capital Territory could come out of hotel quarantine where she was spending 14 days.

She had made the trip to Queensland to see her father who was ill.

Sadly he had passed away and now the Prime Minister was asking if there was a way to have the young woman attend the funeral with her family. 

Apparently there wasn’t. 

Scott Morrison had lost his father earlier in the year in the wake of his failures during the worst bushfires this country had ever experienced. His father had not lived to see his son’s political fortunes turn around and public support grow. It was evident that Morrison adored his father as most children do. His public discussion of his attempts to have this woman attend her own father’s funeral were the first real time he had spoken of his loss.

Alas the Queensland Premier did not make it happen and did not appreciate the call. Although it must be noted the young woman was allowed out of quarantine later to say goodbye to her father on that day away from her family. She also subsequently came out publicly and said she felt the issue had been made political which she was not happy about.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk did have a few things to say about the incident after speaking in Parliament to say she would not be bullied.

Look, I feel these issues very personally – just like everyone else does. That’s why we’ve put in place this specialist care unit. We have 80 people in this exemptions unit looking at these issues and these people are human beings as well. They’re having to go through all these details, and make really difficult and tough decision but this is happening in other states as well,” the Queensland Premier said.

“It’s happening around the world. It’s not nice.”

While the Premier did throw support for the border exemption unit she had created the previous Friday she did say all decisions were ultimately to be made by her Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young which could be inferred as a gesture of throwing her under the bus given the political heat the Premier was receiving or a steadfast resolution that policy would be decided by those who were best placed to make these health decisions regardless of the political context.

I also understand 229 exemptions for specialist workers, healthcare and compassionate grounds,” Palaszczuk advised.

There had also been 31,000 freight exemptions granted and 170,000 border zone exemptions granted according to the Premier. 

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett also advised that Queensland Health was working to make things easier for the NSW family of 39 year old Mark Keans who was in a Queensland hospital fighting cancer to visit him.

I think we all recognise that these are difficult situations. In every situation with Mark Keans and others, the department works closely with applying for exemptions to find a solution to support what they would like. But at the same time recognising we need to continue to mitigate any risk of transmission,” Dr Bennett said.

There were two new cases in Queensland overnight with 28 active cases in the state. In the past 24 hours there had been 9,216 tests carried out.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles advised one active case had a positive development.

An eighty-one year old COVID-19 patient who had been in hospital for 77 days already having contracted it on the Ruby Princess cruise ship was now scheduled to move out of Intensive Care next week. 

GO RICHARD!

September 13

In the United Kingdom there were 3,330 new daily cases of COVID-19 following the previous day’s 3,497.

There were also five new deaths.

Scotland reported 244 new cases, the most since the 6th of May according to Reuters.

From Monday England was to bring in new bans on social gatherings to combat the rise in figures.

In Queensland the apolitical Australian Medical Association Queensland came out publicly with a strong show of support for the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young. As their Dr Bav Manoharan put it, “Do we want more people at funerals or do we want more COVID funerals?”.

Good on them, Dr Young has done nothing but her job to the best of her ability and her actions have been of overwhelming benefit to Queenslanders.

The Queensland Premier was prepared to put it all on the line with an upcoming election in six weeks.

If it means I have to lose the election, I will risk all that if it means keeping Queenslanders safe. I will always stand up for I believe to be right in this state,” Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk said.

I’m putting myself out there, I’m putting myself on the line. But I’m making no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe at this time,” she advised.

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 28,696,020 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 313,614. 

There had been 919,724 deaths around the world with a daily increase of 5,660.

In Australian there had been 26,607 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 42. There had been 803 deaths with a daily increase of six.

In Canada there had been 135,626 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 702. There had been 9,163 deaths with no daily increase.

In the United Kingdom there had been 365,178 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,497. There had been 41,623 deaths with a daily increase of nine.

In India the day before there had been a new record for daily cases with 97,570. That record would be broken again on the 17th of September with 97,894 cases on that day alone. On the 16th of September there would be 1,290 deaths reported in the country, only the reporting of 2,003 deaths on the 17th of June had been larger.

On the 13th of September in India there had been it was 4,754,356 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 94,372. There had been 78,586 Indian deaths due to COVID-19 with a daily increase of 1,114.

In the United States of America there had been 6,386,832 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,523. There had been 191,809 with a daily increase of 1,022.

September 14

On Monday it was reported that the Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young had received death threats and now had a permanent police protection with officers at her home and travelling with her.

The Queensland Australian Medical Association President Steve Perry told of the situation for the CHO, “It has been quite stressful and it hasn’t been helped by cowardly people threatening to take the life of a woman.

For her part Dr Young referred back to the suffering of others when admitting the difficulties she had endured.

But then, this [pandemic] has taken an enormous toll on nearly every single person in our community. We can’t see a clear end to this. So, we’re going to all have to work this through together and work out how we can manage this as well as go forward,” she said.

Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles refused to discuss individual cases of families trying to see each other following the media coverage of one daughter trying to attend her father’s funeral with the Prime Minister calling the Queensland Premier.

I never have and never will address individual cases … I know that the chief health officer and her team go through [all exemption applications] very, very carefully, and wherever they can they are as compassionate as they possibly can be, while also ensuring Queenslanders are kept safe,” said the Minister.

The QAMA President advised Dr Young had been working 5am to 10pm every day to go through hundred of applications for border control exemptions at one point.

It was quite hard work. She now has eight or 10 people who can help her do that,” he said referring to the special exemption unit.

Amazing how we can complain when we don’t leaders who stand up to media spin and relentless opposition but when we finally do we don’t show our support. There was an upcoming election in Queensland and Premier Anastacia Palasczuk was about to find out how much support she had.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROADMAP FOR VICTORIA

 

September 05

A record number of patients — both with and without COVID-19 — are on life support in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

The World Health Organisation reported the highest daily death total in Australia that day from COVID-19. Fifty-nine.

September 06

Sunday and as promised Premier Daniel Andrews gave a roadmap out of lockdown for Victoria, while it was gradual it gave hope for what could be in the days to come. 

First off come the 13th of September, the curfew would be eased to 9pm to 5am. Exercise increased to two hours per day, single social bubbles, public outdoor gatherings of two people or a household for up to two hours and playgrounds would be re-opened.

This was Melbourne, the plan would be different for rural Victoria.

If daily averages in Melbourne could remain between 30 – 50 over those two weeks then on the 28th of September there would be further lowering of restrictions.

Schools would see a staggered return, childcare centres would re-open and more workplaces, outdoor pools. People could gather in public in groups of up to five from two different households. Personal trains could train two people at a time and religious gatherings could have up to five people with their leader of faith.

Then on the 26th of October, 2020 subject to public health advice and the daily average of new cases across the state was five and if there were less than five cases from unknown sources over the previous 14 days state wide well then there would be even less restrictions. 

The curfew which began on the 2nd of August would be dropped all together. 

People would be able to leave their homes with no restrictions on travel in terms of distance or reasons why.

Public gatherings outdoors could be up to 10 people.

You could have up to five visitors to your home from another household.

Years 3 to 10 could start returning to school based on the staggered approach.

Retail shops and hairdressers could open. 

In hospitality in outdoors settings a group of ten could attend.

A staged return for non-contact outdoor sport for adults and for under 18s sport contact and non-contact could return. 

If you stop and think about these restrictions and think about what had been in place and how many weeks Victorians had endured them you start to appreciate all they had been through and how for the most part they had weathered it and you start to think about the way people have behaved for far less in other countries and you appreciate how proud Victorians should be. Even the ones from Brighton…mostly. 

Finally on the 23rd of November if there were no new cases for the previous 14 days there would be public gatherings of 50 people outdoors allowed. You could have up to 20 people visist your house. All of retail would be open. Hospitality, indoor limit of 20 and outdoors it would be 50. Real estate would start up again, contact sport for all ages. Weddings and funerals could have a maximum of 50 people attend and Church gatherings could resume subject to density limits. 

There was also the use of a term COVID Normal where if there were no new cases in 28 days, no active cases and no outbreaks interstate then most restrictions would be dropped due to safety conditions and a phased return for those who had been working from home. 

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,806,901 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 308,572.

There had been 878,682 deaths with a daily increase of 5,605.

In Australia there had been 26,207 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 71. There had been 748 deaths with a daily increase of eleven.

In Canada there had been 131,124 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 631. There had been 9,141 deaths and thankfully there were were no daily increases on that day.

In the United Kingdom there had been 344,168 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,813. There had been 41,549 deaths with a daily increase of twelve.

In India there had been 4,113,811 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 90,632.There had been 70,626 deaths with a daily increase of 1,065.

In the United States of America there had been 6,144,138 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 49,131. There had been 186,663 deaths with a daily increase of 976.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VII

Satellite Images Show Australia's Devastating Wildfires From Space –  Spaceflight Journal

September 04

Following a National Cabinet Meeting the Prime Minister was advising he was trying to get the states to agree to having their borders open by Christmas. To manage travel around the country there was discussion around “hot spots” and how to define them so as to identify when and what to shut down. Only Western Australia with its Premier riding high in the polls had declined. However that didn’t mean some of the other states were varying in their conditions to going ahead with such a plan.

Economic pain aside, the virus didn’t care if it was Christmas and so setting a deadline around that and not where we were with the virus seemed ill advised at best.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in ongoing talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in setting up a travel bubble with that country to aid both their economies with tourism dollars. Given New Zealand’s hyge success in containing the virus this seemed like it posed more risk for them than for us.

As Reuters reported, “Australia’s early international border closures, lockdowns and social distancing restrictions has seen it record far fewer coronavirus infections and deaths than other nations. Nationally there have been around 26,100 infections and 737 deaths.

Yet remarkably the same principle didn’t seem to apply to state borders in some media commentary.

While it was stupefying that some couldn’t handle a trip to Port Macquarie or Dubbo instead of the Gold Coast or that people couldn’t consider a trip to Hervey Bay over Byron Bay or Ballarat over Adelaide or Gumeracha over Mildura or Fremantle over Darwin or Alice Springs over Bali or Cairns over Sydney. It took me six years to get to Newcastle for a long weekend trip and I survived for example.

The Big Rocking Horse & The Toy Factory

I would point out that jobs were lost all around with this slowdown in international tourism.

The Chief Executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Margy Osmond was reported as saying, “Our industry remains on its knees in the fight of its life and has each month been losing thousands of jobs and $6 billion in activity from the forced shutdown of domestic travel alone.

Job loss led to debt, domestic violence, family breakdown, poverty and suicide. All from the type of people we rely upon to give us our holidays, that keep towns afloat, that build communities. That’s why where we could we needed to reach out and support each other.

After the National Cabinet Meeting on Friday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on the Queensland Premier to show compassion in her remarks to border closures.

I urge the Queensland Premier to consider carefully the impact border closures are having on our communities, on our citizens on either side of the border. You have to look at the issues from a compassionate perspective, a human perspective and appreciate that people with medical challenges, with compassionate reasons, or just to get to work, need to be considered. I urge the Queensland Premier to consider all of those issues moving forward, especially given where NSW is in the pandemic and what we have demonstrated,” Premier Berejiklian said.

The remarks did bring to mind recent events like one pregnant mother in Northern New South Wales choosing to seek treatment in Sydney rather than continue through the bureaucracy to get into Queensland. She had subsequently lost one of her twins.

These words had impact, they referenced lives lost not just inconvenienced. They failed to acknowledge the proposal to move the border closures into New South Wales which the Queensland Premier had suggested and the New South Wales Premier had rejected but they did hold to account the idea that things could be done better particularly by the Queensland government to support the people of Northern New South Wales who they share close ties to.

For Premier Berejikian despite the subsequent waves that had occurred in New South Wales and break-out clusters around the country not to mention the devastating second and third waves seen around the world she saw no reason not to have the country opened up again.

“If the trends continue the way they are I don’t think any state border should exist by Christmas. There shouldn’t really be a reason for any state to have their borders up, we only closed the border with Victoria because we had and it was a really hard decision,” she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian can certainly hold their heads high for their consistency. The PM has consistently not wanted to have schools close nor borders. Not just for the education of our children but also because of the economic impact. When New South Wales closed its borders to Victoria months after other states had at the initial height of the pandemic, the New South Wales Premier looked genuinely sad.

But I’m optimistic, I really am, I’m hopeful that by Christmas, even though some states might not be as comfortable as others, Australia will be a different place,” the NSW Premier said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, September 4, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

For his part the Prime Minister advised going forward total consensus would not be a requirement for National Cabinet outcomes.

“We’ve decided that this notion of 100%, absolute consensus on any issue is not a way that the National Cabinet can indeed work. And so what we will do is we will set out areas where we can come together, and get as many states and territories as possible to come around that agreement,” Morrison said.

Not everyone has to get on the bus for the bus to leave the station. But it is important the bus leaves the station.

Western Australia were going their own way and that was fine.

I’m not going to hold Australia back when one or two jurisdictions, at this point in time because of their own circumstances, don’t wish to go along with the path that the country is seeking to go in. So, they are not standing completely separate for that process. They will continue to work with us. But, for them, they have got their path set, and we respect that,” the PM said.

As popular as border closures have been politically they do cause enormous pain to the economy and when we say that we mean business and when we say that we mean people. Not international corporations who still have people buy online, not mining companies who still have their ships of steel or oil or coal or whatever sailing across oceans. Not banks who are advertising low interest rates but still collecting debt and still having customers deposit their doll cheque as much as one from an employer. No we’re talking about people who get hired when somebody builds or renovates a house, or takes a trip down the road and buys a meal or ticket with their disposable income. Those people are as flesh and blood as any life we are trying to save from a pandemic and right now they’re under the kind of pressure that could sink them for good.

The acknowledgement and concern for these people will stand Berejiklian and Morrison in good stead in the months ahead. Looking at the reports coming out of Newmarch will stand Palaszczuk in just a good a stead on the border closures.

Coronavirus: 100th COVID-19 death in Australia Alice Bacon whose family  spoke to A Current Affair about ordeal

Coincidentally the Queensland Premier referenced such circumstances in her press briefing on the same day.

I think it’s a bit disingenuous for this heightened criticism that is coming from a whole lot of levels when our fundamental concern is to look after Queenslanders and to make sure that they are safe during this time. I do not want to see what has happened in our aged care sector in NSW and in Victoria happen here in Queensland. That would be a nightmare,” the Queensland Premier said.

But where the majority lies can change in an instant as the fear of the virus switches to despair over the economy and the support offered by the Federal government will have an impact on how people are dealing with the economic impact of State border closures.

What I saw though was a concerted push in the media and other governments to bring pressure for the Queensland government to end its current policies despite the fact that they were popular. I smelt bullshit, I smelt coercion from big money and I admired my Premier for holding firm.

Throughout the week the narrative was now around instances where border control had gone wrong, predominantly the mother who had tragically lost a twin.

Coronavirus: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says 'cruel and confused  implications' from strict COVID-19 border closures

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg had weighed in on Wednesday on the television program A Current Affair.

I think the Queensland Premier has got some questions to answer here. How can it be okay for people to go up to prepare for a footy game, and its not okay to go to hospital for treatment? How can it be okay that a young woman loses an unborn child because of border confusion – that a four year old boy with cancer can be separated from his mother? These are cruel and confused implication from these strict border approaches. I think everyone needs to get a grip here and remember that we’re first and last Australians,” he said.

Which was fair enough, these were heartbreaking stories that did make you wonder if we could do things better around the borders maybe even open them up. As heartbreaking as any one of the stories of deaths in nursing home and people being unable to see their parents in their last days and the complete lack of dignity those last days had for them.

Restrictions whether you like them or not having saving far more lives than they are taking.

Getting them right to avoid any death is the end goal but I had a sneaky feeling that’s not what this was about.

This was about getting those borders down to make some money and not the battling small business owner but the kind of money that donates to political parties and runs rag sheets and major television networks.

I don’t mean this as a conspiracy force and this is all conjecture.

See the source image

What I’m talking about about is how media in cycles and how certain narratives get pushed, certain things get coverage and certain things fade to the background. Right now the story was about why Palaszczuk was keeping the border and if it was necessary and I’m saying yes she should keep it shut and yes it is necessary and yes all these stories were about changing that and I call bullshit and I’m not falling for it.

And next week the story would be different and maybe even support border closures and that is you have got to wonder about these things.

By the way plenty of celebrities have been allowed into New South Wales and other states for film and tv productions and other valuable trade activity as well as Queensland. The Australian Football League has never held its Grand Final outside Victoria in 124 years until now and you can bet your ass after this pandemic is over they will be fighting hard to have it back there forever again just like the National Rugby League grand final is held in Sydney and Joshy boy won’t be heard saying then that we’re Australians first and last then.

Coal hunt at Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's Australian retreat

The Daily Mail wrote “But increasing movement between other states is essential to save the nation’s dying tourism industry, which employs one million workers and is set to lose a staggering $54.6billion this year due to lockdowns and border restrictions. Greater freedom will also help farmers, residents in border towns, and hundreds of thousands of Aussie families who are trapped apart in different states.

Of course that didn’t take into account that success over COVID allowed restrictions to lower faster and have greater economic freedom. The prosperity that had come for Queensland from hosting the AFL grand final, from having people travel to the Far North from the South East and vice versa for holidays while there was ring of steel around Melbourne and stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria.

Instead Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was quoted, “When the premier of Queensland can allow 400 AFL executives to swan around a resort in the Gold Coast, but won’t allow teenage boarding school children to go home to see their parents into remote New South Wales, that is abhorrent. It’s wrong. Australians don’t do that to other Australians.

Queensland and NSW boarding school students caught in state border closure  crossfire - ABC News

Of course the fact that boarding schools in Queensland had been to re-open so quickly was no cause for celebration, the education of our children weirdly was not of concern here. Minister Littleproud probably knew all too well how desperate farmers were for their boarding children to come home in their breaks and help, how much they were struggling, how difficult it was proving to find workers due to the lack of international students. That was true and was painful but what that had to do with a footy grand final that other states had bid to host seemed a convenient stretch.

But hey maybe that was just me.

For her part Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk was holding firm.

It is relentless and intimidating, but I will not be intimidated. Let me make it very clear, I will not be changing that course anytime soon. If we, as a nation, can focus on Victoria and New South Wales and get everything under control there, then the whole country can open up,” she said.

In Queensland there had been 1,190 confirmed cases of which there were currently 25 active all linked to the Wacol cluster.

There had been six deaths and 1,318,805 tests.

For comparison in New South Wales there had been 3,910 cases and which there were 87 currently being treated by NSW Health including seven in ICU – four of which were on ventilators. 

There had been 54 deaths and 2,259,161 tests.

Which is not to say that New South Wales would always been more likely to end up with more cases due to its proximity as the business and cultural centre of the nation, nor that they have not been doing a good job of handling the virus as best they can nor that border closures will stop an outbreak occurring in Queensland and that we won’t need the support then of these states that require our support now.

Just to say that this virus is hard to mitigate and anything that you can do beat it you should and maybe just maybe when our political leaders they deserve our support. But where would the news story be in that? That was last week, we need a new angle this week.

And the story of a baby that maybe didn’t have to die is an important story, to tell and to hear and if it means we take a harder look at these border policies then good.

When I trained as a wardsman they took us into a room and they showed us a little box on a trolley. They told us about how it might be a job to collect a baby who had died and take it to the morgue. That little box got us all thinking and it broke our hearts.

I feel very grateful that I never had to push that box down that long corridor.

Seeing babies on life support in the intensive care nursery was enough to make your eyes glisten.

So that is what we’re talking about here but it’s not only what we’re talking about here.

Following this press coverage a new specialist care unit began to operate to help with border crossings due to health reasons. The unit consisted of eight people including doctors, paramedics, nurses and social workers. It was part of a larger ongoing team of 80 working on cross-border travel exemptions. In the week where these tragic individual instances were in the news, 900 New South Wales residents had received treatment in Queensland hospitals.

We understand this is a very, very difficult time for families. I know that, my government knows that. We are here to help people during this critical time,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In a spot of good for boarding students the Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young also said the town of Moree in northern New South Wales could be added to the travel bubble allowing boarding students to return home for the school holidays.

This could change, but at this point in time New South Wales does have control of their outbreak. They have been able to limit it to other parts of New South Wales. The risk of course is that people from other parts can come up to northern New South Wales. I discuss that risk every day with my New South Wales counterpart.” Dr Young said.

Overnight Queensland had reported no new cases and Dr Young advised it was still too early to open up borders.

“We know unfortunately that one case can lead to a lot of cases,” she said.

She advised a state would need to have recorded 28 days with no community transmission before the border with that territory could be opened up.

The federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham believed that was a “very, very high benchmark to set.

The New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejikian said, “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to that number. They’re putting on a pretty big ask during a pandemic.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY -IT’S QUARANTIME!

The economic and social impact of Melbourne's second lockdown since the crisis began has been enormous.

September 04

Friday.

The European Union was urging member nations not to shorten quarantine periods as Germany made plans to follow Norway and the Netherlands in doing exactly that down to five days.

The head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Andrea Ammon warned that at least 3-4 per cent of cases present themselves after the standard 14 day quarantine period. 

Ammon warned infection rates were on the rise in Europe with 46 cases per 100,000 people this last week. In March infections across the continent had been at 40 cases per 100,000 people and by the end of April they had reached 70 per 100,000 people. 

In Victoria there were 89 new COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths. 53 of them were newly reported but not from the previous day but from the previous few months and related to aged care facilities where there had been recent changes in reporting. 

Only earlier in the week Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had reported a daily toll of 41 deaths most of them historical and advised a similar repeat was unlikely. It was the highest number of daily deaths reported in the country during the pandemic. 

The Australian death toll from COVID-19 now reached 737. 

650 of them from Victoria, the state that had suffered the most in the country.

“On a positive note, this is out of 25,000-odd tests processed yesterday, which represents about 0.3 per cent positivity,” Professor Sutton said.

The Premier was expected to announce a roadmap out of restrictions the coming Sunday.

We wouldn’t be happy opening up with 80 cases a day — we would need to have an ongoing downwards trajectory to be satisfied,” Professor Sutton advised.

Premier Daniel Andrews urged that rushing out of the lockdown was not a good idea.

I know there is commentary around in relation to many in the business community and I fully appreciate and understand the pain and the challenge those businesses are facing. What I would say is this is not a choice, this is not something that we are choosing to do. There is simply no alternative but to ease out of these restrictions in a safe and steady way,” Premier Andrews said.

The Treasurer Tim Pallas announced the moratorium on evictions in Victoria would be extended until 28MAR2021. Rental relief grants of $3,000 would be also be available until the same date. 

We have seen more people face housing and rental distress due to the coronavirus and the convergence of factors including their age and employment conditions. The one thing they shouldn’t have to feel is their home is at risk.” Mr Pallas said.

In some circles there was an ongoing discussion about how the virus really only killed people over 60 and in nursing homes. Perhaps in response to recent comments by a former Prime Minister of Australia who had only too recently risked his live to save others during the recent bushfires but had wondered what causes the greater loss of life, the economic disenfranchisement of so many or the virus.

Tony Abbott, wearing protective fire gear, stands with another firefighter. There is ash all over his uniform.

Professor Sutton said something in regards to this.

“I don’t know what people mean when they say ‘learn to live with this virus’. Of course we’ll learn to live with this virus, we’re all trying to learn to live with this virus,” he said.

“But if people mean let it run, let young people who are less at risk of severe illness go out and get infected, they are not thinking that these people in aged care are our parents, and our grandparents, are our aunts and uncles, are our great-grandparents. And are extremely vulnerable to dying from this virus.”

“But to see 20, 30, 35 deaths in an aged care facility — that is unprecedented. And it is entirely because coronavirus has a 15 per cent mortality rate for people above 85 years of age, it’s even higher the older that you get. So it’s a very significant illness,” Professor Sutton said.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE RECESSION WE HAD TO HAVE

September 02

Wednesday.

If the definition of an economic recession was two consecutive quarters of downturn than Australia was officially in a recession. It’s first since 1991 which Paul Keating famously referred to as “The recession we had to have.” In that year the March quarter went backwards 1.3 per cent and in the June quarter 0.1 per cent. In 2020 there had been a decline of 0.3 per cent in the March Quarter and the in the June quarter……. 7 per cent. Three times more than the previous record record quarterly fall of 2 per cent in 1974.

A trade surplus and increased government spending had helped as much as it could but a massive plunge in private spending had hit the economy hard. A 12.1 per cent drop in household expenditure and a 17/6 per cent fall in services spending. Many businesses had been shut down for three months or operated within limitations, the accommodation and food sector took a hit of 39 per cent in the second quarter.

The biggest drop in private spending came from a massive 12.1 per cent plunge in household expenditure, led by a 17.6 per cent fall in services spending, as many of these businesses were shut for part of the three-month period and restricted for the rest of it.

Accommodation and food was by far the hardest hit sector, with output down a whopping 39 per cent in the three months to June 30.

Cafes and restaurants that were shut down often have staff that are not elligible for jobseeker or jobkeeper.

There was a 2.5 per cent drop in wages.

A former Virgin airline pilot Matt Purton had gotten work in a friend’s cafe and saw an income drop of 81 per cent advising, “a lot of things we never used to worry about are going to be luxury items we just can’t afford“.

Asia-Pacific economist Callam Pickering advised, “This economy is being held together with duct tape by JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg said, “We’ve done everything possible to cushion the blow for the Australian community from COVID-19.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported with government payments boosting incomes, less activities and gatherings to spend money and increased uncertainty from the pandemic and the recession were driving people to save at significant rates. Twenty Australian dollars from every $100 earned, a significant increase up from $6 from every $100 at the start of the year.

Given the Jobseeker and Jobkeeper payments were to be scaled back Westpac Bank’s Senior Economist Andrew Hanlan thought this gave people, “a considerable buffer to draw upon in coming quarters.”

Oh really, well thank you Mr Hanlan, thank you very much.

Compared to other countries Australia’s downturn of 7.3 per cent was nothing compared to Spain and the United Kingdom who were both north of 20 per cent. The United States of America was under 10 per cent.

Deloitte Access Economics senior economist Sheraan Underwood drew upon the very clear link  between successfully combating the virus and helping your economy to recover.

The underlying equation is simple. The greater the success against the virus, the greater the success in protecting economies against the pandemic.

There were 406 Victorians in hospital, 18 in Intensive Care Units due to COVID-19.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VI

Living on the edge: The Aussies left in no-man's land by border closures

August 28

With COVID-19 numbers down there was a renewed vested interest to see the Queensland borders open. Vested being the term.

The border closures were popular but public opinion can always be swayed by media buy in and Premier Anastacia Palazszuk was facing an upcoming state election.

As the danger receded and more and more people battled through debt and unemployment there would a change and politicians need to be two steps ahead of such things.

So Daniel Gschwind of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council advised “We need a road map that identifies triggers and indicators, which allows us a modicum of certainty. At the moment, there is no visibility and it’s taking its toll economically, it’s taking its toll on our state of mind. For our people.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland sent an open letter to all state Premiers and the Prime Minister the same week call for a national framework around future border closures. The CCIQ acknowledged border closures have been an important part of dealing with COVID-19 but asked for “a transparent and easily understood set of nationally consistent principles is urgently needed”.

The interesting thing is we had such shut down national borders and when there is an outbreak of a cluster we seek to shut down localities and suburbs and cities. Goods and people were still travelling across these “closed” borders too but state borders were becoming more and more a political issue.

It was a reality that border closures don’t ensure that people don’t cross interstate with the virus either but following people lying on their declarations, the policing of such people and stopping them at the border had proved much easier when borders were “closed”.

I can’t pretend the answers but Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young had proven prescient, cautious and dedicated to the safety of Queenslanders throughout the crisis. If she thought it was a good idea and the Premier was prepared to stand her ground I was of the opinion that they were doing something right. Quite frankly I was about sick of the hypocritical media coverage of it all.

But Premier Palasczsuk had chosen her words poorly.

The Premier had advised state hospitals were for “our people.” That was simply inaccurate and inept.

Days later a pregnant woman from northern New South Wales flew to Sydney and lost one of her twins in surgery rather than present in Queensland. 

When asked if she had regretted her earlier comment the Premier replied “No.”

Because these are really difficult decisions and … people deserve the best health care, and if they can get the health care, then that is good, if it is an emergency or if we have the expertise, of course we will do that. But we are living through a global pandemic at the moment.

You could understand if people observed wryly she was all heart.

A few things to warm your heart during COVID-19. 

August 31

Monday, the 31st of August and the World Health Organisation reported there had now been over 25 million cases of COVID-19. Globally there had now been 25,155,586 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 269,420. The number of dead 844,963 with a daily increase of 5,422.

In Australia there had been 25,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 123. There had been 611 deaths with a daily increase of eleven.

In Canada there had been 127,673 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 315. There had been 9,113 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In the United Kingdom there were 334,471 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,715. There had been 41,499 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In India there had been 3,621,245 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 78,512. There had been 64,469 deaths with a daily increase of 971.

In the United States of America there had been 5,899,504 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 43,983. There had been 181,689 deaths with a daily increase of 1,000.

Victoria recorded 73 new COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths. A record number of deaths recorded in one day but to be clear 33 were historical cases that could now be confirmed as due to COVID-19 and linked to aged care settings.

The previous daily high of deaths in Victoria was 25 on the 17th of August. 

Five hundred and sixty-five Victorians had died from COVID-19, about three quarters linked ot aged care settings.

Premier Daniel Andrews did announce that he provide a roadmap out of regional stage 3 lockdown and Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdowns which were scheduled to expire 13SEP2020.

There were 195 fines handed out in the state including to a woman who drove outside a 5km radius because as she advised there was no good coffee in her area. 

Seventy-three new daily cases were the lowest in a day since July. The number of active cases in the state dropped overnight from 2,830 to 2,620. 

Active rural cases dropped from 166 to 154. 

The number of health care workers with COVID–19 down from 406 to 378.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton urged Victorians to stay the course. 

The pain that is happening every day now, we are all fed up with it, absolutely fed up with it. But holding the course, even as we get down to these very low numbers, is absolutely critical to get that control that we can be confident that we will maintain,” he said.

New South Wales reported 10 new cases, 6 from hotel quarantine.

In Queensland there were 24 cases linked to the Wacol outbreak. Public places near where my parents and older sister lived continued to be listed in health alerts.

There were two new cases overnight in the state.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk commented there would be no changes to the borders for the month of September. 

There will be no changes for the month of September. Our Chief Health Officer Dr Young has made it very clear she doesn’t want to see community transmission, and there is community transmission at the moment in the southern states,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

A Victorian man who had tested positive some time ago in his home state but had been missing flew into Queensland and was caught by Queensland police. 

As a result of the cluster at the Youth Detention Centre, all prisoners across South-East Queensland were in stage 4 lockdown, confined to their cells. 

“It’s fundamental that we try to stop the spread of COVID in our prisons, that’s why these tough measures have had to be taken,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In the past 24 hours there had been 7,489 tests carried out and there were 28 active cases in the state.

Twenty-eight active cases in Queensland and 2,620 in Victoria. All Queenslanders felt very lucky.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – INTERVIEW WITH BILL MCCLINTOCK, OAM AVAILABLE AT QUEENSLAND COLLEGE OF TEACHERS

QCT1

August 27

Thursday.

During my secondment with the Media Team at my main employer I was fortunate enough to interview teacher and retired Principal Bill McClintock who had made an enquiry that was forwarded by a wise staff member to media.

Bill was a wonderful man to interview, someone who talked warmly of people he had remained in contact with since retiring and took joy in the world and its people. I could not help but see a link between a boy who had been confined to his house at times due to asthma growing up who had gone on to travel and see the world, and furthermore bring education to the remotest corners of Queensland and the south island of New Zealand and the students there. 

He retired in the early 1990s after twenty years working as a Principal before embarking on a “retirement” career that displayed best some of the possibilities that continued teacher registration grants. A recipient of the Order of the Australia Medal, he is still registered today, and still involved in the community.

You can read his story here https://www.stories.qct.edu.au/post/bill-mcclintok

To get to talk to such wonderful teachers and write about them will always be a great privilege for me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WACOL CLUSTER AND CLUSTERF***S

Young inmates locked in cells as authorities brace for a potential  coronavirus outbreak at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre - ABC News

August 21

On the 23rd of August, Planet America from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covered the Democratic National Convention and showcasing President-Elect Joe Biden’s stutter as well as some interesting statistics about how COVID-19 has affected education in America.

August 22

Saturday and there were nine new cases in Queensland, six from the Wacol Youth Detention Centre cluster and three up in Townsville related to cargo ships. So far 56 tests from the Wacol cluster had come back negative.

Premier Palaszcsuk put in place restrictions  throughout Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, the Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Moreton and Redland Bay. Gatherings at home and outdoors would be limited to 10 people (that means a family of five could only have five guests around for example) and the rest of the state the limit was 30 people.  

August 23

On the 23rd of August 60 Minutes Australia was interviewed by Dr Anthony Fauci who remained interesting to listen to and diplomatic to a fault.

On Sunday the 23rd of August, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 23,079,883 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 255,857. There had been 801,313 COVID-19 deaths around the world with a daily increase of 5,968.

In Australia there had been 24,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195. There had been 485 deaths with a daily increase of 13. The next day the number of deaths in Australia rose above 500 to 502.

In Canada there had been 124,372 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 499. There had been 9,064 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In the United Kingdom there had been 324,605 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,288. There had been 41,423 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In India there had been 3,044,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 69,239. There had been 56,706 deaths with a daily increase of 912. The day before on the 22nd of August has seen the largest daily increase of new cases in the country with 69,878.

In the United States of America there had been 5,567,217 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,960. There had been 174,246 deaths due to COVID-19 in America with a daily increase of 1,148.

August 25

On Monday I had returned to work and on Tuesday there were no new cases in Queensland following the break-out cluster at Wacol. The day before there had been one new case linked to the Youth Detention Centre Cluster and 8,000 tests had been carried out in Qld. There had been 1,106 cases of COVID-19 in Queensland and there were currently 18 active cases. We were being asked to wear masks where we went and I was about to receive from my kind sister-in-law some home made masks for such use.

20200826_153148
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Having attended Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 20th of August to see Tenet. A Qld Health Alert who those who had been at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 17th and 19th of August should go and get tested. A timely reminder if any that the situation could change at any time.

I also donated money to Medicins San Fronteres otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders who were involved in fighting COVID-19 around the world as well as responding to all kinds of varieties of disasters, emergencies and ongoing disease outbreaks.

August 26

In Victoria there were 133 new COVID-19 cases reported and 23 deaths – 22 linked to aged care.

It was the lowest daily increase of cases since 05JUL2020.

When the daily numbers got to double digits there could be a hope that planning for the lowering of restrictions would come. Premier Daniel Andrews indicated it was a positive step but also noted, “These numbers are coming down. Of course, that shouldn’t take away from the pain and the loss that those 23 families today are dealing with. And sadly, there will be more tomorrow. That’s the nature of this wildly infectious virus.

The Victorian government also announced more funding more help with domestic violence which had increased during the pandemic and even more so during such a lockdown as Victoria was experiencing.

Something to note, there were 391 healthcare workers with active cases, 198 active regional cases and 1,412 active case in aged care settings. Again these were active cases on the 26th of August.

The Republic National Convention was covered by Planet America. Ballbag used the White House for the RNC, an unprecedented move where previously campaigning Presidents had never used the White House to have the people’s house not be part of elections.

In Queensland due to the youth detention centre cluster a new Direction came from the government regarding disability accommodation service. It included non with COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days could enter a facility. Specialists who provide support would be able to enter at the discretion of supervising staff.

-Lloyd Marken

How to Watch the Democratic National Convention - The New York Times

COVID-19 DIARY – TENET FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr2

August 20

Back on April 21 I bought a hoodie from the United States of America. There was a lot of handwringing about the getting the right size as I never order clothes online. In June the hoodie arrived and it fit but it was too tight. On the 20th of August I got a new one that fit just at the tail wind of winter in my home town, sunny tropical Queensland. That said I got some good weeks out of it and really love my hoodie. I hadn’t got a new jumper or coat in about 19 years.

Proceeds from the sale of the hoodie went towards After School All Stars which were delivering meals to kids in low socio-economic areas during the lockdown of schools in America.

The same day I was due to go to a preview screening of the new movie Tenet for Scenestr magazine.

Tenet was the first blockbuster to be getting released in cinemas since COVID had shut down cinemas earlier in the year. Warner Bros. was betting big that people would return to the cinemas but if they did, the blockbuster would have the run of the movie going public.

Attending a preview screening of a blockbuster is always a thrill for me. The preview screening was in a VMax screening at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.  There were only other critics present at the screening, familiar faces. People seemed fairly relaxed. At the screening of Waves there was some sense of hopefulness and rustiness at what was for some of us the first screening we had been to in a while. Here things were more relaxed but there was security at this one given the high profile nature of the film. There was a media embargo to enforce.

My review was published the following week on Wednesday the 26th of August with the film premiering the next day.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/tenet-film-review-20200826

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

So far Tenet has grossed $350 million dollars worldwide, the fourth highest grossing film of the year. However $55 million dollars was accumulated in USA and Canada. In North America at the time of opening, 65% of cinemas were operating at 25-40% capacity. In its first five weekends at the US Box office Tenet remained number one but that gross is significantly down on previous Nolan hits. Warner Bros bet big and it has not paid off. Too many territories remain closed and too many people have not returned to cinemas in America and Europe where COVID-19 remains an all too real threat.

I would argue that while Tenet is billed as a blockbuster, it is not a crowdpleaser and in a particularly dispiriting year I think something like Wonder Woman 1984 would have played much better but COVID remains the all too important factor. Its actually a relief to know that people would rather prize their lives over seeing a movie where they deem the risk too much. In Queensland we felt relatively safe with a small number of cases.

Yet on the same day that I went to see Tenet, a supervisor in her 70s at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre in Wacol tested positive for COVID-19. She had been working shifts until she started to have symptoms. She was now admitted to hospital. Her diagnosis led the centre to go into shutdown with testing of 127 youths and over 500 staff at the centre. There were eight active cases in Queensland at the time.

Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk relayed, “What you’re going to hear today is the story of a woman who was sick, and still went to work. It is really really important that if you are sick, you must stay home, as now a whole lot of contact tracing has to happen.

I was about to get a timely reminder in the days ahead that the situation was fluid.

-Lloyd Marken