It was like one of those old school Sundays where it’s a bit cold outside, there’s nowhere to go anyway, and the inside is full of warmth and activities. I read The Calculus Affair today. Yes I know the story but it’s got some of my favourite components of Tintin – Marlinspike Hall, the Trains in Europe and the cities with amazing details. And funny too.
It wasn’t exactly funny, but the 1pm press conference did seem fairly upbeat. After saying that no decision has yet been made, in response to a question about business the prime minister said that retail, hospitality and other businesses should be getting themselves readied for opening with social distancing. She said that although level 3 will mean some relaxation for business, the social relaxation is not a thing. Perhaps we should tell her we’ve actually been doing quite a bit of relaxing! Or did I just get my relaxings all mixed up. Anyway, I’m pretty relaxed about it. Someone mentioned that they’re getting ready to start working on Thursday in a cafe although they probably don’t know any more than the rest of us. Either way, expectation is building of a partial release – let’s say it’s going to be a pre-release work experience type of thing.
As well as Tintin, I also did some reading on Worldometer. It seems the whole world is obsessed with infections and death rates. For a while there, it had a bit of Olympic Games medal table feel about it – who would get the top of the table, but it’s serious of course – people are dying. It looked like China at the top for many weeks, but that seems a life-time ago and the infection rate in the US is now just less than one-third of the total infections, but only 24% of the total deaths. Dare I say it, they must be doing something right, having let the ‘rona loose.
Since I last looked, the rate of those in serious condition as a percentage of active infections is down to 3%. The percentage increase in deaths has been on a decline for two weeks now. It doesn’t matter what data you look at, the vast majority of deaths are in the 65+ age group, and most have underlying conditions. That doesn’t mean that there are exceptions to this rule and everyone knows of an example that doesn’t meet the majority. Not so in New Zealand though. On the information available none of the deaths in New Zealand had COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death. We don’t know all the actual ages of those whose deaths are attributed to COVID-19 in New Zealand, but using an assumption that someone described as in their 80s is 82.5, and 90s is 92.5 and so on, so as to not overstate it, then the median age is 82.5 and the average age 83.5. We are not an outliner. In Italy 83% of deaths are in people aged over 70.
Here’s some predictions. When we look back the death rate of humans on the planet for 2020, it will not be materially different to other years. The virus squeezed the mortality rate into a compressed time frame. That compression of mortality is without doubt the main reason why action was required to not overload the health system, as is happening in the States. Sound harsh and unfeeling? 150,000 people die each day on earth. At least 500,000 people die each year from influenza and you’d have to think that social distancing and isolation measures will reduce that materially. Will the ‘rona cause worse rates of fatalities in Africa? Unlikely, the age demographics are wrong – median age in all of Africa is 19.7 years, compared to Europe at 43. But it won’t be a picnic either, as health services are likely poor.
So 4pm is when we’ll crowd around the radio, Michael Joseph Savage style, crackling reception, have the valves even warmed up yet?, waiting “Where she stands, we stand“. Okay, so it’ll be “Breaking News” on the television even though we know it’s coming. Hopefully it’s breaking the Home-D. Either way it’s a significant leadership opportunity.
Leadership is not for the faint-hearted. In this matter, we have replaced a possible medical crisis, with an absolute economic and social crisis. Breaking the cycle of STAY HOME! will not be easy and requires courage and an acknowledgement that it’s time to let go.
Credit to Peter Bromhead for the cartoon. Captures it perfectly I reckon.