April 15: Day 21 of living in lock-down…
Washing machine hose replaced, I can get through a week’s worth of laundry. Washed, hung out to dry. Though our world has been turned on it’s axis to a strange new reality, the mundane things in life (mostly) carry on. Dirty laundry waits for no virus.
Listened to to National Party Leader Simon Bridges this morning on RNZ’s Morning Report.
Firstly, Mr Bridges: for the love of Thor, please stop thrashing the word “agile”.
Secondly, his “mixed messages” of re-opening business “next week” and “and safely letting more business and workers get back onto it” should ring alarm bells in us all.
Without much doubt, he was representing, and speaking for, business interests:
“When we think about the health effect of staying in lockdown, I’m coming to a pretty clear view … that we should come out of lockdown next week and we should be working to safely to get businesses and workers back.
I do want to get to (alert level) 2 … we are trying to get that business and work back, but … I am realistic. I am not suggesting suddenly that we are going to be at 2 overnight. I do say though that we should be agile and trying to get there.
I’d say when the Cabinet makes the decision next week, I’d opt for coming out and safely letting more business and workers get back onto it because the consequences of not doing it are so harmful.”
The social and health consequences of rampant unemployment are intolerable.”
Mr Bridges pointed to the Australian experience with covid19 as some sort of model to follow;
“I do look at that Australian experience where baristas are still making coffee and builders are still building and they’re getting the same sort of health outcomes as us…”
When Corin Dann pointed out their death rate was highter, Mr Bridges dismissed the figures;
“Well, yes, look, you can make your comparisons… and, and, and, actually, you go, um, um, total numbers are very similar, fatalities I would argue are similar…”
No, Mr Bridges, you cannot “argue” with numbers. Numbers are numbers. “Six” is similar to “seven” only in that one follows the other. “Nine” is likewise not even remotely similar to “sixtyone” – they aren’t even close.
“Nine” is the number of deaths announced yesterday (14 April) in New Zealand.
“Sixtyone” is the latest number of deaths in Australia.
To put these numbers in context:
Despite Australia being five times our population, their reported death rate is seven times ours.
Is that the country we should be emulating? One would have thought it would be the other way around. I know New Zealanders have a self-deprecating, cringe-culture thing going on, but looking at another country with a higher mortality rate than ours is taking that to a whole new lethal level.
We should be proud of what we have achieved. Not look overseas to model on a situation that has a higher death rate than ours. (Well, not unless Mr Bridges has a secret agenda to thin the population by knocking of Granny, Grandad, all the diabetics, immuno-compromised, and probably a few of the healthy ones and young’uns. Then it all makes perfect sense.)
I have mulled over Simon Bridges’ comments and his past utterances. He claims to be “tough” on covid19 by demanding more stringent border controls;
“Today’s move to limit mass gatherings was a positive step forward from the Government and I urge it to now go further and close our borders. The EU has closed its borders but it was too late to stop widespread community outbreak. We can’t make the same mistake. We are a small isolated nation and we should take advantage of our geographical position.”
Except… Closing our borders is a fait accompli. There is almost no more international air travel except for military and mercy-flights. Tourism has collapsed. Governments, businesses, NGOs, non-profit organisations, etc, no longer send their people to conferences. Families remain separated.
The skies are all but empty. (Stand in Miramar, Strathmore, or Kilbirnie in Wellington in the evening. Hear anything? No, neither did I tonight. It was an eerie total silence not heard since the airport was built in Wellington.)
There is no one to stop at our borders because (with the except of mercy flights) no one is coming. So in effect, Mr Bridges’ call is meaningless; he’s demanding something that’s already happened. No real investment required in that particular decision making.
What is troubling is his call to re-open the economy and drop down to Level 2.
Make no mistake. Simon Bridges has gone from being a clownish, slightly-irritating figure we love to ridicule – to a frightening politician who could do irreparable harm and perhaps cause fatalities if he was anywhere near the Ninth Floor and his open-the-doors-at-any-expense policies implemented.
We should understand one thing: he has pressing concerns and a clear agenda. Very little of which includes our safety.
This afternoon, we watched the Prime Minister and Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, give their daily 1pm public briefing. The news was good(ish). A slight rise in new cases – 20 – but most importantly, no more deaths. There was a silent sigh of relief amongst us.
The fact that the contagion has entered aged care facilities is troubling. While ours is not an aged care facility, our clients do have varying levels of health and under-lying conditions. I don’t quite know how, but we’ve dodged the viral bullet thus far.
On the way home tonight, I stepped out from the side door of the facility I work at. It was another still, unearthly quiet evening.
Except for some knocking on a door on some flats adjacent to us. A middle aged (late 50s, 60s?) pakeha gent, in working clothes and a red baseball cap was standing there, tapping away with his hands. As I walked past, he turned to look at me. I looked at him. Or rather, his red baseball cap. It was a “MAGA” cap.
The lettering was starkly visible in the porch light; “Make Ardern Go Away”.
I had not seen him at the flats before this night (and I’ve worked at the facility for over a year and a half). The “MAGA”-hat wearing fellow was almost certainly breaking his “bubble”.
I have news for him, and it’s not good. Ms Ardern will not “Go Away”. And it probably won’t make the virus go either.
Later this night, as I drove back home, I realised I could no longer defer my weekly shopping. Visiting the supermarket has now become a thing of dread. When did going to Pak N Save become like venturing onto a battlefield, fearing the next bullet or bomb that would snuff out my life?
Especially as I had latex gloves, but my remaining two face-masks were back at the facility I work at.
Of all the things that I find disturbing (aside from the deaths of people who’ve fallen victim to this invisible enemy), is venturing into a public place that I have little choice in visiting. The moment I walk through the sliding doors, my senses are on high alert. I have to be wary of people around me. Most keep to their two metre space-bubble, but with difficulty. Even supermarket aisles are difficult to maintain that spacing.
Some don’t care or forget.
And if I’m 100% truthful, on one ocassion, I was in the latter group. I forgot the etiquette; and walked to closely past a gentleman who let me in on an adjacent check-out queue. I deserved the stare he gave me.
I don’t want this hideous wary-existence to continue. But if it’s to save lives, I’ll choose Level 4 over Level 2 any day.
So should Simon Bridges.
Check out the legend – TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick – who publicly made a fool out of National’s Leader.
Current covid19 cases: 1,386
Cases in ICU: 3 (2 critical)
Number of deaths: 9
Elemental: Hold the Line
Previous related blogposts
Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson
This blogpost will be re-published on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).
= fs =