COVID-19 DIARY – COVID PAYMENTS SET TO REDUCE AS CASES CONTINUE TO RISE

Almost 600 COVID-19 cases at Victoria aged care homes - HealthTimes

 

July 20

Monday and another week began in earnest. I was very busy and stressed about my secondment but was enjoying the work.

In the news there was some talk about a proposal that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaczszuk put forward for the border processing to move south into northern NSW to alleviate wait times and to help those who lived in the border communities such as Coolangatta. She claimed she had suggested this back in March.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a straight forward response.

I’m happy to consider all options except I do not believe at any stage we should move the border. If anything, the border should be moved north. There is zero infection in northern NSW at this stage,” she said.

So that was that.

There were a couple of a cluster of cases in New South Wales.

 

In Victoria there were 275 confirmed cases overnight and it was announced that masks were going to become mandatory come Thursday. Students across the state were going back to learning from home.

 

 

Federally there were announcements made about changes to welfare.

There are 3.5 million people on Jobkeeper which is a $1,500 payment for workers who are employed but who are not getting any hours from their employer due to the economic shutdown.

After September, Jobkeeper which worked out to $1,500 a fortnight would go down to $1,200 and then on the 4th of January, 2021 $1,000 a fortnight. It would also switch to a two tier system.

Then there are 1.3 million on Jobseeker which was the old Newstart allowance for people looking for work. When COVID and a sharp rise in unemployment occurred there was $550 supplement added to the Jobseeker allowance. That would be reduced to $250 per fortnight in October and continue until March 2021.

The government was hoping that as time went on more and more would be at work as these payments decreased. The debt was increasing and there was certainly reform needed around Jobkeeper.

Yet for those who would struggle to survive with less money this gave them some certainty about what was coming and increased uncertainty about how they would get by.

 

 

July 21

A woman out and about garnered a little bit of media interest when she was found walking outside of her local area. But she had a very simple explanation.

KAREN FROM BRIGHTON ‘CALLS IN’:

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July 22

In Queensland on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not rule out further border restrictions even as she called on people to visit the state if they were not coming from one of the declared hotspots.

I am absolutely determined to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

If we have to declare further hotspots we will declare further hotspots and if there is an outbreak of community transmission in NSW like we have seen in Victoria we will not hesitate to take quick and swift action.

Facing an election in October, businesses particularly tourism ones were hurting and she wanted to show her support including scrapping of fees for those who run whale watching tours. This would equate to about $6,000 for each operator.

In Victoria there was a growing need to be considered.

40 aged care homes in the state had at least one positive COVID-19 case and over 200 cases were linked to aged care facilities.

Anybody familiar with what had happened at Newmarch House in New South Wales knew this was of particular concern.

The lessons from Newmarch were clear to some.

Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infection control expert at the University of New South Wales and an adviser to the World Health Organisation noted in an article published by The Guardian that infection control was very difficult in aged care homes.

“Unless you have dedicated bathrooms – and not every aged care facility does – and unless you have highly trained staff in infection control, which you don’t have in aged care, then it is very difficult to ensure that any shared area is kept clean all the time,” she said.

This bore out with the fact that residents at Newmarch were isolated in their rooms and COVID free for weeks before becoming ill with it.

Newmarch sent 16% of infected patients to hospital and 19 residents died. 

Also in New South Wales the Dorothy Henderson Lodge sent 80% of patients to hospital and six of their residents died.

Professor McLaws and Professor Joseph Ibrahim (Head of the Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University believed generally speaking patients should be moved to hospitals to avoid infecting residents. Aged care staff just are not trained in infection control the same ways. McLaws pointed out they don’t have pressured rooms, Hepa filters and designated areas to store PPE. Ibrahim also said their capacity for waste is not the same.

How much would their advice be heeded.

How many people were at risk if they were not listened to.

In Victoria there were 484 new cases, the largest in a single day since the pandemic began.

 

July 23

In Victoria 403 cases were reported overnight with five deaths taking the state’s death toll to 49.

There were 201 Victorians in hospital with COVID and 40 in Intensive Care Unit including four children. Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos advised 20% of Victoria’s COVID patients were under 50.

A man in his 50s was also one of the ones who had passed away.

Premier Daniel Andrews as a result said, “One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s — this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged. That would be reason enough to do what we’re doing, but it would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow immune to this.

Premier Andrews advised there 3,630 active cases in Victoria.

Premier Andrews also advised that 9/10 people who were confirmed cases were continuing to move around the community after developing symptoms. Over half of people who got tested did not immediately self-isolate after waiting to get their results.

He also announced a $300 payment that could be claimed by casuals or those with insecure work who needed to self-isolate.

Minister Mikakos said the data showed a quarter of infections from the start of July are young people in their 20s and people over 60 only represented 6%.

Premier Andrews said “If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal — and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now — you’ve got to follow the rules.

On the 23rd of July the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 15,019,293 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 248,393.

There had been 614,311 deaths with a daily increase of 7,035.

In Australia there had been 12,896 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 468. There had been 128 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 111,697 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 573. There had been 8,862 with a daily increase of four.

In United Kingdom there had been 297,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 751. There had been 41,047 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

Having reached over one million cases on July 17, in India on the 23rd of July there had been 1,238,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,720. There had been 29,861 Indians die with a daily increase of 1,129.

In the United States of America there had been 3,868,453 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,929. There had been 141,479 deaths with a daily increase of 1,042.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE ECONOMIC ROAD AHEAD

View from The Hill: Can Scott Morrison achieve industrial ...

May 26

Tuesday.

The Prime Minister did an address at the National Press Club in Canberra talking about the tough road ahead economically with a plan to stick with the National Cabinet meetings over the previous COAG meetings.

Reform to vocational education was on his mind and bringing unions to the table for industrial reform.

The Prime Minister outlined the road to recovery would be a long one taking between three to five years. The unprecedented actions of Jobkeeper and Jobseeker set in place for a financial quarter would not continue indefinitely with the PM warning “At some point you’ve got to get your economy out of ICU.”

The ABC article also editorialised “The blunt comments are expected to further dash hopes that the Government will bow to pressure and extend the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to more workers who missed out on the $1,500 fortnightly payments.

He also announced a new JobMaker scheme.

There was no push to have Australia turn more inward, while the Prime Minister defined us as a sovereign trading economy he sought to create an educated workforce that would mean competitive and modern manufacturing, agricultural industries while still trade of natural resources would play a big role.

Firstly, we will remain in Australia an outward-looking, open and sovereign trading economy.

We will not retreat into the downward spiral of protectionism. To the contrary, we will continue to be part of global supply chains that can deliver the prosperity we rely on to create jobs, support incomes and build businesses.

Our economic sovereignty will be achieved by ensuring our industries are highly competitive, resilient and able to succeed in a global market. Not by protectionism.

While a trading nation, we will never trade away our values or our future for short-term gain.

These remarks were not without context, Australia did call for an independent enquiry into the source of COVID-19 in Wuhan and in the weeks since China has placed tariffs and seen a reduction in importing Australian barley and wheat.

As China has grown into the a economic powerhouse it has started flexing abroad in trade and in military excursions. No different than other superpowers before it but surely any calls that could help in combating this global pandemic should not lead to bullying tactics.

As the ABC reported the country faced a record deficit, debt exceeding 30% of Gross Domestic Product, unemployment hovering around 10 per cent and a fall in foreign investment by up to 40 per cent.

 

The national leader relayed all the work that had been done to build up medical stockpiles, hospital capacity and testing numbers and contract tracing abilities.

The virus was not going anywhere and on our comparative good fortune the PM stressed, “We should not downplay this, this achievement and pretend like the risk never existed, or that our preparations or our precautions were unwarranted. Let me assure you, Australia, the risk was great and uncertain and it still is.

The fact our worst case scenarios have not been realised is cause for great relief, not apathy.

In his speech the Prime Minister outlined more than 5 million Australians were directly benefiting from his government’s welfare measures.

At a now anticipated direct cost of more than $150 billion in just six months, all borrowed, all of it, against future tax revenue. These supports can only be temporary.

It was William Green, the leader of the American Federation of Labour who said during the Great Depression in 1934: “we cannot indefinitely support one sixth of our population on money borrowed against future taxes”.

That was a Labour leader in the Great Depression.

Now here was a mainstream conservative leader steering through a once in a century health crisis, a budding trade war and a looming recession who had outspent all previous Prime Ministers.

The expense the welfare packages running long term came with a hefty price tag. Long term it was just not feasible even for the biggest bleeding hearts amongst us.

Which drove home the gravity of the situation, if Jobkeeper and Jobseeker continued for only the next quarter and the economy didn’t re-open to a certain extent by then…

Then what?

On the 2nd of June, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told us what we already knew, Australia was in a recession.

On the 26th of May however the Prime Minister was focussed on the positives. Citing that with a hopeful completion of the 3 Step Plan by mid-July for re-opening the economy across the country there would hopefully be 850,000 jobs ultimately restored.

He did acknowledge the idea of flicking a switch and turning the economy back on was simply not plausible.

Success in this current phase will certainly not be easy. It cannot be assumed as we go through this process. It will not be business as usual. Opening up will be harder than closing down.

We will all have to have to retrain, to live and work in a way that creates a sustainable COVIDSafe economy and society as you are indeed doing here today.

All of us are in uncharted territory. There will be inconsistencies, there will be frustrations. There will be trial, there will be error.

During this time we can also sadly expect unemployment and underemployment to rise before it falls. Debt and deficits to rise sharply, as costs rise and revenues fall.

This will test our confidence and our resolve.

That is why the reopening of our economy must be followed by a concerted effort to create momentum and to rebuild confidence.

If there was hope to be found in the speech it was when he said “We should be encouraged that we have restored jobs and rebalanced our Budget before. So Australia, we have done this before and we can do it again, together.

 

One could get cynical about these things, there is after all a political purpose behind them. A number of highly paid staff curating and writing the brief and deciding what goes in and what doesn’t make it.
I would remind you that in these words the Prime Minister is talking about real people and in these few individuals he is seeking to talk about all of us and not just Australians but all people.
About people who have lost a lot and the grace and courage they display in these moments that came from within them and lies within each and every one of us.
We will need this courage and grace and so we need these words to be said by our leaders now more than ever and we need to believe in them.

Almost 100,000 Australians have written to me in the past couple of months.

So many have suffered and they continue to hurt, right here and right now – lost jobs, reduced hours, seeing their family businesses shut, having to close those doors, or retirement incomes shrink. Loved ones kept apart.

It has been a time of great uncertainty as Australians have had to come to terms with the sudden and profound changes happening to their lives.

Greg is a chef with six kids in Sydney, he wrote to me about his business suffering from the restrictions, saying that everything he has worked for is at risk.

Sue from Jimbooma, told me that other than a first home owners grant, she had never received a cent from the government. JobKeeper has saved her business, she said, and she just wanted to say thank you.

Anthony, not the one you’re thinking of, but quite genuinely Anthony from Western Australia, he sent me his wedding photo. His wife of 50 years had just passed away. He said his wife “was the most caring person you could ever meet” and he was absolutely heartbroken that he couldn’t give her the send-off she deserved. Of all the things, of all the decisions we have taken, that was undoubtedly the hardest.

And I received an email from three children in Western Australia that completely floored me, their father is terminally ill. They told me they understood their Dad’s funeral would have to be small. They wanted me to know they were ok with that – because it will help keep the hospitals available for other patients with cancers and diseases.

That’s incredible, our people are amazing.

And there was Rebhecca, a young woman, who is also terminally ill and sent me a handwritten letter, just wanting to let me know she was praying for me every day.

And I am praying for you every day too.

-Lloyd Marken