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

Who Is Navy Capt. Brett Crozier? Hear In His Own Words - Task ...

April 1

I continued working from home, happy to have a job and as mentioned in the previous post Karen started putting the teddy bears out.

April 2

On Friday in Guam, a US Navy Captain relieved of his command walked down the gangway to cheers of his 5,000 crew.

Captain Brett Crozier, a 28 year naval veteran who had flown F/A-18 Hornets in the Iraq War had taken command of the 104,000 tonne aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt 01NOV2019 and all of its 4,500 souls on board.

On deployment in the Pacific, crew stayed at a hotel in Da Nang where coronavirus broke out on the 5th of March.

They returned to the ship, the first reported case onboard was the 22nd of March and not any of the sailors who stayed at the Vietnamese hotel tested positive. Evacuations by flight took place as more sailors became sick.

The number of cases climbed into the dozens, the ship was ordered to Guam and docked there 26MAR2020 with most crew restricted to the ship and pier as more evacuations of sick sailors took place.

On the 30th of March, Captain Crozier sent an e-mail to chain of command urging that all but non-essential crew be evacuated and the ship be sanitised.

In the e-mail he wrote, “I fully realize that I bear responsibility for not demanding more decisive action the moment we pulled in, but at this point my only priority is the continued well-being of the crew and embarked staff. I believe if there is ever a time to ask for help it is now regardless of the impact on my career.

There was a letter attached in the e-mail too where the Iraq war veteran wrote.

WE ARE NOT AT WAR.

SAILORS DO NOT NEED TO DIE.

IF WE DO NOT ACT NOW,

WE ARE FAILING TO PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF OUR MOST TRUSTED ASSET

OUR SAILORS.

The e-mail was leaked and published in the media on the 31st. At this point, 100 crew had tested positive.

Crozier got his wish on the 1st of April, the ship was evacuated except for essential crew to maintain the nuclear reactor and quarantined.

 

 

On 02APR2020 he was relieved of command and by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly believing he had shown poor judgment in sending the e-mail either aiming for it to be leaked or taking not proper protocols to ensure it would not leak.

Three days later Modly would travel to Guam and address the crew over the public address system denigrating Crozier’s actions.

On a ship where hundreds were still onboard believing their Captain had acted to save their lives he scolded them for cheering his name as he left the aircraft carrier. Modly told them ironically “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer” if he did not realize that his letter would be leaked to the media.”

Modly over a PA system that could be heard throughout the ship had his “tirade” recorded and subsequently leaked to the press.

07APR2020 Modly resigned.

 

 

Crozier has been reassigned to San Diego as special assistant to the Naval Air Forces chief of staff. Reinstatement of command to a dismissed USN Captain would be unprecedented.

By the 17th of April most the crew had been tested and 660 had tested positive for COVID-19 with the majority asymptomatic. Positive result of about 14%. These numbers were lower than was originally feared would end up happening. Possibly a result of the actions of the Navy on the 1st of April. Captain Crozier himself tested positive for COVID-19.

As low as the numbers were, there is at least one family that wish they had BEEN lower.

On the 13th of April, a 41 year old Chief Petty Officer of the crew having been hospitalised passed away from COVID-19.

On 05MAY2020 1,156 crew had tested positive.

On 15MAY2020 five sailors developed symptoms, tested positive and were removed from the ship along with some of their contacts. The five sailors had completed a 14 day quarantine and tested negative at least twice before reboarding prior to showing symptoms.

On the 21st of May, the USS Theodore Roosevelt returned to sea.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Shared His No-Gym Workout Routine Just In ...

While this drama was unfolding within the United States Navy, I was also taking comfort in celebrities taking to the social media.

I discovered Arnold Schwarznegger’s social media presence and quite enjoyed his posts.

He raves on about his kids, showcases speeches he does and work he is doing in the community.

One could be cynical about these things.

He’s found two cute stars in his miniature pony and donkey Whiskey and Lulu. His much younger girlfriend doesn’t feature anywhere.

Yet in difficult times, we need people who inspire, people who display a go to attitude or give us a little levity. I am finding that with Arnold Schwarznegger so here are some gems.

 

I even dusted off my old dumbbells thanks to Arnie.

 

 

 

Many other celebrities have been amusing us too. Closer to home there has been Sam Neil.

 

 

 

 

Final parting message from Arnie which I took to heart.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE TEDDY BEAR LADY

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Pia who came all the way from Guangzhou airport with me in 2018. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Ladies and gentlemen we have a very special guest writer on my blog today. 

My wife Karen was a published freelance writer long before I was.

A speech pathologist by trade she once wrote to national magazine New Idea as part of a competition.

The gig was to write about a dream coming true and the winning submission would be published in the magazine.

Karen shrewdly wrote that her dream was to be published in New Idea.

Karen won and was published and it was not the first or last time she has featured in such magazines or won big competitions. 

But I digress, here is my wonderful wife and a much better writer – Karen!

-Lloyd Marken

Bear2
Just some cool dudes chilling. Copyright Karen Marken.

 

Bear Blog- Bears Out on a Limb

 

Please bear with me…I am not the usual blogger. My wonderful husband Lloyd has kindly invited me to be a guest contributor on his Covid-19 diary and share with you our involvement to date in a community unifying event called Operation Bear Hunt.

On the 31st March 2020, I learned via social media of a wonderful joyful iso craze sweeping the US. All across the States, people were placing teddy bears in their windows as a show of solidarity.

The idea, based on Michael Rosen’s popular children’s book Going on a Bear Hunt, was that children and parents out on their daily walk would keep a look out for teddy bears and count how many they saw.

Well, I thought, I have a few bears. I could do that here.

Turns out I have more than a few teddies and other stuffed toys. At last count I had 46 and as I declutter I keep unearthing more! It is nice to finally have a good use for them. Our house is on beautiful tree lined street next to a set of shops so there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. In addition to displaying bears in our windows, I utilised the fig trees and brick wall in our front yard by placing bears and other animals of varying sizes and colours in positions that small children will be to spot easily. Not all my bears made the cut. Some were too precious or fragile. For example, due to his polystyrene innards, Fernando the bull (pictured) was deemed not suitable for fig tree duties. Instead he has taken pride of place on our balcony where he chills out daily enjoying the lovely fresh air.

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Fernando the bull. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Once I had placed the bears, all we had to do was sit back and wait for the fun to begin. It was not long before excited shouts of “Ooh look there’s a teddy! There’s another one!” filled the air (and that was just the adults). Our initial success continued on Day 2 of Operation Bear Hunt with delighted people of all ages admiring each bear and taking photos to share on social media. I don’t know who was enjoying it more: the children, their parents or me. No wait.. it was definitely me!

Being involved in Operation Bear Hunt has been so much fun and I heartily recommend others become involved in whatever capacity they can. My teddy bear displays are not quite as imaginative as some we have seen on the internet involving elaborate and topical setups. However we are consistent and have hopefully inspired other more creative teddy bear arrangers in our suburb.  Every day, for about 6 weeks now, the bears go out early and stay out late to catch the first and last pedestrians of the day. I’m not sure if or when we will call it quits. Our appreciative audience shows no signs of getting sick of us.

Overall community feedback has been resoundingly positive.  The sole criticism came early on day 3 when a little boy was overheard to shout “What are these bears doing here? Who has put all these stuffed toys everywhere?”  He sounded most indignant!  I couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily his parents explained the function of the bears. Ever since, this particular little boy has been our biggest supporter and an ardent teddy fan counting and describing each bear in detail as he whizzes past our house on his scooter.

Participation in Operation Bear Hunt has not been without it’s challenges. Weather is a factor. Occasionally gusts of wind have turned the teddies into famous Aussie drop bears ready to suddenly jump out of the figs and onto the heads of unsuspecting tourists. One day “the teddy bears” slept in and I felt like the biggest meanie in the world as I overheard a child sigh to her father “No teddies today”. Both parent and child looked so dejected I resolved to put out even more teddies the following day.

Bringing the bears in at night has become quite the covert operation. One evening I ventured out at sunset. After looking both ways, I collected half the bears then heard a family approaching. Quickly, I ducked behind a tree then ran around the side of my house hiding from view until they had passed by and I could safely resume my collection. Despite my best attempts to retain an air of mystery though I have had a couple of neighbours stop and ask me if I am the teddy bear lady. When I reply that “yes I am”,  they then let me know how much they are enjoying the teddy bears and how much all the children in our neighbourhood love the teddies.

Well that is about all from me for now so on behalf of the teddies I wish you all a Beary Good Night. Peace and Love, Karen aka “the teddy bear lady”.

-Karen Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE PHONEY WEEK – PART III

Coronavirus: Anguish as Europe learns to cope with new way of ...

 

19 March

Wednesday night in Bergamo, Italy the unmistakable grunts of truck engines and the hiss of brakes can be heard as the army ferries dead bodies out of full to bursting mortuaries to remote cremation sites.

On the 19th of March Italy overtook China as the country with the most deaths based on the numbers reported by the World Health Organisation.

China had 81,300 cases total that day with a daily increase of 126. Their death toll 3,252 with a daily increase of 11.

In Italy there were 41,035 cases with a daily increase of 5,322. The death toll was 3,407 with a daily increase of 429.

3,252….

429…

11….

One.

I once stood in front of a plaque in St Paul’s Cathedral that listed all the names of British servicemen killed in the Falklands War. 255 names. Seeing the names all together suddenly made that number much higher than I had previously thought of it.

 

Falklands Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral, London | "IN HONOU… | Flickr

The Falklands lasted 10 weeks and was noted by scholars for the advent of technology and the speed of conflict itself. Comparatively the 255 was less than the 649 Argentinians who died in the same way,  less than the 521 Australians killed in Vietnam, or the 1,078 British killed in the three year Korean War, or the 27,073 Australians killed serving in World War II or the 1,114,914 British that died in World War I, or the lowest estimates of the Spanish Flu pandemic that wiped out anywhere between 17,000,000 to 100,000,000.

1….

1,000…

1,000,000.

They can just become numbers but the thousands already dead from this pandemic are a story and a lot of those stories ended painfully with someone struggling to breathe, a nurse nearby doing her job the best she can and no loved ones able to say goodbye.

Here in my own bubble a lot of people died in China and I scarely thought about them. It might be something to remember as we continue to discuss the numbers coming out of China and their accuracy. Whatever the numbers, a lot of people died and the least we can do is try and do the best we can to stay alive so their lives can have even more meaning.

On the 19th of March the island state of Tasmania announced it would close it’s border from midnight the next day becoming the first state to do so.

Also on thursday, Australia announced that as of 9pm that Friday, all foreign travellers would be banned from entering the country. New Zealand had announced they would close its borders midnight Thursday. Residents of the two countries, would still be able to travel between both.

Those on student and work visas in Australia currently out of the country would not be able to return.

The Prime Minister advised the previous bans had already seen a reduction in the normal level of travel by one third.

The same day Qantas announced about 2/3 of their 30,000 staff would be stood down temporarily.

The decision stranded many Australians abroad who worked to get home.

As the Prime Minister worked to ensure less people came into the country with the virus. The 113,000 tonne cruise ship the Ruby Princess disembarked 2,700 passengers in Sydney the same day.

NSW coronavirus: Email bombshell reveals Ruby Princess bungle ...

The Ruby Princess had departed Sydney on the 8th of March for a cruise around New Zealand. The cruise was prematurely ended on the 15th of March and returned from Napier to Sydney. 

On the 20th of March we were informed 13 people had been tested for coronavirus and three had come back positive. In the weeks ahead the Ruby Princess disembarkation would have significant impact on the number of people getting sick in New South Wales. All passengers were asked to go into self isolation.

Of the 2,700 disembarked passengers at least 662 Australian passengers tested positive with 341 of them in New South Wales. This did not include about 900 passengers who left Australia without being tested.  The death toll of people who were on the Ruby Princess has risen to at least 21.

6 crew members were medically evacuated on the 2nd of April. 

542 of the 1,000 crew were taken off the ship and repatriated to their home countries between 21-23APR2020. The Ruby Princess left Port Kembla on the 23rd of April, 190 members of the crew had tested positive at that point.

The Ruby Princess story is echoed in many other cruise ships around the world.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE PHONEY WEEK – PART I

The Surprising Truth About Dark Moon Energy And Its Benefits

The ‘Phoney War’ refers to the first eight months of World War II when both sides pulled their punches strategically and the sweeping invasion of Europe by Germany was yet to really start.

For the casualties of this period I suspect there was nothing phoney about this at all. Poland and Finland planned for Allied Forces that never arrived to help fight off invasion and the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous was sunk with the loss of 519 of her crew for example.

The war was real even if it was thought of as phoney.

That is what the third week of March, 2020 in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic feels like.

The threat was acknowledged, events were happening but the major changes to life would occur after this week as government decision making was still gaining momentum.

 

14 March

I caught up with an old friend from high school who had recently become a father with his lovely wife. Their son was perfectly behaved as we enjoyed Grilled burgers.

I have discussed with another friend who is a new parent that his chance to work from home means he will get to spend time with his newborn that he would have missed.

I can never tell if the neutral yes reflects their agreement of this fact or whether it leads them to thoughts of how tired they are and how many nappy changes they might have missed had they been at work.

This was to be our last social gathering for a while.

 

15 March

Around dinner time on Sunday night I called to ask my Dad for advice about something in my physical space and he offered to come all the way over from the southside of town.

This surprised me and I told him that was not necessary but came he did.

Afterwards we talked about the Prime Minister’s big announcement from Friday and wondered what was to come. Today is the 5th of May and I have not seen my father since.

Not a long time in the scheme of things and I have certainly been on the phone to both my parents quite a bit. Almost subconsciously I was calling them every day for quite a while and they were happy to take the call. It was a way to talk through what was happening.

Due to their age and existing health conditions we have chosen to play it safe and not see each other. I of course miss them.

It was an odd thing that my father came over but I’m glad he did and I got to see him just a little bit more before this break.

I was also looking up a lot of things on youtube and relayed to my Dad this growing sense that the numbers of Italy from 2 to 3 weeks ago indicated where we could be shortly and that numbers were pretty scary.

 

 

As a former hospital wardsman I had always been concerned about the extra work load that would be placed on our health care workers and the complications that came with that.

At some point I started to become informed that once the hospitals were overwhelmed the fatality rates went up and at some point I became keenly aware that if protective gear ran out that our health care workers would increasingly risk infection and the potential fall out from this truly gave me pause.

 

16 March

With continuing shortages at the supermarkets, major Australian chains Woolworths and Coles announce they will introduce early hour of trading for pensioners and those with disabilities from 7am to 8am starting the next day.

Which leads in the days ahead to a great story. My Dad who is 75 with jet black hair and a few gray strands is asked to show his ID at the supermarket during pensioner hour. My Dad got carded to prove he was old enough! This delighted him and the rest of his family no end.

The more vulnerable in our society will get the whole store to themselves. This is part of a larger world wide trend.

I was away sick from work that day but my review of Dave Hughes is published on Scenestr as the Brisbane Comedy Festival is cancelled with a week to go.

This is the tip of the iceberg for a loss of income for various parts of the arts industries including my work as a freelance writer. I feel for all the artists and venues and support staff.

I also publish my long gestating My Favourite Films of 2019 List which has been weeks in the making but suddenly it seems out of place given what is happening in the world.

I also write about seeing Dave Hughes that day reflecting more what is going on in the world at that moment even though I schedule that to publish days later.

 

17 March

Tuesday morning I grab a coffee from my local haunt Stellarossa, I’ve been grabbing coffees from there since I started working in Toowong in late 2018. I ask the manager how things are, he tells me it wasn’t so bad last week but this week it has slowed right down.

At work I am pulled aside to sit with three levels of leadership for a quick meeting. I am asked if I would define myself as high risk due to an existing medical condition. One of the things I like about where I work is how they take care of their staff.

They are looking to protect me and I am not the only one who has one of these discussions. Yet it takes me back to a time from my past where I do not like to think of myself as someone requiring extra consideration in relation to the rest of my colleagues.

My wife had also raised this as a possible concern weeks ago but I had not chased it up. I get in touch with my specialist and at the end of a roundabout conversation I am advised that for the purposes of this scenario yes I am not a normal 39 year old.

I discuss with my manager my concerns of being treated differently and he gently suggests that is something I may need to get over. I nod knowing he is right.

Later in a team meeting his wisdom is on display again when to centre our thoughts on what may happen he points out what happened in the span of a week the previous week to indicate the breadth of what might change in the week ahead.

He truly is a wise man.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – FRIDAY THE 13TH

Awesome Time Lapse Video Of Planet Earth Taken On The ...

 

If there was a tipping point in the COVID-19 crisis in Australia it was Friday the 13th of March. After that day we knew life was changing and the uncertainty surrounding how would dominate the days following. Indulge me if you will but play the video above while reading this post.

 

Thirteen-Lawyer KPMG Team in France Heads Back to Fidal as Dispute ...

March 13

On Friday I was driving into work and heard on the news that France had shut down all schools. At the time they had the second largest number of cases in Europe behind only Italy. The school shut down was a measure of escalation and of note in regards to where I worked. Throughout the week people had been paying attention to the news and trying to prepare come what may.

In France on the 13th of May the World Health Organisation reported an increase from 2,281 to 3,640 in the country.

There was a daily increase of 31 dead in the country taking the total of 79.

 

In Italy only food stores and pharmacies were now allowed to be open with all other shops closed. There were now over 1,000 intensive care patients in the country and there was talk that hospital staff now were having to make decisions about who was likely to be able to save factoring in to decision making about the care administered.

In Italy the WHO reported a daily increase of 2,547 cases bringing the national total to 21,157. The death toll increased by 252 taking us to 1,268.

 

Trudeau self-isolating after wife Sophie develops fever, gets ...

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau went into self isolation following his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau testing positive to COVID-19 having just returned from a speaking engagement in Great Britain.

With a daily increase of 59 cases the total number in Canada jumped to 152. The first death recorded March 11, remained the only one in the country.

 

Amid a global pandemic, Cheltenham Festival surviving all four ...

In the UK the Cheltenham racing festival was in full swing with the Cheltenham Gold Cup held on the 13th of March with over 68,500 attending. The event like several other sporting events that week was held in accordance with government advice and with “a range of additional hygiene measure at the event, including hundreds of hand sanitiser dispensers and extra wash basins.” at the event.

UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for the virus having attended a Downing Street meeting the previous Friday where 100 people were in attendance. Inexplicably Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw no reason to get tested himself.

On the 13th of March there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

 

Coronavirus: President Donald Trump handed gift by Fabio ...

In the United States of America President Trump had announced a restriction on travel between Europe and the U.S. with the exception of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The stockmarket had crashed falling more in one single day than since Black Monday on the 19th of October 1987 which was followed by the recession of the late 1980s.

Several film and television shows and film shoots were shutting down and going on hiatus. Hollywood was grounding to a halt with all its productions across the world.

Fabio Wajngarten, the communication secretary of Brazilian President tested positive to coronavirus days after being photographed with President Trump and Vice President Pence sparking concerns that the American Cabinet should get tested and for some reason Pence and Trump delayed that.

On the 13th of March in the United States of America there were 277 new cases with a total of 1,264 overall. There were 36 dead, 7 from that day alone.

 

Australia isolates all international arrivals | Prothom Alo

The Prime Minster of Australia Scott Morrison had announced a 17.6 billion spending package the day before which would could cost his government his much anticipated budget surplus. “Our focus is on getting support to those who need it … There will be an other side of this crisis.” said the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

At 9am Friday, the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled. McLaren had pulled out the day before following a team member testing positive.

The Home Affairs Minister in Australia Peter Dutton tested positive to COVID-19 having recently returned from America where he met with Ivanka Trump and senior White House personnel.

There was a Council of Australian Governments Meeting with the Prime Ministers and state Premiers that day. Following on from that the Council decided they would convene that Sunday a National Cabinet meeting of state heads and federal leaders.

It was announced that starting the following Monday there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more after the weekend. The Prime Minister originally intended to attend the footy over the weekend to see his beloved Sharkies play. Later that day he advised to avoid confusion over his actions he would not go. The Cronulla Sharks lost that match.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 13th of March, 2020 189 cases of COVID-19 in Australia with 49 of those cases reported that day alone. There had been three deaths in my country at that point.

 

20200313_210011
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

I headed to the Brisbane Comedy Festival that night with Karen. Hot off the press was the cancellation of the Melbourne Comedy Festival originally scheduled to kick off on the 25th of March. Travel company Flight Centre had announced plans to shut down 100 of its 900 stores. It was just one of many companies announcing store closures, staff reductions and slow down.

We caught up with some of our friends and grabbed a table out on the river far from crowds. One of our friends shared hand sanitiser she had brought with her. This was becoming a way of life.

We discussed how the situation was escalating, talked about precautions, at one point I discussed some talking heads saying it was only as deadly as the flu. One of our friends with the patience of a saint relayed she had heard that spoken about too but it was not accurate. Earlier that very same day Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had stressed that the virus was “10 times more deadly” than the regular flu.

We all had on our minds that the most vulnerable in our society were going to be even more vulnerable, that unemployment was going to rise and that our health care system and the workers who take care of us were about to be put through the ringer.

It was the last time I would see these friends in person for a while. I miss them.

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Copyright Lloyd Marken.

I saw Dave Hughes in the large Powerhouse Theatre on assignment for Scenestr magazine. We grabbed a row at the back of the front section. The venue was close to full but there were a few chairs empty most likely due to people not showing rather than not being sold. Karen and I had nobody sit with us. Dave Hughes came out and was very funny. There was a sense in the air that things were changing and that this might be it for a while. Hughesy wondered how it all worked, less than 500 people and all of a sudden no one is sick? That we can’t go out Monday but tonight is fine? Does the virus know? Later that night another friend Rosie who you may recall coming with me to the opening night of BIFF 2018, was out and about in the clubs and Hughesy showed up where she was and performed some stand-up.

It felt a little like seizing the day which in hindsight can also seem selfish and stupid. We followed government advice I guess but regardless Friday the 13th of March, 2020 was a turning point in Australia. The ripchord had been pulled, a global economic recession had been kicked off and clearly too many people were dying. Government was taking action and they wouldn’t be doing any of this if they saw an alternative. It seemed like the possibility of a world leader coming down with the disease was all too real. We knew the world was changing, an anxious next few days would reveal in what ways and just how much.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – MARKET PENETRATION

Image: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Colosseum in Rome on March 7, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic.

Market penetration – the extent to which a product is recognized and bought by customers in a particular market.

News believe it or not works like a line of products being offered up to the market.  There is niche news, alternative news, comfort food news and leading news.

After all… news is consumed and when you need to get the word out you can only hope you achieve market penetration quickly.

These days its hard for the news to get our attention and even harder for one voice to reach all audiences.

In the second week of March COVID-19 had achieved market penetration and by the end of the week it would be dominating our attention.

March 04

The next James Bond movie No Time To Die was due to open 02APR2020 and in America 10APR2020 but with only a month to go and amidst a publicity ramp-up and marketing spend the release date was moved.

With the Chinese box office compromised and territories like Italy and France shut down the Bond feature became the first blockbuster of the year to move out of the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

It would not be the last with A Quiet Place II, Black Widow, Top Gun: Maverick, F9 and the hotly anticipated Wonder Woman: 1984 all following suit. This all made sense to me, my concerns at this point like the filmmakers were with the risk to lives.

This followed production halting on the latest Mission Impossible film on the 25th of February which was set to film in Venice, Italy.

 

March 07

Karen and I had dinner with friends and travel restrictions were on people’s minds but the coronavirus did not dominate the conversation. Toilet paper shortages were definitely in the news but Karen had recently bought some from a bargain store when the stocks were out in the major supermarkets. We were fine for now.

 

March 08

On Sunday we had a family gathering for the birthdays of two of my siblings. We did not think this would be the last time we were going to see each other in person for a while. But that has certainly proven to be the case.

March 09

Italy went into national quarantine with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte restricting travel only for work and family emergencies and the cancellation of all sporting events.

March 10

At work we were all practising social distancing.

On Tuesday we had a team meeting and discussed at length what was needed to be able to have all staff work from home.

The framing was if someone had to self isolate. The other thinking was in order to minimise risk, staff may work 50/50 at home and in the office on a rotational basis.

I had just purchased a new laptop of the 27th of February and started to think of rushing to load up software on it and start using it but first I wanted to wrap up transferring some things from my old laptop.

With market penetration I was certainly starting to think about coronavirus differently. It was here and we had seen the devastation it was wreaking in Italy. I had watched John Oliver’s 01MAR2020 episode for water cooler conversation but we were going beyond that.

After the meeting I turned to a work colleague and observed that I had been working at the Queensland University of Technology during the Swine flu and Bird flu scares and the Ebola outbreaks to the West in 2014. I had lived through MERS and SARS too. With all the international students at QUT we had never had a meeting to prepare for contingencies like this.

The penny should have dropped there.

 

Rita Wilson (with Tom Hanks) | Iconic Beauty Looks From the 1995 ...

March 12

I was standing at Stellarossa getting my morning coffee when the barista told me “Tom Hanks has got coronavirus.”

I asked if this was one of those things news pranks and she assured me it was not. Wow I thought. Sure enough back at my desk I saw a news headline saying Tom Hanks and wife have coronavirus. I walked over to my boss who was about the same age and joked I feel like saying “Her name is Rita Wilson, show some goddamn respect” of the actress, singer and producer in her own right.

This may sound horrible but the diagnosis of a celebrity let alone such a beloved one might have proven the moment for a lot of people that this thing was to be taken seriously. Tom Hanks getting it kind of drove home the point that anyone could.

Pregnant superstar Katy Perry performed in Bright, Victoria to give back to bushfire ravaged communities, to thousands of people. This followed on from her performance in the Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup Final on the 8th.

On the 10th, Miley Cyrus had cancelled her appearance at a Melbourne bushfire relief concert due to coronavirus concerns. While Perry was lauded for her performances the decision by Cyrus was already starting to appear sensible.

This was Thursday, the same day that the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic. “The number of cases outside China increased 13-fold in the past two weeks. Now there are more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 people have died, with the numbers expected to climb.

That day the World Health Organisation reported that China had gone from 80,302 cases on the 3rd of March, 2020 to 80,981 on the 12th of March, 2020 with a daily increase of 26.  The death toll was reported as 3,173 with a daily increase of 11.

In Iran there were 10,705 cases with 1,075 of those having just been reported that day. 75 people died in Iran that day bringing the death toll to 429.

In Italy there were 2,502 cases with a daily increase of 466. 80 people had died, 28 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there were 987 cases total reported with a daily increase of 281. The national death toll stood at 29 with four from that day.

In the United Kingdom where I have family, 134 new cases reported that day increased the national total to 594. Two new deaths brought the total to eight in the country.

In Australia there were 140 cases with a daily increase of 18. The death toll stood at 3.

In Canada there were a total of 93 cases with no new daily increases. The first death had been reported the day before.

In the episode Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that aired on the 1st of March, 2020, Oliver noted that “Trust in institutions is critical when trying to contain a possible pandemic.” On reflection of what would happen in the days following the 12th of March these words only ring more true to me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – 03MAR2020

FILE IMAGE of the Brisbane suburb Toowong.

A crisis unfolds through so many strands, it starts with a murmur and then all of a sudden the ground is shaking and nobody knows if the earth is going to open up and swallow you whole. Maybe you just need to find your footing, maybe the ground will stop shaking and you’ll sigh a sigh of relief and move on. In no time you might even forget how scary it all was.

School children are being encouraged to write diaries in these days as they live throughout history. A little personal account of a global event. I have been inspired to follow suit if a little too late to truly be in spirit of the act.

Already it is hard to retrace but I will try.

March 03

Where I work is not far from the University of Queensland in terms of a drive. I work in the suburb of Toowong just outside the main Brisbane CBD along Coronation Drive in the river.

I am fond of getting a morning coffee from the nearby Stellarossa Café in Toowong village.

On the 3rd of March, 2020 it was reported that a 20 year old resident of Toowong and UQ student from China was confirmed to have coronavirus. (Remember when we were calling it that.)

I remember flicking through the front page about this at Stellarossa. The student had spent 14 days in Dubai as a precautionary measure. He landed in Brisbane on the 23rd of February, 2020 and became unwell two days later. He was the tenth confirmed case of COVID-19 in my home state of Queensland.

There were 33 cases in the whole of Australia on the 3rd of March and the first Australian had died from the disease two days earlier.

His name was James Kwan and he was 78 years old. Having spent his career in the tourism industry he was on holidays aboard the cruise ship the Diamond Princess along with 150 other Australians when it had been forced to go into quarantine throughout February in the Japanese port of Yokohama. After a long journey that included diagnosis and isolation in the Northern Territory he returned to his hometown of Perth and passed away in hospital.

In China the World Health Organisation was reporting a cumulative total of 80,302 cases since the first rumblings back in November, 2019 with only a daily increase of 128. There were 31 new deaths from Coronavirus reported in the country adding to a total death toll of 2,946 deaths.

In Iran there were 2,336 cases and with a daily increase of 835. Eleven people died in Iran that day with 77 total dead already.

In Italy there 2,502 cases with a daily increase of 466. 80 people had died, 28 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there were 188 cases total reported so far with a daily increase of 44. The first two deaths in the country had been reported on the 2nd of March.

In the United Kingdom where I have family, there were 51 cases with a daily increase of 12. There were no death reported in Great Britain until the 6th of March.

In Canada there were three new cases and a total of 30 reported in the whole country. The first death would be reported over a week later on the 11th of March.

China, Italy and Iran and the Diamond Princess were in the news already but on the 3rd of March the coronavirus had come to my home town and most specifically to where I worked.

And then Tom Hanks got it…

-Lloyd Marken