Dr Owain Williams By: Dr Owain Williams
Lecturer in IR and Human Security
View profile and Diary

25 Mar 2020 : THE USA Today

Another online meeting last night with colleagues on Zoo. It is very good to have contact with work, everyone serious and conscientious. Huge workloads presently for those teaching. I clean the flat and write.

Trump is extolling in his increasingly deranged style the amount of testing occurring in the US: ‘we are doing an incredible amount of testing, probably more than any country”. He is of course completely out of kilter with the truth: early kits were faulty, testing levels are low, no random testing, huge queues for drive through and drop in testing stations. The White House is asking ‘everyone who has left New York over the last few days, to self-quarantine’. Peak in New York is predicted to be in 3 weeks, not now. It is already tracking at something like a third of all US infections. New Orleans is also in trouble as are Chicago and Detroit. I am sure it is really just everywhere there. Spring Breakers in Florida will have returned home. Fit and healthy kids left to do what they wanted, partying, and then returning home over the country. While Easter or shortly later will be the start of the real peak in the US, Trump is warbling about being open for Easter – ‘a beautiful time’. Where is the CDC in all of this? Have they been that neutered by the administration, so institutionally emasculated as to be able to nothing?  Meanwhile we find out that some Senators sitting on a range of committees were briefed to fatalities being between 1.7 to 2.2 million deaths. A number of Senators, including the richest sitting member of the Senate and wife of the President (or CEO) of the NYSE, sold huge volumes of shares on realisation of the scale of their national calamity. It was a form of political insider trading, and just shameful, shameful conduct.

In Australia the Commonwealth shambles on with Scott Morrison sniggering and sneering his way through press conferences, out of his depth and mixing messages. State and Territory leaders are threatening or enacting divergent strategies on a range of issues: schools, arrivals, and plans for border closures. It is a form of federal feudalism and could be highly significant for the countries’ future polity.

With the announcement of a surely to be approved US Stimulus package of $2 trillion, I see calculations of the entire state and Federal packages weighing in at $6 trillion. It is pointless stating anything about the scale. I just hope it reaches the right people soon. At the same time there is a chronic shortage of ventilators and PPE in the States. ICU beds likewise short. Meanwhile there are acres of private hospital beds increasingly empty as elective surgery and so on are cancelled. ICU at Atlanta already at capacity today, a huge hotspot. Reports of 1 in 1000 infected nationally. The bitter irony of Mexican in border towns turning out on mass to try and stop US citizens crossing. In Brazil, the bizarre Bolsonaro continues to peddle his perverse denialism about the severity of the virus, many of his own staff positive after visits to Mar-a-Lago. At the same time, in the favelas of Rio the gangs are ordering lock downs to counter government inaction. These are strange times.

© 2020, All rights reserved. Views expressed are those of individual contributors. Privacy Policy