Cautious Optimism

Today is Saturday May 9th. Again it is fine, after a beautiful day yesterday, but a very cold night. Winter is definitely coming, but we appreciate the sunshine, especially as Vitamin D is so good for us.

This morning I learn the following:

  • One of Mike Pence’s aides has been diagnosed positive with Covid 19. (Yesterday it was one of Trump’s aides. Pence’s aide is Stephen Miller’s wife).
  • A meat processing plant in Germany has been affected by Covid 19, causing Angela Merkel to pull back on some of the relaxations.
  • Hornets are causing problems in the US, decapitating bees, which play a vital role in pollination.  In Japan the bees have found a way to fight back against this enemy, but it continues to cause damage in the US.
  • Another, second, plague of locusts is threatening crops and devastation in Africa.

The newspaper does a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Today, most stories and letters are upbeat about New Zealand’s progress against Covid 19, which has been severe, but warranted.  After all, economies the world over have been severely impacted by various kinds of lock down, whether or not they were also dealing with many cases of illness and death. One letter suggests Dr Bloomfield should receive a knighthood: “Arise, Sir Ashley”, the headline reads. Another article calls for respect for the Covid 19 deaths, 21 so far, pointing out that these probably would not have happened, and not in such circumstances, were it not for the pandemic. While New Zealand’s death toll is thankfully low, these people were all special to family members and friends, who would like to have been able to mourn their passing in a more friendly way.

Businesses are upbeat about reopening, safely, and working out just how they do that. Sport has taken a beating, as it would in any crisis, and surely this has been a big and unforeseen crisis.

There are two new cases of Covid 19 here today, but one is a “probable”, now confirmed, so that adds just one to the total, now 1490. The confirmed case is linked to an existing cluster. There are three patients in hospital, none in Intensive Care. Four clusters have been closed.  There is a nice video on 7 Sharp about “Laura’s Cinema”, virtual, of course.

In the afternoon we go for a walk, and, surprisingly, queue up to go shopping. It’s as though the All Blacks are playing somewhere!  I then realise it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.

The 11 am figures are as follows: the US has 1,321,785 infected, and 78,615 deaths. The UK has 211,364 cases of infection, and (officially) 31,421 deaths. The US total represents a death rate of 6%, the UK one of 15%.  A steep rise in the cases in Russia is causing concern, now 187,859. Sweden has a 12% death rate. The jury is still out over whether Sweden’s much more relaxed approach to the virus has been a good thing or not. Evidently the US, far from trying to get testing accurate and widespread, has now abandoned it in many areas, as more governors urge businesses to re-open. CDC guidelines are being ignored. Contact tracing, earlier strongly encouraged, would be little use now since people can go to so many places, whereas here in New Zealand one can remember where one went and what one did – contact tracing should be relatively straight forward.

Yesterday I found my copy of Barbara Tuchman’s 1978 book, “A Distant Mirror – The Calamitous 14th Century”, and I’m determined to reread the whole thing. I went first to her chapter on the Black Death, and it makes very ominous reading. It does seem to have been much more severe than Covid 19, but it wiped out huge numbers of people, and in some places society broke down – the norms of “essential services” such as sanitation and collection of bodies stopped happening.  It was devastating. In this disaster, poor people tended to fare worse, but this disease affected all people very badly. Somehow, all our forebears survived!  We are thankful here in New Zealand that Maori and pacific people have not, to date, suffered worse.  I wonder how Aboriginal people in Australia are getting on.

Last night we spoke to our son in the UK. He looks and sounds very well. They cannot get masks there, so we will send some, now we that can post things. This morning, my daughter ran, and we had a lovely letter and drawings from her.

The music today is one of Chopin’s Nocturnes, the Nocturne in B-Flat Minor, OP 9, No. 1.

Nga mihi nui.

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