It’s a pity that aggressive stupidity is not a prophylactic defence against the novel coronavirus, because it’s the default therapeutic response of so many people. It’s not just political leaders, and not just those most orange-of-hue and infirm-of-mind. Your chicken-loving bogans on a midnight KFC run are as much to blame for the ‘vid getting loose again as any horny security guard getting his end wet in hotel lockdown or thirsty suburban super-spreader pulling up to the bar at the Crossroads.
Their reckless individual shitfuckery and cluelessness is akin to the beaching of a personal fail whale. Sure, they could kill us all, but not on purpose. The policy choices of those further up the clown farm food chain are a different matter. When they decide, for instance, to ‘strike a balance’ between the economy and public health they’re really just trying to settle on the number of the dead bodies they think we’ll put up with.
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard did something like that yesterday, in fifteen minutes of piss-drizzling weasel words all over RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly, an interview during which he straight-up refused to even come at the idea that further restrictions might be necessary in Sydney or across the state.
He did, however, counsel listeners not to use the salt and pepper shakers at the local pub if they hadn’t personally seen them wiped down.
Within twenty-four hours, however, Boss Gladys was fronting her weekly presser, looking like she’d accidentally eaten a meat pie full of human fingers before realising—quelle horreur!—there was a fingerprint on the salt shaker!
Having been the leader of the Bring It On cheer squad for throwing open the borders of states which didn’t even belong to her it proved totes awks to slam shut the one border she could control, that wiggly one with the state of Victoria, also known as The Hot Zone. But she didn’t, not at first anyway. Because the momentum of the earlier, business-driven push to pretend everything was tickety-fucking-boo was simply too much.
Until Victoria’s infection rate spiked.
Now she sings a different tune.
Wait, no. That wasn’t Gladys.
This was her, right at the end of today’s press conference announcing a new raft of constraints on the freedom to kill granny.
It's about reducing the risk. It's about controlling the spread… No mingling, no hanging around, no back slaps and pretending things are back to normal. Sometimes when you look around and see the way people are acting, you’d think we’re on a different planet. We are in a pandemic. We are not different from other parts of the world. We are not different from what is happening in Victoria. We are in the middle of a global pandemic… and we all have to accept that life is not normal until there is a vaccine. So please don't let down your guard. Complacency will cost lives.
And this, by the way, is what complacency looks like.
It wears a lovely sky blue scarf which would shed the virus like a fucking crop-dusting whirlybird if you decided to wave it around your head in a crowed public place like some sort of Dangerous Idiot of the Week.
None of this is to lessen the effect of some piss poor decision-making in Victoria, at both a personal and policy level. But there are more than enough piss poor decisions to go around. Queensland, for instance, which currently has only four active cases, has opted to celebrate that success by authorising six hundred thousand border crossing permits. Because what could possibly go wrong?!? The Commonwealth Government is still supporting Clive Palmer’s challenge to WA’s border closure, even as Palmer suddenly faces five years in jail on corporate fraud charges.
It all speaks to a sense that some peeps have not yet internalised the truly shitty reality that things have changed and that “we all have to accept that life is not normal”.
Writing on the ABC’s website, Melbourne doctor Aaron Bloch, argues that our current suppression strategy cannot win. Doc Bloch, who is currently quarantined “after exposure to a presymptomatic colleague who caught COVID-19, most likely via community transmission,” writes that
Suppression has failed because it underestimates this virus, it overestimates our ability to control it, and it fundamentally misunderstands human nature.
It is a strategy of coexistence with a virus crafted by nature to end our existence. It is also a strategy entirely reliant on complex surveillance systems “to rapidly detect outbreaks, isolate cases and their contacts, and break chains of transmission.” But the malfunctioning core of that system in Australia is the COVIDSafe app, and relying on that garbage app is the epidemiological equivalent of treating stage four cancer by waving a crystal over the patient. Except, to be fair to the crystal, it has more chance of working.
Thankfully we are not yet in this country subject to the lethal stupidity and the worst of the culture war brain damage that has crippled the US. But you can see how the same processes could play out here, especially with Rupert Murdoch’s obedient goons determined to force a choice between the economy and the mortality rate in both places.
But it is false choice. The value proposition offered by snake oil vendors.
Increasingly you’re gonna hear the phrase ‘we can’t go into lockdown again’, and there will be some real truth to it. Many business which scraped through the first lockdown in Victoria won’t live through the second. But likewise people who lived through the initial outbreaks, won’t survive the later ones. That’s not a bug lurking inside the suppression strategy. It’s a fucking feature.
You cannot repair the vast economic damage done so far until the pandemic is under control, and that control is only available when the virus is denied access to its hosts, either by a vaccine, or by sealing off the country until a vaccine is developed.