COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XII

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

December 18

Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

That was the idea anyway.

 

 

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

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

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

And I caught up with her over the Christmas period.

 

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

 

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

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

New rules had been implemented Thursday.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

The government allocated extra resources to the testing effort.

 

Perth Airport to remain open to support freight | Infrastructure Magazine

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

I love this man | Tom Cruise | Know Your Meme

 

December 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Who knows where this was.

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

 

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

 

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

Five crew members quit the set following the leak.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 DIARY – FOURTH TIMES A CHARM

December 16

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

I didn’t think I had it.

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

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

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

But far more importantly than that.

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

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

It was a simple decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was alone. No one was there. 

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

It was painless.

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

I left the ward. 

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

I went home. 

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

For the rest of the week I worked from home.

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

December 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11

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

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

December 12

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

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

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

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

December 13

Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She has been a hero for a long time.

Now she’s a symbol.

COVID-19 Memory Project- Sandra Lindsay Interview - YouTube

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

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

They’ve gotten sick.

Some have died.

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

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

Nurse Sandra Lindsay represents that too.

She also represents the best of us.

Thank you Nurse Lindsay and God bless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope': Burned out health workers buoyed by vaccine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A miracle performed by scientists.

Delivered to our greatest heroes and our most vulnerable.

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

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

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

“Ready?” Chester asked him.

“Please,” he replied.

“Let’s do this.” she said.

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

 

December 07

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the ABC News website.

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

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

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

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

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

Three police officers talk on a Melbourne street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

December 08


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

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

Here was an elected official undermining an election result.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Joanna Sloan

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

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

Palmerston care home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Katie Stewart

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

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

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

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

Vaccine

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

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

But we had a vaccine. 

We had a vaccine.

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

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

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

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

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

Gee….

Anybody would have thought it was Christmas after all!

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

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

December 06

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

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

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

West End is the cheaper hippier end of this.

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

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

Scenestr4

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

There were 13 active cases in the state.

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

It was good to have a laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1,526,662 deaths globally from COVID.

With a daily increase of 10,767.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FACES OF A PANDEMIC

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

 

December 01

 

It popped up on social media and went viral.

Just a simple photo.

Just a simple tale.

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

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

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

The photo was taken by Getty Images Photographer Go Nakamura.

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

It was Thanksgiving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The doctor had some simple advice for all of us.

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

December 01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Australia had gone 233 days without community transmission.

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

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

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

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

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

Others had endured a lot more.

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

There have been a lot of stories like that.

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

But there have also been stories like Newmarch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

Scenestr3

 

November 29

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway enjoy. 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

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

20201128_220402
                                Our Christmas Tree. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Tree 2012

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

I decided I was getting our first proper tree.

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

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

There we found a tree.

People advised us fibre optics don’t last.

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

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

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

Finally the sun went down and I flicked the switch.

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

Over a tree.

Why?…

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

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

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

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

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

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

One more final thing. 

A shout-out to my wife. 

I tried months earlier to untangle the Christmas tree lights.

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

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

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

My wife had saved Christmas.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY -BORDER WARS – PART X

Change that could open Qld border | Daily Mercury

November 23

This shit is bananas.

November 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 25

Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those travelling from hotspots would have to fly into Queensland.

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

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

Coronavirus: Victorians fined trying to cross Queensland border

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

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

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

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

For now.

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

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

The policeman was also proud of his fellow officers.

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

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

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

Kuranda Scenic Railway - Tropic Wings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a leader!

Thank you Premier Palaszczuk and thank you Professor Young.

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