COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY FLYING MUSUEM AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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                                    Copyright Lloyd Marken. The view of Oakey airfield.

At the gym on Friday night I saw on the TV that India became the second country to pass 9 million COVID-19 cases. The only one since the U.S.

Per chance I was about to catch up with my brother from another mother the next day who had family in India. 

It was a scary time but we intended to have a nice day out in each other’s company.

 

November 21

 

We were driving out west to the small town of Oakey.

Famous for the race horse Bernborough and where I had recently been reminded my grandmother had been born.

As a result I wore a hat that my grandfather had worn in travels when I was a boy. The hat fitted his head better but I wanted to wear it and pose at the statue of Bernborough like he had in a photograph many years ago. 

It’s true.

They live on in us.  

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                                Copyright Lloyd Marken. Me with Bernborough.

I was with my wife Karen, her sister and her husband, as we had been a few weeks earlier when we travelled to Capriccios Pizza in Maleny in the wake of his Uncle passing from COVID-19 in India.

I’ve never met a man who didn’t work harder. As we drove along he passed along information of everywhere we went. A ride share worker who had previously driven cabs and worked his way up in trucking to drive semis interstate. He knew when we were coming up to the well known Fernvale Bakery in Ipswich, he told us of businesses off the main track he’d gone to as we started to get out in the country. He quietly advised and offered stories of so many places.

We did stop at the bakery in Fernvale although I went for the sweets rather than their famous and beloved pies. We will have to return and partake properly.

Around people I truly love I relaxed a little and even started to sing songs like Don McLean’s American Pie and Cold Chisel’s Flame Trees. I am not a singer so spare a thought for the poor people in that car who had to conjure their best poker faces as they realised, “Oh man Lloyd’s really going for it!”.

It was a beautiful sunny day, something else when we got out to the Army base. Unlike the museum at the RAAF Amberley base, the Museum is housed in a hangar that is located on the perimeter of the fencing. You do not need to enter the base to enter the museum as a result. Well located. 

 

Maintained by local volunteers it is a wonderful display of aircraft and stories from Australian Military Aviation. 

I wrote a review which I was lucky enough to have published on Weekend Notes which you can read here Australian Army Flying Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

 

Weekend Notes 20

 

We had a late lunch at the Oakey RSL Club.

 

 

Having driven north from Ipswich through Fernvale, past Wivenhoe Dam and through Esk I decided on the way back we would drive through Toowoomba.

I was hoping we would find the University of Southern Queensland campus where there is a beautiful Japanese peace garden but we actually googled just a public garden in Toowoomba and ended up there. A callback to simpler times when sometimes you just turned down a road and found you were where you wanted to be.

The Japanese Garden are well known and are quite beautiful and peaceful in these troubled times.

At one point we went over a bridge and looked down at ducks in a pond. In the late afternoon I exclaimed with excitement when I saw a creature underneath the water and realised it was not a fish. I grabbed everybody’s attention and the words escaped me on instinct “Look a platypus!”

A platypus sighting at that time of day with those amount of people would have been very special indeed but alas what became abundantly clear in the next couple of seconds was we were looking at turtle.

Oh well, still pretty special.

 

 

As we drove out of Toowoomba my sister-in-law spoke of working as a speech pathologist in the town years ago making long commutes for the job. My wife had also worked around as a speechie. 

In the late spring of Australia, the jacarandas were in full bloom in Toowoomba and so much more beautiful there. 

It was only a 2 hour drive out of Brisbane but it had been years since I had come to Toowoomba and I had no memories of Oakey. Seeing this part of the world buoyed my spirits in the way only getting out and about can. I understood I was becoming older and now came to understand weekend trips as a child where we were packed out and driven out to dams and beaches that held no interest for me then.

As much as I appreciated my freedom which earlier in the year had not been possible and was not currently for so many around the world. 

What I appreciated more was the company I kept. 

It was a good day out.

 

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                                                             Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 22

On the 22nd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 57,939,958 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 625,981.

There had been 1,380,494 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,831.

In Australia there had been 27,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 320,719 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,968. There had been 11,334 deaths with a daily increase of 69.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,493,387 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19,875. There had been 54,626 deaths with a daily increase of 340.

In India there had been 9,095,806 with a daily increase of 45,209. There had been 133,227 deaths with a daily increase of 501.

Coronavirus news highlights: Delhi continues to post high Covid-19 numbers  with 7,486 new cases, 131 deaths | Deccan Herald

In the United States of America there had been 11,789,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 191,033.

America surpassed a quarter of million deaths due to COVID-19 on the 21st of November, 2020.

250,607 with a daily increase of 2,036.

On the 22nd of November there had been 252,460 deaths with a daily increase of 1,853.

Ballbag played golf over the weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SCARE DOWN SOUTH

Parafield coronavirus cluster now officially 'closed' 28 days after last  case entered isolation - ABC News

November 16

Monday.

Hotspots.

From government websites, “Hotspots are places in Australia where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19, or places that are at risk of a lot of COVID-19 infections. Hotspots are legally listed so that people travelling from those high-risk areas into Queensland can be identified.”

In November Australian states were focussing on Hotspots for how to define travel between them and the scope of their border closures.

Western Australia had just opened up to the rest of the country on Saturday now slammed the border shut to South Australia from midnight with a handful of exemptions including Federal politicians,  senior government officials, military personnel and transport or logistics workers.

Western Australians who had just travelled to South Australia and wanted to get home could also apply on compassionate grounds.

In Queensland, 32 NSW LGAs were considered hotspots but residents coming from anywhere else could cross the border since the 3rd of November.

We remained shut to Victoria as a whole and on the 16th of November we closed off travel to Queensland from 20 South Australian LGAs.

Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory citizens faced no restrictions to enter Queensland.

So why?

COVID-19 SA: Two new cases linked to Parafield cluster | The Advertiser

They called it the Parafield cluster in Adelaide’s north stemming from a medi-hotel worker testing positive. Seventeen cases were linked to the cluster as on Monday and the South Australian government went into action.

All international flights into Adelaide were cancelled.

Gyms were closed and all sporting activities cancelled, funerals were capped at 50 people, churches at 100, weddings every guests had to be registered, private gatherings at venues that served alcohol were to have 50 maximum.

Public gatherings at pubs, clubs and restaurants was 100 per venue – no more than 4 square metres, cinemas and theatres had the four metre rule too.

No more than 10 people over to your home.

Masks were mandatory in tattoo parlours, nail salons and hairdressers and masks were also mandatory in aged care with only two visitors per day.

If you’d set a COVID management plan for an activity and had it approved it was now off the table for the next two weeks.

All up there were 34 actives in South Australia as authorities raced to get on top of an outbreak.

“We are facing our biggest test to-date. We are working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster, no effort will be spared. We must act swiftly and decisively to stay ahead of the game,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

Coronavirus restrictions to be reintroduced in SA from midnight, but no  cluster growth - ABC News

The first thing we need to do … is the testing, contact tracing and getting people into quarantine very, very quickly. The other way of getting ahead of this and to stop that second wave, and to suppress it, is to put some restrictions in place to reduce the number of close contacts between people,” advised South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

Ninety-six police officers were in quarantine awaiting test results but the Premier advised enough police were still available.

We are maintaining our border arrangements, we’re obligated to do that, and we’re undertaking compliance checking for those people who are quarantining at home, so this is just an additional factor we have to build into our current operations.

There were two positive cases at a SA Anglicare aged care facility.

Holy Family Catholic Primary School shut down because one student had been a close contact of a known case.

The school described the decision being made out of an abundance of caution.

A whole school locked down because of one close contact.

Imagine that?!

I hope you’re listening Boris!

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in Australia there had been 27,725 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14. There had been 907 deaths.

US surge in coronavirus cases darkens outlook for economy | Financial Times

In America Dr Anthony Fauci advised, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.

The health professional warned 10 people at family gatherings over the Christmas season would most likely be too many and a spread of the disease could result in a very dark January.

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,” he told.

It was reported that hospital admissions had soared 70% in the past two weeks in California. ICU availability was at 10% or less across the state with Governor Gavin Newsom issuing stay at home orders in regions with low ICU capacities.

The United States had set a record for COVID-19 hospitilsations with more than 109,000 patients – 21,200 of them in ICU.

The New York Times calculated that most American hospitals were at a similar ICU capacity as the ones in California.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 16th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,796,432 confirmed cases with a daily increase of with a daily increase of 155,001. There had been 243,758 deaths with a daily increase of 1,216.

Even in this year of Covid, New York just can't say no to Thanksgiving |  Thanksgiving | The Guardian

November 18

On Wednesday it was announced that South Australia was going to go into a six day lockdown from midnight on Thursday following the Parafield Cluster.

Pubs, cafes, takeaway food outlets, universities, outdoor sports, elective surgery, weddings and funerals were all gone for now and the construction industry would close.

Only one person per household could leave the house and only for specific reasons.

Exercise was not one of them.

Children of essential workers would be the only ones able to attend school

Medical services would remain and public transport would still run.

Court houses would be closed and only urgent matters like bail applications would continue.

Aged care and disability residencies were in full lockdown.

Fly-in – fly-out work and regional travel was also banned.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall referred to the measure, significantly shorter than previous ones as a “Circuit Breaker”.

“We continue to face our biggest test to date. We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence,” he said.

There were two new cases in South Australian, 23 cases were now linked to the Parafield cluster and a further seven were suspected.

If we leave this any longer … then we will be in this for a long haul and we will be like the experience in Victoria. We don’t have any time to wait. If I just thought about this all day and then told the Police Commissioner and the Premier tonight, we would already be that 12 hours behind,” explained Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier.

Masks were not mandatory but were encouraged to be worn outside of the house.

Coronavirus testing starts for South Australian hotel workers

“We will be looking at having more stricter conditions for wearing masks, but we know that it takes people a little bit of time to get a mask,” Professor Spurrier said.

A staff member of Woodville Pizza Bar had been linked to the cluster and had been on food delivery apps which could lead to significant spread in a short period.

“This is my very significant concern. This is one of the reasons we’re putting in place the restrictions,” Professor Spurrier advised.

That is really, really important. They must go directly to the testing location, wear a mask and alert the staff that they have visited the pizza bar. If you have people and friends and family living in Woodville, get hold of them now and ask them have they been to that pizza bar,” the Chief Health Officer urged.

Woodville Pizza bar guarded by police after worker lied to contact tracers  | The Advertiser

On the 18th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,756 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of six. There had been 907 deaths.

The six day lockdown was to be followed by a strict 8 day period with certain concessions all things going well.

The whole city was gridlocked': Brisbane heaves as fans allowed back en  masse | State of Origin | The Guardian

At the same time South Australia was going through this crisis Queensland set a world record for the largest attended sporting event post COVID-19 spreading globally.

49,155 people attended the deciding third match at the 52,500 capacity stadium Lang Park. State of Origin is regularly the biggest sporting event in Australia every year.

A grudge match between Queensland and New South Wales the two dominant states of the Australian rugby league competition.

Pre professional sports, rugby league clubs down south were able to make money out of pokie machines and poach the best Queensland players to come play down south. Regularly these players would return in blue jerseys and thump their home state in inter-state competitions.

Including the great Arthur Beetson who played for the Sydney Easts for many years. Artie was past his prime was he was picked to Captain the first State of Origin Qld side. The Sydney crowd talked it down, said the competition was a non-starter. Beetson came out belted his Easts teammate on the NSW team and had a blinder of a game.

Story behind a classic Beetson Origin moment - NRL

Origin had arrived even New South Wales don’t talk about it too much until 1985 when their passionate Steve Mortimer from Canterbury lived and breathed getting his side to their first Origin victory.

My father played Rugby League, he never forced his interests on me but for brief periods I came to enjoy watching League and Rugby. There were even a couple of years where the men in my family would sit around a TV set and watch it.

I hadn’t watched it since 2016 but spurred on by a picking contest at work and the return of the greatest coach of all time Wayne Bennett returning to coach Queensland I sat down and watched this decider. The game has changed a lot since I watched it at the turn of the century but it was a great game.

State of Origin 2020: Queensland Maroons coach Wayne Bennett looking for  next Allan Langer - NRL

Abroad a massive decision was made in regards to streaming wars and cinema business. With other 50 per cent of cinemas closed in the United States and growing COVID-19 numbers Warners Bros announced it would release it’s oft-delayed blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 on the streaming service HBO Max on Christmas Day as well as in U.S. cinemas that were open. Internationally it would strictly a release in cinemas including in territories that were seeing a rise in COVID numbers as well as places like here in Australia where the disease had receded for the moment. This was a huge decision given Mulan had not done well on Disney Plus and also came in the wake of Warner Bros. own Tenet failing to draw big cash with a cinematic release.

Most blockbusters were moving to 2021 like Universal’s Fast 9, Disney’s Black Widow and Sony’s No Time To Die and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick to name just a few and it was originally expected Wonder Woman: 1984 would do the same. It was suspected that the potential, and given what happened with Tenet the word potential could not be underlined enough, earnings of the blockbuster sequel was being foregone in the hope to give the conglomerates late arrival to the streaming wars with HBO Max some momentum in that venture.

20 Great Patty Jenkins Quotes for Writers and Filmmakers

Director Patty Jenkins tweeted, “The time has come. At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season. Watch it in theaters, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!) And available in the safety of your home on HBO Max where it is not. Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.

November 19

November 20

On Friday South Australia announced it would come out of it’s short six day lockdown after only three days on Saturday night.

The decision was made when it was established that a medi-hotel worker who had tested positive had initially said he got the virus after ordering pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar. Then he had come forward to advise that he actually worked at the pizza bar too.

The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was not pleased.

SBS Language | South Australia eases restrictions as premier reveals close  contact 'deliberately misled' authorities

One of the close contacts linked to the Woodville Pizza Bar deliberately misled the contact tracing team. We know now that they lied. To say that I’m fuming is an understatement, we’re absolutely livid about the actions of this individual. I will not let the disgraceful conduct of a single individual keep SA in these circuit breaker conditions one day longer than what is necessary,” he advised.

However, this lie still means that our contact tracers need breathing space to contact people, but not for as long,” he said.

I’m not sure how that works but that is what he said.

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stephens confirmed the man would not be fined or charged, citing “Increased penalty wouldn’t force information underground. We’ve got to look at this, we’ve got to [find a] balance.

That I understood more clearly.

We are not out of the woods yet. We still have a significant number of close contacts and contacts of close contacts, because we are doing that double ring-fencing, or sandbagging, as it were, around everybody who is a case. And we have had a focus on the Woodville Pizza Bar, but we have also got that large family cluster,” warned Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier.

She also expected more not less positive cases numbers in the next couple of days.

“Please do not be alarmed by that, it is something we are expecting,” she said.

On the 20th of November the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,784 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE DAYS AHEAD

Stillwater Memorial Day Ceremony: 2019 Details | Stillwater, MN Patch

November 11

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program The 7:30 Report Leigh Sales interviewed Dr Anthony Fauci. A point of interest for me during the interview was when Dr Fauci advised lockdowns should be used as a last result and that due to COVID-19 fatigue such measures would not be well received by the public.

He later went on to add, “Australia is an example of a very successful result of a lockdown. They locked down for a period of time. They got down to zero and now they are at a very, very good baseline, which means, getting back to your prior question, that it is much easier to identify, isolate and contact trace when you start off with virtually no infection in your population.

Essentially he was pointing out a great deal of luck that Australia had by acting fact and being isolated to begin with. That maybe now trying to change the situation in America in a similar manner may not be possible and even if it was selling it to the public was as much a necessity as simply having the political will or wisdom to take such action. Not for the first time did I feel very fortunate for what has occurred in Australia and sad at what other countries were going through.

 

In 9/11 Chaos, Giuliani Forged a Lasting Image - The New York Times

November 12

Planet America covered Ballbag’s rhetoric about illegal votes and lawsuits and Rudy Guiliani who led New York through the harrowing days of September 11 and stood outside landscaping businesses and mocked networks calling elections and shat all over his legacy as a politician, a lawyer and a leader during one of the worst days in American history.

We’re not even at the farting and My Cousin Vinny references or the absurd fucking witnesses he let sit beside him in a court of law. 

I don’t give two shits if hair dye was running past the poor man’s face, I do care why the hell he was hopelessly trying to undermine the democratic process when so clearly they didn’t have a leg to stand on!

I don’t know if I really have it in my heart to go over this again but I have never been so heartbroken to see how fragile democracy is in America. This country celebrates and exports the idea of it across the world.

I remember once watching TV with a group of people, I think it was the Olympics.

The Americans stood up, placed their hands on their chests and bowed their heads. Us Aussies thought my God they really do love their country. They believe in it. They believe it is the greatest. So its kind of heartbreaking to see so many Americans complacent or downright in conflict with the things that were once celebrated about it by all. 

Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund launches - Lenfest  Institute

Co-host and journalist John Barron spoke of Joe Biden’s who when he joined the Senate was the second youngest ever elected to the U.S. Senate became the oldest man ever elected President of the United States of America. It’s powerful stuff.

I know that Joe Biden may not be all of these things. He certainly is not the man he once was.

But the storyteller in me likes the story, a young hotshot who a lifetime later rallied the last of his gifts to take one last turn at destiny and not out of personal ambition but to serve his country. To take back the people’s house from a self-serving lying bullying fool who had blood on his hands due to his own interests and incompetence and belligerence.

President-Elect Joe Biden faces a pandemic, a recession, a house divided and a populace much the same. There will be no magic wand waved here.

Maybe the story of Biden doesn’t ring true for you.

It probably isn’t true.

But maybe just maybe we’re about to have a President in the White House who cares when Americans die every day and will do everything he can to prevent as much death as he can.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

As Ballbag refused to concede he’d lost the election Americans continued to die.

Planet America reported hospitalisations were as high as they had been across the country and that once the hospitals were overrun beyond capacity, the death rate would rise. 

 

November 13

On Friday Western Australia took down its hard border with the rest of Australia. Travellers from Victoria and New South Wales could enter if they were prepared to self quarantine for 14 days.

All would have to undergo a health screening, a temperature check and prove they have not been in New South Wales or Victoria upon arrival, and register their travel arrangements on the “G2G PASS” app.

Since April for 222 days Premier Mark McGowan had kept the border closed with even WA residents kept out except in extreme cases and polling showed the Premier and his policy was hugely popular.

Months earlier the Premier had promised, “It won’t be forever,” and now he made good on his promise.

Western Australia had been a hold out from the National Cabinet’s decision to open state borders before Christmas. This gave many families hope they would see loved ones during the holidays. 

There were concerns and quite a ramp up to make sure that Western Australians were ready for the new arrivals and to not be complacent about COVID-19. 

Perth Airport | Aurecon

On Friday night Planet America also covered the continuing fall-out from the U.S. election and all the legal efforts to contest the outcome as Biden’s national popular vote continued to grow. Also discussion about how polling went in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

It was at around about this time as well that I donated to not only the Salvation Army again here in Australia but also to Meals On Wheels in America. Food security for many Americans is an issue particularly following the pandemic and mass unemployment and I wanted to help some of the most vulnerable in society. Meals on Wheels America doesn’t just feed older Americans it shows them that people still give a shit about them. 

Since Philadelphia citizens in 1954 started delivering to senior neighbours the organisation has grown to help nearly 2.4 million Americans annually. 

As per their website, “Every visit comes with a nutritious meal created to address the specific health conditions of the senior, a safety check around the house and an assessment of any changes that might impact future medical needs. This can mean the difference between independent living at home and an unwelcome transfer to a costly long-term care facility.

Thanks to so many donors, Meals on Wheels America were able to deliver over 19 million more meals in 2020 serving more than one million additional seniors.

In Australia my grandfather lived down the road from us, he babysat us growing up. He kept his drivers licence and independence until very near the end. Often my parents cooking would be enjoyed by him following a quick walk up the hill. Yet even under those circumstances he benefitted from some Meals on Wheels delivered to his house in his last few years. 

 

November 14

On Saturday the 14th of November the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 53,219,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 668,057.

There had been 1,303,062 deaths globally with a daily increase of 10,005.

Over fifty million cases worldwide had been reached the previous Monday with 50,348,362 and a daily increase of 532,475.

In Australia there had been 27,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 907 deaths.

In Canada there had been 282,577 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,516. There had been 10,768 deaths with a daily increase of 83.

In India there had been 8,773,479 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,684. There had been 129,188 deaths with a daily increase of 520.

In the United Kingdom on the 24th of September there had been a new record of daily new cases reported – 6,178.

The next day a new record – 6,634.

The two days later a new record – 6,873.

Six days later, 30th of September a new daily record again – 7,143.

Ten days later on the 4th of October a new record – 12,871.

Eleven days later on the 5th of October there were 22,961 confirmed new cases reported.

Twenty eight days later on the 22nd of October a new record of daily cases again – 26,687.

That record was broken again on the 13th of November – 33,470.

In fifty days the record of daily new cases in the country has gone from 6,178 to 33,470.

UK honors war dead in scaled-back Remembrance Sunday service | KRNV

One million cases had been reported in the United Kingdom at the beginning of November – 1,011,664 to be exact.

The day after Remembrance Day Great Britain surpassed 50,000 deaths from COVID-19. 50,365.

On the 14th of November in the United Kingdom there had been 1,317,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 27,301. There had been 51,304 deaths with a daily increase of 376.

The World Health Organisation had reported on the 8th of November a record number of new daily cases in America of 131,821.

On the 12th of November they reported a new daily record of 133,935. America also reached more than 10 million cases with 10,124,555.

On the 13th of November a new daily record of 142,076.

On the 14th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,460,365 confirmed cases with a new record of daily new cases reported of 193,734. There had been 241,186 deaths with a daily increase of 1,142.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBRANCE DAY

Photos: Brazil's mass graves, experts predict 125,000 COVID-19 deaths -  Business Insider
 
 
November 11
 
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

I donated to Legacy Australia which helps 52,000 Australians currently,  families of soldiers who have passed on. 

In 1923 Legacy made a promise to help families carry on with their lives after the loss or injury of a loved one due to military service. Their work continues today.

I think [people] think a ‘digger’ is an old veteran in a wheelchair being marched down Anzac parade. But anybody that’s done one day’s service, as far as the government is concerned, is a veteran, which is an interesting change in the way we think about our veteran community,” said Legacy’s President Mark Lax in a recent interview with the ABC.  

Mr Lax understood there might have been a belief once that as the generations of World War II and Vietnam veterans grew old and passed on that there may be a belief in the community that Legacy would become a smaller operation.

Not anymore.

Well, once East Timor started, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas … we’ve had more service men and women deployed than for the Vietnam war. We’re now starting to see a younger generation coming through, and that’s something we’re very conscious of, that the population we support is changing,” Mr Lax said.

Like other charities COVID affected collecting for donations this year particularly around the time of Remembrance Day where the biggest fund raising occurs. 

We would normally send our [supporters] to the shopping centres with the badges and the bears, but this year we’re not able to do that,” Mr Lax said.

In Queensland in 2020 Legacy was there to help 153 people with a disability, support over 5,800 widowers, more than 60 families with and 217 youths.

They do realise people are thinking of them, and I think that’s really important,” said Mr Lax.

One example is a young boy named Javas who needed a new laptop when the switch was made to online schooling during COVID.

“That laptop, it is more than a computer for Javas. It’s love. It’s support. Looking at it reminds him of Legacy and that connects him to his father.” – Yulia, Javas’s mother.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE PROMISED LAND

People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as they celebrate after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Over the next few days I watched the U.S. election coverage with great interest and a swirl of emotions.
You can’t have supporters show up in one state and insist the vote be counted and in another demand the count be stopped. It becomes very clear that your intentions then are not about ensuring the democratic process.

I don’t like to give into the hyperbole of the moment but it was with some concern that we watched the election coverage and were simply stunned by just how fair Ballbag was willing to undermine the election process and also how many people were happy to step in and support him.

I have worked in the past at elections here in Australia. I’ve stood in a warehouse on election night and counted votes and in the days after. People of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs worked with me. There was a lot of supervision, oversight and cross checking. I couldn’t imagine people chanting outside the building and the need for security at such places doing such work.

Democracy is a privilege and something fragile, I certainly thought so even more during these days.

You can hate on Ballbag if you like but he’s a symptom of something much larger and scarier than just his own misbehaviour and hubris.

I turned 40 that Saturday night. I went out and had dinner in the Valley with some friends at a Chinese restaurant. This was the first time I saw some of my closest friends in person all year. Some the second or fourth time. We certainly felt lucky to do this given what was happening around the world.

In fact walking around The Valley that night past lines outside nightclubs you could have been excused for not knowing there a pandemic was on but there was.

The Valley is on the perimeter of the Brisbane CBD, noted for its night life. I walked past the alleyway where a short film was shot by Kelly Chen. I realised there were 20 years of history with me and this part of the world. I could see clearly where a younger man had had adventures but I no longer was the man, I would much prefer to stick to the restaurants even then and I was eager to get home. It was good to see my friends though.

On the 7th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 49,219,511 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 615,945. There had been 1,242,899 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,134.

In Australia there had been 27,645 confirmed counts with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 251,338 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,635. There had been 10,381 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

In India there had been 8,462,080 with a daily increase of 50,356. There had been 125,562 deaths with a daily increase of 577.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,146,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,287. There had been 48,475 deaths with a daily increase of 355.

In the United States of America there had been 9,504,758 with a daily increase of 116,780. There had been 233,292 deaths with a daily increase of 1,126.

November 08

The next day I awoke to find that former Vice President Joe Biden had become President-elect Joe Biden.

On the first day of the month there had been 8,952,086 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 99,356.

On the 6th of November there was a new record of the daily increase of confirmed cases – 106,050.

On the 7th of November a new daily record again with 116,780 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November there was a new daily record of 131,821 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November the United States of America had 9,636,579 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 131,821.

There had been 234,500 deaths with a daily increase of November.

Ballbag went out and played golf.

Donald Trump Goes Golfing As US Media Declares Victory For Joe Biden

In Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the ring of steel around Melbourne would be gone come midnight along with many more easing of restrictions.

Victoria will be once again united as one single state,” Premier Andrews said.

This announcement came following nine days of no new cases or deaths in the state. What was referred to as Double Doughnut days. There were only four active known cases in the entire state.

From Monday restaurants and pubs could have up to 40 people inside and 70 outside depending on density. Gyms could have 20. Religious ceremonies 50. Cinemas and theatres – 20 people. Weddings remained ten plus the couple, celebrant and photographer.

Visitors to care facilities and hospitals were now allowed.

The Premier urged people to not become complacent and to get tested even for mild symptoms.

“Nine days of zero is not the same as a vaccine,” Mr Andrews said.

I have to admit I was concerned at the time that they were opening up way too fast but they did only have four active cases something I did not realise at the time.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE

US election 2020: Election Day shadowed by threats of legal challenges

November 03

It was Wednesday the 3rd of November in Australia when the U.S. election took place on the other side of the world.

In Australia there is growing interest in U.S. elections, since America entered the Pacific war and with its allies turn the tide of war, Australia has taken a great interest in America and forged a partnership with it and other nations.

As a kid who loved the movies America captured my imagination with its culture and aspirations. Since blogging I have come to know some Americans and admire them.

1980s Lower Manhattan Skyline At Night Photograph by Vintage Images

I was angry and heartbroken when the towers fell, angry and heartbroken again when the bombs dropped on Baghdad and have made it a point to support Australians of those wars.

Of course I couldn’t imagine Ballbag winning in 2016, my heroes were President Roosevelt (both of them), President Truman, President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Ford, President Reagan, President Clinton and President Obama. Politicians like Senator John McCain and John Kerry.

But I got it.

Ballbag was a moment of great disappointment but the hyperbole in 2016 struck me as odd, surely he would get a good team around him. It wasn’t like it was the end of the world.

….

Well.

It’s no secret I am angry, appalled and vitrolic about my disdain for Ballbag on this blog. If you support him you may not want to read the rest of this post and that is fine by me.

Heading into the U.S. election I watched the 60 Minutes interview with President-elect Joe Biden and Ballbag.

I am always angered by Ballbag’s demeanour and disrespect to others. But also how his followers espouse him as a tough guy when he so often acts like a little bitch and toddles at the first sign of a challenging question.

Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was still covering the election. As Ballbag sang one of his standards, that case numbers were going up because we were testing the best. Well testing was up by 13 per cent and case numbers were up by 51 per cent. Do the maths Ballbag.

Over 69 million Americans had already voted and 46 million of those by mail in votes. Chas Licciardello also advised that if Democrats won either North Carolina, Florida or Arizona they’d be looking good. The Republicans would need all three.

Heading into the U.S. election I mentioned it to a family member my concern that Ballbag may once again surprise despite recent changes to polling.

Despite a Planet America episode interviewing a election analyst Dave Wasserman who discussed the changes that had been made to increase accuracy of polling since 2016.

I hate being right sometimes.

That episode also pointed out how COVID cases were on the rise as well hospitalisations but at least hospitals had not been overrun yet and that was good news in terms of keeping the death rates down.

I would say that John Oliver maybe summed up my thoughts best in the closing moments of the 2nd of November episode of his show Last Week Tonight.

I would urge anyone to listen from the 16th minute, Oliver speaks for five minutes at that point and sums up succinctly what has occurred under President Trump during COVID-19.

Highlighting how Ballbag doesn’t care about anybody else certainly not our brave health care workers who have done so much when Trump has done so little (hell fuck that! – he’s done damage), noted how the numbers don’t stack up – case in point America has four times the population of Germany who sure as hell had its fair share of cases and yet America has 17 times the number of cases as Germany and also mentioned the personal toll of the pandemic.

Never forget America, never forget any of us.

I won’t.

I didn’t give much thought to mirages on election days as Florida swung to Trump I was shocked and appalled. Ohio followed which was the state that decided the 2008 elections. Arizona being called for Biden by Fox News didn’t even get my attention.

Checking the New York Times election page I left work at 6pm to find that Biden may lose Pennsylvania with commentary about the fracking fracas from the debate being the turning point.

I wondered after all those dead Americans that Trump didn’t care about, an opportunity had been missed to give him his marching orders. Fake news worked both ways.

I could deny it now but I really did think something was really wrong in the country.

With talk of civil strife I did suggest maybe it was time to burn it down. Not in the sense that I wanted rioting or people to get hurt and not in the sense that I wanted anybody on either side to just hate and protest each other. But just in the sense if that is where we were surely the system and the culture needed radical reform and that could only come from real action.

Even with hindsight it seems there is still some truth to this.

US presidential election: New York skyline lit up to mark Election Day |  South China Morning Post

Just like in 2016 despite which ever candidate claims victory, they inherit a nation divided. I believe most of us are sick of that. That division is not just present in America but throughout the West and here in Australia.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison was elected last year, lefty commentators up in their glass tower commented on television in the wee small hours on how Australians just didn’t get it having denied the opposition a win for their ideas. My first thought was maybe you guys didn’t get it, after all the people had spoken and they’d said that dog won’t hunt.

I like to think that the majority of us agree on the big things, you only have to see how many conservative governments give bailouts and fund major programs. That progressives mostly espouse traditional family and religious values.

As a young Senator once said in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention,

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America —

there is the United States of America.

There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.

But I’ve got news for them, too:

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States.

We coach Little League in the Blue States, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

At home during dinner I watched special election night episode of Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

President Trump at 2:30am in the morning in America claimed “We were getting ready to win this election – frankly we did the election. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want all voting to stop.”

One week in an America riven by politics and the plague - New Haven Register

With that the endgame of Trump’s efforts to undermine postal voting during a global pandemic (with anybody with a scrap of thought for the lives of Americans would have promoted) was now out in the open for all to see and it was pretty scary and it was only going to get scarier.

Former Vice President Joe Biden perhaps to avoid the mistakes of the 2000 election came out before that to say that while the results were not in he was confident Americans would ultimately choose him.

Going off the votes as they currently stood I was pretty worried. I went to the gym after dinner and watching the news on the TV screens in the gym America woke up to the next morning and there was hopeful new numbers coming out of Michigan and Wisconsin.

I actually thought about the movie Moneyball and Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane working out in the gym and listening to the results of the baseball game while he did it.

Nevada was still in play and as time went on Pennsylvania and even Georgia would come into play as more postal votes were counted.

Arizona while called by some news outlets was still in play too.

While I worked out I listened to The Rewatchables podcast cover The American President. I was slightly moved as they recalled the idealism and reverence that we used to have for politics at least in the movies and how things that were said about elections back then are oddly prescient now. 

We need to know the difference between the sand and the water.

On the 3rd of November, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 9,108,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States of America with a daily increase of 75,888. There had been 229,442 American deaths with a daily increase of 444.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS PART IX

Australian States Close Borders as COVID-19 Threat Intensifies | Voice of  America - English

 

November 03

Just hours before Queenslanders went to the polls Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced that travel would be allowed between New South Wales and Queensland with the exception of greater Sydney from 1am 03NOV2020.

Despite opening up thousands of people to travel Daniel Cschwind, CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council seemed non-plussed advising that tourism business from Sydney was normally worth $3 billion a year.

If the cynics amongst us thought Palaszczuk was playing politics on the eve of an election she firmly denied it. 

I have accepted her [Dr Jeannette Young’s] recommendations to me lock, stock and barrel. I am honest with the people of Queensland, that is what I said I would do,” she said.

The Premier held firm about putting health concerns above economic ones.

When you have a virus that is out of control your economy is locked down. There was one or two cases in Victoria, the virus got out of control and the whole state was locked down and we saw 700 deaths — I do not want to see 700 deaths in Queensland,” she said.

To read the ABC coverage it certainly seemed to indicate that the Qld Premier would get no boost from her decision with the QANTAS CEO and Tourism Vendors being asked to offer their two cents all of which was negative. 

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young was more concerned with stopping the spread of the disease. 

I have reviewed the situation in NSW and prior to yesterday they had four LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney that had had cases of community transmission that NSW was unable to link to any known clusters, which means that they have transmission and they don’t know where it is coming from,” she said.

People travelling from rural New South Wales into Queensland through Sydney would not be able to enter for 14 days. Queenslanders who landed in Sydney airport could travel onto rural New South Wales as long as they didn’t stop in Sydney.

When asked about opening up fully to the southern state Dr Young advised, “I will always give advice to make sure that Queenslanders are kept as safe as they can possibly be kept safe. Anything could happen, but also there’s a strong possibility that we’ll be open because NSW is getting on top of these cases,” she said.

We have always said as a national cabinet we have an aspiration that families can be reunited around Christmas time, but once again anything can happen so we need to monitor community transmission,” Premier Palaszczuk advised.

That week there had been two positive sewerage tests of COVID-19 in Ipswich and Brisbane’s bay area urging Dr Young to tell people, “There is a concern, that we may have virus circulating and the best way to deal with that is to come forward and be tested.

In Queensland on the 30th of October there had been 1,325 cases, 6 deaths, 1,421,147 tests carried out since the pandemic began. I was three of those tests. There were ten active cases in the state.

In New South Wales on the 30th of October there had been 4,228 cases, 55 deaths and 3,042,039 tests carried out. There were 71 active cases and one person was in Intensive Care.

On the 3rd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

 

The NSW-Victoria border is reopening after the coronavirus shutdown —  here's what to expect - ABC News

 

November 04

Wednesday Premier Gladys Berejiklian put her money with her mouth was and announced a plan to open the border with Victoria 1 minute past midnight on the 23rd of November, 2020.

Berejiklian has closed the borders to Victoria with great regret on the 8th of July.

They may have, because of the lockdown, actually gone down a path of having eliminated it at this point in time. Come a minute past midnight on November 23, there will be free movement between NSW and Victoria,” Premier Berejiklian said.

There were nine new cases in New South Wales, three local and six in hotel quarantine having returned from overseas. More than 17,000 tests were carried out in the state.

Victoria had gone five days with out a new case of COVID-19. There had been 20,345 COVID-19 cases and 819 deaths in the state.

The Australian Capital Territory followed suit with NSW in regards to Victoria.

“Waiting a full two weeks before making changes will allow enough time for ACT Health to assess the impact of restrictions and ensures the ACT is consistent with NSW,” ACT Health Minister Rachel-Stephen Smith said.

The Premier of NSW wouldn’t be opening her border if she didn’t have confidence Victorians could maintain the low numbers,” advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

However, he urged Victorians not to be in too much of a hurry to leave their own state.

“Don’t go to Sydney for Christmas for summer holidays. We have lots of places here you can visit,” he said.

Victoria has never closed its borders to residents from other states.

On the 4th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,610 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. The death toll remained 907 Australian deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WORLD TEACHER’S DAY

QCT2

 

October 30

The Queensland College of Teachers held their TEACHX Awards on Thursday night the 30th of October, 2020 digitally via video conference with some live components and some taped components. The next day was World Teacher’s Day. 

The previous year we had held the event in Customs House.

Last year I had been tapped to accompany the former chair of the Board of Teacher Registration (QCT’s predecessor) Miss Merline Muldoon last year. Miss Muldoon had just become the award eponym for the Innovation in Teaching category. She shared war stories with the finalists of the category. Long retired their individual experiences remained the same – their passion for education shared.

On that night as each Finalist received their certificate and each winner gave a short speech there was a feeling in the air that is hard to explain but contained good will, pride and optimism for the education of students across the state. It may be hard to quantify how such events elevate the profession but if you were there on the night you were left in no doubt that they do.

With COVID the challenge was always going to be how to create as much of this in a new setting without human contact.

I still remember 2019 winners Principal Andrew Peach speaking about education or the touching moment when Norah Parsons won – a teacher who had given so much to the mining community of Moura.

Last year I had been introduced by my manager in front of the finalists as the one who wrote half of their stories – a proud and rewarding moment for me.

I had been honoured to wait on Miss Muldoon.

This year I sat at my desk and listened to the ceremony on headphones.

The ceremony went well I believe and hopefully the teachers and their schools got something out of it. The nominees, finalists and winners were as deserving as any other year. 

 

 

Afterwards I was very kindly invited to go out with the rest of the team and celebrate the completion of all of our hard work. We had a little champagne at the Regatta and toasted each other and what we had achieved as a team.

Last year the TEACHX Awards, rebranded significantly by some very hard working and talented colleagues and with the media releases prepared by me and my manger, received unprecedented media coverage. 

At the time it was discussed that this would be highly unlikely to be repeated two years running due to the Awards being held in the final week of the Queensland State elections. 

Then COVID-19 happened and one result of the that was the shrinking of media offices in the country.

Despite this and due to the sterling efforts of my manager there was a lot of coverage in the press.

Of the teachers I interviewed.

Media Sponsor The Courier Mail wrote a large article about the Awards and all Finalists.

Quest Newspapers also covered the Award Categories and Finalists and highlighted five Logan teachers Ping Ding, Donald Cameron, Sophie Gruhl, Margaret Sherrington and Michael King. It also covered Cameron Lynch and Gavin Jones. I had interviewed Ping Ding, Donald CameronGavin Jones and Cameron Lynch.  

The Sunshine Coast Daily wrote an article about teachers Chantelle Amson and Alexandra Calligaris.

The Daily Mercury published an article on Clermont teacher Carly Bell.

The Morning Bulletin did an article on Ron Armstrong who runs the boarding of students at The Cathedral College.

CQ News also did an article on Ron Armstrong.

The Queensland Times wrote an article of Ipswich teacher Jodi Audoss.

Finalist Ben Habermehl was interviewed on ABC Breakfast Radio Brisbane by Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan. 

Breakfast – Breakfast – ABC Radio

Finalist Donald Cameron was interviewed on ABC Breakfast Radio Brisbane by Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan which is linked below.

How sports psychology could help your teenager excel in final exams – Breakfast – ABC Radio

A message from the Director of the Queensland College of Teachers was also published in The Courier Mail and can be found on the QCT’s website too.

Finally I will share one final story about one special teacher. 

My manager wrote about a shortlisted nominee 82 year-old teacher Dell Rathbone, she then interviewed Dell and wrote about her as a Finalist.

She won in the Outstanding Contribution to Teaching category on the night of 2020 TEACHX Awards.

Then no doubt with some help from my manager, Dell Rathbone was featured on the national television program The Project. To have shared Dell Rathbone’s story with such a wide audience is such a wonderful thing to have happened. 

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – STAYING THE COURSE

Coronavirus Australia news: 'Now is the time to open up,' says Daniel  Andrews after Victoria records zero new cases - ABC News

 

October 26

Monday.

For the first time since June 9, the state of Victoria recorded no new daily cases of COVID-19. And no deaths from the virus.

The day before Premier Daniel Andrews had pumped the brakes on lowering restrictions following new cases in Melbourne’s north including seven mystery cases.

Once again Sky News commentators had a pink fit about the Labor Premier saying how could he do this. 

I don’t know… maybe because he didn’t want people to get sick and die and have to stay in lock-down any longer than they had to?

Maybe that. 

The Premier reported 14,024 tests including 3,196 in those communities had been carried out in the past 24 hours and 1,157 just that morning.  

The Federal Government had been agitating for Melbourne re-opening.

“We’ve seen Victoria have a process where they have reached the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s target of under 10 cases a day on a rolling average, they’ve reached their own target of under five cases a day. If they do believe in their contact tracing system, then there is no reason not to move to the next stage and to do so today,” Chief Health Minister Greg Hunt had said pointing out that the state government who had endured the longest lockdown in Australia had given themselves a higher target in hopes of stabilising the spread of the virus in the community, more so than the federal government. 

The 14 day rolling average of cases in Melbourne was 3.6 and in regional Victoria 0.2.

The tests had all come back negative.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation was quick to report the economics of it all. 

It told us the Commsec State of the States Report had cultural powerhouse Victoria from second to third in the economic ranking of states. 

That consumer spending was so low that Victoria had gone from second to fifth in the Retail Trade category.

Unemployment in the quarter was 6.7 per cent.

The Victorian Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley pointed out, “We’re behind Tasmania and the ACT and it’s driven by collapse in business investment and this unemployment.” 

Which you know is related to…. oh yeah – a pandemic!

Maybe Tasmania being the best performing economy in the country for the third month in a row had something to do with the fact they had not had one case of coronavirus for 75 days.  

Which I’m sure these pundits were aware of but they seemed to fail to make the connection that one leads to the other not the other way around. 

So Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media for his daily press conference and presented different statistics that hold far more importance for him, for me for anyone who values human life.

There were 91 active cases across the state and there were zero new cases. It seemed his voice cracked a little as he advised it had been 139 days ago since that had happened. 

There were seven Victorians in hospital and he was pleased to say none of them were in intensive care. 

There had been over 3 million tests in Victoria and over 14,000 since yesterday.

Can you imagine, lockdown, testing, mandatory wearing of masks. In the UK I’m being told about people testing positive in schools and year levels going home. Has anybody actually ever been in a school? One positive case here and a whole school locks down.

There were six health care workers with active cases of COVID-19. The Premier wished them well and thanked them and their colleagues for their service.

There were now just four active cases in residential aged care and the vulnerability and loss of the elderly was highlighted by the Premier.

The Premier announced the following of lowering restrictions for Melbournians who had been in stage 3 lockdown since 09JUL2020 and Stage 4 since 02AUG2020 would lift come 11:59pm Tuesday 27OCT2020.

Covid-19 soars in Australia's Victoria despite second Melbourne lockdown

The four essentials reasons to leave home were gone. You could leave your house for any reason.

You could leave your house for any reason.

….

My how the world has changed. 

Retail businesses would re-open, hospitality venues could seat patrons subject to density quotas. 

More than two households could catch up outside but with a limit of 10 not including babies. 

From Wednesday beauty and tattoo parlours could re-open if masks were worn by all. 

Outdoor contact sports for 18 and under will start-up again as will non-contact sport for adults. PT, Fitness and Dance classes could be held outdoors with ten people. Outdoor pools could have 50 people depending on density. 

Libraries, community venues would be open for outdoor events as well as entertainment venues within limits.

Faith communities could hold outdoor ceremonies for up to 20 people plus the people running the service. Indoor could have ten people.

Weddings could have 10 people and funerals up to 20. 

Masks would remain mandatory and people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible.

Years 8 to 10 had returned to the classrooms that Monday with one student Turker Cakal noting, “They had enough of me, I’ve been home too long.

Now is the time to open up. Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course,” Andrews said.

There were reports of cars honking at school pick-up as the announcement was listened in car radios. People cried.

Premier Andrews advised he would provide clear instructions on how home visits would be conducted on Tuesday. 

He did warn, “We must understand, all of us — the most dangerous environment for the spread of this virus is in your home. When you have visitors, you let your guard down, and they go back to their house, they have visitors and all of a sudden there are chains of transmission that spread silently.

From the Premier’s prepared statement he advised further changed for November 8 as regional Victoria and Melbourne became whole. 

The “ring of steel” around Melbourne was on track to be removed 11:59pm Sunday the 8th of November.

“The state will be one again,” Mr Andrews said.

Australia has a contentious history of curfews — will one help Melbourne  beat coronavirus? - ABC News

The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase, with up to 40 inside and 70 outside.

Religious gatherings will expand with up 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 outside.

Gyms and indoor fitness will be able to reopen – with some strict safety precautions in place.

And because Melburnians will have well and truly earnt a holiday, accommodation will also reopen.

The border between the city and the rest of our state will also fall away.

I know personally – deeply – just how much this will mean for thousands of Victorians who haven’t been able to see loved ones for far too long. 

It will mean families are whole again. Our state is whole again.

In relation to the testing blitz and pumping the brakes Andrews said, “We took the time to wait to make sure we did not have widespread community transmission in the northern suburbs. It was worth waiting to be absolutely confident, to be sure that our team had their arms around those positive cases and fundamental control of the outbreak, and that is exactly what these numbers show us.

The Premier pointed out that the freedom and stability that had been reached was fragile and the responsibility of all Victorians to protect and accordingly he acknowledged it was the achievement of every Victorian and deflected any praise suggested for him as the leader of his state through this tremendous crisis.

Fundamentally this belongs to every Victorian.

But it is not over, this virus is not going away – it is going to continue to be a feature of our lives. It is going to be of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up.

These are big steps, we’ve all given a lot. I’m so proud and impressed and humbled by by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made. If this is to mean something then we have to take our COVID responsibilities to stay safe and to stay open, to stay safe and to stay connected – we have to take those responsibilities seriously.”

“There cannot be bending of rules, they cannot be people on an endless search for loopholes. We are all in this together and just as we have stayed the course and yes we have stayed apart but remain fundamentally connected as a strong and united state we have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come. Until a vaccine comes – there’s no normal there’s only COVID normal.”

So much has been given to build this precious thing and all of us need to make sure we honour it and value it and protect it in all the chances that we make every single day.

I could not be prouder than I am today to lead a state that has shown the courage and compassion and the character to get this job done.

“But it not yet absolutely finished. Only a vaccine can give us the ultimate protection against this so we need to be proud today, we need to be optimistic, we need to be confident but we also need to be COVID safe and I’m very confident that is exactly what Victorians will do.” 

A zero case number today is not the same as a vaccine against this. We all need to keep our guard up. We all need to be very careful about how we safeguard this precious thing that we have built as a Victorian community because we have stayed the course.

“Because we haven’t been pushed by the loudest voices in our community into making irresponsible choices. The decisions we’ve made have given us the number that we have got today, all of us, the sacrifices we’ve made and now we just need to lock that in by making smart choices for the future.”

In March at the beginning of lockdown Premier Andrews had remarked that you can’t have mates around to get on the beers. 

A reporter asked him in the press conference, “Can I confirm you are saying we can finally on the beers?”.

Andrews wryly replied, “I might go a little higher up the shelf.”

This was a great day for all Victorians, they had endured, they had triumphed. However fleeting, this victory was hard earned and their own.

My condolences. My thanks. My admiration.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THERE’S A THIRD WAVE COMING

Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones on crowd-surfing at a Macon Trump rally |  firstcoastnews.com

 October 18

From the 13th of September I had started going back to my gym late at night, often spending an hour on the bike but this had been unpredictable. Once my secondment ended on the 12th of October I began to more regularly and consistently get there during the week.

For the month of September I went eight times and for the month of October and November I went 9 times each. Occasionally I worked out on the treadmill and did weights but mostly I would do an hour on the bike. My weight fluctuates but I weighed 114 kgs the first time I went and I have been consistently getting around 110kgs since October. 

Hardly a lifestyle change but I have been enjoying exercising more regularly. I have been warned by my GP that changes need to be made in terms of my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Apparently I’m high risk of a heart attack in the next five years so it’s the least I could do.

I certainly pursued a better work life balance.

As I worked on my health, the world kind of went to shit. Second and third waves abounded and the US prepared to hold their Presidential election and we also had the state elections here in Queensland. 

On the 18th of October the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 39,689,767 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 413,315.

There had been 1,109,960 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,193.

WHO 11DEC2020

In Australia there had been 27,383 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 904 deaths.

WHO Australia 11DEC2020

In Canada there had been 194,106 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,374. There had been 9,722 deaths with a daily increase of 23. On the 15th of of October Canada had suffered their largest daily increase of cases – 4,042.

WHO Canada 11DEC2020

In the United Kingdom there had been 705,432 confirmed new cases with a daily increase of 16,171. There had been 43,579 deaths with a daily increase of 150. On the 5th of October they suffered the largest daily increase of new cases in the country of 22,961. On the 22nd of October this record would be surpassed with 26,687 new cases reported that day.

WHO UK 11DEC2020

In India there had been 7,494,551 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 61,871. There had been 114,031 death with a daily increase of 1,033. On the 3rd of October the tragic figure of 100,000 Indians dying from COVID-19 had been reached. 100,842.

WHO India 11DEC2020

In the United States of America there had been 7,966,729 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 69,834. There had been 217,071 deaths with a daily increase of 998. 

WHO USA 11DEC2020

There were a few things that grabbed my attention over the rest of the month in the lead-up to the U.S. election.

On the 18th of October John Oliver did an episode Last Week Tonight centred around World Health Organisation. Their achievements, their limits, their flaws and the fact that Ballbag had given notice that the most powerful country was withdrawing from the organisation that eliminated smallpox and also during a global pandemic.

October 19

Monday. Pre-poll voting started in Queensland which I did in the afternoon having been ill earlier that day.

I was one of 100,000 early voters who voted that day. To put that in context about 820,000 voters turned out on election day itself.

1,210,000 Queenslanders did pre-poll voting, 10,000 more than the local council elections that were held in March and up from 740,000 who did in the 2017 Queensland State Election. 900,000 postal votes were issued by the Electoral Commission Queensland.

October 21

A favourite of mine David Letterman returned to Australian screens on Netflix with season 3 of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. The show has proven a mixed bag, fans of Letterman’s acerbic wit don’t know what to make of him fawning over Kim Kardashian, the gentle kinder and yes older Dave make you miss that smart alec Hoosier but what remains is someone with a fervent curiosity who wants you to see the whole individual. I also enjoy watching Dave now in his 70s find ways to relate to people younger than him simply through curiosity and common ground. Maybe some interviews go on too long but I still think this is a good show, that David Letterman is a national treasure and has a way of getting to things in an interview that others may have missed.

There were four episodes, the weakest is Kim Kardashian, she’s enjoying being at the height of her powers, the audience is packed with her crowd and she’s maybe ready to have one over Letterman but she gets him to open up and talk about the time she was robbed and show that there is always a human being at the centre of a headline and lest we forget it. His goal and her vulnerability is admirable.

The interview with Robert Downey Jr is polished with some Hollywood flair. RDJ is on and ready to have a laugh but also talk about his past. It’s the closest to what we might have expected, The Late Show but longer and on location with an entertaining star.

The one with Lizzo is great in watching how the two connect to each other and talk careers and families. A highlight is Lizzo telling Dave not to be so hard on himself with his rapping.

But the greatest episode is easily the one with Dave Chappelle. an artistic and witty figure who is arguably the greatest stand-up comedian working today. Dave probes him here but it is Chappelle who makes the show so special in light of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. I absolutely agree with everything he says about community, about how we are all victims of prejudice but some more often than others and how we have to all come together to fix our problems. The people of Yellow Springs, Ohio should be proud of themselves too. They take care of each other, such communities are special.

October 22

It’s fascinating to look back at an episode of Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In which they pointed out that in many states postal votes were as 40% of turn-out and also indicated that Democrat voters were twice as likely to have voted via the post. Not a surprise given that Ballbag downplays the threat of COVID-19 and urges his supporters that the long established practice of postal voting, which would be the most ideal and safest way to carry out the election during a pandemic where thousands of Americans have died and hundreds of thousands have gotten sick, is more likely to lead to voter fraud.

I will admit I didn’t recall too much of this nor hear much about the mirage of votes. When the results started coming in on Election Day this previous commentary did not come to mind. I was just too shocked by the results even though it backed up my nerves that Ballbag was still in the race despite polling. Speaking of Trafalgar polling called it for Trump which is covered in this episode too.

Ballbag’s niece, a trained psychologist and author Dr Mary Trump was interviewed as well on the show. Her discussion of the lack of respect that Ballbag has for COVID-19, for media, for the lives of others and for the office and how as a result he should not be shown the respect that the office deserves certainly rang true for me.

The show also covered the accusations of Hunter Biden.

October 24

Planet America covered the next election debate between candidates. It also covered how teh third wave was occurring in America. The first wave predominantly occurred in coastal states, the second wave occurred more in the south and centre. The third wave was taking off across all of the country which was hardly a surprise when the country was led as Dr Fauci pointed out by someone who held a party with major leaders with no COVID precautions which led to the President getting himself sick as well as major players in the government. They can’t protect themselves why would they protect the average citizen.

Democrat Vernon Jones from the Georgia House of Representatives spoke eloquently about his support of Ballbag, advising of laws and funding business that have helped African-Americans. He compared prison reform carried out by Trump and contrasted it with the crime bill which President-elect Joe Biden supported. He spoke of President Obama post retirement going to Martha’s Vineyard rather than say Chicago. No real talk of President Obama’s early work in Chicago. I didn’t agree with everything he said but at least he articulated another perspective very well.

October 25

On the 25th of October the World Health Organisation reported there had been globally 42,643,811 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 481,597.

There had been 1,150,317 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,097.

In Australia there had been 27,499 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15. There had been 905 death.

In Canada there had been 211,732 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,584. There had been 9,888 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In the United Kingdom there had been 854,015 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,012. There had been 44,745 deaths with a daily increase of 174.

In India there had been 7,864,811 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 50,129. There had been 118,534 deaths with a daily increase of 578. My brother in law, a man I call my brother from another mother is Indian. His family still lives there. His Uncle passed away. We caught up and went up to Maleny for Capriccio’s pizza. He spoke of a sweet good natured man who had worked hard and always been kind and warm to his family particularly children. A good man, gone too soon. One loss amongst many. One story repeated over 118,000 times and counting.

In the United States of America there had been 8,403,121 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 82,630. There had been 222,507 deaths with a daily increase of 943.

Things were getting worse as the northern hemisphere headed towards winter. All we could do was pray and try to help however we could.

-Lloyd Marken