Plague vs Hoax

Today is Tuesday May 19th. Kia ora katoa.

Today it has been noisy. There are ever more planes flying overhead, there have been earthworks, children are obviously back at school (I don’t mind their noise!), and, of course, traffic noise, even in our quiet-ish street.  The weather is changeable – it switches between raining quite hard and lovely sunshine in between. Very strange!

There are two surprises this morning – an unexpected Zoom meeting (I sent an apology) and visitors, including a very special baby boy whom we hadn’t seen yet.

In this morning’s paper, it seems there is no rush to embrace our new freedoms – New Zealand is taking “baby steps”, proceeding with caution.

It seems that traffic jams and crowded buses may not return to the same extent as previously, now that many folk, finding that they can work from home, will continue to do so. Others may be encouraged to use bikes rather than cars for transportation.  New Zealanders are being encouraged to explore more of  their own country, seeing they can’t travel overseas for the foreseeable future: “Tourism must follow Air New Zealand’s lead, and switch its focus to domestic customers”, reads a sun-heading to the editorial. It will be wonderful if New Zealand tourism can be brought back within reach of the “ordinary bloke” (and bloke-ess), i.e. be much more affordable. Some have formerly found it cheaper, or not much more expensive, to go to Australia or Rarotonga instead of exploring our local beautiful scenery. The TV series currently playing, “One Lane Bridge”, may not have much of a plot, but its jaw-dropping scenery makes it well worth watching. I believe I mentioned this idea earlier!

Anxiety also expresses itself in shopping: “Do you have coronavirus shopping anxiety?” While this article talks about anxiety as a mental health disorder, many of us have some anxiety about going shopping, and the need to feel safe. The article recommends being organised: be prepared, have a routine, make a list, go at a quiet time, have your payment method ready at hand – all straightforward advice that I would have followed anyway.

There are many worries. The rate of domestic violence has fallen here – it has gone through the roof; mental health is a major concern during lockdown – now recluses are experiencing anxiety; we coped with major change – now we need to cope with the opportunities that success at coping brings, for us all. And we still need to be anxious about climate change and its potential to devastate this planet for many people.

Don’t worry, be happy! Is great advice. Take whatever precautions are right for you (many of us were enormously careful before this pandemic came along – we bruise easily, break bones easily, have falls easily, have suffered from pneumonia, and some are on chemotherapy. We are all vulnerable, even more so if we are older or very young. I was careful about where I would eat, or use the restroom; where I would go to the movies, and which shops and shopping centres I preferred, where to sit on the bus or train.

Meanwhile the Wellington City Council continues not to listen to some of it s constituents. We continue to wait for the Wellington Central Library to reopen, for Old St Paul’s to reopen, for the Wellington Town Hall to reopen – where is the plan? Meanwhile, there has been a disaster with plumbing and waste water. Now this, like the pandemic, could not have been predicted, but surely one relies on local government to plan for such crises? Do I get the feeling that then water crisis was imminent, but the City Council hoped that it wouldn’t happen on their watch? Excuse me, many councillors have been on the WCC for more than one term.

Apparently we will have to contend with e—scooters again. This, I find, really annoying – on the footpaths, there are already many hazards. But e-scooters are something no pedestrian should have to contend with.

Since I was so ill in 2011, and since I have got older and become a grandmother, with a special needs daughter, I have found it a huge challenge just to get around. Access, I say! The one word I have for any politician. We need more handrails, elevators, pedestrian-only areas, clean, public restrooms, so that we can get around and spend money on our basic needs and presents for our grandchildren!!!

It has been nice during the lockdown that people were concerned for older folk, and that there was real distress about care facilities for older people being very vulnerable to Covid 19.  Before the level 4 lockdown here, people  rushed to let me know what was happening with their organisation, for which I was  very grateful. Now, though, there is confusion, with few newsletters received. Some Community Centres are open again, some are not. Some libraries are open, some are not. Recycling collections have restarted. How to find out?

Today New Zealand again has no new cases of Covid 19. The 1 pm briefings usually held by Jacinda and Ashley are to end. We are all moving on, to various aspects of whatever our new “normal” may be.

Today I went shopping again. There was plenty of bread, raspberries and feijoas, and not too many coffee beans. There was an Economist magazine – one copy left! It is nice to feel much more relaxed around shopping.

Overseas, numbers of cases in the US continue to cause massive concern, as does the state of the economy there, with some being forced to work despite their ill-health, and others terrified to go out or send their children back to school. We feel a tad nervous here, but we have little if anything to worry about. It seems to that American folk are not well. By and large, many people have compromised immune systems for one reason or another, or are obese. It seems too that the CDC and its advice have been greatly weakened; Dr Fauci largely discredited, and Trump is going on about the so-called “Obamagate” scandal. There is no specific crime here – and that’s the point. It was such a joy to hear this eloquent, thoughtful, kind and honourable man giving speeches to school students at the weekend, and specifically not naming those in charge who aren’t even asking the right questions. Surely many folk can see the huge difference between Obama and Trump?

It has always puzzled me, when I’ve been privileged to go to the US, how many kind, friendly, generous wonderful people are there, and yet look at the man who is president. How did this happen? Whatever military might Trump has encouraged and spent a lot of money on upgrading, it can’t save them from the novel coronavirus. In fact, it’s no use!  Several soldiers on the Theodore Roosevelt nuclear powered aircraft carrier have supposedly recovered from Covid 19, and are now testing positive again. And what is happening to submarine crews? One shudders to think.

The following news story appeared on the Stuff website: A man in the US thought the Covid-19 pandemic was a “fake crisis” until he and his wife contracted it. He and his wife were both hospitalised and spent some time in Intensive Care. Apparently Trump has referred to the virus as “a great and powerful plague”, while one of his sons (Eric) claims it is a Democratic hoax. Such confusion no doubt compounds the ignorance of many people.

Today’s figures are as follows: the US has 1,502,294 cases of Covid 19, and 91,891 deaths. There is no strategy to combat this ongoing tragedy, although many states are easing their lock down restrictions, such as they were and are. The US still sits at the top of the list for countries affected, although Russia and Brazil are running behind them in terms of infections related to their total populations.

Tonight I watched the first episode of “The Luminaries”, having missed it on Sunday evening.  It is all beautifully done, but I’m still confused, as I was when I read the book.

That’s it for now! Nga mihi nui.

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