On a Knife’s edge

Coronavirus: NZ ups response to deadly fast-spreading outbreak - NZ Herald
Some are wearing masks

Today is Saturday June 26th. Kia ora katoa.

This is Wellington, Level 2, day 3, since we moved to Level 2 on Wednesday night. We anxiously await the news each day at 1 pm, when the new Covid 19 testing results are announced. Thus far, there are no new community cases in the Wellington area.  In Australia, however, the numbers of people infected continue to grow. In Sydney, a two-week lock down of four suburban areas is announced, and Wellington-Sydney quarantine-free travel is paused.  In Wellington, we are apprehensive; in Australia, the results are distressing.

On Friday, my cleaner came, and I put off visiting my younger grandchildren.  The older ones came – they are delightful.  I feel I am building a rapport with my six year old granddaughter, who is less shy with me now.

On Saturday, we did not go to any movies. It was quite a boring day. The weather was awful – wet, but not so cold; I find it a bit disconcerting that when it’s really cold you get togged up with extra layers; but then when it’s warmer (which is nice, actually), you need to dress differently and have heaters at different settings.

Sadly, my copy of the Listener did not arrive in the post. In fact, there was no mail today. I suspect NZ post don’t deliver on Saturday, anymore. Their delivery is extremely unpredictable. It’s also annoying that I haven’t renewed yet, given that this was the last issue by subscription entitled me to. In the past, I received an email inviting me to renew my subscription. This time I have not. I tried to ring them last Friday, but had a most unsatisfactory conversation with the person who answered the phone. I had real trouble understanding her – as I often do with call centres. I tried to renew online, via the website, but when I clicked on what I wanted, I was told there was nothing in my cart.

This afternoon we went to the new library at Johnsonville. JD parked in the carpark. I had a book reserved that I needed to pick up before being charged $2 for reserving it and not picking it up. It’s Shuggie Bain, the recent Booker prize winner, although I doubt that I want to read it now, having read a review. I observed no social distancing in the café at the library, but when I was about to enter the library somebody officious wanted me to enter downstairs. As that would involve using the stairs, not the lift, JD was waiting, and I could see the reserved books right inside the upstairs entrance, I politely waited while he told other people off and slipped in, picked up my book, issued it at the self-issue machine beside the reserves, and slipped out again and back to the car. Having separate entrances and exits makes good sense in some situations, but this, I thought, was ridiculous.

Then we went to the lovely New World supermarket in Thorndon.  Here you had to queue up and sanitise your hands before entering. Although  the store was pretty busy, they didn’t seem to be limiting numbers of shoppers. Signs indicated that we would have to pack our own bags.

We shopped, and bought most things on my list, although they didn’t have raspberries. They did have nice salads again, and cauliflowers were a very reasonable price. I packed our bags, and we drove home – to have coffee and doughnuts,

That evening we watched the movie Grandma (again) on Maori Television. Lily Tomlin acts very well, indeed, all the characters do. They display a special brand of being quite unkind (direct?) to each other, although underneath they do love each other. Sky had evidently opened up the Rialto Channel for the weekend, but although we still have (and pay for) a Sky receiver, we couldn’t get the Rialto Channel, Afterwards we watched the Bill Maher show, but this time (as often), I found his brand of humour disturbing.

It’s now Sunday, June 27th. This morning I went to church. I wore a mask, but saw no masks there. The congregation seemed down a bit, but only two lots of people zoomed in. The technology seemed to be working fine, today. Organ playing was beautiful. The sermon was about generosity. Afterwards, it was raining heavily. I had arranged to meet JD at the supermarket, but got very wet while waiting to cross the road. I usually don’t have to wait. In the store, I did wear my mask, but my glasses kept fogging up – really annoying.  I had to pack my own goods – which was all right, since there were few of them.

We waited anxiously for the 1 pm announcement about Covid 19. The press conference was delayed until 1:30 pm, Once again, Minister Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield fronted up. There are still no community cases of Covid 19 here, and none has been detected in the waste water, so that’s a relief. But in Australia, things aren’t good. 42 new cases were detected in New South Wales, and a miner in the Northern Territory and a Sydney-based Virgin Australia air hostess have tested positive. Sydney and its wider area have gone into a stricter lockdown for two weeks, and the Trans-Tasman travel bubble has been paused, until Tuesday. I think that means no quarantine-free travel is allowed between Australia and New Zealand. Back here, Wellington is to remain at level 2 until midnight on Tuesday.  That is probably a wise decision, given the worsening situation in Australia. The Australian person of interest who was in Wellington last weekend, returned to Australia and tested positive, has been confirmed by Australian authorities have the Delta variant of Covid 19, so we all need to be extra careful. Now: 4 pm, it’s been announced that there are 4 new cases in the Northern Territory of Australia, prompting a 48 hour lock down there.

Some interesting things have been happening overseas. In the UK, Matt Hancock has resigned as Health Secretary, after being caught in a clinch with a staff member. Really, the governing Tories are shown time and again to be extremely hypocritical. It’s said that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid will replace Door-Matt. I guess his resignation won’t upset anyone too much.

Meanwhile, it seems the Delta variant of Covid 19 is wreaking havoc in many places. Israel, which had vaccinated almost all Israelis, is requiring masks indoors again. Fiji is in a bad way. In the US, cases are rising amongst unvaccinated people; those who have been vaccinated have far greater protection. It is so sad that this scourge is still very much with us, and you certainly don’t want to get it, although there is much to be thankful for in that people don’t have emissions of blood or phlegm or other infected products. There is that, in contrast to the bubonic plague, for example. We’ve been reminded again that over the centuries people lived with plagues, in which many people died, The last big plague we had here was the 1918 so-called Spanish flu. Since then, with the advent of antibiotics and vaccinations, almost  no one has died of flu or polio or tuberculosis or other deadly, formerly fatal diseases. In the past, a good succession plan was to have a large family, of whom some might survive. We have got used to living without deadly diseases, for the last few decades. Life expectancy has steadily risen for many, meaning the health needs of older people are greater (everything wears out), and rates of curing heart disease and stroke and many cancers, that formerly killed people, mean that many of us now expect to live into our eighties. The money has to last longer.

Turning back to the US again, several quite amazing things have happened. Rudy Giuliani’s licence to practise law in New York has been suspended. This means that all of the former president’s lawyers (Roy Cohn, Michael Cohen and now Rudy) have effectively been disbarred.  Also, Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for killing George Floyd. There are other cases pending against him and his colleagues. Also, Biden claims to have come to a deal with some Republican senators over infrastructure. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that works out, but it seems like a hopeful move. Biden also wants to pass some other aspects of his infrastructure plan under reconciliation.  Go, Joe! It seems amazing that the Democrats, now in power in the White House and with slim majorities in Congress and the Senate, have extreme difficulty in getting things done! Goodness knows, it wasn’t easy to get them elected: now a right wing television channel advocates killing those who don’t accept The Big Lie (that the US Presidential election result was stolen). That has people gob-smacked. Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham’s attacks on the thoughtful reader and learner, General Milley, have shocked people too. This was on Fox News, otherwise known  as the Animal Channel.

The collapse of a condo building on Miami’s waterfront, is of course causing concern as the search for those unaccounted for continues. Questions are being asked as to whether other buildings should be evacuated, and whether concerns about the structural strength of this building should have been addressed. One can’t help cynically wondering if there would be so much concern if this was in the poorer areas of Detroit, say.  It seems in some places  that care about human life depends on how much money you’ve got, and what your values are. It seems ridiculous to me that people who ostensibly claim to care don’t care enough to address the gun culture in the US. Just saying.

Meanwhile, in another positive move, the US Justice department under Merrick Garland is suing the State of Georgia for its voting laws, which are seem to discriminate against black people and people of colour.  You have to feel some sympathy, along with frustration, for Merrick Garland: there is just so much for his Justice Department to do.

New books provide more shocking revelations.  Trump wanted to shoot Black Lives Matter protestors last year, after the death of George Floyd. Many people, including many Republicans, were horrified to discover just how much real discrimination black people face on a daily basis.  

Another revelation is just how ill the former president was when he had Covid 19 last year. It seems he really did have it, and he was really ill. Special authorisations were made for him to get special treatment. But, sadly, he remained as careless as ever for its potential effects on other people. Evidently several secret service agents became infected. I doubt that they got the treatment he received.

Here in Aotearoa, we continue to be thankfully relieved, and, truth be told, a little bored. Ngā mihi.

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