PM Holness undressing in public?-September 5, 2021

Lots of things politicians say and do raise my eyebrows, but few more than when they appear to show they are fallible having spent much time trying to show they are infallible. It’s a common leadership trait that one avoids showing obvious doubt or uncertainty in decision-making, as it’s often taken as a negative trait—indecisiveness-rather than a positive one-good deliberation.

PM Holness has had one of those ‘come into the light’ weeks, and some with sharp eyes, fast fingers, and no fear about sharing their views have noted it and put it out there for others to mull. Gordon Robinson laid it out clearly today when writing ‘“I am not infallible.” Yes, PM. We know. It’s good to find out you know it, too. Hopefully, one day, the Opposition leader will discover the same thing about himself.’ That was a wonderful equal opportunity political take-down if ever there was one:

The other side to this ‘baring of his chest’ is the revelation that “sectoral interests” have pushed the government to make what are now seen as bad decisions about relaxing COVID restrictions from July 1:

‘“I think that after this episode there will have to be a greater balance and understanding that sectoral interest can’t push the Government into decisions that affect the entire society. This is a democracy and this Government, more than anyone, listens to the people,” he told a COVID-19 virtual press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

“But, at the same time, we have powerful interests and when the consequences come you can’t find anybody… It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t ask for it. They didn’t play any role in it. They didn’t keep what they use to keep. But, their voice was very loud in asking for, and protesting even, for us to reopen the economy,”’

Is this some sea change to a humbler persona, in general? I’d not jump up clapping that into being, but it’s been evident to some for a while that the PM doesn’t really take criticism well and part of that is understandable as part of a persona of being firm and resolute-which many Jamaicans like. However, dealing with COVID requires many changes to ‘business as usual’ and this softening of stance in trying to build consensus around often difficult and maybe divisive policies is part of it.

Covid Reflections: Time for one of Dr Bisasor-McKenzie or Dr Webster-Kerr’s Covid-19 Updates-September 4, 2021

I’ve seen or heard pieces of information in the media about where we now are in the 3rd wave. For example, last week in an interview on Nationwide …

Covid Reflections: Time for one of Dr Bisasor-McKenzie or Dr Webster-Kerr’s Covid-19 Updates

Running out of oxygen, then coming up for air-September 3, 2021

It’s somewhat ironic that within hours of the PM getting lambasted for hosting a press/media briefing/conference to announce new COVID restrictions but taking only one question-sort of sucking the air out of the event-that the literal lack of air was the area of battle. The sole distributor, IGL, sent missiles towards the government for not having responded to its many calls for forecasts of medical oxygen need.

It turned into ‘he said, she said’, as the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) bounced back those missiles with a stiff denial:

An important aspect of that rebuttal was “The issue that affected supply, therefore, was based on the break in the supply chain due to the declaration of force majeure and need for IGL to find, in relative short period of time, a secondary supplier,” MOHW noted.

By day’s end, IGL’s position had shifted to a more conciliatory stance, conceding the real problem was in the supply chain:

By this morning, IGL was clearly being put onto the defensive, as MOHW stated it was urging health authorities to diversity suppliers and supply methods:

As I write, I read that another major gas producer, Massy Gas Products (Jamaica), is thinking of expanding storage and distribution facilities in Jamaica. A bit late in the pandemic, but…

For context, there’s a worldwide medical oxygen shortage:

Anyway, the local players have paused to take a breath. The medical oxygen crisis isn’t over, though, as hospitals teeter on the edge with supplies.

Plus ça change: Jamaica’s no-movement days extended 2 more weeks-September 2, 2021

PM Holness held a media briefing during the evening of September 1. No-movement days will be extended for 2 more weeks till mid-September, and curfew hours and other restrictions remain broadly unchanged:

Vaccination mapping in Jamaica: the east and west are not faring the best-September 1, 2021

We should be aware of the overall low rate of COVID vaccination in Jamaica. We should also be aware that a big part of that low rate is about access to supplies, in general, and in different geographical locations, in particular. How this is playing out is interesting, but not surprising: the lowest rates are in the extreme eastern and western parishes.

The general principle that places far from the centres of economic life will fare worse is seen in the pattern of vaccinations.

This can be corrected by never losing sight that these areas are less accessible and that people living there are less likely to follow the norms, ideas and practices seen in places like the metropolitan areas. That presents a different challenge, but not one that’s hard to solve.

We can’t sit back and be critical of low vaccine rates and at the same time not realise that it’s partly of our making in how we allocate resources to areas that are hardest to reach.

Private sector vaccination blitz; the PM gets called out and; more sources will help give vaccines-August 31, 2021

Jamaica’s private sector kicked into high gear with vaccinations yesterday as their umbrella organization, the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, held sessions at a hotel in Kingston:

1,214 doses administered.
Here’s the breakdown:
💉 AstraZeneca: 631 1st dose; 12 2nd dose
💉Pfizer: 339
💉Johnson and Johnson: 232

They’ll have another session on September 2:

Further, Howard Mitchell, immediate past President of the PSOJ and Chairman of the Board of the National Health Fund, called on the PM to take charge of the vaccination programme. This was a clear criticism of the leadership, so far:

Finally, more resources will be thrown at vaccinations by having private hospitals and school nurses added to the mix:

Covid Conversations: Hindsight? Look at what the CMO said about a 3rd wave on April 29, 2021…-August 30, 2021

An excellent review by Susan Goffe of the early warnings from Spring of a possible 3rd wave in Jamaica.

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Last week nearly 5000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. One hundred and sixteen (116) deaths were reported,…

Covid Conversations: Hindsight? Look at what the CMO said about a 3rd wave on April 29, 2021…

O, my Diaspora!-August 29, 2021

When I got up earlier, I saw this interesting headline in The Sunday Observer and thought I’d read it later. By the time I got up properly, a bit later than usual at 6, I saw a message from a contact with an article showing my picture and by line. It was the same piece!

I’d written the draft nearly 3 months ago, and some things take time to move in Jamaica. But, no grumbles, as it still reads in a nice way and I can stand firmly behind my own thoughts.

So, enjoy your 3-days of no movement by having some brain food about our diaspora. Blessings to us all.

Hot air isn’t going to solve Jamaica’s oxygen shortage problem-August 28, 2021

The public health services crisis in Jamaica is hitting some important bollards. Once again, oxygen supplies for hospitals are running low:

So far, the government has not felt the need to address this with any major public statement. But, the Opposition is urging overtures to foreign suppliers:

This shortage is not a problem particular to Jamaica, as last week Florida’s COVID crisis was hitting a similar wall:

There, the liquid oxygen crisis is hitting other industries:

Florida’s mayor has also urged people to curb water consumption because liquid oxygen is used to purify water:

Vaccine mandates coming step by step-August, 27 2021

Just because Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness said he did not think his government making vaccines mandatory would pass the constitutional test does not mean that a significant proportion of the population will not be mandated to be vaccinated. It just may not be a national diktat.

What we’re seeing in other countries is that major corporations and public institutions that handle large volumes of people, eg airlines, universities, school districts, etc are mandating vaccines for staff and customers. So, gradually, the landscape for those who do not wish to be vaccinated is shrinking.

Logic suggests that this will become ‘survival mode’ and the norm for large institutions dealing with large volumes of people and so spread vaccine mandates ‘place by place’, which may well avoid constitutional issues of national mandates. So, it’s no surprise that some banks have gone this way, as in Canada:

Delta Airlines will impose higher health care insurance costs on staff who are not vaccinated, with a US$200 a month surcharge:

In Australia and elsewhere medical staff are being mandated to be vaccinated:

A California school district has mandated vaccines for all returning students aged 12 years or over:

California is mulling vaccination mandates for indoor settings, the first state to do so:

San Francisco is mandating proof of vaccine:

We need not go through the full list, but can note this week the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, advised that all students living in halls of residence will need to be vaccinated:

The logic of this is likely to be that all who attend classes need vaccination, to keep the integrity of the housing policy in tact. So, the cordon is likely to spread.

So, public policy in Jamaica is to urge people to get vaccinated.

But, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the call for mandates coming from a wide range of operators as vaccines become more available.