A pilot flew a private plane from Surrey to an airfield belonging to the Royal Air Force. That set off an emergency response involving the Ministry of Defence and fire crews, who (I’m reading between the lines here) wanted to know what the hell he thought he was doing.
He wanted to go to the beach, he said.
Since the airfield is in Wales, that was a breach of the lockdown rules, which are different in Wales than in England. Or it’s believed to be a breach, since the rules don’t specifically mention landing your private plane on an airforce base so you can go to the beach.
I think I can safely say that he’ll be in trouble with multiple agencies. I’m reasonably sure that lockdown will be the least of his troubles.
To put the situation into bureaucro-speak, the police are ‘considering’ whether there were ‘potential breaches’ of coronavirus legislation. And the Civil Aviation Authority has been alerted. It will be demanding a note from his parents.
So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that Dominic Cummings was on board. And if you haven’t followed who Dominic Cummings is, just follow the handy link, which will take you to a post by that noted expert, me, which will explain all. Or enough, anyway.
England’s contact tracing campaign continues to be a mess, with many tracers not able to log on. Some recruits have set up support groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, pooling their knowledge about what the hell they’re supposed to do, and how. One contact tracer reported (anonymously) that the app wouldn’t work with his or her microphone. Another had been working for three weeks and been asked to do nothing more than join an online training session. A third says he or she has learned to juggle with three balls.
Some of England and Scotland’s coronavirus testing centers aren’t matching test results to either people’s National Health Service numbers or their addresses, which means their doctors aren’t told about coronavirus patients on their caseloads and local authorities can’t track outbreaks in their areas.
Back in March, the devolved governments–that translates to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland–told Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, that the system he was setting up had problems, and Northern Irland and Wales insisted on changes. Scotland and England went ahead.
Wales and Northern Ireland get to play a satisfying round of I-told-you-so.
An NHS trial is giving Covid-19 patients blood plasma transfusions from patients who’ve recovered, and the trial’s set to expand. The hope is that the antibodies will help them fight off the disease.
To date, it’s only been tried on patients in intensive care, but it may be more effective if it’s used earlier. Stay tuned.
Back in April, the British government’s science advisory group noted that only half the people who came down with Covid-19 symptoms followed the government’s advice to self-isolate for fourteen days. It recommended doing some quick research to figure out what it would take to get people to follow the guidelines.
As the lockdown eases and the government’s betting its rapidly diminishing stack of chips on testing people, tracing the contacts of anyone who tests positive, and isolating the cases they find, people actually isolating themselves becomes crucial.
Not going into isolation when you should is apparently now known as doing a Cummings.
Some members of the science advisory group are now warning that easing the lockdown now will lead to a second wave of cases. In England, 8,000 people a day are still becoming infected, and that doesn’t count people in care homes or hospitals. That data’s collected separately and the two data sets aren’t speaking. You know how it is in some families.
It also doesn’t count cases in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
One advisor, John Edmunds, said, “If you look at it internationally, it’s a very high level of incidence.”
The current R rate–the rate at which the virus spreads–is between 0.7 and 0.9. At anything above 1, the pandemic grows. At 1, it stays the same, which at a rough guess means 80 deaths a day.
John Edmunds’ colleague Jeremy Farrar tweeted, “Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice. TTI [test, trace and isolate] has to be in place, fully working, capable [of dealing with] any surge immediately.”
England’s chief medical officer said, in a carefully worded statement, that the country’s at a very dangerous moment. It wasn’t a clear criticism of the government, but a listener could be forgiven for thinking it was.
He also said, mentioning no names, that England’s lockdown rules applied to all.
MPs’ inboxes have been swamped by messages about Dominic Cummings, most of them critical. So what does an overwhelmed MP do? Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall gave his responses the personal touch by hitting Send before he remembered to delete the part that said, “insert if there has been a bereavement.”
He is, he said, incredibly sorry. He remembered to delete the part of the script that said, “Don’t get caught again.”
I don’t write much about American politics. Even though I’m American, I live in Britain. It’s not the best seat to watch the show from. But I have to go off topic and say something about what’s happening there, even though it’s happening in the wrong country and it’s not pandemic related.
I lived in Minneapolis for years, and a lot of you will know what’s happening: A few days ago, a white police officer killed an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck for seven minutes. On camera. While Floyd said, “I can’t breathe.”
What had Floyd done? Tried to buy something at a local food store. The clerk thought he’d paid with a counterfeit bill and called the police, because that was store policy. No one claims that Floyd knew it was counterfeit. At this point I don’t know if anyone cares whether it actually was.
First there were protests. Then there were riots. A CNN reporter was arrested while covering them, even after he showed his i.d. He’s black. Yes, that’s relevant.
Rumors are flying every which way. I can’t confirm them, so I’ll stick to what’s in the papers.
My old neighborhood’s been on fire. The post office, the library, and a whole lot stores have burned down, along with the police station where the officers involved in the killing were based.
At a gym in another part of the city, a white man threatened to call the police on some black men because the gym was restricted to the tenants of the building and they couldn’t possibly have a right to use the same gym as he did. That was after demanding that they prove they had a right to be there.
In Kentucky, police targeted a news crew covering a protest about a black woman who was killed by police in her own home. “Targeted” means they shot the reporter with pepper bullets.
In Detroit, someone shot into a group of protestors from a car, killing a 19-year-old.
In several cities, cars have driven into crowds of protestors.
I’m not using the word protestor to mean rioter.
Sorry–I’m supposed to be funny here, or to at least try. That’s the agreement we sort of made. So to those of you who are in the U.S.: Guys, I know racism runs deep in our national DNA. If there’s such a thing as national original sin, that’s ours. But I also know that racism’s not the whole story, that there’s more to us than that. So I’m looking for you to sort this out, okay?
Don’t make me come over there.