The pandemic is dynamic, so living with COVID-19, as we’re increasingly urged to do, means frequent changes in how things get done, and what is the ‘new normal’.
First, let’s not make light of any individual’s encounters with COVID-19. I think most people live in fear of contracting the virus, even though we have seen that it’s not a ‘killer’. We know deaths occur more when co-morbidities come into play, and those of us who can and care are focusing on building our bodies and immune systems. That said, one (actually two) of the interesting aspects of yesterday’s Nomination Day was the absence of a few politicians from their nominations because of testing positive for COVID-19 or about to be tested. So, Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Montague and beleagured former Minister of Energy, Andrew Wheatley, had to stay ‘in the dressing room’ while their teams took to the pitch.
What makes their absence intriguing is that they are victims of what is now commonplace: not taking the risks of infection seriously enough to avoid certain situations. Now, I was not at the Independence Weekend beach party—Ribbiz ‘Big People Brunch’ at Marley Beach in Boscobel, St Mary, on Saturday, August 8—but I suspect that there was more than a little mingling and a lot less social distancing and wearing of masks than the pandemic protocols recommend. Admittedly, it was outdoors.
Where things get messy is that these two important JLP politician co-mingled with another—Richard Creary, Mayor of Port Maria—who had just declared that he tested positive, and is now in isolation. You see, friends, not every friend needs to be in the friendship circle right now.
So, now the contact tracing systems have to kick in and the gamut of links need to be found all because a few buddies thought it would be OK to share a Q or two and go bromancing under the moonlight. The costs of COVID-19 prevention are not just the buying of masks and sanitizers, it’s the added and somewhat avoidable costs that are incurred when people don’t really consider what they are doing and what the likely outcomes are. We usually call that ‘irresponsible behaviour’. But, increasingly, with politicians, we’re seeing it but not hearing it called that. If I really wanted to unload I’d point out that politicians are likely to find their cases fast-tracked in the health system, whereas Johnny Nobody will be waiting weeks for results, etc.
Well, the ‘Builder-In-Chief’ now thinks it’s a pretty good idea for all candidates to get tested. I have to admit that if he thinks it’s necessary to ‘encourage’ this action it may well betray that other trait of politicians—living in another world.
I would have thought that all the bright buttons who are looking to lead the nation would have figured out for themselves that, with the mingling and mixing and hugging and kissing and so forth that are part of the Jamaican electioneering scene, a minimum would have been face shields, full PPE suits and tests, if not daily then frequently. If one thing is certain, these politicians have not created any ‘bubbles’ for their own safety or that of their staff.
Look, plenty of time has elapsed for even the slowest-witted to realise that close contact is a no-no, but in the land of the slow-adaptor, the friend held closely is…