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

Image result for broken hill

January 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 04

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

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

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

Watching it in January 2021 it hits even harder.

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

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The virus itself starts in Hong Kong with a bat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like to think I am too.

Cars line up at a COVID-19 testing clinic

January 05

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

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

Good stuff!

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

Image result for uk school shut down covid

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AULD LANG SYNE

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                                                                  Copyright Lloyd Marken.

December 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all hoped.

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

Certainly the first week of 2021 had its own ideas.

Global end of year

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

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

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

Australia end of year

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

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

Canada end of year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 6 end of year

6-12 end of year

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

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

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

Image result for colombia covid

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

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

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

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

UK end of year

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

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

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

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

India end of year

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

US end of year

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

Chorus:

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

COVID-19 DIARY – THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

December 25

So I had a very nice Christmas.

Not everybody did.

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

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

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

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

Because I did have a nice Christmas.

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

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

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

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

They just wanted to be with each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIII

Image result for qld nsw hard border closure 21dec2020

December 21

On 25MAR2020 Queensland had closed its borders.

On 10JUL2020 borders had opened with New South Wales.

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

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

01DEC2020 they were welcome too.

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

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

Police checking a line of cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other states had already closed.

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

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

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

Image result for albury wondonga border december 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for south australia nsw covid border

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

 

December 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrific.

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

Schools, universities and childcare were still open.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

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

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

December 20

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

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

They included only having 10 visitors around to your place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time would tell.

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

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

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

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

There had been 908 deaths.

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XII

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

December 18

Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

That was the idea anyway.

 

 

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

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

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

And I caught up with her over the Christmas period.

 

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

 

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

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

New rules had been implemented Thursday.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

The government allocated extra resources to the testing effort.

 

Perth Airport to remain open to support freight | Infrastructure Magazine

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

I love this man | Tom Cruise | Know Your Meme

 

December 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Who knows where this was.

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

 

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

 

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

Five crew members quit the set following the leak.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 DIARY – FOURTH TIMES A CHARM

December 16

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

I didn’t think I had it.

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

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

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

But far more importantly than that.

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

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

It was a simple decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was alone. No one was there. 

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

It was painless.

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

I left the ward. 

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

I went home. 

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

For the rest of the week I worked from home.

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

December 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11

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

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

December 12

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

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

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

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

December 13

Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She has been a hero for a long time.

Now she’s a symbol.

COVID-19 Memory Project- Sandra Lindsay Interview - YouTube

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

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

They’ve gotten sick.

Some have died.

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

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

Nurse Sandra Lindsay represents that too.

She also represents the best of us.

Thank you Nurse Lindsay and God bless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope': Burned out health workers buoyed by vaccine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A miracle performed by scientists.

Delivered to our greatest heroes and our most vulnerable.

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

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

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

“Ready?” Chester asked him.

“Please,” he replied.

“Let’s do this.” she said.

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

-Lloyd Marken