Push me/Pull you

Today is Thursday May 7th.  This morning we have a singing session using Zoom at 10:30. So there isn’t a whole lot of time to muck around (or read the newspaper), given that getting ready and moving and starting up the computer takes a while.

What I do learn is the following:

  • Countries who seek to ease lock down restrictions are by and large experiencing more coronavirus infections and deaths; they are then faced with the conundrum of accepting this (wave 2?) or re-imposing some form of social distancing, which may be a hard sell to their people.
  • In most countries large cities are first hit very hard, then the virus spreads to the rural areas.
  • There continue to be concerns about children catching Covid 19 and presenting with unexpected symptoms.
  • Trump’s coronavirus task force is not going to be shut down by Memorial Day (May 25) after all.
  • Three medical staff (doctors?) in Russia have had window accidents, i.e. been pushed out of windows when they protested conditions. One survived, injured, to tell the sad tale.
  • The oil price is negative again.
  • The vice-chairman of Amazon has resigned, apparently unhappy with the way some Amazon staff have been treated.
  • Exxon Mobil has lost a great deal of money.
  • Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has sold all its stock in airlines, noting that the future looks different now.
  • Thailand, despite being a poor country, has done rather well.
  • Aeration, as in opening windows, is good, but air-conditioning can be deadly in terms of spreading the virus around (viz. cruise ships).

At 11 am, the US death total is 74,121; two hours later it is 74,799. At 11 am here the UK death total is 30,150.

We have a lovely singing session. It is a joy to see many again, including some who haven’t logged in earlier. The session ends abruptly after 40 minutes – evidently that’s the Zoom limit unless the host buys a premium level of Zoom.

At 1 pm Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield give a briefing. The news is good – there is one new case of Covid 19, linked to the Matamata cluster, bringing the total to 1489.  There are no new deaths, and just two patients in hospital, none in Intensive Care. There were 7,323 tests done yesterday, giving a total of 108,023 tests to date. Dr Bloomfield concludes that with respect to masks, there are benefits and disadvantages, and wearing them is not mandatory at this stage.

The Prime Minister next gives us the information we have all been waiting to hear – what will level 2 look like? She is admirably cautious – “we do not want the virus to come back”. No one wants a second wave. She repeats that relaxation of rules overseas has seen the virus bounce back.

Under level 2, bubbles need no longer apply. Workplaces, hair-dressing salons, cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops will be able to open; also churches, museums, and markets. You can have gatherings of up to 100 people; you’re expected to maintain social distancing and good hygiene; in cafés the three S’s apply: patrons must be Seated, Separated from others, and have a Single server. If you can work from home, you should continue to do so. Organisations should continue to keep track of who’s there, as some were doing before the lockdown. Numbers in stores should be controlled. This will assist in contact tracing. Schools and early childhood centres will reopen, but on the Monday following the announcement. And, above all, if you’re unwell, or your child’s unwell, you should stay at home and endeavour not to pass any illness on. But you can have members of your family or friends round for dinner at your house. We’ll be allowed to travel within New Zealand, but not to a convention. I am looking forward to seeing my daughter again, when Hohepa says it’s acceptable.

I am sure that newspapers will rush to explain what’s allowed under level 2. What aren’t mentioned are the following: buffets and shared refreshments, or catered food; libraries; public transport; cinemas; visiting rest homes, retirement villages, and hospitals;  funerals – it may be very difficult to restrict access to them. Organisations need to create rules that work.  That’s probably easier said that done!  But we have a good idea of what’s likely to happen. Oh, and Super Rugby will be on again, but stadia empty. The borders remain closed, and any new arrivals from overseas will still be required to quarantine for 14 days. So that’s a relief.  I suspect in fact that pretty much anything will go. Rules will be honoured in the breach rather than the observance.  I pick that tables will need to be reserved at restaurants – there won’t be much in the way of casual dining. But, no decisions will be taken until May 11.

It occurs to me that I am really pleased that we didn’t take on a boarder earlier this year. That would have been really difficult during the lockdown.

Reopening in the US is a death sentence for many. It’s now officially accepted that there will be deaths as a result.  Evidently Trump and Pence can get Covid 29 tests whenever they want; the rest of the US can’t. Even people returning to work, as restrictions are lifted, can’t get tested. Where testing does take place, the numbers infected are growing and alarming, as are those of deaths. But the federal government seems determined to ignore bad news, as people are scared of returning to their workplaces, where suing management is not an option.  It seems any restrictions or guidelines issued by the CDC or even the White House are optional rather than mandatory.

It seems to, that according to various polls a majority of the US public prefer measures of distancing in order to save lives: the seeming hordes you see in some pictures, at the beach, for example, or protesting, represents a vocal and well-funded minority, Many people are afraid to return to work, and to return to using facilities previously available. As someone asked, would you put your thumb in a ball at a bowling alley? But Americans do have a conflicted idea of just what “freedom” means.  The President has used the Defence Production Act to ensure continuity of the meat supply, in spite of illness, instead of using it to produce much needed equipment for treatment, protection, or testing. The federal government has not provided easy to access financial assistance, so many people are desperate for their pay check, assuming they still have a job. As Dr John Campbell comments, it’s not possible to stay at home if your children are hungry, and depending on your earning something in order to feed them.

It was quite amusing seeing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson being grilled by new Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, at question time. The British have failed woefully at managing this crisis, but it is fun to see Bojo having some reasonably able opposition for a change.

The figures from the US generally get update around 11 am our time, so I won’t quote them again.

That’s all for now.  I’m sure we will hear more tomorrow about what level 2 may mean, and when we may expect our recycling collections to resume. I shall have to contemplate getting dressed up again!

This morning we sang Six Ribbons and For the Longest Time, and learnt a new song. That was fun. JD and I have been watching “Normal People” on TVNZ On Demand. It’s a treat to hear Irish accents, and see Trinity College; and doesn’t Marianne wear beautiful clothes?

Quote from “Stalingrad”, which I am presently reading: “People felt both free and orphaned”, page 384. That seems to explain the situation in many places now.

Nga mihi nui.

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