COVID-19 DIARY – WACOL CLUSTER AND CLUSTERF***S

Young inmates locked in cells as authorities brace for a potential  coronavirus outbreak at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre - ABC News

August 21

On the 23rd of August, Planet America from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covered the Democratic National Convention and showcasing President-Elect Joe Biden’s stutter as well as some interesting statistics about how COVID-19 has affected education in America.

August 22

Saturday and there were nine new cases in Queensland, six from the Wacol Youth Detention Centre cluster and three up in Townsville related to cargo ships. So far 56 tests from the Wacol cluster had come back negative.

Premier Palaszcsuk put in place restrictions  throughout Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, the Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Moreton and Redland Bay. Gatherings at home and outdoors would be limited to 10 people (that means a family of five could only have five guests around for example) and the rest of the state the limit was 30 people.  

August 23

On the 23rd of August 60 Minutes Australia was interviewed by Dr Anthony Fauci who remained interesting to listen to and diplomatic to a fault.

On Sunday the 23rd of August, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 23,079,883 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 255,857. There had been 801,313 COVID-19 deaths around the world with a daily increase of 5,968.

In Australia there had been 24,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195. There had been 485 deaths with a daily increase of 13. The next day the number of deaths in Australia rose above 500 to 502.

In Canada there had been 124,372 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 499. There had been 9,064 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In the United Kingdom there had been 324,605 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,288. There had been 41,423 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In India there had been 3,044,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 69,239. There had been 56,706 deaths with a daily increase of 912. The day before on the 22nd of August has seen the largest daily increase of new cases in the country with 69,878.

In the United States of America there had been 5,567,217 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,960. There had been 174,246 deaths due to COVID-19 in America with a daily increase of 1,148.

August 25

On Monday I had returned to work and on Tuesday there were no new cases in Queensland following the break-out cluster at Wacol. The day before there had been one new case linked to the Youth Detention Centre Cluster and 8,000 tests had been carried out in Qld. There had been 1,106 cases of COVID-19 in Queensland and there were currently 18 active cases. We were being asked to wear masks where we went and I was about to receive from my kind sister-in-law some home made masks for such use.

20200826_153148
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Having attended Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 20th of August to see Tenet. A Qld Health Alert who those who had been at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 17th and 19th of August should go and get tested. A timely reminder if any that the situation could change at any time.

I also donated money to Medicins San Fronteres otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders who were involved in fighting COVID-19 around the world as well as responding to all kinds of varieties of disasters, emergencies and ongoing disease outbreaks.

August 26

In Victoria there were 133 new COVID-19 cases reported and 23 deaths – 22 linked to aged care.

It was the lowest daily increase of cases since 05JUL2020.

When the daily numbers got to double digits there could be a hope that planning for the lowering of restrictions would come. Premier Daniel Andrews indicated it was a positive step but also noted, “These numbers are coming down. Of course, that shouldn’t take away from the pain and the loss that those 23 families today are dealing with. And sadly, there will be more tomorrow. That’s the nature of this wildly infectious virus.

The Victorian government also announced more funding more help with domestic violence which had increased during the pandemic and even more so during such a lockdown as Victoria was experiencing.

Something to note, there were 391 healthcare workers with active cases, 198 active regional cases and 1,412 active case in aged care settings. Again these were active cases on the 26th of August.

The Republic National Convention was covered by Planet America. Ballbag used the White House for the RNC, an unprecedented move where previously campaigning Presidents had never used the White House to have the people’s house not be part of elections.

In Queensland due to the youth detention centre cluster a new Direction came from the government regarding disability accommodation service. It included non with COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days could enter a facility. Specialists who provide support would be able to enter at the discretion of supervising staff.

-Lloyd Marken

How to Watch the Democratic National Convention - The New York Times

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

Parklands Christian College coronavirus case prompts order for ...

 

July 30

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

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

Border closes were in fluctuation.

New South Wales was closed to Victorians.

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

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

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

The Australian Capital Territory did not want travellers from Victoria.

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

Western Australia did not want anybody from anywhere coming over.

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

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

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

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

Thank Christ.

I mean it, thank you God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Thursday was a big day in Queensland.

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

That was one couple.

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

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

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

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

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

Fear and anger spread through the community.

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

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

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

It was a bitter pill to swallow.

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

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

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

I am always happy to be proven wrong.

-Lloyd Marken

 

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

 

July 26

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

74,235.

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

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

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

There had been 8,181 cases in Victoria.

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

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

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

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

 

July 28

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

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

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

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

I bought two.

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

 

 

July 29

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

Duh.

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

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

He wanted aged care staff to be very careful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good job Ballbag.

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

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

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

Ballbag is running a law and order campaign.

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

Again good job Ballbag.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WE STAND AT A CROSSROADS

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

 

July 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

July 13

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

July 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hope.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – A LITTLE RESPITE

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

 

July 09

Thursday.

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

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

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

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

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

Ambulance stories | beetleypete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A respite was on my mind.

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

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

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

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

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

Children could visit them.

Intergenerational playgroups reduce social isolation for parents ...

As could hairdressers, legal advisors and therapists.

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

A group could go on excursions.

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

People like my older sister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SURGING AHEAD

 

Calls to nominate departing CMO Brendan Murphy for Australian of ...

 

It’s been few weeks since I wrote my blog, I had over a dozen posts scheduled for the entire month of July and that covered right up until what was then up to date events of the 21st of June.

Then I went on holidays and started a secondment and four weeks have gone by in the wink of an eye and I am back playing catch-up. This time I wonder, particularly given the secondment if I will catch up.

I never planned for this site to regurgitate the news or to be political but it has always been personal and it has been fascinating to write about things from the perspective of a few days after the events.

COVID is going to be with us for at least a year or two in a very consuming way.

Do I really want to write about all of that?

I guess I do so I will just have to try. Thank you all for reading.

 

June 26

Friday.

I had worked in the office all week. With leave planned for the following week, the numbers continued to rise in Victoria.

The Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and the Prime Minister strode up to the microphones on the 26th of June for what would be the last time. They were wearing scarves in support of Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid from the night previous to host the Netball World Cup. Their jovial mood reflected some relief in what they had shared together.

It was now over three months since COVID cases had really taken off in Australia and while developments in Victoria were of concern they did not prove to give people pause.

There had been 63 cases in the state in the previous 48 hours. Out of 30 cases from the previous 24 hours, five were travellers quarantining in hotels, seven were linked to clusters already identified, five from routine testing and a final 13 were still being investigated. 

Professor Murphy was moving on to Secretary of General Health, a promotion delayed due to the crisis. His position having unexpectedly elevated into a more public role had not suited the reserved Doctor but his consistent demeanor throughout had been of some comfort and would be missed.

Bracing for surge, PM announces billions in health measures

 

COVID-19 case numbers were taking off in the third world and this was not lost on the Prime Minister.

On, obviously, a more serious note, there are a million new cases being reported of COVID-19 around the world every week. We are seeing the virus take hold in places like South America now at a level difficult to imagine and we are anticipating similar types of scenarios in Africa and other parts of the world as the virus makes its way. The challenge being faced globally only gets more complicated, more complex, more difficult. And against that backdrop, Australia’s performance is remarkable, and that is a tribute to all who are involved.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to assure Australians that outbreaks were to be expected and that the government was prepared to respond and that while the outbreak was currently in Victoria that it could easily be somewhere else in another instance and that we had to show solidarity.

And what this should say to Australians should be a message of confidence. There will be outbreaks. What matters is the response. There will be outbreaks and what matters is that we continue to build our capability to deal with those outbreaks. As you see the response on the ground, that is a reassurance to Australians all around the country that we can deal with this, and we will continue to deal with this.”

The outgoing Chief Medical Officer also had a few things to say.

So as the PM has said, this virus is accelerating around the world. We are in a very fortunate island, but we will remain at risk of importation of cases for the foreseeable future. Every day in Australia we have cases in hotel quarantine, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, because they’re taking the lion’s share of that hotel quarantine hotel. Hotel quarantine is never going to be 100 percent perfect and importation our borders, whilst we have done so well with borders, we can’t be absolutely sure that there won’t be more and continuing imports of cases. We also, as we’ve said, can’t be sure that there isn’t small amounts of virus circulating in parts of the country. So the outbreaks, mini outbreak, we’ve seen in Victoria is what we predicted.”

“What we planned for. When I took to the National Cabinet the plan for reopening, removing restrictions, we assured National Cabinet that the likelihood of outbreaks was high and that we were ready to respond to them. And that is exactly what the Victorian health authorities are doing right now. They have a huge team, they’re contact tracing over a thousand people. They’re testing extraordinary numbers of people. And that’s a way to bring a localised outbreak under control, to go to where the problem is, engage with the population test, isolate, quarantine, standard public health response.

There was also a change in policy with returning citizens and permanent resident going into hotel quarantine advised Professor Brendan Murphy.

We are going to start testing people on entry to quarantine and testing people before they leave quarantine to see whether a testing regimen might help in the future to modify that quarantine in certain circumstances. But at the moment, even though we know it’s a burden on our returning citizens and permanent residents, it’s something that the great majority are very happy to put up with because they know it’s protecting their fellow Australians from the importation of this virus.

The Prime Minister also spoke on our behalf in thanking Professor Murphy for his work.

Outside of that, this is the Chief Medical Officer’s last briefing is the Chief Medical Officer. He’s been in the living rooms of Australians now for many months. And I know, Brendan, you have been a person of great assurance to Australians with your calm way of explaining what are often very complex things. You’ve given Australians, I think, a great peace of mind. Brendan is taking up the role of Secretary of the Department of Health, which we delayed because of the seriousness of this issue and his keenness to continue on in that role and until he was in a position to now hand it over to Dr Kelly. And so I want to thank you very much, not just for the way you’ve reached out to Australians, Professor Murphy, but the outstanding leadership you’ve shown across the AHPPC, the medical expert panel, and the unfailing advice that you’ve provided to me and to my ministers and to my Cabinet. And so we thank you very much.

 

The ABC’s excellent program Four Corners did an episode on nursing home Newmarch house in Sydney which that week which I watched that weekend.

The program was saddening in how we had failed to take care of our elderly in these vulnerable nursing homes.

As residents got COVID-19 they were all isolated in their rooms and not allowed visitors. Staffing was an issue and despite measures put in place the virus spread through the home.

The level of care suffered in the home as well which meant often the last days of the residents were lonely and full of ill health regardless of COVID itself.

In the aftermath the Anglicare Sydney’s Chief Executive Grant Millard, which runs Newmarch house, conceded more should have been done even NSW Health were not looking to take aged care residents into hospitals automatically.

“Look, if I had the time again, I would be insisting people who are COVID-positive go to hospital,” Mr Millard told ABC Radio.

“In hindsight, that would have been my preference.”

In the end 19 residents died in Newmarch house, the last on the 2nd of May. Her name was Alice Bacon and she was the 100th Australian to die from COVID-19. Two of those 19 residents who died after recovering from COVID-19 are not counted towards the national tally.

Alice Bacon’s daughter Mary Watson told Four Corners, “I don’t believe for a minute that the infection in the residents or in the staff occurred from that one person initially. There had to be cross-infection across the way. They didn’t want it anywhere out of there. They wanted whatever was going to happen to stay at Newmarch and be contained and not have it any spread anywhere else in the community.

There is a little bit of shame in me for not really having cared too much about those poor souls dying in nursing homes or their families cut off from and worried about them.

 

On the 26th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been in Australia 7,558 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37. There had been 104 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In Canada there had been 102,242 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 279. There had been 8,484 deaths with a daily increase of 30.

In the United Kingdom there had been 307,984 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,118. There had been 43,230 deaths with a daily increase of 149.

In India there had been 490,401 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,296. There had been 15,301 deaths with a daily increase of 407.

In Russia there had been 620,794 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,800. There had been 8,781 deaths with a daily increase of 176. Hmmm…..???

In Brazil there had been 1,188,631 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 42,725. There had been 53,830 deaths with a daily increase of 1,185.

In the United States of America as case numbers declined in the states first and worst hit by the pandemic numbers began to surge in the south and mid-west. California got no respite either. There had been 2,367,064 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,061. There had been 121,645 deaths with a daily increase of 690.

Numbers were on the rise in South America, Africa and South East Asia as Europe began to see a decline.

For what it is worth, stay safe everyone.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WHAT MATTERS

Maryland nurse who joined N.Y.'s COVID-19 front lines says it's ...

April 20

On Monday the 20th of April, the bulk of staff at work had been away for two to three weeks. We now found ourselves back in the office to get our flu shot and get back to working from home.

One of them, a particularly beloved colleague dropped off snacks for everyone which just speaks to why we love her.

While arrivals and departures were staggered you could feel it in the air. People were happy to see each other again if only fleetingly.

I was fortunate, I was there to work all day.

I enjoyed all the creature comforts of my office desk and but more so being around some of my colleagues whom I had missed. It was good to get back into the rhythm of working in the office and efforts were underway to see if some staff could rotate.

Nevertheless for the rest of the work I worked from home.

Across the State, Term 2 started and for many students it started remotely in the home.

There was a fantastic episode of the ABC program Four Corners that night that covered the early days and decisions from Australian governments at all levels to help their citizens through some dark days.

 

Image

April 21

Taken with Arnold Schwarznegger’s social media posts and his pets Whiskey (the minature pony) and Lulu (the donkey) I decided to buy a new hoodie he started selling.

All proceeds from the sale went to the charity he helped create – After School All Stars. It runs after-school programs for students across the country particularly in poor communities that need it even more.

There are 19 chapters helping over 90,000 kids across 468 schools in 60 cities from 13 states.

The charity had pivoted with the lockdown, knowing some of the kids involved in their programs get their best daily meals from the meals at school – they resolved to provide food for these families.

That was enough for me.

I belaboured figuring out what would fit me in US sizes trying several internet sources and it’s quite possible the Hoodie won’t arrive until September at which point temperatures will be rising in springtime Brisbane.

Doesn’t matter.

If one American child eats a meal based off my poor fiscal responsibility then that’s alright with me.

 

 

Of course if I had been completely selfless I could’ve just donated directly to the charity but I really wanted that hoodie. Although as restrictions relax I may look silly walking around outside with a hoodie that preaches to stay inside.

Some studies find that over 10% of America’s population live in food insecure households.

Kids can’t grow and can’t develop their minds if they’re lacking a balanced diet and it is estimated that could be as many as 16 million children each year.

America produces enough food to feed more than its population.

Food insecurity in America doesn’t come from a lack of food – it comes from people not having enough money to buy the food.

There are expectations that food insecurity in the country could easily double given the increasing amount of unemployed Americans.

30 million applied for welfare and unlike in Australia the amount of claims that will ultimately be approved and the length of how long they can be on welfare is limited.

On the 21st of April the World Health Organisation reported 751,273 cases in the America with a daily increase of 27,668. The number of Americans who died with COVID-19 was 35,884 with a daily increase of 1,681.

 

Closer to home in Australia the tertiary education industry was facing a daunting prospect with international student enrolment set to decline with a loss projected between 3-5 billion dollars.

I spent seven years working at the Queensland University of Technology on contracts and as a temp hoping again and again I might become permanent. Now permanent workers may need to worry about their jobs.

International students who have spent years studying here in Australia now find themselves struggling to pay rent and unable to afford flight homes. Over 500,000 international students were in Australia when COVID-19 hit.

On the 12th of April Education Minister Dan Tehan announced an 18 billion package for to shore up income from domestic students in universities. Yet a huge source of income for Australian universities were international enrolments with some projecting a decline between of 3 to 4.6 billion dollars this year alone.

Universities themselves were trying to assist students financially struggling due to loss of casual employment and unable to apply for support from the government. Up to $110 million dollars through hardship support funds.

Countries like the UK and Canada had put relief packages in place for international students.

In Australia the Prime Minister was suggesting it was time for them to go home and the price of a plane ticket would only be $10,000.

Those in the industry were of two minds.

It has once again been revealed how reliant we were on international student enrolment. Maybe this would push a reform where it was needed.

Yet universities carry out research and grow the minds and capabilities of our brightest who go out and work in industry and make innovative solutions. Could we really afford due to a loss of income to see our universities lose researchers, budding academics and students to the pandemic? Some of them international ones too.

Not to mention families overseas may remember how we took care of their children during this crisis.

After paying a lot of money for them to receive an education here, when they were cut off from them, when it was difficult and expensive to get home, when other countries provided for such students here we were shrugging our shoulders.

What would they think of Australia?

PhD Positions at Queensland University of Technology, 2016-2017

On the 12th of April, Universities Australia estimated 21,000 jobs could be lost in the next six months.

On the 21st of April, the Vice Chancellor of the Central Queensland University floated the idea of voluntary redundancies for some staff.

 

On the 21st of April the World Health Organisation reported Australia had 6,625 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13. There were 71 deaths with a daily increase of one.

A guy I used to work with a few years ago in a part-time job I had was doing a push-up challenge to raise funds for mental health charity Headspace.

https://www.thepushupchallenge.com.au/pushuperer/65013?fbclid=IwAR3UCzdFCm5hvyW2Ud4w0rqBNeHpxoZVLUypX1NHusgdHtvMA8zTM9mQlz8

He set himself the goal of completing 3,046 push-ups over 21 days from 11MAY2020 to 31MAY2020. On day three he completed 326 push-ups alone. So I donated to his cause as well.

Headspace is foundation that helps young people and their families with their health in particular mental health.

 

I was also very inspired by the BuyThemACoffee initiative and got in touch with them. I was hoping to help out my local café at work Stellarossa Toowong but knew I couldn’t hope to raise as much as BuyThemACoffee. I asked them for advice which they very kindly gave and thanked me for my small donation. I got in touch with the Wesley Hospital near where I worked. They advised instead of delivering coffee for staff they would really appreciate coffee vouchers.

So I set up a GoFundMe Page to raise $250 to buy coffee vouchers from Stellarossa Toowong and have them delivered to the staff at the Wesley.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/stellarosa-coffee-for-wesley-hospital-staff

Work colleagues and friends immediately responded and over the next four weeks we were able to raise some money.

Closing out on any given day a business like this at this time might have three or four hundred dollars in the til. 

There was a new owner/manager at the store and at this point she was having one staff member work a day.

Most of the employees are young and find themselves ineligible for jobkeeper or jobseeker in some cases.

They’re great at what they do.

The new owner knowing this was treating them all fairly and spreading the work to all of them but there was not a lot of work to go around.

Despite this one of the baristas even donated to the GoFundMe page.

 

East Timor, war, coffee and Australia's 'debt of honour' - ABC News

ANZAC Day was also coming up that weekend and collections for support services for veterans and their families were not going to be able to carried out like they had been for the past 100 years. So I donated some money to the ANZAC appeal.

I don’t want to create the wrong impression, we need money.

Maybe I should’ve saved every extra cent I had.

But I have had a few thoughts over the past few weeks.

One that comes back to me occasionally is simply this.

What you do now – matters most.

 

ABC’s Foreign Correspondent ran an episode that day following Emergency Responders and Healthcare Workers through New York City.

In a week where Trump spitballed using bleach to cure COVID-19 here was a program showcasing American heroes.

 

 

It showed the Naked Cowboy still hanging out in Times Square bringing cheer and goodwill to passerbys.

I will admit I thought there was something foolish in him not packing up his bags and trying to avoid putting himself at risk.

Yet something touching in his desire to remain and lift spirits and risk the potential consequences.

I thought how American, that level of optimism and foodhardiness, that mix of courage and absurdity.

He was not the only one.

In the program we followed veteran Ambos, retired cops bringing supplies to those still on the streets, volunteer nurses who quit their jobs to come take care of the sick and dying in greatest city in the world.

And people were dying. Many, many, many people.

Yet here were these Americans trying to help.

WHAT WE DO NOW – MATTERS MOST.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WHEN WILL THE WEST CREST? – PART II

Coronavirus latest: Spain sees single-day record 849 deaths ...

I entered a new normal working from home 30MAR2020 to 03APR2020.

I hoped as we got used to the restrictions and new way of life, anxiety about the unknown and stocked items would not run low.

I hoped our nerves would hold and Australia would flatten the curve.

At the same time I worried what the hell would unfold in the UK where I have family and in America things seemed to be escalating fast.

30 March

On the 30th of March in Australia, the government announced the new Jobkeeper program as part of a $130billion stimulus package aimed at subsidising businesses to retain their employees while work slowed down or shut down.

In the United Kingdom Prince Charles announced he was out of isolation.

In America, a field hospital is built in Central Park and another hospital arrives too.

There is a ship that was built as an oil tanker back in 1976.

Eleven years later she was delivered to the United States Navy and became a 70,000 tonne displacing 272 metre long hospital ship called the UNSN Comfort.

She has served America and the world ever since.

The Persian Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Various humanitarian missions through Latin America in response to natural disasters, building greater partnerships or as part of military operations.

Perhaps most poignantly the USNS Comfort has been activated in support of America herself following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina.

Almost two decades after she came to the aid of NYC she sailed into New York harbour once again and as Stephen Colbert put it and into our hearts.

The Navy Tried To Retire Its Two Huge COVID-19 Fighting Hospital ...

 

31 March

Pubs in the United Kingdom pivot their businesses with the economic lockdown. Their distilleries begin to produce hand sanitiser for the Metropolitan Police.

Pubs like The Distillery on Portobello Road in Notting Hill.

The Distillery, The Ginstitute & Portobello Road Gin – The ...

It follows closer to home Bundaberg Rum and Beenleigh Rum distilleries doing the same here in Queensland.

Or media companies 3D printing face masks in Canada.

There are many other examples of people going out of their way to help and try to help their businesses stay alive.

I was certainly consuming a lot more news which we all were.

The national broadcaster ABC did a fantastic piece following the narrative of COVID-19 developing in Australia over the month of March with their show Four Corners which uploaded to YouTube 30MAR2020.

Their program Foreign Correspondent uploaded an episode to YouTube 31MAR2020 as well which covered the early measures and successes of Singapore’s response. Yet already Singapore numbers were going up and so were the restrictions.

At the end of March the WHO reported the following numbers in these countries.

In New Zealand there were 600 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 48. There was one dead reported on the 29th of March, 2020.

In Singapore there were 879 cases with a daily increase of 75. There were three deaths in the country so far with the first two reported on the 20th of March, 2020.

In India there were 1,251 with a daily increase of 180. The number of dead were 32 with a daily increase of three.

In Australia there were 4,557 cases with a daily increase of 312. There were 19 deaths with a daily increase of 1.

In Canada there were 6,317 cases with a daily increase of 662. There were 66 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland there were 22,145 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,619. The number of dead were 1,408 with a daily increase of 180.

In Iran there were 44,606 with a daily increase of 3,111. The number of dead were 2,898 with a daily increase of 141.

In Germany there were 61,913 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,615. There were 583 dead with a daily increase of 128.

Medical staff from Jilin Province (in red) hug nurses from Wuhan after the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted, 8 April 2020

In China the WHO reported 82,545 with a daily increase of 90. About the same daily increase as normal in this time frame. The death toll was reported at 3,314 with a daily increase of four.

In Spain 85,195 cases with a daily increase of 6,398. The number of dead 7,340 with a daily increase of 812.

In Italy 101,739 cases with a daily increase of 4,050. The number of dead had reached 11,591 with a daily increase of 810.

In the United States of America there were 140,640 cases with a daily increase of 17,987. The dead toll stood at 2,398 with a daily increase of 286.

Globally we passed over 750,000 confirmed cases and reached 36,522 dead.

In my neck of the woods something significant was about to happen which will be covered in my next blog with a guest writer – my lovely wife Karen. I hope you will enjoy.

-Lloyd Marken