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

31 Mar 2020 : Nevada Car Park

There is a picture on social media circulating of a car park in Nevada, USA> Authorities have painted the whole area out with white rectangles, all together forming a giant grid. Each cell is a designated safe space for homeless people to sleep or rest in while socially distancing. Even more gut wrenching, as Jan Selby puts it on Twitter, is that there are people already occupying cells with belongings and companions. Not even a metaphor for society really, it is beyond that. These are real people living within their painted lines with no visible support, and in one of the richest states in the richest country.

By the way, a dishevelled and visibly ill Boris Johnson informs the nation last night that ‘there is such thing as society’. He should read up on social production, of course we need all these people to cohere, just to feed and treat us; they need to valued and paid, and we need to value each other collectively.

There are now double the cases in the US than there were in China, with 3,000 deaths. One commentator highlights the obvious impact of Trump dismantling the pandemic preparedness departments or unit. This was clearly a huge mistake as she points out, with flat calm. Germany is also beginning to roll out antibody tests that will confirm if you have had COVID-19 and cleared it. People will then be issued immunity passports and can re-enter society. This is just fantastic, especially in the short-term for medical personnel. In the longer term, there is clearly the question of reinfection, but if COVID behaves like most viruses it maybe that immunity will prevent severe cases. There is a study in China using a small number of monkeys, who once reinfected a second time displayed only mild symptoms. But this is clearly early days.

GE workers in Lynn, Massachusetts, hold a protest yesterday with social distancing observed. They want to make ventilators in a now mothballed factories. It is very moving. In a lighter note, at home in Wales mountain goats have moved down from their mountains to graze on hedges and gardens in a deserted Llandudno. They have the run of the town.

The BBC carries a very powerful article on India’s human tragedy. It speaks for itself. A five-year old boy walking with his unemployed father from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh – 434 miles. One 90 year-old woman armed with a large stick and bag walking home, here business selling plastic toys and trinkets in Delhi abandoned.  These stories. Modi has apologised publicly for the lockdown, but not his handling of it, so it seems.

Westerners are being verbally and physically abused across African countries, in Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Similar abuse is being directed at Asiatic looking Indian citizens, or Chinese ethnic origin people in India. An Asian is stabbed to death in NYC, and it seems to be COVID motivated. Other new insularities are emerging on the economic front, with Japan announcing a Yen 200 billion fund to reduce the dependence of Japanese firms on Chinese supply lines. In contrast, many people are coming together, forming community support groups, sharing recipes online, or just leaving boxes of eggs on doorsteps.

A number of cruise ships are scattered off the coast of New South Wales. They are refusing to leave and return to home ports, and that state is threatening fines and jail terms for the captains. Already that state is housing passengers from other ships. Nobody wants another Ruby Princess it seems. How long can people survive on these ships I wonder.

There are now 150,000 confirmed cases in the USA. Cases in Italy and Spain are still horrific. 3,000 deaths in France, and in NYC deaths now surpass 9/11.

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