Living with Delta

Today is Friday November 19th, 2021. Kia ora!

Things aren’t looking good.  I learnt this morning (last night?) that there is a new case of Covid 19 at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School. Today, leading up to the 1 om Ministry of Health release, there is talk of a case in the Wellington area, thought to be a construction worker, with locations of interest in Porirua and Lower Hutt.

It turns out that this case is a weak-positive: the person is asymptomatic, and has been vaccinated, which begs the question why get tested?  He must have been in contact with someone else who diagnosed positive.

Today there are 189 new community cases of Covid 19, across 6 regions, including 152 new cases in Tamaki Makaurau. So that’s pretty scary.  There are 76 people in hospital including 6 in Intensive Care.

It’s now Saturday November 20th. There’s a nice map in this morning’s paper showing where the cases are.  There’s another protest (the 4th!) in the Auckland Domain, and the Auckland Museum has closed its doors. Vaccination rates are inching upwards, much more slowly now, but it seems a vocal minority are objecting to vaccines, while the rest of us are more than grateful to have some level of protection. Overseas, it seems that Covid 19 is just ploughing on, finding vaccinated and unvaccinated. Germany is in a bad way; the UK situation is still distressing, although not as serious as it was this time last year; some European countries are considering lockdowns again. It certainly won’t be much of a Christmas for many. It looks to be even more poignant than last year’s Christmas.

There’s unrest in many places, and some very sad situations, such as the one in Belarus, where the dictator there seems to be using refugees as political pawns.  The bad guys, i.e. illiberal would-be dictators, are in power in many places, and they club together. It’s not always clear what they do stand for, apart from muzzling the press,  imprisoning any opposition, and usually keeping women under some kind of male domination; and, of course, they’re not accountable. In the US we see people defying legal subpoenas to testify to Congress’s January 6th Select Committee. In the US, the Republican Party management will only censure someone if they stand up against Donald Trump. Anything else goes unpunished, including threats of death and violence.  This contagion, like the coronavirus, has spread around the world. In Victoria, Dan Andrews has tried to protect Milburnians and other residents of Victoria from the worst ravages off Covid 19. There have been deadly protests in Melbourne, against such measures.

I wrote earlier about the government’s intention to open up Auckland boundaries on 15th December.  To leave Auckland, you have to have either been vaccinated, or had a negative Covid test.  So there are some loopholes there, and no doubt some will avoid/evade whatever regulations are in place, as they have tended to do to date. Should we be afraid?  Probably in Wellington we’re safer than in other places.

We await the 1 pm report of today’s numbers of new cases.  Meanwhile, it’s noted that a Wellington Countdown supermarket (the one next to Cable Car Lane ) is now a location of interest. I walked past it yesterday, but I seldom shop at Countdown.

Today there are 172 new cases of Covid 19 across 6 districts, including a confirmed case in Wellington. There are 148 in Auckland, 12 in Waikato, 4 in Northland, 4 in the Lakes District, 3 in the Bay of Plenty, and the Wellington case.  Residents of the East Cape are warning holiday-makers not to come there! There are 70 people in hospital, with five requiring Intensive Care.

In the US, teenager Kyle Rittenhouse has been exonerated of shooting at three people, killing two of them. He took an AR15, a firearm he wasn’t old enough to own, into Wisconsin’s Kenosha, and was hailed by some on the right wing for his vigilante justice, and for “helping the FBI” (I think that’s what he said). By anyone’s account, he shouldn’t have had the gun, and he shouldn’t have shot at anyone, and he certainly shouldn’t have killed two people (The third victim was wounded).  That is manslaughter, if not murder.  Some people are saying that now you’ll be able to shoot at protesters (as Trump wanted to do), assuming the law will be on your side. The trial of the people who killed Ahmed Arboury continues, but objections have been raised to black pastors’ being there to support Ahmed’s family.  Michael Moore made the point that whatever one’s frustrations with the Democrats, they won’t shoot protesters.

It’s now Sunday November 21st.

Last night I learnt that there is a positive case of Covid 19 in Hawkes Bay. This person had travelled from Auckland, having obtained permission to travel, and then tested positive for Covid 19. This morning I went to church. It was lovely, but there wasn’t a great crowd there.  There seemed to be more than usual tuning in on zoom.  Now that Covid 19 is in Wellington and Hawkes Bay, it seems that here people are being more careful. We also went to visit a friend in Titahi Bay – another treat. Having seen her house I don’t feel so bad about unhung pictures at my house.

Today we are warned about another protest – by farmers, I think. It seems an Extinction Rebellion climate protest initially attempted to halt the farm (and other) vehicles. Then it rained on the parade – in Wellington, at any rate. It seems to me that the climate crisis and the covid crisis are impossible to ignore, and one wonders why people fail to see the obvious.  It also seems that the protest was hijacked by “professional” protesters, resulting in mixed messages.  The (not so mighty) All Blacks were defeated by France (40 – 25), after being trounced by Ireland recently.  My brother in law always send a message “Go the ABs” from Broome, often at wildly inappropriate times. When the ABs are playing in the middle of the night, I must remember to put my phone on airline mode.

The numbers today are not so bad. There are 149 new cases of Covid 19, and 83 people in hospital.

It’s now Monday November 22nd, and today there are – shock – 205 new cases of Covid 19. A man in his 40’s has died at Middlemore Hospital. That is by far the youngest death to date: previously it was a man in his 60’s. There are no new cases reported in Wellington or Hawkes Bay. 85 people are in hospital, and of these 6 are in Intensive Care. Of the new cases, 175 are in Auckland, 20 in Waikato, 5 in the Bay of Plenty, 4 are in Northland and 1 in the Lakes DHB are. I’m told the Wellington case was a worker who was double-vaccinated and asymptomatic, but underwent regular testing. 

There is a press conference at 4 pm, fronted by Prime Minister Ardern and Dr Bloomfield. It’s announced that the whole country is expected to transition to the traffic light system from 3 December. Auckland will move into Red, the rest of the country into Orange. No area is expected to be Green for the time being.  In Auckland, hair salons and barbers will be allowed to operate, but not hospitality. Hair salons and barbers will be expected to use vaccine passes, and take bookings only – no walk-ins.

It’s now Tuesday November 23rd, a busy day. This morning I met one of my sons and a granddaughter, and we went to Oriental Bay. It was really warm this morning, but quite windy at the beach. Afterwards we had coffee.

In the afternoon I met a friend for coffee, and we had a good chat. It was lovely to catch up. Afterwards I went to Whitcoulls, but I didn’t find what I was looking for.

Today and yesterday have been eventful, marked by the use of a vehicle as a weapon in the US state of Wisconsin. The SUV drove into a Christmas Parade, killing 5 people and injuring at least 40 (the next day it was reported that a sixth person has died).  Today, more subpoenas have been issued by the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack, including to two high profile people: Roger Stone and Alex Jones.

Today New Zealand broke records for new community cases of Covid 19 with 215 new cases across six regions, and another death – another man, this time in his 50’s.  As yet, there are no new cases in Wellington or Hawkes Bay. In Melbourne the NZ Breakers team is rocked by 4 positive tests.  They had all been double-vaccinated. The new cases are in Auckland (196), Waikato (11), Northland (four), Lakes (two), Bay of Plenty (one) and one in MidCentral, the latter of which was announced on Monday.

It’s now Wednesday November 24th.  I had hymn-singing this morning – always good. We finished with on a high with the beautiful Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending to the tune of Helmsley.  We discussed the Covid 19 situation, which is getting worse in Europe, and what the Auckland border opening scheduled for 16 December may mean for activities in the new year.

After that I went to town and bought Christmas presents, checking out Lego and books.  There seems to be a dearth of good books for my very advanced 9 year old granddaughter, but I got a selection of stories by Katharine Mansfield. So many “iconic” New Zealand books, thinking here of Man Alone by John Mulgan, The Story of a New Zealand River by Jane Mander, or The God Boy by Ian Cross, are very dark, too grim I think for a 9 year old. I expect she’ll have plenty of time to contemplate humanity’s darker, as well as its lighter, side. I made my way to Toyworld – always a rather dangerous spot – and back to Whitcoulls, where I bought Lego for one of my grandsons and a great-nephew. Then, exhausted, I caught a bus home.

I decided during the night that perhaps we should go to Hawkes’ Bay for my daughter’s birthday (which is before Auckland borders are to open), but not for Christmas. I suspect some Aucklanders will go to Hawkes’ Bay – indeed, why wouldn’t they?  It seems now that in New Zealand we have a different approach to Covid 19/delta: we have to live with it, and continue to try to protect the more and the most vulnerable.  Vaccination is being seen as the doorway back or forward to some kind of “normality”; in this situation, I can choose my exposures, but for my daughter, who cannot really choose – what kind of life will she have? She loves to go to cafés; I guess in the hot Hawkes’ Bay summer you can sit outside mostly, but it’s still a tricky situation, where rather than playing by the rules, perhaps we have to use a bit more discrimination in choosing just where to go and what to do.

Today there are 215 new community cases of Covid 19 – but still no new ones in Wellington or Hawkes Bay, so that’s a relief.  There are 181 cases in Auckland, 18 in Waikato, 12 in the Bay of Plenty, 3 in Northland, and one in Canterbury – a historical case, no longer considered infectious.  A strip club in Mount Maunganui is a location of interest. There are 87 people in hospital, including 8 in Intensive Care. So that’s that, I guess: could be better; could be worse. MIQ rules are to be relaxed, and international borders to be opened – gradually. I haven’t gone into the details yet. Some are thinking we’re all doomed to get Covid 19. I certainly don’t want to get it, and I don’t want any of my children or grandchildren to get it either. That’s it for today. Ngā mihi.

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