COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART VI

March 05

Friday.

In South Australia GP Caroline Phegan received the first AstraZeneca vaccine in the country. Having worked on the frontline of fighting COVID consulting in Emergency Departments and with autoimmune issues in her own health her vaccination went well and caused her a great deal of relief.

In the past 12 days, 3,000 South Australians had been vaccinated but the state government still was aiming for 12,000 in the first three weeks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave a bizare update following a meeting of National Cabinet. He spoke for at least five minutes but there were few actual pieces of information in it. One was an expansion of the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory expanding from housing 850 to 2,000 returned travellers in quartine.

The European Union blocked a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vials originally destined to be exported to Australia. That certainly upset a few people over here but the Australian government downplayed it.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton reminded that we were weeks away from having over a million doses of AstraZeneca rolled out from local production here in Australia.

The decision made by the EU was originally put forwardd from Italy.

AstraZenca itself was making delivery of 40 million doses to the continent by the end of the month – half of what it had originally promised. That kind of shortfall was projected for the second quarter of the year.

In Itally 4.8 million Italians had been vaccinated out of a population of 60 million people.

Europe had just gone through the ringer the past twelve months, political leaders could ill afford to be seen to do nothing in the lead up to next winter where deaths had to be less than they were in just this one past.

Morally they were even more obligated.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 5th of March, 2021, out of a population of over five million people, in Norway there had been 72,923 confirmed cases and 632 deaths.

In Sweden with over 10 million people it was 680,071 confirmed cases and 13,113 deaths.

Sweden's Pandemic Experiment | The New Yorker

In Portugal with a population of 10 million people too had seen 806,916 confirmed cases and 16,458 deaths.

Greece with 10.7 million people 199,496 confirmed cases and 6,632 deaths.

In Belgium with 11 and half million people , there had been 784,682 confirmed cases and 21,453 deaths.

With just under a population of 47 million, Spain had seen 3,154,712 confirmed cases and 98,974 deaths.

Making headlines as the first European country with a serious outbreak last year Italy had sufferred 2,999,119 confirmed cases and 98,974 deaths.

In Australia with a population of 25 million people there had been 29,002 confirmed cases and 909 deaths.

Additionally some European countries had had some bad experiences with the Pfizer vaccine like Norway in January where 29 elderly receipents had experienced side effects and sadly 13 had died.

For the European Union this was a no brainer however concerning it might be for us in the southern hemisphere.

The larger concern was if national politics made us lose sight of the larger need to get the whole world vaccinated.

It was easy to hold up 250,000 vials from Australia who was going to produce the same drug enmasse.

But what about withholding orders from countries that were not in our position?

March 06

Planet America covered some of the latest developments in America. Case numbers and deaths were down as vaccinations occurred at a high rate.

That was good enough for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to announce that Texas was 100 per cent open for business and the mandated mask wearing was over.

Mississipi soon followed suit.

Abbott’s actions showed the state’s power over decisions that the Federal government count not affect in the normal scheme of things. All the more reason why it was essential that the President was consistent in his message and sought to bring uniformity to the actions of all governments. Something that had desperately been need last March.

THe last thing we need is neanderthal thinking,” said President Biden leading some to give full throated defense to Neanderthals. Who you know… are extinct.

Interestingly enough Governor Abbott had taken exectuive action back on October 8 when there was a seven day average of 3,894 new cases. Now there was 6,681.

Texas had given first jabs to only 13 per cent of the states’ population – that was 48th out of the 50 states.

March 07

On the eve of rolling out AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia through General Practioners

81,000 vaccinations had been reached in the past two weeks but as General Practioners across four and half thousand centres were called upon to start providing jabs in the past two weeks the hope was to reach half a million per week.

Some GPs were arguing though that not enough vials were being allocated to them to get all their patients vaccinated any time soon and would disrupt regular appointments and providing other medical services.

On the 7th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 116,197,902 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 442,880.

There had been 2,586,898 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 8,916.

In Australia there had been 29,030 cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 881,761 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,370. There had been 22,192 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,213,705 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,294. There had been 124,419 deaths with a daily increase of 158.

In India there had been 11,210,799 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,711. There had been 157,756 deaths with a daily increase of 100.

In the United States of America there had been 28,602,211 with a daily increase of 67,213. There had been 519,075 deaths with a daily increase of 2,227.

March 10

On Wednesday New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian received the AstraZeneca vaccine along with health care workers and aged care residents across Sydney.

March 11

In the United States of America the vaccine roll-out continued.

President Joe Biden had declared on January 14th, 2021 he would deliver 100 million shots in his 100 days. A more than acheiveable goal given how the vaccine roll out was tracking at that time.

Fifty days into his Presidency 75 million doses had already been delivered.

Vaccines couldn’t come fast enough as spring breakers still planned to head to Florida and Disney World was opening up again even though the state was still averaging 5,000 cases a day at that time.

-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.

 

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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.

20200313_192953
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