#COVID19Chronicles-279: January 11, 2021-Much needed catharsis through sport

I’m a sports fanatic and COVID-19 has offered some amazing unexpected benefits in the form of live sports. For fans of football/soccer, we have had nearly daily offerings of live matches to watch since May last year, often more than one match a day. 

Golf at the weekend is part of my routine, though, recently, I haven’t played much due to spinal stenosis in my back–narrowing of the spaces within the spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Swinging golf clubs doesn’t really help, so I walk and just do a few swings for practice, while my friends play a round. This past weekend, I played 9 holes, and then called it a day.

I usually get a couple of days of pain after doing that as inflammation etc subsides. I do stretches daily, and my most common position in recent months has been prone on my back, which is both restful and comfortable. So far, the agony has not been too bad since last Saturday 🙂

But, the golfing is an excuse to be outdoors and enjoy what Jamaica offers, naturally, for the eyes to feast on, and the weather is usually great. In recent weeks, we have had cooler days, especially around dawn (19C/66F). After a morning at the course, it’s hard to feel down about things. Most weeks, I also chill watching Premier League matches at the clubhouse while my friends finish playing; that’s a win-win.

This past weekend offered some special offerings for the watching fan.

FA Cup magic was into the 3rd round. This English cup competition, dating from the late-19th century, is what excites almost any club associated with the Football Association. The competition is open to any club down to Level 10 of the English football league system which meets the eligibility criteria. (I played FA Cup qualifying matches a few times in my heyday; my club never made it to the 1st round proper, though.)

All clubs in the top four levels (the Premier League and the three divisions of the Football League) are automatically eligible. Teams spend weeks from early in the season to qualify, and teams from the top two tiers enter in the 3rd round. So, for smaller clubs, it is their chance to get a date with the ‘big boys’. Teams often give up their home advantage to play at hallowed grounds such as Anfield (Liverpool) or Old Trafford (Manchester United). In normal times, while it’s great that these matches are televised, so offering a moment of glory that be seen by all, fans relish the chance to travel to see their heroes try to take down the giants of the sport. Giant killing has some memorable scalps through history. For small clubs, it can also be a shop window for some players who are looked at in full match settings. Much of the gap between the leagues is less about skills than about opportunities. We’ve seen that more often as players from lower leagues break into the Premier League (Jamie Vardy is the most notable in recent years), and can rise to become national level professional players.

This weekend had a few chances for history and upsets. Liverpool played Aston Villa, both Premier League teams, on Friday evening, but COVID-19 had knocked out Villa’s first team and they fielded mainly their under-18 and under-23 teams (average age 18). It was Liverpool’s match to lose, and go down in smoke and historical infamy. Though Liverpool scored after four minutes and a romp seemed likely, Villa tied the game at half time; Liverpool came through for a 4-1 win, away. But, what a memorable moment for 17 year-old Louie Barry who scored a great goal against the Premier League champions:

Imagine the thrill of exchanging shirts at the end of that match! 🙂

The match had a back story about Liverpool avenging defeats after Villa had astonishingly dumped Liverpool 7-2 earlier in the league season, and last year, Liverpool had been forced to field their juniors against Villa in a Carabao Cup match which they lost 5-0, while the first team was competing in the World Club Championship.

Over the rest of the weekend, some tasty clashes were lined up; two were truly notable.

Crawley (League 2) hosted Leeds United (Premier), and showed the ‘Bielsaball’ boys were summarily despatched 3-0, with some classy goals:

The last match of the weekend was between Newport County (League 2; actually a Welsh team) and Brighton (Premier). It was classic cup joy. The minnows hung in there, but looked dead as Brighton scored in the 90th minute (end of regulation time). But, Brighton’s goalkeeper, Jason Steele, made a howler by missing a cross and the ball ricocheted off a defender for an equalizer in the 90+4th minute! The teams then went into two 15-minute extra time periods with no more goals and on to a penalty shoot out. Well, Steele was steely and saved four penalties. His teammates didn’t get the memo so missed three kicks and the match was actually there for Newport to steal, but, not this time. Brighton’s winning penalty was scored by Adam Webster, whose deflection had scored the tying goal. Brighton won the shootout 4-3. Karma!! 🙂 

Finally, Marine FC (Northern Premier League; 8th tier) hosted Chelsea (Premier) and the script was followed, with a 5-0 thumping for the big boys:

But, Marine FC have a wonderful history, dating from the late-19th century, dwelling in the shadows of the Merseyside giants, Liverpool and Everton. On the day, a former Liverpool player, Jamie Carragher, sponsored the match.

Alfie Devine (16) scored a debut goal; youngest debutant and youngest goalscorer for Spurs–more history.

Non-league players have other lives and they stop for football and will resume after the cup dates:

The real stories in football are often not the goings on of the top clubs but the many stories of survival and hope that are written in the lower leagues, often involving clubs that were once top. Newport came back from bankruptcy and needing to leave the Football League: in the 1980s, they suffered financial difficulties with a double relegation costing them their Football League place in 1988 and the club went out of business in February 1989. They had to begin rebuilding from the lowest tiers of the league structure (the Hellenic League, in which I’d played). Marine will get substantial financial gains from their cup match.

NFL playoff drama was not far behind. Tom Brady showed that age is another number and he added to his playoff wins, and gave his team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a first playoff win since 2002.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted Cleveland Browns, with history all in favour of the hosts. Well, history is for rewriting. Gifted a touch down from the first botched play, Cleveland scored with their first touch and the Steelers were down 0-7 after 15 seconds!!! The Browns ran to a 28-0 lead going into half-time as errors kept offering them points. They won 48-37 for their first playoff win since 1995. First win in Pittsburg since 2003. All of that after Cleveland went into the game without many kep players and their head coach due to COVID-19 restrictions. Steelers quarterback, Ben Rothlesberger, threw for over 500 yards (2nd player ever) in the loss, threw 4 touch downs but also 4 interceptions. Pittsburgh started the season 11-0 and ended 5-6. There’s the story. 

The Browns had been dissed by Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster: “The Browns is the Browns“. Of course, Karma was listening 🙂 

So, bring on the worst. I’ve mental energy renewed to deal with it. 🙂

#COVID19Chronicles-278: January 10, 2021-Butch Stewart dies

US political events pushed some important Jamaican news off my radar for a bit, most notably the death of iconic businessman and giant of the tourism industry, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, on June 4, after a period of illness. He’d founded Sandals Resort International and transformed tourism with its all-inclusive model.

His tourism business began from next to nothing:

He started his resorts business in 1981, using money he had made selling air-conditioning units in Jamaica and invested it in developing a hotel on North Coast, naming it Sandals Montego Bay. It became the flagship resort of a chain of luxury vacation destinations (Sandals now operates 15 resorts, including six in Jamaica).

Sandals Resorts International had a couples-oriented focus before branching out with the more family-oriented Beaches Resorts.

He founded his first business, Appliance Traders Ltd. (ATL), after he persuaded the Fedders Corp. of Edison, N.J., to allow him to represent the brand in Jamaica. ATL is now a leading Jamaican retailer of appliances, electronics and motor vehicles.

Mr. Stewart gained leadership roles in Jamaica’s tourism industry, including director of the Jamaica Tourist Board for a decade. In 1992, his ‘Butch Stewart Initiative’ pumped US$1 million a week into the foreign exchange market to help halt the slide of the Jamaican dollar.

In 1994, he led a group of investors that took control of Air Jamaica, then the Caribbean’s largest regional carrier. He put together an investment group that paid US$37.5 million for 70 percent of the airline, giving himself a 46 percent stake.

This was on of several grand public gestures that Mr. Stewart became famous for, as The New York Times reported in an article about the move.

At the helm of the troubled state-owned airline, Mr. Stewart began adding routes and improving service. As part of the turnaround, he increased the airline’s revenue and grabbed market share from competitors.

In 2009, Mr. Stewart created the Sandals Foundation, which supports school construction, education and health care access on the islands where the company operates resorts.

He was a recipient of Jamaica’s highest national distinctions, including the Order of Jamaica.

His funeral was on June 9:

#COVID19Chronicles-277: January 9, 2021-Thoughts on the building of ‘Trumpistan’

While it’s often disconcerting to watch a physical confrontation unfold in front of your eyes, especially when it’s around events that are usually placid or of little real controversy, what unfolded at the US Capitol on January 6 shook many. However, the display of physical opposition to a pillar of US democracy was always on the cards. The US has been led by a president who made it clear he was not much in favour or or in line with the thinking or aims of other US democratic agencies. If you don’t understand what it means for the national chief executive to disregard the national intelligence agencies’ views (taking instead those of a foreign power), or those of the national legal advisors, or trying to build a judicial system that is filled with loyalists then you really aren’t paying attention. Those are just some of the more obvious red flags.

Frankly, we should have seen it coming, as the warnings were there, from recent utterances since the November 3 presidential elections. But, the warnings, as far as the intent to disrupt and disregard democratic norms had been set out by Donald Trump before the 2016 presidential elections.

The US was spared the full extent of what he would do to overturn democratic results for four years, but only those who were not paying attention should be really surprised. In 2016, Trump was not in a position of national power, so had few levers to pull that were more than his private enterprises and his political party affiliations. Since becoming president, he has had the weight and might of presidential office standing behind his intent. People are now concerned about his finger being on the nuclear codes. He’s had that power in his hands for about 1450 days!!!!

He has built his political position into one of even greater power by openly weakening the institutional base of the US governmental structures, most cynically by having loyalists head up agencies, and removing them as soon as they showed disloyalty or did not perform as he wanted. President Trump has been consistent in demanding unswerving loyalty, but giving none in return. I suspect the rotations at the head of agencies under his presidency has been a record by far. The Brookings Institute has a project ‘Tracking turnover in the Trump administration‘, which showed that President Trump’s “A Team” (made up of members of the executive office of the president, it does not include Cabinet secretaries) turnover is 91% as of January 7, 2021.

But, that rate excludes ‘serial’ turnover, only counting the first change of position. So, it’s worth noting that 42% of President Trump’s “A Team” departures have undergone serial turnover as of January 7, 2021. More notable, 25/59 (42%) “A Team” departures have turned over twice or more (some more than 4-5 times).

Cabinet-level turnover has been less, but still far outstrips in total (14) that of any modern administration since Ronald Reagan, with H. W. Bush (8) being the closest.

This kind of turnover can be seen as a classic control tactic of creating a state of constant flux. It’s a state of constant maximum uncertainty.

President-elect Biden has noted that many critical agencies are now extremely weak, after being hollowed out:

It’s easy to see how this plays into the hands of someone who wants to establish an autocracy. It’s also easy to see that it makes it hard for any successor to start with anything like a working chance of success because the legs on which policy should rest have been broken or damaged severely at best. It’s a kind of scorched earth approach–destroying anything that could be useful to the enemy.

Donald Trump has had little real interest in democratic government, of government as an institution; he’s been focused on amassing power in his own hands. This should have been obvious for years. It should also have been clear that a corollary of that is a power base built around ‘popular’ mobilization around him, rather than any organization. It’s building a cult (of personality), but more threatening to those not of the ‘faith’ because it makes its own rules and all who are not of the faith are enemies, to be dealt with harshly.

The USA has for so long seen itself as a pillar or paragon of democratic virtues that it’s been blind to the obvious tendencies of its national drift toward authoritarianism. Sadly, many of the minorities who live in the USA and have suffered this drift at the hands of institutions or local political structures had little doubt. Many Americans did not like to see their country drifting towards a fascist regime (focused on racial and nationalist themes) or the likes of Stalinist Russia–eg, persecuting ‘dissenters’–or any modern authoritarian regime against which it has fought long and hard. The main difference had been that the country had not been led by someone who embodied many of these tendencies. They’ve had it for four years but seemed to not understand what was happening. All the talk of “this is not who we are” is pure self-deception.

#COVID19Chronicles-276: January 8, 2021-The US reckoning starts

Many spent yesterday reeling from the events they saw, heard and experienced at the US Capitol on June 6, 2021–a date etched into history.

The death toll has now reached five, including a Capitol policeman, reportedly killed by rioters with a fire extinguisher:

The policeman’s death has started the process of a federal murder investigation:

The words of Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official who warned that someone would get killed if this process of disinformation and lying about elections did not stop now ring out loudly:

More arrests have been made and the FBI are looking into pipe bombs found at the Washington DC HQs of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee.

Distance is now an operative word; so is distaste. Congressional pressure is building to remove the president from office, early, either using the 25th amendment or impeachment or both:

We saw a stream of high-level resignations from the Trump administration citing distaste for what the president had instigated; the highest ranking were the Cabinet members who jumped ship-Betsy DeVos (Education) and Elaine Chao (Transport):

Some see this as a cynical attempt to not be caught up in any 25th amendment decisions.

We saw sackings and resignations for the security failures.

Former attorney general, Bill Barr, issued a condemnatory statement of the president: “Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable. The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

As the legislative pressure increased, and talk of possible legal action began to rise, the president issued a video, where he spoke from a script that sought to douse the flames of a fire he had started. He stated that now that Congress has certified the results, the “new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.” Arguments will go on about whether this was a concession speech as it never mentioned the president-elect. Many will question its motives and whether it will be followed by a series of backtracking statements—not untypical of the president.

The legal pressure may go past the president to his lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, and his son, Don Trump Jr, for their part in addressing the rally on Wednesday. Much commentary has been made about presidential pardons, even pre-emptive and such action may find itself running into headwinds.

Major US media, including conservative ones that usually support the president, have called on the president to resign.

Racial bias in policing has been flagged, early, by many, and will lead to a troubling set of comparisons and conversations:

Some on the legislative side who opened the door to public are being harshly criticized; notably, Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri) is being hauled over the coals. He was accused on January 6 by his hometown paper of having “blood on his hands”, flagging his supportive wave and raised fist to the rioters. His political backers are roasting him.

He suffered the ignominy of a publisher cancelling a book deal:

Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) is going through another make-over as he tries to walk back from his role in egging on the process of Congressional objections to the certification of Electoral College votes:

Just a few days ago in Georgia he was talking about the election being stolen:

Both were craven in putting their presidential ambitions on their chests and their sharp Ivy League-trained legal minds (which had gone on a quick vacation a few days ago) can quickly see the possible slippery slope they may be on.

Some are trying to make ‘Trump’ a dirty word as far as the federal government is concerned:

Recall, he wanted to know how to have his name on an airport:

Taking away some of the social media oxygen has happened…belatedly 🤬😩

Michelle Obama criticized the social media companies and want them to ban Trump, permanently:

But, the reality is that this is a fertile landscape that is also populated by other companies, some aimed specifically at Trump supporters and the conservative audience.

It’s worth noting that social media has plenty of support and additional strength from politicians:

It will remain a bizarre sight to see the rioters taking selfies inside the Capitol and posting on social media as they rampaged. Not surprisingly, they are finding their postings coming back to help them get arrested.

Storming the Capitol Building-a dark day in the USA-January 6, 2021, a different epiphany

The seismic political event on January 6 in the USA should have been the Democrats winning both Senate seats in Georgia. But, President Trump had urged his supporters in late December to come to Washington DC yesterday to have a ‘wild day’ as the Congress certified the Electoral College votes, normally a mundane piece of legislative formality.

Trump gave a speech late in the morning at a “Save America” rally, which ended with his urging those at the rally to “walk to the Capitol” to “cheer on” those who were due to object to some votes being counted. Rudy Guiliani (“trial by combat”) and Don Trump Jr. egged on the crowd beforehand, including saying to those who were “zeroes not heroes” they were “coming for you…and have a good time doing it”.

They listened and marched to the Capitol Building, and gradually all hell broke loose. The supporters massed on the Capitol steps and then started to breach the line of security personnel and break into the building, some climbing onto balconies and breaking windows to enter. Once in, some proceeded to break into the chambers and into the offices of politicians, parading ‘Trump 2020’, Confederate and other flags. Confrontations ensued. Live TV coverage showed protesters strolling around the hallowed halls taking selfies, lounging in chairs, taking mail and other objects. It was rioting. It was also an attempt at insurrection. It was sedition.

This happened just as Congress was beginning its business of counting Electoral College votes.

We heard that the Capitol was being evacuated and saw Secret Service officers usher out VP Pence to an undisclosed location within the Capitol. We heard that the building was in lockdown and people were told to shelter in place. The world looked on, shocked. This was supposed to be a mere formality, but it had been set up to be a litmus test by the president and his supporters took up the challenge. Congress had stopped its business, at least, temporarily.

These events soon led to reactions from all points, starting with the media and then a stream of US politicians, including Republicans who had already signalled their opposition to the president. Senator Mitt Romney was among those whose condemnation was early and unequivocal, also pointing to Trump as inciting these events:

Reactions from US allies and other countries began to flow in, shocked and condemning what they saw and urging orderly transfer of power. The country that was so often exporting democracy was watching it fly out of its window.

President-elect Biden reacted by making a speech to the nation that ended with his saying “Enough is enough!” He called on the president to “call it off”.

Later, Trump issued a tweet stating “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” He later issued a video, which opened with him saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.” He also went on to call the supporters “very special.” He also said, “we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Blame was pouring out, quickly.

Many also were pointing to the need to invoke the 25th amendment (removing the president as not fit) and call for new impeachment:

The president’s social media accounts had posts removed and were blocked and suspended for inciting violence:

Too little too late?

It made for an eerie calm in the stream of noise he would usually throw out late at night.

DC’s mayor asked for the National Guard to be brought into action to quell the situation (they had been used so far to help with traffic control). This was initially rebuffed by the Pentagon and president Trump, then approved by VP Pence. Virginia’s governor called out his state’s National Guard to help in DC.

The mayor had earlier announced a curfew from 6pm.

The Capitol was gradually cleared inside and out and as curfew arrived word came that Congress would resume its business, with the Senate due to restart at 8pm. The Congressional leadership made clear that the business would be finished “tonight”. They resumed with strong statements about the earlier events:

Once business resumed, in brief, the challenges (to Arizona and Pennsylvania, though some 6 States had been likely to face objections) were rejected as several Senators (eg Georgia’s Loeffler) decided to walk back their previously stated positions and not support the challenges made by House members. Still, 6 Republican Senators supported the objection against Arizona and 7 that against Pennsylvania, AFTER THE BREACH OF CONGRESS!! In short, the objections all failed, as they were due to, anyway.

Some politicians made clear their disgust for what had taken place and been abetted by their colleagues.

The counting was completed in the early hours of January 7, certifying Biden and Harris as president and vice president:

Vice President Pence concluded his ministerial task and will have to see what being “liked a little less” means to his boss.

Following this, a statement was issued by an aide that President Trump will go with an “orderly transition”:

But will he abide by this? Trump has a history of major backtracking, especially when views are expressed by aides.

Questions were being asked early yesterday and continue into the apparent security failures, including hints that the police were somewhat complicit. Despite the hours of images of people committing crimes at the Capitol and then breaking curfew, only 52 people were arrested. Some were found to be carrying weapons.

Many also saw a stark contrast in how the protesters were treated and how it had a clear racial bias:

One can understand the delicate balance of firm control and not wishing to see that turn into a major confrontation, especially if it became militarized.

The FBI is now asking for help to identify people involved:

Tragically, the incidents were marred by a woman being shot by police in the Capitol and dying after being seen stretchered away. In total, four deaths occurred, three from medical emergencies:

DC’s emergency measures have been extended for 15 days, thus covering Inauguration Day on January 20:

Some of the politicians who facilitated moves to object to the Electoral College certification are already facing harsh criticism, some from places and people who would usually be supportive:

Many political experts saw these objections to the Electoral College votes as veiled attempts at positioning for the 2024 presidential elections.

What were the reasons for this swelling of public anger? No doubt, the USA is deeply divided, 74 million voted for Trump. But, their support his been fuelled by steams of disinformation and conspiracy theories and a scary disregard for truth.

Some politicians don’t see they have any part of this, even though deep in it, such as the denialism of Senator Ron Johnson:

The next 13 days will be filled by an uneasy calm as it’s still not clear what President Trump may do. Reports have surfaced about his fragile mental and emotional state. He still does not accept the election results!

Those who support him, hang on his version of reality.

The DC protests were accompanied by smaller protests in several other state capitals:

Resignations from the White House have begun as a trickle but reports are they may accelerate.

#COVID19Chronicles-274: January 6, 2021-So, how’s Brexit going?

Brexiteers were so happy that a deal had been reached ahead of the December 31 deadline for the transition period, and were looking forward to “taking back control”. Of what? I ask. The UK doesn’t exist in a vacuum, where Britons can go around applying their rules on the rest of the world, especially on trade matters; they have to abide by rules in place, and now lose the benefits they used to have regarding movement of goods, services and people in and around the European Union (EU). Well, that simple fact is hitting some right in the eyes, having missed their brains in the previous four years of argument and negotiations.

So, British people are now facing problems at some borders as their EU rights have expired, especially concerning COVID protocols.

A full explanation of travel changes are below:

Some who pressed for Brexit now face the reality that they cannot have the ‘cake’ they used to, and some football managers realise the EU transfer market isn’t as smooth and friendly anymore. Well, duh! 😦

Some are losing Internet access to ‘.eu’ domains:

The fishing industry was quick to complain that they had been sold down the river with the Brexit deal and the haggling with EU members over fishing rights has already begun, with tussles between the UK and Norway:

Money coming back to the UK is miniscule:

#COVID19Chronicles-273: January 5, 2021-A quick update on how vaccines are rolling out

It’s less than a month since COVID vaccines were approved for emergency use, and began being given to people around the world, but it’s useful to see the progress and the early teething pains in the process. The story so far is ‘delays, shortages and bureaucratic errors as it has become clear that many governments will miss their targets for mass inoculation‘, the Guardian reports:

As supply bottlenecks and bureaucratic hurdles appear, countries are having to adjust: ‘Germany and Denmark are also looking into the possibility of delaying administering a second dose of the vaccine to make scarce supplies go further, after a similar move by Britain last week‘.

France seems to be on a different planet: ‘With one of the world’s most vaccine-sceptical populations, France had by the weekend only managed to inoculate 516 people compared with the UK’s 1 million, despite having 500,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.’

India is home to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines that will eventually provide doses for the Covax scheme to supply the developing world…For now, however, India’s emergency use authorisation means the vaccines will only be manufactured and made available in India, which with about 10m Covid-19 infections is one of the world’s worst-affected countries behind the US.

Canada is also falling behind its intention to have the majority vaccinated by September:

All of this without having to take account of skepticism or even sabotage with regard to getting vaccines taken.

#COVID19Chronicles-272: January 5, 2021-England and Scotland lock down again

New lockdowns were announced by PM Boris Johnson, yesterday; schools will be closed till mid-February and the restrictions will last at least 7 weeks:

The basic rule is to stay at home:

It’s almost back to the future for England:

Major professional sports can go on behind closed doors; ‘grassroots’ sports are banned:

The Opposition Labour Party responded, critically:

Scotland’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, also announced a series of lockdowns till end-January, with the legal requirement for everyone in Scotland to stay at home except for essential purposes:

Both countries are now back to restrictions of March 2020, as COVID cases spiral.

#COVID19Chronicles-271: January 4, 2021: He said what? Washington Post publishes recording of Trump pressing Georgia officials to overturn election

Washington Post has shared an hour long phone call of President Trump talking to Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, on Saturday, and pressing him to overturn the election results: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.” It sounds like something that’s impeachable as an abuse of power and more. To his credit, Raffensperger held his ground and responded calmly and politely, rebutting the president, as did his State General Counsel, ending with the words “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.” These two quotations may be the political citations of the century.

The media has few doubts about the serious legal and constitutional problems the president might have created for himself:

#COVID19Chronicles-270: January 3, 2021-New COVID strain in Jamaica

The new strain of COVID-19, identified recently in the UK (and now in some 30 countries), is now in Jamaica, found in samples from recent arrivals from the UK, before travel from there was halted—4 cases were identified among the 20 who had tested positive. This was announced in a press conference called by Minister of health and wellness, Dr. Chris Tufton, last night (which can be viewed below):

More broadly, the latest test results were also reported, including an update on completing field hospitals in Kingston and western Jamaica; no decision has yet been made about the resumption of schools:

The current medical view is the new strain is faster spreading/more contagious, but not more deadly: