On this day in 2020...24th November
TUESDAY 24TH NOVEMBER 2020
Facts and figures.
18,213 new cases.
36% of secondary schools have at least one student self-isolating due to COVID-19 contact. This is up from 29% the previous week.
The Department for Education figures show that 22% of individual pupils were absent from school last week compared with 17% the previous week.
A massive figure of 876,000 state school children did not attend school due to COVID related reasons last Thursday.
I had been waiting for a Minister to be asked why we were making so much effort to make allowances for Christmas when those who celebrate other religious festivals such as Eid and Diwali have had to suffer restrictions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked this question in parliament and explained that while sensitive to the subject, unlike the other religions, Christmas is a national holiday in this country and the biggest national holiday at that. It is a holiday for everyone regardless of their religion.
After yesterday’s cabinet meeting incorporating all of the first ministers of the Home Nations; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the adapted rules for Christmas are as follows:
· Will run between 23rd and 27th December.
· Up to 3 households can join up to form a ‘bubble.’
· A ‘bubble’ can meet in homes, places of worship and outdoor spaces.
· Tier relevant restrictions will remain in place for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses throughout Christmas.
· Free to travel in and out of other areas of the UK freely between 23rd and 27th December 2020.
I have picked up some interesting news in the local media which is yet to emerge elsewhere – The Nottingham Evening Post:
‘Vaccinations to start on December 9th in Nottingham.’ The mass rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations is expected to start on Wednesday 9th December 2020 in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, provided it is authorised by the MHRA.
The most vulnerable people will be given the vaccine first and then rolled out by age and risk thereafter as per the previous entry on who will get priority.
There will be two giant hubs, one in the city and one in the north of the county.
There will also be two ‘mass vaccination’ sites in the city and the north, as well as smaller satellite sites and a roaming service.
There are circa 1.3 million vaccines to administer, and the vaccine needs exceptionally low temperatures in which to be stored. Volunteers are being recruited to facilitate the immunisation programme.
I wasn’t expecting this. I guess I do not know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that my county would be ‘the first’ to roll it out. Surely this would mean that we will be going down our list faster than others and so those less at risk in Nottinghamshire will be vaccinated ahead of those starting their programmes later in say, Worcestershire?
It isn’t totally clear, but it seems the government are identifying hot-spots and then dropping the vaccines onto local authorities to see it through and working around the country in such a manner. I don’t suppose there is a wholly equitable way of doing it other than this. If I am right, I am glad that by lucky happenstance my county is first.
The reference in the article to storing in very low temperatures suggests that we will be getting the Pfizer vaccine which we know has to be kept at -80 degrees.
There are sad reports coming in that there are hundreds of bodies in New York inside freezer trucks going back to the height of the initial wave in April, months ago.
650 bodies remain, still unburied, in the backs of rows of trucks, outside a morgue in Brooklyn.
250 have yet to be identified and for the others apparently the relatives are reluctant to collect them because they do not know what to do with them or have no financial means to bury them.
This is more of a problem because paradoxically COVID has made many lose their jobs and therefore their ability to pay for even the most basic funeral. The Mayor says they are working with families trying to seek a solution and claims to be supporting them. How awful.
More than 34,000 people have died with COVID-19 in New York, according to Johns Hopkins University.
My son Chris messaged me to enquire about Christmas in light of the rumours that 3 families can converge for 5 days over Christmas between 23rd and 27th December 2020.
I explained we were worried about having everyone together in one room with vaccines being so close.
Provisionally we arranged for Chris, Harry and Lily to come to ours in the morning and have Christmas dinner cooked with my own fair hand.
This was before we realised the context of where Christmas sat in the grand scheme of things. Christmas has become like a troll at a bridge, waiting to trick us and stop us getting over the COVID river to Vaccine land.
My son, Andy and Katie are fine and no doubt looking forward to a quiet Christmas dinner together.
Chris said he was thinking of self-isolating for a week before Christmas.
Harry is at his Mother’s but what if she goes out for Christmas dinner and leaves him alone?
A pair of Wranglers.
We have done little else but wrangle over this conundrum for days, both Jackie and I.
We would love a family gathering as we always do, but we could be risking the next 20 Christmases if we are reckless.
The government have been too lax on this in my view and sometimes leadership is about taking a controversial stance to protect those in your charge from themselves and to enable a ‘blame me’ approach. This has not happened because all the politicians want to be seen as being popular and not the ‘Grinch that stole Christmas.’
Many epidemiologists have expressed their disdain at the lax nature of the provisions and believe many will die because of it. Some say it will mean a third wave of the virus because of mass mixing.
It is a head versus heart dilemma. Maybe there is some scope to meet outside for a little while, depending on the weather?
We have a Skype check-in on Thursday, so I suggested we discuss it further then.
Quote of the day.
‘I am all for people having their heart in the right place, but the right place for a heart is not inside the head.’ – Katherine Whitehorn