COVID-19 DIARY – IT’S HERE

What to know about social distancing strategies amid coronavirus ...

June 18

Monday 15th of June I was sick with an ear ache. The 16th I worked from home and the rest I was in the office, unexpectedly on the Wednesday, as planned for the Thursday and Friday.

In Queensland there were three active cases.

Yet on the 19th of May when discussing a case that had no traceable source Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had said, “These are the cases that worry me.”

This is why we cannot assume we have beaten this virus — we haven’t. It is unlikely that we will, ever. We’ll have to find ways of managing it and the hope of course is for a vaccine to assist us in that.” she warned.

As we waited to see if there was a bump in cases following protests things were comparatively stable in Australia.

There was even hope to be found in the stats coming out of nations hit very hard by the pandemic.

But that was not the case everywhere.

On Thursday I was driving into work listening to the news on the radio when I heard that new cases in Beijing appeared to show a mutation of the virus.

That got me worried. What kind of mutation? Was it airborne? I think I had heard somewhere weeks earlier that the science didn’t bear that out as a likely scenario but a mutation was not good news.

A quick google search told me the mutation had apparently led to a longer incubation period, this meant it could stick around longer and infect more people particularly within a household.

Not great news but not where my deepest fearful thoughts had led me.

We didn’t need this disease to get much deadlier, as the week came to a close two things were being reported.

While finally the curve was flattening across Europe, America was still suffering and in South America and Africa the disease was on the ascent.

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India who had gone into lockdown quickly was being left to white knuckle its way through the virus as it became the country with the fourth most number of confirmed cases in the world.

Brazil crossed a million cases and Chile and Peru were also seeing numbers skyrocket.

After a decrease in numbers Iran, one of the first countries hit hard outside of China, was now suffering a second wave.

With three actives cases in Queensland if you thought this thing was over you were not paying attention and you were a fool.

For weeks I had worried about what would happen to the third world when this virus hit them.

That threat was no longer on the horizon – it was here.

Coronavirus morning headlines as worldwide death toll passes ...

June 19

In the United Kingdom they moved from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

Schools and non-essential retail continued to gradually be re-opened. There was talk of social distancing measure going from 2 metres to 1 metre.

Boris Johnson had previously said, “As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one in 1,000, one in 1,600, maybe even fewer, your chances of being two metres, or one metre, or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus is obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre.

In Wales people still have to stay within five miles of their home but it was announced that schools would re-open 29JUN2020 and travel to and from Wales could go be allowed come 06JUL2020.

Retailers, houses viewings, non-contact outdoor sports and accommodation were planned to re-open the following Monday 22JUN2020. There was no announcement guidance yet for when pubs, cafes, restaurants and hairdressers would re-open.

The British government is scheduled to review its new quarantine policy on the 29th of June at the 3 week mark.

That policy requires people arriving in the UK should drive their own car to their destination and not use public transport or taxis.

They must not go to work, school or public areas or have visitors except for essential support.

They must not go out to buy food – where they can rely on others. ?… I’m not sure what happens if they can’t rely on others.

The fine for being found in breach of this £1,000 pounds in England, Northern Ireland Wales. In Scotland it is £480 with the maximum fine for repeat offenders in Scotland £5,000. No idea how any of this is enforced.

Scottish Coronavirus Cases Could Already Be 50,000, CMO Says ...

Yet already the government was trying to secure travel corridors with other European countries that would be exempt from this. Even though Europe had suffered a high volume of cases and deaths.

Was it possible that the travel industry in the UK was not prepared to take this lying down and was bringing considerable political pressure to bear?

Here in Australia 97% of the airline industry business has disappeared. Airlines are facing bankruptcy and the tourism industry which is such a massive part of our GDP has lost over half of its business and its international business isn’t looking to come back anytime soon.

Domestic tourism is certainly crying out for state border restrictions to be lowered in time for the winter holidays. The ski season is going ahead in the very two states that have the highest number of cases.

Yet the decisions being made currently by Whitehall in regards to international travel are simply flabbergasting to me. You’ve finally got this thing receding, don’t fucking blow it for some money! People’s lives are more important than that!

Coronavirus in Scotland: latest update as number of people ...

 

June 21

Throughout the week new cases were on the rise in Victoria. 21 on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday, 13 on Friday and 25 on Saturday.

On the eve of lowering restrictions Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews held a press conference and advised that there would be a change of plans.

He cited the case increase was not due to recent mass protests but that people who were supposed to be self isolating but rather going to family gatherings and going to work.

Sometimes they were doing this after they had been advised that they had tested positive for COVID-19!

There was no exact breakdown but we were told that over half of cases since April in Victoria had come transmissions within a household.

With that in mind gatherings were going to see tighter restrictions come back in. Only five visitors to a household at a time. Only gatherings of ten at an outside family gathering. Down from 20.

Interestingly limits of gatherings in restaurants, pubs, community halls, public libraries, Churches and museums were going to remain at 20. They were due to see an increase come Monday but that was now off the table.

The Premier said there would be a push-ahead with re-opening of gyms, cinemas, pubs and TABS with a 20 person limit.

Perhaps most interestingly the Victorian ski-season was going ahead with facilities open albeit with screening and safeguards in place.

Also flagged was the idea of locking down specific hotspot areas if need be.

 

 

 

June 21

There were now 45 new cases recorded over the weekend alone in Victoria.

In Queensland it was decided that except for “a limited number of essential purposes” anyone returning from 36 hotspots area in and around Melbourne would need to quarantine for 14 days upon landing in Queensland.

In Queensland there were currently three active COVID-19 cases, two of them in the Gold Coast.

What Victoria’s case numbers meant for plans to lower state borders in the coming weeks remained to be seen.

Australia Late June

In America Trump held a rally in Tulsa. With thousands of Americans dead, the economy in recession and his polling numbers down there wasn’t a high turn out for the American leader.

Plenty of excuses were offered, there was after all a pandemic on and there had been weeks of protesting across the country.

There were protestors and police present and plenty of Trump supporters.

Just not 40,000 expected to fill an over-capacity area outside for a second speech nor enough to fill up the 19,000 capacity BOK centre.

Trump didn’t talk too much about COVID-19 but he did mention that one of the downsides of testing so many people is you find out a lot of fucking people have it.

Seth Meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers - Find & Share on GIPHY

This is good news for most leaders, it means you can identify hotspot areas, carry out contract tracing, isolate those who have it, treat them in hospital in order to preserve their life and eventually the hope is with a lot of testing and these follow-up kind of obvious measures you stop the virus spreading and you know you therefore stop people dying and hell after a while you even start to lower some restrictions and get people back to work and having the economy moving.

It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing. It’s a necessary thing and it’s an obvious thing.

But Ballbag had a different take.

When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please.’

Of course the liberal bias media fixated on that and of course the White House asserted it was all in jest in regards to the horrible media coverage the President was getting.

I like to fix there were a lot of good people in Tulsa that night, braving a pandemic, showing support for an embattled leader that they believed had not only their best interests at heart but those of their country and their fellow Americans.

I saw a man in a wheelchair, young aspirational couples, black people. I’m sure there were veterans, nurses and teachers in that crowd.

I don’t meant to offend them when I voice my own personal opinions about him.

So please turn away for a second….

Trumpy this country needs what only you can provide…your absence.

Or in other words.

 

 

That afternoon I was with my in-laws celebrating a birthday. We were able to spend time together as a family, it was something to feel grateful for. So many people didn’t have this right now, so many people had lost loved ones, so many more were facing dire prospects.

On the 21st of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,436 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 27. The number of deaths 102, a figure reached on the 24th of May.

Having reached six figures in case numbers on the 20th of June, in Canada on the 21st there had been 100,629 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 409. There were 8,346 dead with a daily increase of 46.

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In Turkey there had been 186,493 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,248. There were 4,927 dead with a daily increase of 22.

In Germany there had been 189,822 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 687. There had been 8,882 deaths.

In Iran there had been 202,584 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,322. There had been 9,507 deaths with a daily increase of 115.

In Chile there had been 236,748 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,355. There were 4,295 dead with a daily increase of 202.

In Italy there had been 238,275 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 264. There were 34,610 dead with a daily increase of 49.

In Spain there had been 245,938 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 363. There were 28,322 dead with a daily increase of seven.

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In Peru there had been 247,925 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,537. The number of dead were 7,660 with a daily increase of 199.

In the United Kingdom there had been 303,114 confirmed cases with a  daily increase of 1,295. There were 42,589 dead with a daily increase of 128.

In India there had been 410,461 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,413. The number of dead were 13,254 with a daily increase of 306.

In Russia there had been 584,680 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,728. There were 8,111 dead with a daily increase of 109.

That day Brazil had reached more than one million cases with there having 1,032,913 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,771. The number of dead 48,954 with a daily increase of 1,206.

The United States of America having reached over two million cases on the 13th of June, now on the 21st there had been 2,208,829 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,617. There were 118,895 dead with a daily increase of 690.

Having reached 8 million cases on the 17th of June, on the 21st globally there had been 8,708,008 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 138,926.

There had been 461,715 deaths with a daily increase 4,743.

That’s right…

461,715 people had died from this fucking thing and it was only getting started.

Yet again, I asked myself what are you going to do and I hoped I would find an answer however meagre, however small but something.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY STELLAROSSA TOOWONG

 

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Pictured: Stellarossa staff member Andrea and author with the Director of Medical Services, Jim Houston and the General Manager Sean Hubbard of The Wesley Hospital on the 12th of June, 2020. Copyright The Wesley Hospital.

June 12

I’ve worked in a lot of different places and sooner or later every office worker finds the local café that makes their coffee just the way they want it. Ever since I started working at Toowong in 2018 it’s been the Stellarossa café for me.

I’ve seen a few young baristas come and go, young people moving onto the next big adventure but every single one of them has been a star at their job and as a person.

My first year the Owner/Manager gave me a Christmas card.

When the coronavirus took off in March it was them who told me Tom Hanks had it.

It was the Manager who looked off in the distance two weeks later when I asked him how was business and he replied it had slowed down.

I remember one morning standing in front of those young baristas advising I may not be in next week. We were all feeling the uncertainty of the times and I wanted to offer something more than words.

When I came back after Easter having worked from home I had already been putting notes in the tip jar.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 24th of March they had been doing take-away only and there was a new owner, Kate, who had taken on the business at the height of the pandemic.

With business down she was trying to ensure all of her staff got at least one shift each week. Some of them were not eligible for assistance even if they needed it.

As a former hospital wardsman, I had wanted to give something back to nurses.

In March there were questions about whether we would have enough PPE for our health staff, if the disease would continue to spread and at some point if our health care system would be overwhelmed.

Our nurses were putting those concerns aside to be there for us even if it meant they may end up facing what doctors and nurses had faced in Lombardy and Barcelona and New York.

When I read about the BuyThemACoffee initiative in an article written by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt on Weekend Notes, I knew I had found a way to thank our nurses. Founder Kaylie Smith had been advised by nurses what they really wanted was a coffee.

After donating to the BuyThemACoffee initiative, I later wondered if I could do something similar involving Stellarossa Toowong.

I got in touch with the BuyThemACoffee initiative to get advice from them on what I should do. Then I contacted the nearby Wesley Hospital and things quickly began to take shape.

The Wesley Hospital advised they would like to receive gift vouchers for their staff which would keep the logistics of the exercise simple.

The Wesley Hospital, is part of UnitingCare Health (UCH), a not-for-profit private hospital group operated by UnitingCare Queensland, which provides health and community services on behalf of the Uniting Church.

The Wesley is one of the largest private hospitals in Queensland with over 2,000 staff who provide highly specialised care to their patients.

I set up a GoFundMe page on the 21st of April, 2020 to hopefully raise $250 for Stellarossa Toowong.

GoFundMe Page

 

I wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Local small businesses are doing it tough due to the economic slowdown of COVID-19.

At the same time health care workers are on the frontline of dealing with this global pandemic, facing increased workloads and risk.

Inspired by the BuyThemACoffee initiative, I got in touch with the Wesley Hospital near my workplace and they advised some coffee vouchers for staff would be appreciated.

Local cafe Stellarossa, which serves the best coffee in Toowong, will be on hand to provide the coffees from the vouchers.

Anybody who works near Toowong Village will be aware of how tough local businesses are doing at the moment, trying to take care of staff and keep their workplace running in these uncertain times.

As a former hospital wardsman, I can attest to how selfless and hardworking all hospital staff are.

This is a chance to do something kind for those whose kindness and courage always shines through, but particularly in times when we’re hurting.

This is chance to support workers and their workplace through the economic downturn. 

Our aim is to raise $250 but whatever final goal we reach. you can be certain your donation will put money in the cash till of a small business and a coffee in the hand of a health care worker.

Both will be grateful for your donation which will make a difference in their lives.”

As a former wardsman,  I was planning for the cards to go to nurses and doctors, volunteers, admin staff, allied health, doctors, cleaners and kitchen staff.

Stellarossa HQ swung their weight behind it showcasing the GoFundMe page on their facebook page on the 12th of May. A few flyers were handed out and put up around the store.

Stellarossa Facebook

Friends, strangers and work colleagues at the Queensland College of Teachers (including The Social Club) and even one of these young baristas (Hannah) who I had partially set up the page to help did the rest. I am truly touched by their generous spirit.

These types of business have been likely to have a daily turnover of $300-$400 during the height of restrictions.

By the 21st of May, at a time when nobody has not been financially impacted these wonderful donors had raised $450 to help Stellarossa Toowong and to give thanks to heroes we should never take for granted and are always there for us when we need them.

I was away sick as a precaution during this period but on the 4th of June I was able to give the manager/owner of Stellarossa Toowong $450 in cash on behalf of all those generous donors.

The manager advised me the money raised would be enough for 112.5 coffees but she had chipped in the rest of the money to have enough for 200 cards.

That is the calibre of the people I’m talking about here.

In the coming days, things were arranged with the Wesley Hospital to deliver the 200 gift cards.

 

Kate who was keeping her business running and supporting her staff through tough times was too shy and busy to attend.

Instead I went over to the Wesley Hospital with one of the young baristas Andrea who is in her second year of studies as a physiotherapist.

The General Manager, Sean Hubbard and the Director of Medical Services, Jim Houston was on hand to take delivery of the vouchers from us and to thank us.

Photos were taken from their media team including of the delivery of the vouchers to staff around the hospital which were uploaded to The Wesley’s facebook page.

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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.

Wesley Facebook

Friends, work colleagues and strangers had done a wonderful thing and I feel so fortunate to have just been a part of it.

 

June 13

That Saturday I picked up Karen from a shift.

She had gotten some unexpected work for the university in place of exam invigilation which had been wonderful news.

We were late for our nephew’s eighth birthday.

It was the first whole family gathering we had with all of my in-laws together since the crisis started.

Everybody maintained social distancing but it was good to be with everybody.

The reclaiming of what had been put on hold continued.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART III

Tim Peake shares stunning pictures of the UK from space on his ...

 

Originally I was going to work from home Monday and Tuesday but ended up working in the office the entire week from Monday the 8th of June to Friday the 12th of June which I really enjoyed.

We’re still rotating staff between working from home and working in the office and working to maintain a high level of customer service.

Restrictions have lowered, case numbers are down but our day to day existence is still not back to the way it was and it is not expected to be for a long time.

 

June 11

I went to Jetts Fitness at the airport where I work out just after 9pm only to discover the gym was closed from 8pm to 5am currently. I called my gym the next day and established I wouldn’t be charged any fees but it would be a while yet for me and shift workers until we could return to the gym. …and I was feeling so inspired after watching The Last Dance.

 

June 12

Restrictions are being lowered faster than you would have expected back in March.

Pressure mounts for states to re-open their borders and the recent mass protests seem to be a tipping point.

If mass outbreaks of the disease don’t follow these mass gatherings there is no question all state governments will look to open the borders and lower restrictions even more.

That means a window of about two to three weeks.

Say July 10.

On Friday the Prime Minister held a meeting with National Cabinet and a press conference afterwards.

The Deputy Premier of Queensland Steven Miles says Queensland will look to lower border restrictions on July 10.

South Australian Premier sets 20JUL2020 for borders being re-opened having closed the borders almost four months earlier on 24MAR2020.

Western Australia does not make any firm commitments.

There is advice that in stadiums with a capacity of over 40,000 crowds at 25% capacity

A limit of 100 in attendance at indoor gatherings will be scrapped in favour of 4 metre distancing. Having walked around supermarkets lately I’m not sure how you’re going to enforce 4 metre distancing but good luck.

On Friday afternoon in a press conference Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked a question about the current removal programs from streaming services in recent days like Gone With The Wind in America on HBO Max.

Also closer to home shows like Little Britain and Summer Heights High where white actors had performed black characters in comedy shows in black face which has severe historical connotations.

His answer which also alluded to a recent debate about statues showed where his priorities were.

“I’m worried about jobs. I’m worried about 800,000 Australians going on to JobSeeker in the last three months. I’m not interested in what they’re showing on streaming services,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

On the 12th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,410,510 (more than 7 million were confirmed on the 9th of July) confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 136,572. The number of dead were 418,294 with a daily increase of 4,925.

In Australia there had been 7,825 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 102 deaths in Australia.

In Canada there had been 97,125 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 472. The were 7,960 dead with a daily increase of 63.

In India there had been 297,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10,956. There were 8,498 with a daily increase of 396.

In the United Kingdom there had been 291,413 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,266. There were 41,279 dead with a daily increase of 151. The only silver lining to be found was that currently there appeared to be a downward trend in the number of daily increase of cases.

 

UK Figures

 

In the United States of America there had been 1,988,646 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,315. There were 112,810 dead with a daily increase of 832.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ISOLATE FOR 14 DAYS, THERE’S A GOOD CHAP

Coronavirus: Grounded planes and deserted airport terminals - BBC News

 

June 7

I had a bit soreness in my muscles on Sunday, the 7th of June so out of an abundance of caution I went back to the Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles where there was quite a bit more of a line-up this time.

The nurse wasn’t as gentle this time around with the nose swab, I suppose that was fair, I was no longer a virgin.

I remember staggering out afterwards trying to find the door.

The result came back thankfully negative.

June 8

In the United Kingdom the British government unveiled a quarantine plan for all returning travellers including British citizens to give their details and self isolate for the next 14 days.

Similar arrangements were put in place on the 18th of March in Australia as covered in a previous diary entry. On the 25th of March the Australian government placed returning travellers in quarantine in hotels across the nation for 14 day periods. If you got off a place in Australia being trusted to self isolate was no longer an option as covered in a previous post.

On the 18th of March there were 510 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 96. There had been six deaths with a daily increase of one.

On the 25th of March in Australia there had been 2,423 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 287. The number of deaths eight.

On the 8th of June in the United Kingdom when these measures were put in place there had been 286,198 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,326.

The number of deaths 40,542 with a daily increase of 77.

510 cases versus 286,198 cases.

The press was already reporting that Whitehall was looking at opening up travel to Europe again by mid-July.

6 as opposed to 40,542.

My God.

The Foreign Office was advising against all but essential international travel.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ALL LIVES MATTER

 

 

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Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

June 06

Saturday.

In 1944 this was the day allied forces landed in Normandy and began the liberation of Europe.

In 2020 this was the day in Australian capital cities across the country protests were held for Black Lives Matter. They were held for American George Floyd, for 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody and for what some call systemic racism.

The crowds were full of hippies and hipsters.

Young people who had the look of Humanities students more than Law and Commerce ones.

A few even clearly budding media students trying to capture this historic event.

Aboriginal people who have been marching all their lives for their rights suddenly joined by crowds they had never experienced.

People of all races and backgrounds, not necessarily all of the exact same opinion but all united in opposition to inequality.

There were 30,000 in Brisbane at a time when public gatherings in Queensland could be no more than 20.

No fines were handed out as police closed down the streets for the march.

There were no riots although across the country there were examples of minor vandalism and exchanges of pepper spray and arrests.

It appeared almost everybody was wearing a mask and hand sanitisers were on hand as well but given the large numbers – social distancing simply  could not have been maintained at all times no matter how much people tried to respect each other’s space.

Following the weekend Queensland MP Nick Dametto of the Katter Australia Party called on the government to revoke all social distancing fines.

By not getting out there and fining some people gives a very dark message: you’re allowed to break the rules if you have enough people breaking the rules at the same time.” he said.

 

 

He had a point of course, but then again the fines he was talking about had mostly been handed out during a higher proportion of active cases in Queensland to people who wanted to muck around in the park not protest the unjust murder of black people.

I suspect Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk will be holding on tight in the coming two weeks to see if there is a spike in cases before making a final decision on lowering border restrictions amongst others.

I for one think the authorities made the right call in not choosing to escalate the situation, I’m relieved the protests were not hijacked by troublemakers.

I regret that the protesters felt this was the only way their voices could be heard and went against the health advice of the time.

I really regret that.

The protests were held to address racism, their most immediate impact maybe the hurried lowering of restrictions and the undermining of a possible return to them should the need arise.

The protests will remain a divisive topic, one can only hope race one day will not.

On the 6th of June there were four known active COVID-19 cases in Queensland.

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,251 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 11. There had been 102 deaths.

Very different numbers to other countries that had seen protests too.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ISSUES IN THIS SPACE

Scott Morrison told by Queanbeyan local to get off lawn

June 04

In a week when the US leader was clearly protestors from their public city with the full might of police force so he could stand around doing an unplanned photo op where he couldn’t even find some words to say of merit.

My national leader was taking it in all his stride when yelled at by a disgruntled home owner.

Talking up a reno scheme he was assembled in front of a property with press journalists lined up on someone’s lawn to film him.

That wasn’t bloody good enough for the guy inside his house, waltzing out in thongs and tracksuit jumper he asked the journos to move. The Prime Minister didn’t waste a second to apologise and encourage getting off the man’s lawn.

Both the lawn enthusiast and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison exchanged apologies gave each other the thumbs up.

After all the man had just re-seeded!

The disparity between the two images was incredible.

A lone man telling his Prime Minister to move his press conference with a quick apology and thumbs up.

Contrast that with hundreds protesting the injustice of racial inequality of their country only to be forcibly moved so their President could try and save face for his failings.

I’ve often commented on the bulldoggish nature of Morrison as a virtue and a flaw. There was none of that on display here. He couldn’t have risen higher in my estimations.

 

 

On the horizon though was another issue for the Prime Minister which would prove more testing. Black Lives Matter protests were starting to take place here in Australia with a march already on Tuesday in Sydney having taken place when public gatherings were limited to 20 people.

On Wednesday there was a candlelight vigil in Brisbane.

Speaking to Ray Hadley on 2GB radio Thursday morning the PM warned against “importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia.” while acknowledging that Australia had problems “in this space” that it needed to address.

He was not wrong, there had been over 432 deaths of Aboriginals in police custody since a Royal Commission was held in 1991.

As the week went on it became clear our political masters were choosing to let mass protests go ahead rather than risk further unrest. This would lay bare either the danger had passed or that the protestors had initiated a new break out. Either way it would undermine their ability to enforce rules going forward as most of them were in a rush to lower restrictions anyway.

We stood at a precipice.

Once again the Prime Minister called on our better natures “We don’t need the divisions that we’re seeing in other countries – we need to stick together and look after each other.”

 

 

I was back at work in the office on Thursday too having been away for two and half weeks. I took the chance to pay the money that had been raised on the GoFundMePage to Stellarossa Toowong.

The manager told me the money raised would pay for roughly 112 coffee vouchers but they had gotten 200 and would chip in the rest themselves.

You have to marvel at the kindness of people sometimes.

I started making arrangements with the Media Team at the Wesley hospital to make delivery.

On the 4th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,229 confirmed cases in Australian with a daily increase of eight. The number of dead 102 with a daily decrease of one. That would be Blackwater Miner Nathan Turner.

 

 

In the rest of Europe there were plenty of protests too and in London they were turning ugly with reporters assaulted by protestors or just plain crazy people.

As I watched Nine News Europe Correspondent Ben Avery and camera operator Cade Thompson needing to make a run for it as the crowd attacked them even with a security guard.

Europe Correspondent Sophie Walsh was accosted by a random man who was chased away by her cameraman Jason Conduit.

I urged my sister to stay inside in the coming days.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE CLEARING OF LAFAYETTE PARK

A Walk Meant to Convey Grit Evokes Trump's Dark Side Instead - The ...

June 1

Over the weekend protests and riots had spread across America at one point Trump was taken to an underground bunker at the White House.

As chaos reigned on the streets the American President sought to reclaim them by force if necessary.

America has a long standing history of riots followed by the National Guard being called out. The National Guard is also called out in times of great crisis to search for missing persons, clear towns devastated by natural disasters and provide security when the Emergency Services are no longer enough to quell unrest.

For Trump the call out of 5,000 National Guard troops across 15 states on the 31st of May was not nearly enough. He started talking about the use of full time military.

On Monday before the curfew set in Washington it was announced that Trump was going to hold a press conference.

Police on site started pushing back protestors to increase the perimeter around the White House. Channel 9 Australian reporter Amelia Adams was on site braving rubber bullets, chemical irritants and fired up protesters.

Ms Adams was there and reported at different times that the more peaceful elements of the protest had gone home in lieu of the curfew and then at other times that bad elements were there and at other times the better elements were still present. The footage showed emotions were high but also that the protestors for the most part were urging calm.

The footage nonetheless shows on the ground shepherding of the crowd away from the White House in a show of force. It was later clarified that tear gas was not used but more pepper spray. For protestors suffering the effects the distinction held no relevance. The canisters were also shown to be thrown back by some protestors and it appears to me that firecrackers may have been dispersed by them as well along the ground.

 

Channel 7 U.S. correspondent Amelia Brace was there too with her cameraman Tim Myers who were assaulted by police clearing the area and struck by rubber bullets.

“A police officer’s face came around that corner and just really went for us and I was screaming ‘Media! Media! Media!’ because, obviously, the media is not meant to be getting caught up in this — we’re not meant to be getting targeted,” the Sunshine Coast local told the ABC.

“And despite that as I ran away, clearly stating that we were media, with my cameraman with a camera on his shoulders, I was hit across the back with the baton.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker cited 100 incidents involving journalists including 20 arrests and 60 assaults over recent days covering the protests across the country.

 

 

Once the crowd was cleared Trump strutted out with his Secret Service and held The Bible up in front of St John’s Church.

The rioting and protesting is distressing for many, myself included. It is natural to want to protest for social justice, to get off your ass and to actually stand for something.

When the protests turn into riots it is also natural for people to want to see law and order restored.

As reporters are assaulted, police and protestors are killed, businesses are torched there are no clear answers. Trump’s call to put down rioters and make the streets safe to walk again appeal to some. A show of force is part of that.

Yet for many – leaders don’t divide, they pull us together, they acknowledge wounds that need to be healed and they don’t make it about them.

 

Lieutenant Gen. James N. Mattis, Commanding General, U.S. Marine ...

 

June 3

On the second of June, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sporting a COVID beard was asked to comment about the scenes in Washington he took a 21 second pause before answering “We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech at Philadelphia’s City Hall on the 3rd of June about Trump holding up The Good Book  “if he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something.

“The President of the United States should be part of the solution – not part of the problem.”

Gathering far more press coverage and proving far more damning were comments made by General Mattis in a statement that was published in the Atlantic magazine.

General Mattis had served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 2013. His last command was U.S. Central Command. He joined the U.S. Marine Reserves during the Vietnam War and earned his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps while completing a Bachelor of Arts at Central Washington University. He went to war for the first time as a full bird Colonel in the Persian Gulf. He was a General during operational service in Afghanistan and Iraq which included the Battle of Fallujah. Persistently apolitical, he was known for being well read and a blunt talker.

Trump hired him as Secretary of Defense upon winning the election in 2016 and unlike most of those hires General Mattis was still around two years later. As disagreements between the two grew General Mattis eventually resigned and in response Trump sped up the end of his tenure. Mattis never discussed their disagreements and never publicly criticised President Trump.

Until the 3rd of June 2020.

In the Atlantic he wrote, “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander in chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.

David Lauter on the 5th of June wrote in the L.A. Times that Trump’s act “appears to have been a fateful miscalculation.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 3rd of June that in the United States of America there had been 1,798,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,692.

The number of dead Americans due to COVID-19, 105,008 with a daily increase of 761.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – STEP 2 IN RE-OPENING

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans who don't wear masks may ...

1 June

In America on Monday the 1st of June when Dr Fauci was asked by a reporter if he was still meeting regularly with Trump.

No … As you probably noticed, the taskforce meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased.” he answered.

He admitted the last time he was with Trump was during a teleconference with Governors on May 18.

Previously there had been calls for Trump to fire Dr Fauci and he even retweeted such a call seemingly as a threat. He also previously talked the need for the Taskforce to continue as thousands of Americans were dying due to the virus.

As Trump pushed to re-open the country Dr Fauci advised on 13MAY2020 in testimony before the U.S. Senate, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control. Not only leading to some suffering and death, but it could even set you back on the road to get economic recovery.

My concern it that we will start to see little spikes that will turn into outbreaks,” said the 79 year old who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

News that Trump may not be listening to Dr Fauci certainly did not sound like good news for many people but then again Trump has been keen to dial back press conferences when such helpful musings from the 23rd of April were taken out of context by the fake news outlets.

 

In Australia as my symptoms subsided I worked from home Monday through to Wednesday and was due to return to the office on Thursday and Friday which I was very excited about.

More exciting was the Queensland’s government decision to move to Step 2 of the National Three Step Program ahead of schedule from June 12 to 12pm June 1.

You could now have a gathering of 20 people or more in your home or a public space.

The number of guests at a wedding could be 20 and the number of people attending a funeral could now be 50.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants could also seat up to 20 patrons.

Sports clubs, gyms and yoga studios could also open up to 20 people.

As could museums, cinemas, art galleries, amusement parks, theatres, zoos, tanning salons and tattoo parlous.

You could go on holidays anywhere in the state except for restricted area due to biosecurity or remote indigenous communities at risk. With accommodation able to be booked for all travel.

This was a huge life line for struggling businesses and their workers. It was a hopeful return to more of life as we had once enjoyed it.

It now remained to be seen if this would lead to further outbreaks and whether we could maintain social distancing discipline.

On the horizon were events that would suggest otherwise.

On the 1st of June the Queensland Government reported 5 active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

In Australia the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,195 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10. 103 Australians had died.

Globally the number of cases broke past 6 million. There had been 6,080,963 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 124,080. The number of dead were 370,160 with a daily increase 3,751.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

In Canada there had been 90,516 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 775. The here been 7,092 deaths with a daily increase of 96.

In India there had been 190,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,392. The number of dead were 5,394 with a daily increase of 230.

In Italy there had been 233,019 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 355. The number of dead were 33,415 with a daily increase of 75.

In Spain there had been 239,429 with a daily increase of 201. The number of dead were 27,127 with a daily increase of 2.

In the United Kingdom there had been 274,766 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,936. There were 38,489 dead with a daily increase of 113.

One of the deaths was a man named Brian Cushion. I never met Brian but he was a lifelong friend of a man named Pete Johnson. Again someone I never met but I’ve been blogging with BeetleyPete as I know him as part of my blogging community for 4 years.

A former ambo Pete has always struck me as a good man and one who has weathered the ups and downs of life with a stoic attitude. Thrpugh his eyes i saw that Brian was a good man, a loving father, a blues performer, a keen golfer and a loyal friend.

Brian’s passing made COVID-19 personal for Pete and in a way that made it just a little bit more personal for me.

As the number of cases continue to lower in Australia I often think of Pete and John and Paul and Alex and Vinnie and my sister in London. About her in-laws in Canada good people that I have met and consider family,  along with Jay and Sean in Toronto. Cindy in Arizona, Don in Minnesota and GP in Florida, John and Le0pard in L.A., Jet in San Diego and even Paol in Victoria or Eric in …say Eric where you from?

And I just want to say you’ve given me a great deal of joy and confidence over the years and this might sound selfish but I’m going to have to insist that you continue to do that in the years to come okay.

In Russia there had 414,878 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,035. The number of dead were 4,855 with a daily increase of 162.

In Brazil there had been 498,440 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 33,274. The number of dead were 28,834 with a daily increase of 956.

In the United States of America there had been 1,757,522 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,482. The number of dead 103,554 with a daily increase of 914.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – AROUND THE GROUNDS

Hospital del Mar is taking recovering COVID-19 patients from the ICU to the seaside as part of their recovering process aiming to humanize its Intensive Care Units in Spain.

May 31

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised two millions deemed clinically extremely valuable that they could now leave their homes once a day for a little exercise and could even meet with a person from another household if there was only one of them. The advice was not to go to shops or crowded places and that services providing delivery of food or medicine would continue.

“I do not underestimate just how difficult it has been for you, staying at home for the last 10 weeks, and I want to pay tribute to your resilience,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

With the announcement of the easing of restrictions members of Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group (SAGE) urged that the track and trace system had only launched last Thursday and was not fully operational.

SAGE’s John Edmunds told Sky News, “Track and trace was only launched the day before yesterday, so we can’t be sure that that is working effectively yet and yet we’re going ahead and making these changes anyway. I think that that is rather dangerous.

Plans for the English Premier League to start up again on 17JUN2020 to empty stadiums receive government approval. This follows on from teams resuming training for the past two weeks.

On the 31st of May, the World Health Organisation reported 272,830 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom with a daily increase of 1,604. The number of dead were 38,376 with a daily increase of 215.

Mass protests have broken out across Spain over the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the worst hit countries from the pandemic, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was able to strike a deal to extend the state of Emergency Lockdown for a final two week period expiring June 21.

The lockdown in place since March 14 allowed people to only leave their home to buy food or seek medical attention or jobs where you could not work from home.

The last extension had met with demonstrations in the streets and parliamentary opposition. Thankfully Pedro Sanchez had prevailed probably ensuring many lives saved.

On the 31st of May the WHO reported in Spain there were 239,228 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 664. The number of number 27,125 with a daily increase of four.

In Italy there were 232,644 with a daily increase of 416. The number of dead 33,340 with a daily increase of 111.

Rwanda reports its first fatality due to COVID-19, a 65 year old driver who had returned home from a neighbouring country when he fell ill.

He passed away from severe respiratory complications while being treated at a specialised COVID-19 centre.

In Rwanda the WHO reported there were 359 confirmed cases with a daily increase of four. There had been that one death.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19: Rwanda Confirms 2 New Cases As Region Goes On Alert – KT ...

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND

May 29

It was Friday.

That was the day.

The World Health Organisation reported in America there were 1,694,864 with a daily increase of 19,606.

There 100,304 DEATHS with a daily increase of 1,415.

Former Vice President Joe Biden who has experienced real loss in his life posted a message of consolation on Twitter.

 

In Minneapolis protests were escalating. on the 28th of May Australian journalist Tim Arvier for Channel Nine News was reporting from the scene. The footage was surreal and riveting, a black man had been stabbed by a white man in a crowd of protestors.

The police had taken all morning to come down in force, the white man was arrested and the black man was picked up and retreated down the street.

A fellow blogger who lives there later advised me that there were white supremacists in the area to incite violence. This situation could possibly have been an example of this, then again maybe not.

During the incident bricks and water bottles were thrown at police and police fired tear gas at the crowd. Tim Arvier’s courage under pressure along with his cameraman was something to behold.

 

 

I watched with sadness and despair, knowing that night the city would burn.

And burn it did.

 

 

I hadn’t watched the footage of George Floyd yet, I just felt very sad. The country had sufferred so much from COVID-19 and now it was going to tear itself apart and I just felt so disappointed.

There’s a part of me that believes protesting just isn’t possible during a pandemic certainly given the number of cases currently but for many Americans enough was enough.

It almost felt like the murder of George Floyd may have been the trigger but there was something sadly inevitable about all of this.

That if there were so many people out of work, struggling to get food, without welfare, unable to get health care that sooner or later they would take to the streets to have their voices heard.

Or maybe people were fed up with being on the wrong side of a racial divide. As an outsider it is not for me to say but as person who loves America and Americans.

I shook my head. I was so sad.

-Lloyd Marken