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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned COVID infections will occur in aged care facilities.
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?
More than 750 health care workers in Victoria already had COVID-19.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.