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

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                                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

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                                    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.  

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                                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 – SEPTEMBER 11

The Blue Marble Shot: Our First Complete Photograph of Earth - The Atlantic

In Australia there had been 26,513 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 48. There had been 788 deaths with a daily increase of eleven.

In Canada there had been 134,294 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 546. There had been 9,155 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In the United Kingdom there had been 358,142 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,919. There had been 41,608 deaths with a daily increase of 14.

In Iran there had been 395,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,063. There had been 22,798 deaths with a daily increase of 129.

In Chile there had been 428,669 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,642. There had been 11,781 deaths with a daily increase of 79.

In Argentina there had been 512,293 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,259. There had been 10,713 deaths with a daily increase of 256.

In Spain there had been 554,143 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10,764. There had been 29,699 deaths with a daily increase of 71.

In South Africa there had been 644,438 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,007. There had been 15,265 deaths with a daily increase of 97.

In Mexico there had been 647,507 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,647. There had been 69,095 deaths with a daily increase of 611.

In Colombia there had been 686,851 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,338. There had been 22,053 deaths with a daily increase of 236.

In Peru there had been 772,706 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,586. There had been 30,236 deaths with a daily increase of 113.

In Russia there had been 1,051,874 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,504. There had been 18.365 deaths with a daily increase of 102.

In Brazil there had been 4,197,889 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,816. There had been 128,539 deaths with a daily increase of 1,075.

In India there had been 4,562,414 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 96,551. There had been 76,271 deaths with a daily increase of 1,209.

In the United States of America there had been 6,304,181 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31,988. There had been 189,709 deaths with a daily increase of 1,101.

Globally – there had been 28,041,822 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 288,966.

The daily increase in deaths was 6,118.

The World Health Organisation reported 906,094 people had died from COVID-19.

-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

COVID-19 DIARY – A BEAUTIFUL OLD TOWN CALLED MARYBOROUGH

20200819_154141
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

August 16

The World Health Organisation reported 21,570,528 COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 253,701.

There had been 767,267 deaths with a daily increase of 5,374.

In Australia there had been 23,288 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 253. There had been 396 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

In Canada there had been 121,889 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 237. There had been 9,024 deaths with a daily increase of four. Spring was a good time in Canada in terms of decrease in numbers compared to earlier during the pandemic.

In the United Kingdom there were 318,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,040. There had been 41,366 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In India there had been 2,647,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 57,981. There had been 50,921 deaths with a daily increase of 941. This was the day the number of deaths in India reached more than 50,000.

In the United States of America there had been 5,312,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,375. There had been 168,345 deaths with a daily increase of 1,144.

August 17

Monday I was on holidays again during my secondment. Not something I particularly wanted to occur but there is not much the manager of that area can’t get me to do if she is the one telling me to do it.

I had worked on a story to be published about a retired Principal over the weekend, I went to the Queensland University of Technology on Monday or Tuesday to see if enquiries about records there would pay off in researching about former teachers who had studied at the old Kelvin Grove Teachers College. There were no specific dividends sadly but I had received gotten some insight into a time and a place.

I also attended a Doctor’s appointment.

I know how to party.

Things were further developing in Victoria while we all held our breath about what would would happen in Queensland.
The below clips are again the excellent ABC program Four Corners on the second wave in Victoria and the next is from 60 Minutes Australia for nurse Dan Collins who contracted COVID-19.

Dan Collins is one of many extraordinary heroes who have served us, saved lives, comforted others and suffered. The courage of him and all our health care frontline workers cannot be honoured enough and when people try to justify ignorance and risk they should ask themselves – would they do what our nurses are doing?

Dan Collins is 24 years old. 24 years old. I stand in awe.

August 19

With the number of active cases in Queensland still relatively low and on holidays I was keen to strike out and support local areas with tourism dollars.
I have travelled as far north as Longreach in my home state but had never driven in my own car further north than the Sunshine Coast.

So Karen and I drove up to a town called Maryborough for the day.

Maryborough is the hometown of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and a beautiful old town. I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to interview two teachers who live and work in Maryborough in the days ahead.

I chose to drive the 255 kilometres from Brisbane to Maryborough after a doctor’s appointment starting late so there wasn’t a lot of time when we got there. We walked around the town and looked for a place to eat but nobody would have us. We instead took in prawns from the Parkyn Parade co-op at Mooloolaba which was a real treat on our way home.

However we did get to see the Maryborough Colonial and Military Museum which has been developed by local volunteers into a first rate place in recent years. Nearby Hervey Bay famous for whale watchers is where a lot of veterans have retired too.

Model airplanes hung everywhere as well as some military vehicles and uniforms adorned the place. Most impressive was the number of medal collections of former serving members. Both military and civillians who had risked their lives and been recognised for gallantry.

These included Keith Payne who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Vietnam War and served in Korea, Malaya and Oman. His work with veterans post military service saw him awarded the Order of Australia medal.

20200819_143019
Keith Payne’s Medals. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Western Australia Police Constable Timothy Britten was on leave from his overseas posting to the United Nations Mission in East Timor in 2002 in Bali when the Sari club was bombed by terrorists. In a singlet top, shorts and thongs Constable Britten ran 800 metres to the club and went into the fire to try and retrieve a woman as gas cylinders exploded around him. Forced out by the flames Britten went back into the fire three times and with a man named Mr Joyes he got her out. He pulled survivors out of the club all night. 202 people were killed in the terrorist bombings including 88 Australians. Constable Britten’s efforts in saving lives and risking his own saw him awarded the highest civillian award for gallantry – the Cross of Valour.

Major Harry Smith served in the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. He was the Commanding Officer of Delta Company 6RAR when it was pinned down in the rubber plantations of Long Tan in a desperate fight for survival from a numerically larger enemy force. A long contested battle over many decades saw the veterans of Delta Company recognised more appropriately for what they lived through that day.

James Runham witnessed a bank robbery and followed the robber being fired upon point blank and wounded. He received numerous death threats leading up to testifying at the trial. He has served in the Queensland Rural Fire Service through several natural disasters, been a Cadet Instructor for Naval Cadets and formed the Australian Bravery Association. His bravery in this particular incident saw him receive the Star of Courage.

Major General John Cantwell you may recall me writing about a long time ago. Cantwell served in the Persian Gulf War, the war in Iraq and commanded the deployment of Australian forces throughout the Middle East and during the horrendous Victorian bushfires of 2009. An extraordinary man who has worked through PTSD. I once went to a welcome home parade for troops from Operation Slipper, Australia’s operational deployments to Afghanistan. I was absolutely delighted to see a retired General Cantwell at the head of it marching in uniform. This will sound extremely stupid but I had wanted to give thanks to those who served and having him be one of them was such a delight and surprise.

All of these individuals have shown exceptional courage and shown lifelong service to the community at great risk to themselves. Just like nurse Dan Collins.

-Lloyd Marken

20200819_181335
Dinner at Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

COVID-19 DIARY – WAS ANY OF IT NECESSARILY AVOIDABLE?

Police at the head of a long line of traffic on a highway

August 13

There continued to be mounting pressure for state border closures to end.

In Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk tweeted there were no new cases of COVID-19 in the state. In New South Wales there were 12 new cases and in Victoria there were 278 new cases and eight deaths.

“The danger is still on our doorstep,” Ms Palaszczuk posted. “As of this morning, New South Wales had 297 active cases after an additional 96 cases in the past week.

“Queensland isn’t taking any chances … our borders will remain closed for as long as the risk remains.”

Earlier in the week South Australia had made the decision to not have residents from border towns be able to enter the state.

South Australia’s Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade defended the decision on ABC Breakfast.

“We have 500 cases in Victoria … We have 14 cases literally on the border,” he said.

“I see this as a bushfire that is producing spot fires in regional Victoria. We have a fire break in terms of border controls. We have no cases west of the border. Now is the time to act.”

“We are sympathetic to the disruption to people across Victoria and SA, in terms of these cross border restrictions. That is why we have left them as light as we could for as long as we could. Now that we have active cases right across the western border, we need to increase the restrictions. I find that (politically driven suggestion) offensive. These measures are fundamentally driven by our public health officers.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan were not ruling out border closures in place well into 2021 if active cases could not be brought down in other states.

Despite having entry through their own national borders from overseas restricted, Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham advised, “State border restrictions need to be proportionate to the health risk and shouldn’t remain in place for one more day than they need to. If a state or territory border were to remain closed to a jurisdiction that had successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19, then that state or territory government will need to be accountable to their tourism industry and will ultimately need to provide additional support.

As he put it, “With our international borders expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, our priority right now is getting Australians travelling to parts where we have successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19.

Border closures didn’t ensure that the disease wouldn’t be brought in by residents returning who didn’t play by the rules. There are no guarantees but this thing spreads and fast. We learnt that the hard way in March and closed down our national and state borders as a result. When there is an outbreak we shut down localities with travel.

Lately the media has been feeding us stories of people who couldn’t get to hospitals or funerals. All tragic and maybe unnecessary but to be frank I smell a rat and I’m not buying. There’s too many lives at stake to worry about the almighty dollar and I suspect that is what this is really all about.

If the Chief Health Officer of Queensland Jeanette Young wanted to keep the borders shut she had my full support as she seemed to have our best interests at heart and if the state Premier was not wilting under intense political pressure to open the borders well then she could count on my vote in the upcoming state election too.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted a video message on Facebook acknowledging the high number of COVID deaths in aged care, about 68% of national COVID deaths.

I want to assure you that where there are shortcomings in these areas they will be acknowledged, and the lessons will be learnt, and we will seek to be as upfront, particularly with the families of those who are affected in these circumstances as much as possible,” Morrison said.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that there would be further death.

We know that in the days and the weeks ahead there will be more difficult news as the impact of the COVID-19 spread, particularly in Victoria, will have further impacts. We need to continue to brace ourselves for that.

The fact that he had lost his own father earlier in 2020 seemed pertinent when he said, “Losing a loved one is never easy. We’re also terribly sorry these are the conditions you have to go through in terrible grief.

There had been leaks showing the offer of defence personnel to the Victorian government for hotel quarantine manpower made the subsequent fiasco more embarassing for the Victoria Premier but Daniel Andrews stood firm saying, “I don’t know the federal Defence Minister. I don’t deal with her. I deal with the Prime Minister. I’m glad that there’s other people who think that the best contribution they could make is to be playing politics. I haven’t got time for that and I’m not interested in it.

It was reported that for the month of July, a million Australians had been out of work. The unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent but was effectively as high as 9.9 per cent accounting for the Jobkeeper retention.

The good news was that figure was done by 1.3 per cent from June where was 11.2 per cent. CommSec chief economist economist Craig James said, “Jobs rose more than expected. But we know that there is a long way to go, especially incorporation of the effects of both stage four and stage three lockdown restrictions in Victoria. The quicker that the jobless rate peaks and starts falling, the less damage and scarring will be done to the longer-term health of the economy.” 

In New Zealand there were 13 active new COVID-19 cases bringing the number of total active cases to 36. Having been 100 days COVID free the government was considering how long and how far they would go with lockdown and if it had come through freight which it was indicated was a very low likelihood. When asked if the government was going hard enough with quarantining people the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield advised “I don’t think we have been soft on this at all. We don’t round up people in New Zealand. We round up sheep; we don’t round up people.

August 14

Friday.

In Victoria there were 372 new cases and 14 deaths up from 287 cases and eight deaths the day before. The Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised these large numbers may well be the peak of what was occurring in the state. The death of a young man in his 20s from that days’ account became the youngest death in Australia during the pandemic so far. 

In Queensland thousands of people were still travelling to the state. 2,600 people on 65 flights on Thursday. Five were refused entry and 142 were quarantined. 

4,575 cars were stopped at the border, 253 were turned around and 54 were ordered to self-isolate. 

As the Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll put it, “There’s an extraordinary amount of people still coming into Queensland.

In Victoria there were 372 new cases and 14 deaths up from 287 cases and eight deaths the day before. The Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised these large numbers may well be the peak of what was occurring in the state. The death of a young man in his 20s from that days’ account became the youngest death in Australia during the pandemic so far. 

In Victoria there were 1,743 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed, more than any other state and territory combined. Their lack of previous utilisation in such large numbers had been a political football throughout the week.

During a parliamentary inquiry into the hotel quarantine outbreaks in Melbourne, Premier Daniel Andrews had made it a point that ADF troops were not on offer but this kicked off a back and forth all week. 

An outbreak at Rydges was part of the beginning of Victoria’s second wave. It was being investigated how the outbreak had occurred and whether the procurment and choice of particular private security firms had been poor and led to the outbreak happening. Private firms which can range in training and experience had been used in other states but ADF members had been used quite a bit a in NSW along with private security and no similar outbreak had occurred there. w

The mandatory hotel quarantine began Saturday, March 28. 100 personnel were put on standby for large states and 50 ADF personnel for small states. None were deployed to Victoria, such decisions were left to the individual states. Commissioner Crisp made this determination.

In April further communication with the ADF did not bring up using them for hotel quarantine as far as the state authorities were concerned as they already had a program in place. Albeit one that would prove disastrous. 

Defence Minister Senator Reynolds had a different story advising on the 12th of April that Victorian authorities were asked if they needed any assistance and reaffirmed they did not. A small distinction but perhaps an important one.

While Victoria did not use the ADF in this role it should be noted it was small numbers in other states. In March in New South Wales 30 ADF went to Sydney airport and another 40 to six hotels to support quarantine with police and security.

In Queensland it was a dozen ADF to Brisbane and Cairns airports and another dozen to a hotel in Cairns. 

Fifty went to Western Australia but in late July whistleblowers brought attention to quarantine breaches and the next day more ADF troops deployed to the West to assist contracted security guards. 

Rumours have swirled of Melbourne security guards and quarantine guests making the beast with the two backs but so far nothing has been substantiated. Confirmed and scary in itself is the subcontracting out to casual employees with Whatsapp and the providing of very little training at all. There has also been talk of errors that could have been avoided, carpooling, the sharing of a lighter, eating on breaks at the same place. 

On the 24th of June, Victoria a month after the case at Rydges, the ADF was requested by Victoria and the numbers were subsequently scaled back. 

On the 30th of June Victoria was out of the hotel quarantine business with flights diverted to other cities until at least October. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing in Victoria more and more ADF troops have been brought to patrol streets with police and conduct doorknocks. 

The failure of the hotel quarantine has seen some circles regularly calling for Premier Andrews resignation but I’m not so sure. The whole second wave and resulting deaths in aged care could be linked back to a failure to better plan the hotel quarantine and the vendors. On the other hand was some of this the poor decision making through the fog of war. Andrews failed here but he has worked hard as the state went into higher lockdown under immense pressure from all many sides. 

Either way, in his own words, “Clearly there has been a failure in the operation of this program,” he said at the time.

On November 6, the Coate Inquiry is expected to be handed down with their findings on the matter.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – TWENTY MILLION

20 Million Cases of COVID" - Dr. Tedros Adhanom (WHO) (Geneva, 10 August  2020) - YouTube

August 09

Sunday and the United Kingdom recorded more than 1,000 new cases in a day for the first time since the 27th of June. On that day it had been 1,380 and now it was 1,062 prompting the government to put on hold a further lowering of restrictions.

The UK death toll that stood at 46,574 was the highest in Europe.

There was a push in some circles to get schools re-opened.

August 11

It was reported that the number of COVID-19 cases had surpassed 20,000,000 having reached more than 10 million only six week earlier on the 28th of June.

Five million of the cases were in the United States of America alone.

The U.S. was reporting its lowest number of new weekly cases at around 47,000.

There had been 733,900 deaths reported from COVID-19 world wide.

On Monday the Director-General of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering.”

“Every life lost matters. I know many of you are grieving and that this is a difficult moment for the world. But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around,” Tedros said.

In Australia it was the greatest day of loss during the pandemic. Nineteen people had died in Victoria the day before and now the daily death toll was 21 with 410 new cases of COVID-10 in a single day. There had been 267 deaths in Victoria due to COVID-19.

New Zealand reported four new cases and went into lockdown.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – IT IS WHAT IT IS

August 06

Thursday.

Australian Reporter Jonathan Swan working for Axios network interviewed Ballbag and revealed what most of us already knew. I know for some it was comforting to find the President flounder in his usual pitter patter when asked very simple questions but I just of all those who have lost their lives and wondered why this fuckhead wasn’t being held to even more account. That’s just me.

Meanwhile Dr Anthony Fauci said in an interview with Reuters that the impending U.S. election would not push regulators to make short cuts in testing of vaccines.

We have assurances, and I’ve discussed this with the regulatory authorities, that they promise that they are not going to let political considerations interfere with a regulatory decision,” Dr. Fauci said.

“Safety and efficacy is going to be the prime consideration,” he said.

Ballbag had been suggesting a vaccine could be ready soon, Dr Fauci put forward a likelihood drugmakers will have doses ready in the early part of 2021. I wonder why we don’t talk more about vaccines in the mainstream media. An effective vaccine for this type of disease would be unprecedented, how effective would a vaccine be, would it only work in some cases. We don’t really talk about it in the mainstream media, we’ve made it like we report politics and sports. We’ve broken it down to numbers and processes? How deadly is air-conditioning spaces for example? We don’t seem to talk about that a lot for example?

There were 4.7million cases in the U.S. and 157,000 COVID-19 deaths. Ballbag saying it was under control in the Axios interview was brought up with Dr Fauci who was diplomatic.

We’re a big country. You can pick out some parts of the country that are looking good and you could say is under control; you could pick some parts of the country that are on fire, in the sense, I mean you’re having outbreaks that you know you don’t get 70,000 cases a day when nothing’s going on.

A point of good news and getting back to wondering about the science of this horrendous disease the Planet America program pointed out some interesting stats in the second wave of COVID in the U.S. Cases were skyrocketing but deaths were not at the same rate as they had been in March.

Trump might have been right about the heat being a factor.

At the 26 minute mark they discuss the stats and also point out how less deaths have followed hospitalisations.

August 09

On Sunday the 9th of August the World Health Organisation reported there had been 19,474,150 confirmed COVID-19 cases and with a daily increase of 282,705.

There had been 717,143 deaths due to COVID-19 worldwide with 6,528 reported just that day.

In Australia there had 20,698 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 426. There had been 278 deaths with a daily increase of twelve.

In Canada there had been 118,985 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 424. There had been 8,970 with a daily increase of four.

In the United Kingdom there had been 309,767 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 758. There had been 41,273 deaths with a daily increase of three.

In India there had been 2,153,010 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 64,399. There had been 43,379 deaths with a daily increase of 861.

In the United States of America there had been 4,897,958 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 61,028. There had been 159,930 deaths with a daily increase of 1,324.

Those are facts but it is not what it is. Those are facts that belie a lack of care of the most precious thing we have and something we should seek to protect amongst each other. Human lives.

-Lloyd Marken

People sleeping in a parking lot in Las Vegas on March 30 after a homeless shelter shut down because of COVID-19

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART V

Why has there been a sudden outbreak of consensus on closing Queensland's  border? - ABC News

August 3

Monday and with the curfew and restrictions in place in Victoria the Prime Minister Scott Morrison had some advice for the rest of the country.

If you’ve got friends in Victoria, call them. Cheer them up. Encourage them,” the Prime Minister advised.

Let them know you’re there for them if you’re in a state in a much better situation which, thankfully, all other states and territories are. Offer whatever support you can. We’ve asked so much of Australians over these many months and we’ve asked even more of Victorians. And now we’re asking, through the Victorian Premier, even more. We know that we have to help them push through because Australia’s future depends on these weeks and months ahead.

In the first week of August Karen and I were watching news. In it a Queensland Police Officer had stopped a person on the border in the middle of the night and caught them out in a lie about where they had been or whether they were crossing the border illegally or attempting to anyway. In it the police officer said “I put it to you Sir…” It just tickled me pink the line delivery before the person swore their head off in response. Unfortunately I have not been able to track it down so you will have to put my word for it.

It has been a long time since I have written, my secondment took up my time and I guess we will cover that a little bit in the upcoming posts. In terms of a journal I did not pay as much attention to the news, I was too busy trying to make it happen. I feel a little out of the loop and some posts won’t be so much about what was happening regarding COVID-19 as much as just me and my life. This reflects first and foremost how lucky I am to be in Queensland, Australia. If I was in Arizona, India, Brazil, etc I don’t think this would have been my experience.

Norwegian cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen moored in Tromso, Norway.

August 4

For some fucking unfathomable reason there were cruise ships operating in Europe and returning to port with…you guessed it passengers sick with COVID!

Norwegian operator Hurtigruten was the first cruise operator to return to the seas in mid-June planning less passengers, social distances and strict rules regarding hygiene to avoid an outbreak. Forty-one passengers and crew from their ship the MS Roald Amundsen got COVID-19.

We have failed. I apologise strongly on behalf of the company,” said CEO Daniel Skjeldamn.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had put in a place a No Sail Order  for cruise ships in March and would not be changing it until at least 30SEP2020.

Australia had a similar order in place until 17SEP2020.

In Melbourne there were 439 new cases and 11 new deaths.

There 456 people in hospital, 38 of them in intensive care. 

Of the 11 Victorians who had died, one was in their 70s, four in their 80s, five in their 90s and one woman over 100. All of them were from aged care cases of which there were 1,186 cases currently in Victoria.

 

A line of vehicles waiting to be inspected by a group of police officers on a road.

August 05

On the 10th of July, Queensland Premier had opened the borders with neighbouring states barring Victoria. Now on the 5th of August Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced the borders would be shut again with New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory come that Saturday at 1am. 

The Premier advised, “We cannot risk a second wave. We have to act decisively. We have to put Queenslanders first.

“I said I would not hesitate and today is the day.”

There was one new case announced in Queensland and so far there had been six deaths in the state due to COVID-19. 

It was noted that many people had lied in their declarations on arriving in the state in recent days. The border closure would mean Queenslanders returning would have to 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AROUND THE GROUNDS – PART II

Coronavirus: South Africa Covid-19 deaths 'to soar' in coming months - BBC  News

 

August 2

Mexico overtook the UK as the country with the third highest death toll behind Brazil and the U.S.  That was 46,668 Mexican deaths to 46,119 British deaths in a country that had twice the population of Great Britain. In Mexico there were over 424,000 cases reported.

There was a record new number of daily global cases with 292,527 confirmed. 

Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson retracted on lifting restrictions for casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks. They were due to re-open on Saturday and he took them off the table for another two weeks.

Personally I think the U.K. has been fairly extraordinary with the measures they have put in place with other countries go harder and earlier with lower numbers.

Case in point a grave new second wave in South Korea is how they defined 17 new daily cases. In Great Britain getting down a 1,000 a day was enough to make plans to re-open pubs, hairdressers, and cinemas. As well as holidaying around the country and looking at creating travel bubbles to Spain and Italy!

As much as I go on about Ballbag and what has tragically occurred in America the fact is per capita, Great Britain has suffered a far greater loss of life. 

There were stricter lockdowns being applied in the north of England too.

“We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard. Our assessment is that we should now squeeze the brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control,” Johnson told the public. 

Better late than never. 

On a hot summer day though, the public decided laying out on a beach with thousands of others was the call of the day just like similar Australian dickheads have done here on numerous beaches.

A pebble beach in south England is adorned with sunbathers and umbrellas.

In India there 55,079 cases reported in in one day, the country had had over 1,6 million cases.

779 deaths took the national total to 35,747.

This was on the eve of a night curfew in place since March being lifted.  Yoga institutes and gyms were scheduled to open on the 5th of August. 

Interstate restrictions were also gone and New Delhi hotels that had served as quarantine facilities could now re-open.

Subways, cinemas, swimming pools, parks, bars, theatres were set to remain closed for the moment until the end of the month.

All these restrictions eased as the country recorded its largest surge in cases. 

It was accepted too that the numbers were probably far higher but due to limited testing the larger picture would never be known for certain. 

India had been through hell, was a respite on the horizon?

God I hoped so.

In Florida there was a fourth straight day of record new deaths.

One person died from COVID-19 in the United States every minute.

COVID-19 continues resurgence across US through July as mask mandates begin  in hardest-hit states - ABC News

In South Africa the number of confirmed cases reached 482,169 and the number of deaths 7,812.

It was over half the numbers across the African continent and the fifth highest national total in the world.

As richer nations bought up ventilators and PPE, South Africa had started manufacturing ventilators of their own with an aim to produce 20,000. 

In Spain there 1,229 new daily cases, the highest since restrictions were eased on the 21st of June. It was the third day in a row of 1,000+ new daily cases. A second wave had come to Spain. 

There had 282,641 COVID-19 cases in Spain and 28,441 Spaniards had died.

On the 2nd of August the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 17,678,033 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 268,879. 

There had been 675,845 deaths with a daily increase of 6,103.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – NIGHT FALLS AND CURFEWS ENSUE

Australia imposes curfew in 2nd-biggest metropolis

July 31

In Australia there was new daily record of new cases in the country with 721 reported by teh World Health Organisation.

I haven’t covered all the famous people who passed in 2020 like Kenny Rogers, Olivia de Harvilland, Dame Vera Lynn, but I feel compelled to mention the passing of Regis Philbin most famous for The Regis and Kelly Morning Show in America and hosting the game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire but for whom I knew because he was a regular guest on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Regis one night a few years back talked about being in the Navy and two tough veterans asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said work in entertainment but… and they didn’t want to hear about it so Regis went out and lived his dream. I always liked that moment, it came at the right time in my life.

Secondly is the passing of Senator John Lewis, his good fight continues in America and around the world today and so there was comfort and sorrow to be found in his passing. Mostly there was inspiration to be taken.

I thank them both.

Meanwhile things were developing in Victoria on Friday.

August 2

Sunday August the 2nd was another moment for me when I watched a political leader have to front up to the cameras and by extension the world, history and convey what was happening and what was needed.

There is a lot of criticism of Premier Daniel Andrews in his own state. Not just from the usual attack dogs like Sky News Australia who seem to every day find a new thing to attack him for whether it contradicts previous criticisms or not.

There is talk for example that port deals with China have been the wrong call. That the department of health in Victoria has been gutted by a failure to spend money where it is needed and for long term planning.

The chief criticism comes though from using private security firms, often cheap ones to provide security in hotel quarantine which led to an outbreak of cases which has larger implications for what has followed in Victoria.

That bears investigation and may very well bear criticism.

Yet from my vantage it often seems Andrews has been embattled, made the tough calls or held together in a storm. One week they’re calling for him to sacked because there are so many cases and the next that power has gone to his head because he wants to maintain a state of emergency to fast track measures as less cases are reported but there are still way more than any other state. He gets criticised for not reacting fast enough and then for not having a road map out of lockdown when cases are still too high.

Maybe that’s fair, everything needs to be held accountable but I’m getting a little sick of tired of media having weekly amnesia when it comes to dealing with this thing. One week we need to shut down. The next we need to open up because whale watchers aren’t getting enough tourists.

Here’s the facts the minute there was an outbreak in the southern state that meant a death sentence for a certain amount of aged care residents. That is death, that is what we are trying to avoid and what even the best decisions will not curtail death completely.

So yes the situation is constantly changing and a rise in unemployment means a rise in suicide and domestic violence.

We need to take care of each other but part of that are accepting measures need to be put in place and maintained until numbers drastically go down.

Anything less is reckless.

Anyway Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the 2nd of August a curfew in Victoria. This would begin the most extensive and toughest restrictions ever enforced in Australia in the age of COVID.

There were 671 new cases in Victoria that day alone and 6,322 active cases in the state, 385 of those were hospitalised and 38 cases – people! were in Intensive care.

Out of the 6,322 active cases, 1,083 were linked to aged care.

760 cases had no known source which was of great concern to the Premier and his health authorities.

“Those mysteries, that community transmission, is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules,” Premier Andrews said.

After six weeks at stage 3 lockdowns Melbourne would move to stage 4, regional Victoria would move to stage 3.

A curfew would be in place from 8pm to 5am where you could only leave your home for work or to care for someone.

Only one person from a household could go shopping per day and within five kilometres of home. Daily exercise could only be done within five kilometres of home too.

There was a ban on weddings with the only exception being compassionate grounds.

Funerals could be attended by ten people.

Wednesday and school children would be back to remote learning in the state.

There were going to be further information conveyed the next day but reducing people at work and maybe a slow down of industries.

Like press briefings given by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier in the year, the gravity of what Andrews was saying could not be ignored. I was moved and I admit I was a little moved for him. Unlike other world leaders, I have never doubted that all the Australian ones with all their flaws, mishaps and different political persuasions have been doing their best and I don’t envy them.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-02/victoria-coronavirus-restrictions-imposed-death-toll-cases-rise/12515914

The World Health Organisation reported on the 2nd of August globally there had been 17,678,181 cases with a daily increase of 268,718.

There had been 675,850 deaths with a daily increase of 6,106.

On Australia there had been 17,282 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 377. There had been 200 deaths with a daily increase of four.

In Canada there had been 116,312 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 513. There had been 8,935 with a daily increase of six.

In the United Kingdom there had been 303,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 771. The number of deaths 41,202 with a daily increase of 13.

In India there had been 1,750,723 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,735. There had been 37,364 deaths with a daily increase of 853.

In the United States of America there had been 4,523,888 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 67,499. There had been 152,630 deaths with a daily increase 1,365.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – I’M NOT DISAPPOINTED, JUST ANGRY

Parklands Christian College coronavirus case prompts order for ...

 

July 30

In Victoria there were 627 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

Given what would be occurring to frontline health care workers I donated again a very small amount to the BuyThemACoffee Initiative who were giving coffees to hospital staff in Victoria.

Border closes were in fluctuation.

New South Wales was closed to Victorians.

Queensland didn’t want anybody coming from Victoria or Greater Sydney.

South Australia didn’t want anybody coming back from Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

Tasmania thought it was best if people stayed put in Victoria, NSW, Qld and the ACT.

The Australian Capital Territory did not want travellers from Victoria.

The Northern Territory did not want visitors from Victoria and New South Wales. 

Western Australia did not want anybody from anywhere coming over.

Jim and Peter Staffieri waiting in the dark outside Epping Gardens Aged Care home.

On a cold Victorian evening two sons Jim and Peter waited outside Epping Gardens nursing home for hours. They got to wave to their 92 year old mother Luisa Staffieri as she was loaded on an ambulance and taken to hospital. She has COVID-19.

There are 61 residents and 22 staff at Epping Gardens who have been infected.

34 residents were taken out of the home to hospital on Monday and more Tuesday.

Thank Christ.

I mean it, thank you God.

Because there is no doubt in my mind. Once there is a case at a nursing home, dispersal of residents to hospital care is the smart play and the only play.

It won’t save them all but we can’t get enough of them out and we can’t do it fast enough.

As the ABC reported, “Peter said he was glad to see his mother transferred out of Epping Gardens because he had “no confidence” she would get the care she needed in the home.

At least in the hospital she’ll get the care that she needs, I think it would be too late if she got sick here,” he said.

There were 87 outbreaks at aged care homes that had already claimed nine lives.

Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) training to serve overseas on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions were also going into Victoria setting up shop in nursing homes like Ebbing Homes while patient transport vans took patients to hospitals.

 

A row of patient transport vans are parked outside the Epping Gardens aged care home.

Two dark green tents are erected on a lawn outside the Epping Gardens aged care home buildings.

The Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt dubbed the AUSMATs the “SAS of the medical world.” They’re good, they have to be to do their job. Comforting words that sell print.

What we’ll need is something short of everything we’ve got to preserve as much life as possible.

The Federal Government was also supplying 500,000 reusable face shields and a further 5 million face masks from the National Medical Stockpile. See Ballbag, the state needs something you just give it.

 

 

Thursday was a big day in Queensland.

A couple returned from the Apollo Restaurant in Sydney, came back before it was declared a hotspot, self-isolated, tested positive and as a result had not spread the disease.

That was one couple.

Then were two 19 year old women had travelled from Melbourne through Sydney to Brisbane on the 21st of July.

They lied on their declaration forms about where they had been and did not quarantine.

On the 30th of July they were vilified in the press and received $4,000 in fines as calls were made to enact harsher penalties for such law breakers. One of the girls had a sister who was also infected.

For eight days they had been out and about in the community.

One worked at a school, one after an after hours school care centre.

Fear and anger spread through the community.

The area they live and work in is within the general area of where my parents live and where my older sister lives.

Statistically things were even more dangerous for them back in March and yet now I felt some concern.

We all had felt a second wave was inevitable but the circumstances were beyond disappointing.

It was a bitter pill to swallow.

I naively exclaimed at one point why were hand bags so important to go to Melbourne for?

Then it was suggested that there may have been a certain pressure placed on them to make such a trip. I don’t know.

But on the 30th of July I could have sworn in two weeks Queensland would have many more cases and would be on higher restrictions.

I am always happy to be proven wrong.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – LIFE ISN’T CHEAP – MAKING A DIFFERENCE IS

 

July 26

There was a new record in new daily cases in the United States.

74,235.

In Victoria there were 458 new cases and ten new deaths.

Seven of those deaths were related to aged care facilities, one was a man in his 40s.

Melbourne had been in Stage Three lockdowns for the past 17 days.

There had been 8,181 cases in Victoria.

42,573 tests had been conducted in the state yesterday with Premier Daniel Andrews thanking Victorians.

“That is a very impressive effort and we are very grateful to each and every Victorian coming forward and getting tested,” he said.

For those who did not want to wear masks he had something to say.

Ten families are currently planning funerals today and the youngest of them have lost someone in their 40s. If you are just making a selfish choice about your alleged personal liberty, quoting some, I don’t know, something you’ve read on some website – this is not about human rights. Wear a mask – it’s not too much to ask. If you don’t, you will get fined and that is as it should be,” he said.

 

July 28

It was Tuesday and I donated some money to Stand with Daily Wage Earners. Money for those who have lost work due to COVID in India and face losing a lot more. I donated to the International Association for Human Values. They’re founded by some humanitarian and spiritual leader who is big into meditation – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shanka. They consult with the United Nations, have captains of industry on their board and are a recognised NGO with donations covered as tax deductible.

They’re distributing kits to feed a family of four for ten days at a cost of 1000 Indian Rupee.

The kits include 5kgs of Wheat Flour, 2kgs of Dal, 3kgs of Rice, 500mls of oil, 100 grams of Tumeric Powder, 100 grams of Red Chilly Powder, 100 grams of Cumin Seeds, 100 grams of Black Mustard Seeds, 100 grams of Curry Masala and 2 bars of soap.

Such a kit to feed a family of four for ten days cost me $20 in Australian dollars.

I bought two.

There was also a video posted by an Australian GP Dr Warren Lee who had contracted COVID-19 and “recovered”. A lot of people like to think about COVID as a disease that kills those with underlying health conditions and older people. The numbers back them to an extent. I think they would benefit from watching Dr Lee’s video.

 

 

July 29

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned COVID infections will occur in aged care facilities.

Duh.

He also said rather unfortunately, “When it rains, everyone gets wet.

The problem was he was right, given the number in Victoria there were going to be cases in nursing homes. There already were. With that came a death sentence. If 29 aged care facilities are affected then even the most optimistic amongst us suddenly fears that can’t help but result in 29 deaths. 58? 145? 464?

He wanted aged care staff to be very careful.

The principal cause for transmission into aged care facilities has been through workforce transmission. It is principally come through the infection of staff, more broadly in the community, many cases completely unaware of that infection and by the time they become aware of that infection, then obviously they’d been in those facilities,” he said.

Secretary of the Department of Health, Professor Brendan Murphy also said, “One of the things we have all learned about this virus in the last six months is this terrible combination of a virus that can spread so easily in a fit young people, sometimes without any symptoms, and yet when it gets into our frail elderly people, it wreaks havoc. And it has a very significant death rate, fortunately some do recover but it is a very, very nasty virus with the elderly.

More than 750 health care workers in Victoria already had COVID-19.

Portland Protesters Breach Fence Around Federal Courthouse – NBC ...

In America after six weeks of increasing tension and violence Ballbag or more Vice President Mike Pence spoke to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that they would start to withdraw federal troops out of Portland, Oregon.

Governor Brown didn’t mince words, “These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community.

There to protect the Federal Courthouse they essentially became surrounded in it. On a nightly basis wading out to clash with protestors but ultimately not taking control of the streets.

Such clashes had led to stun grenades being set off around the feet of protesting Mums and fracturing the skull of one individual when that skull was hit with a non-lethal round.

Good job Ballbag.

a group of people riding horses on a city street: Photograph: Amy Harris/REX/Shutterstock

Having arrived at the beginning of the month their presence had led to an escalation in protests.

Mayors of eleven cities including Chicago, Atlanta and LA wrote to the White House accusing him of deploying the troops for political purposes.

Ballbag is running a law and order campaign.

Of deploying troops without proper identification and snatching citizens off the streets the Mayors wrote, “These are tactics we expect from an authoritarian regime – not our democracy.

Again good job Ballbag.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – COVID PAYMENTS SET TO REDUCE AS CASES CONTINUE TO RISE

Almost 600 COVID-19 cases at Victoria aged care homes - HealthTimes

 

July 20

Monday and another week began in earnest. I was very busy and stressed about my secondment but was enjoying the work.

In the news there was some talk about a proposal that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaczszuk put forward for the border processing to move south into northern NSW to alleviate wait times and to help those who lived in the border communities such as Coolangatta. She claimed she had suggested this back in March.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a straight forward response.

I’m happy to consider all options except I do not believe at any stage we should move the border. If anything, the border should be moved north. There is zero infection in northern NSW at this stage,” she said.

So that was that.

There were a couple of a cluster of cases in New South Wales.

 

In Victoria there were 275 confirmed cases overnight and it was announced that masks were going to become mandatory come Thursday. Students across the state were going back to learning from home.

 

 

Federally there were announcements made about changes to welfare.

There are 3.5 million people on Jobkeeper which is a $1,500 payment for workers who are employed but who are not getting any hours from their employer due to the economic shutdown.

After September, Jobkeeper which worked out to $1,500 a fortnight would go down to $1,200 and then on the 4th of January, 2021 $1,000 a fortnight. It would also switch to a two tier system.

Then there are 1.3 million on Jobseeker which was the old Newstart allowance for people looking for work. When COVID and a sharp rise in unemployment occurred there was $550 supplement added to the Jobseeker allowance. That would be reduced to $250 per fortnight in October and continue until March 2021.

The government was hoping that as time went on more and more would be at work as these payments decreased. The debt was increasing and there was certainly reform needed around Jobkeeper.

Yet for those who would struggle to survive with less money this gave them some certainty about what was coming and increased uncertainty about how they would get by.

 

 

July 21

A woman out and about garnered a little bit of media interest when she was found walking outside of her local area. But she had a very simple explanation.

KAREN FROM BRIGHTON ‘CALLS IN’:

Don’t miss a moment of Kennedy Molloy and subscribe to the Catch Up podcast on the Triple M app! Download it on iTunes or Google Play.

 

July 22

In Queensland on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not rule out further border restrictions even as she called on people to visit the state if they were not coming from one of the declared hotspots.

I am absolutely determined to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

If we have to declare further hotspots we will declare further hotspots and if there is an outbreak of community transmission in NSW like we have seen in Victoria we will not hesitate to take quick and swift action.

Facing an election in October, businesses particularly tourism ones were hurting and she wanted to show her support including scrapping of fees for those who run whale watching tours. This would equate to about $6,000 for each operator.

In Victoria there was a growing need to be considered.

40 aged care homes in the state had at least one positive COVID-19 case and over 200 cases were linked to aged care facilities.

Anybody familiar with what had happened at Newmarch House in New South Wales knew this was of particular concern.

The lessons from Newmarch were clear to some.

Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infection control expert at the University of New South Wales and an adviser to the World Health Organisation noted in an article published by The Guardian that infection control was very difficult in aged care homes.

“Unless you have dedicated bathrooms – and not every aged care facility does – and unless you have highly trained staff in infection control, which you don’t have in aged care, then it is very difficult to ensure that any shared area is kept clean all the time,” she said.

This bore out with the fact that residents at Newmarch were isolated in their rooms and COVID free for weeks before becoming ill with it.

Newmarch sent 16% of infected patients to hospital and 19 residents died. 

Also in New South Wales the Dorothy Henderson Lodge sent 80% of patients to hospital and six of their residents died.

Professor McLaws and Professor Joseph Ibrahim (Head of the Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University believed generally speaking patients should be moved to hospitals to avoid infecting residents. Aged care staff just are not trained in infection control the same ways. McLaws pointed out they don’t have pressured rooms, Hepa filters and designated areas to store PPE. Ibrahim also said their capacity for waste is not the same.

How much would their advice be heeded.

How many people were at risk if they were not listened to.

In Victoria there were 484 new cases, the largest in a single day since the pandemic began.

 

July 23

In Victoria 403 cases were reported overnight with five deaths taking the state’s death toll to 49.

There were 201 Victorians in hospital with COVID and 40 in Intensive Care Unit including four children. Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos advised 20% of Victoria’s COVID patients were under 50.

A man in his 50s was also one of the ones who had passed away.

Premier Daniel Andrews as a result said, “One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s — this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged. That would be reason enough to do what we’re doing, but it would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow immune to this.

Premier Andrews advised there 3,630 active cases in Victoria.

Premier Andrews also advised that 9/10 people who were confirmed cases were continuing to move around the community after developing symptoms. Over half of people who got tested did not immediately self-isolate after waiting to get their results.

He also announced a $300 payment that could be claimed by casuals or those with insecure work who needed to self-isolate.

Minister Mikakos said the data showed a quarter of infections from the start of July are young people in their 20s and people over 60 only represented 6%.

Premier Andrews said “If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal — and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now — you’ve got to follow the rules.

On the 23rd of July the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 15,019,293 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 248,393.

There had been 614,311 deaths with a daily increase of 7,035.

In Australia there had been 12,896 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 468. There had been 128 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 111,697 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 573. There had been 8,862 with a daily increase of four.

In United Kingdom there had been 297,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 751. There had been 41,047 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

Having reached over one million cases on July 17, in India on the 23rd of July there had been 1,238,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,720. There had been 29,861 Indians die with a daily increase of 1,129.

In the United States of America there had been 3,868,453 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,929. There had been 141,479 deaths with a daily increase of 1,042.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – I ACED THE TEST

How and When Children Should Return to Sports During COVID-19

 

July 19

Ballbag sat down with Fox News Chris Wallace and talked…well it is what it is.

I don’t really have the heart to add too much today about this.

It captured my attention at the time and think it should be noted here.

But you already know what I think about this piece of shit and you already know why. Another day I’ll be locked and loaded but I think today the videos speak for themselves.

I will say this.

If you don’t like Biden or Kamala Harris, hell if you don’t like the smug left wing media, if you don’t like the elites and you don’t like what is happening to your country. You miss industry, you hate identity politics.

I want you to know something.

I have a certain ideology and certain parties that line up with that more than others.

But I have not always voted for those parties.

When they failed with a policy I didn’t agree with, when they seemed to misjudge or outright show a lack of moral judgment or character. When I thought they no longer represented my view. Hell just when I did not want them to take my vote for granted.

I voted for the other party.

I voted for change, I voted for accountability, for consequences and to hopefully make things better.

Didn’t always work out but I never regretted that vote.

In November I want you to think about that.

I don’t think for a second that President Trump wanted so many Americans to die.

I really don’t.

Sometimes I wonder if he cares beyond what it will mean for him but…let’s say he did.

What occurred was unprecedented and fast. Nobody could have stopped everybody from dying – far from it.

But think about everything that happened.

Did he communicate as best he could.

Did he work with others as best he could.

Did he give you hope, did he pull everyone together through a crisis.

Do you think he did everything he possibly could have.

If you do, then okay. I find that incredible but okay.

Go vote for him, that is democracy.

And if you don’t think he did all of those things.

Then make sure you’re registered and get this fucking piece of shit out of the White House!

On the 18th of July there was a new record number of new cases in America again.

71,484 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,319.

On the 19th of July there was a new record again.

74,354 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,870.

On the 19th, there had been 138,591 American deaths with a daily increase of 917.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WHAT’S GOING ON?

 

July 17

On the 17th of July there was a record new number of daily cases in America.

67,164 with a daily increase of 6,454.

In Portland Oregon that week, federal agents in unmarked rental mini-vans picked up protesters off the street, shoved them in the van and drove off. They turned out to be a range of federal agents like Border Protection to U.S. Marshalls.

Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli advised NPR, “The one instance I’m familiar with, they were, believed they had identified someone who had assaulted officers or … the federal building there, the courthouse. Upon questioning, they determined they did not have the right person and that person was released.

That is one way to describe it, for protestor Mark Pettibone it was a different affair. He was walking home, a van pulled up, people in camo gear and armed grabbed him and tossed him inside. They pulled his hands above his head and pulled his beanie over his head so he couldn’t see. He found himself in a building getting patted down while these men went through his stuff. He was placed in a cell where two officers came him and read his Miranda rights. They asked if he wanted to waive his rights and he told them he wanted his lawyer. 90 minutes later they set him free and found upon exiting he had been inside the federal courthouse. There was no paperwork, citation of record of his arrest given to him.

Anonymous security forcing citizens into cars is mark of ...

From the NPR piece, the interim executive director Jann Carson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon was quoted from a written statement.

What is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the United States. Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping. The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.

It did, protesting at the courthouse became a lightning rod for the community with more and stuff stirred up by federal agents arriving that they literally fortified the perimeter and every night there was violence.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said “We do not need or want their help. The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown went further saying, “This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.

On the 17th of July the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 13,622,208 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 237,981.

There had been 585,757 deaths with a daily increase of 5,685.

In Australia there had been 10,810 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 315. There had been 113 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 108,829 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 343. There had been 8,810 deaths with a daily increase of 12.

In the United Kingdom there had been 293,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 772. There had been 40,949 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

In India they broke past one million cases in the country with 1,003,832 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 34,956. There had been 25,602 deaths with a daily increase of 687.

In the United States of America there have been 3,472,659 with a daily increase of 67,165. The had been 136,753 deaths with a daily increase of 946.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ARISE SIR TOM

Capt Tom Moore becomes Sir Tom after being knighted by Queen ...

 

July 17 

Captain Tom Moore, the 100 year old World War II veteran of the Burma campaign who had raised close to 33 million pounds for the NHS Charities went to Windsor Castle with his family.

Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II walked over from her granddaughter’s nearby wedding to make a special exception to the cessation of such ceremonies to formally knight the centenarian.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “On occasion, the Queen invests individuals privately during audiences.”

The Queen herself had chosen to join the Auxillary Territorial Service in 1945 serving in London during the war.

 

Queen Elizabeth knights 100-year-old vet Captain Tom: See all the ...

 

When quizzed about what was discussed between the two, ever the loyal Knight Sir Tom replied “No. That’s between the Queen and I,” he said “I don’t think I’ll tell anybody what she said, it was just the Queen and I speaking privately and it was a great honour for me to be able to speak to her at all.

Captain Tom was joined by his daughter Hannah Ingram, son-in-law Colin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia.

Arise Sir Tom and God Bless.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WE STAND AT A CROSSROADS

Coronavirus Australia: Crossroads Hotel pub cluster revealed as ...

 

July 12

The Curve on the ABC highlighted how quickly case numbers shot up in Victoria and highlighted the concern that it could repeat in NSW with recent case outbreaks in that state.

In America there was a record number of new daily cases.

On the 3rd of July daily cases broke 50,000 in a day. The number was 54,271.

On July 6 the daily record was broken again with 57,186.

Then on July 10 the record broke 60,000 in a day. The number was 64,630.

On July 12 there 66,542 confirmed new cases in the United States of America.

 

July 13

A dozen ADF members went into isolation at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga after it was reported there was an outbreak of cases from the Crossroads pub located in Sydney. The base is where recruits receive training to become serving members and move on to employment training and careers in the RAAF. The dozen members had been in the pub between 03JUL2020 to 10JUL2020.

July 14

In the United States of America there was no good news.

Deaths related to COVID-19 had increased by 46% in one week according to Reuters. 5,000 people mostly from Texas, Arizona and Missippi. California and Florida were also seeing an increase in deaths.

There was also 21 per cent increase in case numbers with over 400,000 reported the same week.

Case numbers were only falling on a weekly basis in the States of New York, Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware.

In Texas and Arizona the call was put out for refrigerated trucks as morgues reached capacity. In the latter, intensive care units at hospitals were at 90% capacity. 100,000 people were treated in hospital on Monday in Texas.

Some experts were saying that the death toll may not be as bad as when the pandemic first hit because testing was extremely limited early on and people were behaving differently.

Let’s hope.

 

Soldier standing on the ground hands box of supplies to civilians in the back of a truck.

 

Testing in America also rose by 7.4 per cent the same week with 823,000 tests performed on July 10 alone.

Thankfully America had a leader in charge focussed on doing everything he could for his citizens.

Coming off the small numbers at his rally in Tulsa and criticism for the clearing of Lafayette park Trump came across like a deranged old man muttering into the sky, lost and alone hoping whatever he said would stick with some voter out there.

Essentially a rally without a crowd and any back-up.

Sadly the left in the media appeared very smug which I knew would just feed into his base.

Still doesn’t anyone see how desperate Trump is to feed on fears?

Referencing Biden he said he’ll defund the police, the military, they’ll get rid of the suburbs.

Get rid of the suburbs? There’s 130,000 dead Americans you fuck!

 

 

In Australia I finally made it to my gym tuesday night. Using the dumbbells at home were a distant memory and sadly I have found the secondment has zapped me of a lot of strength. All excuses I know but on Tuesday I went my gym and thursday night I went back for a session on the treadmill. How long gyms would remain open 24/7 nobody knew.

There had been breakouts in New South Wales at The Soldiers Club in Batemans Bay and the Crossroads Hotel linked to 30 cases.

 

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club COVID-19 cluster prompts business ...

 

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian commented that she was not looking to follow Victoria into lockdown.

We need to accept children need to be educated, that people need to go to work. IT would be unrealistic for us to assume we are going to see any situation where there’s zero cases. This is the nature of the pandemic – until we have a cure, we have to live with it.” she said.

She later said of Victoria’s experience, “Lockdown doesn’t guarantee… that you’re not going to have people dying.

Queensland shuts it borders to Campbelltown and Liverpool cities in Sydney. Deputy Premier Steven Miles advised that 18 Queenslanders had visited the Crossroads hotel and were in quarantine getting tested with 11 already getting a negative result. 

There were moves as well to pass legislation that anyone making a false declaration could face up to six months imprisonment, currently the maximum penalty was a $4,003 fine.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament, “We are entering the most dangerous weeks of the battle so far. Our enemy is complacency.

 

Coronavirus Melbourne: Victoria records 300 new COVID-19 cases ...

 

In Victoria there was an announcement that 800 more Australian Defence Force personnel would be sent to Victoria to join the 500 already there. They would be helping in the State Control Centre and assisting Victoria police with contract tracing and enforcing public health orders.

Incidents like the breakout of cases at the Crossroads pub within the wake of Queensland opening its borders just made us feel more resigned that we were about to see a break-out here in Queensland.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – LIPSTICK ON A PIG

President Trump wears a mask in public for the first time.

 

July 11

Ballbag wore a mask when attending Walter Reed hospital.

In early April when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued voluntary guidance to wear masks Trump said, “This is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. I don’t know, somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk – the great Resolute Desk – I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know. Somehow, I see it for myself.

In May when Ballbag couldn’t hear a journalist’s questions he said she was wearing a mask to be “politically correct.”

When he was at the Ford plant to May he wore a mask but not where there were press. Already he was saying that he “didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.

In early July he noted of Joe Biden of wearing a mask, “got the largest mask I think I have ever seen. It covers up a big proportion of his face.

There is an argument to be made that with regularly daily testing of White House Staff the President didn’t need to wear a mask and it projected strength and confidence to the American people.

White House Staff did test positive however and Trump’s actions politicised the wearing of masks.

With a few strong comments Trump could have ended but he didn’t.

Then the COVID numbers went up him in the heartland and Republican politicians started wearing masks.

So with poll numbers down and it being identified as a simple and necessary move – he  did it.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – IT’S GOT TO BE KFC

Coronavirus fines issued after Dandenong KFC house party order, as ...

 

July 10

In Victoria there were 288 confirmed cases recorded overnight and 60 fines handed out for breaches since the lockdown came into effect.

Two paramedics getting a feed at a KFC at 1:30am in the morning noted an order taken by two people for 20. They advised police who went to a house in Dandenong where the licence plate of their car was registered.

Police found two people sleeping in the house and 16 hiding out the back.

Those 16 were fined over $1,600 each.

As Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton put it, “That is $26,000 that birthday party is costing them. That is a heck of a birthday party to recall. They will remember that one for a long time.

Tales of this parties were even recounted in the New York Times.

 

 

Meanwhile in Queensland after weeks of mounting pressure the borders with other states were “opened.”

As early as June 25 when only eight days of no new cases in Queensland had occurred there was mounting pressure to open. Since restrictions were eased in early June there had been only 8 new cases and there were all imported from interstate or overseas travellers. There were two active cases on the Gold Coast with one in hospital.

On the 30th of June Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland would go ahead with re-opening on the 10th of July barring with Victoria. Coming through the border you would have had to completed an online declaration form. Anybody coming from Victoria would have to quarantine at their own expense for 14 days in a hotel assigned to them by the government. Anyone found making a false declaration on Victoria would be liable for a $4,000 fine.

Personnel would remain manning the borders, if anything there was talk there would be more personnel deployed to facilitate.

There were a slew of lowering of restrictions announced on the 30th of June while I was on holidays.

Up to 100 people could attend gatherings, weddings and funerals. Night clubs and casinos and food courts were to re-open. Contact sport both indoor and outdoor. Events with 10,000 people if approved as COVID Safe Event Plan. Up to 25,000 spectators at sporting events. 50 per cent capacity at concert venues, theatres or one person per four square metres. Office workers could return to work.

 

Interstate visitors pour into Queensland as borders reopen after ...

 

A week later nobody was really celebrating the lowering of these restrictions, there was a feeling in the air that what was happening in Victoria, would happen in Sydney and then here. The borders were re-opening but it felt like it would only be a matter of time until they would have to close again. That if business might get a boost from this, that it would help them get a little breathing room until they had to shut down again.

It felt like we were getting a little respite before things went bad again.

On the 10th of July, the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 12,108,032 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 228,550. There had been 551,107 deaths with a daily increase of 5,579.

In Australia there had been 9,059 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 173. There had been 106 deaths.

In Canada there had been 106,434 cases with a daily increase of 267. There had been 8,737 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In Peru there had been 312,911 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,633. There had been 11,133 deaths with a daily increase of 181.

In Iran there had been 250,458 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,079. There had been 12,305 deaths with a daily increase of 221.

In India there had been 793,802 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,506. There had been 21,604 deaths with a daily increase of 475.

In Spain there had been 253,745 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 705. There had been 28,413 deaths with a daily increase of three.

In France there had been 160,783 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 504. There had been 29,886 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

In Mexico there had been 275,003 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,995. There had been 32,796 deaths with a daily increase of 782.

Mexico City records thousands more deaths than usual, amid doubt ...

In Italy there had been 242,363 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 214. There had been 34,926 deaths with a daily increase of 12.

In the United Kingdom there had been 289,674 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 693. There had been 44,602 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

In Brazil there had been 1,713,160 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,571. There had been 67,964 deaths with a daily increase of 1,223.

In the United States of America they passed a milestone of 3 million cases on the 10th fo July. There had been 3,038,325 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 64,630. There had been 131,884 deaths with a daily increase of 991.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – A LITTLE RESPITE

Coronavirus restrictions ease in Queensland's aged care homes ...

 

July 09

Thursday.

Inspired by Sir Thomas Moore I decided I would donate some money to the NHS Fund. However they wanted me to set up a Paypal account and after a half hearted attempt I decided there had to be something else I could do. Their website described how they supported various charities and I went looking for them specifically and found the London Ambulance Service Charitable Funds.

London Ambulance Service publishes review of response to terror ...

Their website informed me “The Fund supports the staff of the London Ambulance Service and its patients across London. The Fund provides amenities and benefits to staff as a way of saying thank you for their hard work and dedication, as well as supporting operational activities such as the Volunteer Responder Group.

Perfect I thought and this was a way I could do something to help closer to where my sister and her family lived and also pay respect to Beetley Pete who had served 22 years in the London Ambulance Service.

https://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/getting-involved/supporting-our-charities/

Ambulance stories | beetleypete

Another episode of the ABC Program Fireside Chat covered the rise of cases in America.

One comforting thought given the inundation of the health care system in places like New York earlier this year.

Daily increase in case numbers were skyrocketing but hospitalisations and deaths were not following at the same rate as would be expected.

There were plenty of hospitalisations and plenty of deaths and those people should be in our thoughts.

However was the lower median age of those infected, the warmer summer months, mask wearing and social distancing  leading to less severe cases?

If the trend held true that would be a welcome respite from that worst predictions.

5 Central Florida hospitals hit ICU capacity, but region still has ...

A respite was on my mind.

I talked to a work colleague about how I had seen my folks and how unlikely that was to be repeated any time soon.

He had a similar story to tell of his father being allowed a visit from a nursing home recently and seeing his grand children for the first time in a while.

On the 17th of June, 2020 restrictions in nursing homes in Queensland had been restricted.

I want you to get an idea of what they had meant to the people who lived there and their loved ones.

They could have two visitors at a time and no limits on how many visits they got in a given day.

Children could visit them.

Intergenerational playgroups reduce social isolation for parents ...

As could hairdressers, legal advisors and therapists.

They could leave the home for exercise, family gatherings of up to 20 people with social distancing, funerals or seeing someone they know at another aged care facility.

A group could go on excursions.

These rules did not just apply to the elderly, it applied to anybody in care facilities. Young people, people with disabilities.

People like my older sister.

There were 13 cases reported in New South Wales that day. It was reported that 11 of those 13 were returned travellers in hotel quarantine. 

Yet I still thought…here we fuckin go. It’s starting and it was.

It’s weird as the days went on and we waited anxiously. No matter the news, good or bad.

Everybody I talked to seemed to agree, it’s coming.

Nobody has dodged a second wave from this thing yet and going off the Spanish Flu pandemic, there wasn’t going to be just two waves. There were going to be several.

This thing was with us and we had to be prepared for it to be with us for a long time.

So in that sense, seeing my parents, others seeing their loved ones. This was a respite for us. We were lucky to have it, some people were still waiting for such a respite, some people weren’t going to get one.

I thought about them, I thought about all the businesses and employees who would struggle to get through another slow down…I thought about a lot of people.

This respite was a privilege to cherish and something to take to heart and use as a bulwark to think of brighter days to come and the need to persevere.

-Lloyd Marken