#COVID19Chronicles-113: August 5, 2020: Sitting on the horns of a dilemma-Lockdown or General Election

Is it the shoes?

That’s a line from a Nike footwear ad, but the PM has pointed out that he needed to change out of is Clarks Desert shoes into track shoes as he ‘feels’ the election is nearing and he needs to get running, not walking. Well, to borrow from the same shoe company’s slogan, ‘Just do it!’:

But Politician, he speak with forked tongue. Just a month ago “My mind is not on elections”:

Then, yesterday, “I am not a hype person…I pay attention to the things that matter…”

Well, if the shoes are hype, then…Whatever. Now, the feeling he’s getting is that the election is nigh.

But, here’s the rub. Just less than a week ago, Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer was saying there was no ‘local spread’ of COVID-19 infections since June 1:

June 1 was when we opened the borders to Jamaicans wishing to return. They are supposed to quarantine for 14 days, but many anecdotal accounts are of them ‘running about the place’ and ‘hugging up relatives in the country’. Beware of what you wish for, they say, after people clamoured to ‘let the people come back’. Coming back mainly from the epicentre of COVID-19 infections, the USA? So, it’s less of a surprise that yesterday the tune changed dramatically.

Why? A couple of deaths, of people who were ‘moderately ill’ when presenting themselves at hospitals then died within 24 hours. A sharp spike in the number of confirmed cases and a sharp increase in those hospitalized.

From 20 something to 40+ hospitalized in a week is a sharp rise:

That’s what.

The problem lies at the feet of ‘imported’ cases:

We’re also seeing a spike in the more remote rural parishes and clusters within communities. If that’s not local or community spread, then I’m a pink zebra. I’m sure we’ve got some linguistic gymnastics to come in the next few days. 

For what it’s worth, we’re not alone, as The Bahamas yesterday announced a two-week lock down after their numbers went nearly vertical in a matter of days. Again, sparked by travellers, this time people who ‘went shopping for a few days in Florida’.

We know Jamaicans have let down their guards in terms of mask wearing. We also know that people’s love of or desire for entertainment has seen a flurry of unsanctioned events—over 700 according to the Minister for Local Government. That, along with overcrowding at beaches at by rivers and other “unconscionable” behaviour. He’s going to ‘read the riot act’ to entertainment sector stakeholders today.

Oh, but a holiday weekend is coming and so far there were no changes in restrictions, eg no earlier curfews. Let’s see how that shakes out today.

So, dear reader, if you were thinking of holding general elections, would you be thinking of announcing them for the coming weeks? Think about how people behave at polling stations and whether the set up can be make ‘socially distant’ ready and able to offer contact tracing, for instance. You have five minutes to think of your answers and please use the buzzers, don’t just yell out. Thanks.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)