In Quarantine, Again

Journal: 052

Nyabing S

Yes, I’m back in quarantine. The Covid-19 blow-up in Victoria has caught up with me. No, I’m not ill, but the understandable response of the other states has been to allow truck drivers from Victoria to drive and unload etc., but to otherwise be isolated.

Here are some figures, those for Indiana, USA and Birmingham, UK are for our friends Melanie (GTL) and Liz (Adventures in Reading etc..)

Victoria (pop. 6.5m)       New cases/deaths: 273/1   Total: 3,799/24 (source)
Rest of Aust. (pop. 19m)   New cases/deaths: 6/0    Total: 6,000/84
Indiana (pop. 6.7m)         New cases/deaths: 793/8  Total: 51,079/2,563 (source)
Birmingham (pop. 4.3m) New cases/deaths: ?/4     Total:  ?/3,145 (source)

Of course the situations in USA and UK are an ongoing, unmitigated disaster, as they also seem to be in Brazil, India and sub-Saharan Africa, though the Australian media don’t pay them much attention. I’ve commented before that we are living in an age that confirms the prescience of Science Fiction. This trip I listened to Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos (1985) about the future of the human race after a bug wipes out everyone except some castaways on a Galapagos island.

Science fact rather than science fiction. No-one seems to remember David Suzuki any more. Remember he said 30 years ago that it was simple mathematics that with the population of the world doubling every few decades, from 1 bil. to 2 to 4 to 8 to 16, we would very quickly get to a level the planet was unable to support. Well, now we are there. Yes, we can still theoretically grow enough food, but population densities and mobility are now such that the spread of new viruses is becoming uncontainable. I thought I might be dead before the inevitable Malthusian implosion, but seems not.

It would have been interesting if the virus had come in a non-election year, because I think that the forces of reason, such as they are in the US, may have overthrown the president and attempted to contain the spread. But of course the forces of reason may in turn have been overthrown by the forces of naked capitalism, as indeed they have.

What I really meant to write, before I started running around crying ‘the end of the world is nigh’ (I have a white beard, I really should let it flow) is that 8 or 9 days ago, after a couple of weeks home and getting some work done on the truck, a customer popped up with a B Double load to Victoria, involving a detour to a farm down south which is my excuse for the photo above (it’s a Fargo, from the 1950s, and still a goer).

My delivery was to Leongatha in fertile, hilly Gippsland east of Melbourne where – speaking of ‘home’, as my last Journal did – we lived for five years in the 1950s, out past the milk factory which I used to see (and smell) across the paddocks from our little row of housing commission weatherboards down a gravel lane, and now surrounded by light industry. The paddocks so shockingly green after the mallee and desert country I’m used to.

My mate Homer who has loaded me out every trip for 15 months now since Dragan left me stranded in Melbourne on my first trip with my own trailers, was ready for me and I was in Melbourne for not much more than 24 hours before I was on my way home again. I was expecting trouble at the SA border (Yamba, near Renmark) and had been keeping a log of my contacts in Victoria, as required. That was ok but they also needed me to log onto SAPol and generate an entry number. Tedious at 10 o’clock at night, but soon done.

Twenty four hours later I was at the WA border, which had had the most formal entry requirements right from the beginning. An apologetic policeman told me that the rules had changed even as he was coming onto this shift and that as I was coming from Victoria he was obliged to put me under conditional quarantine. I, and he, signed some papers and then he requested that I photograph them as he had no copies.

WA border quarantine doc 4

I was to travel straight home by the most direct route, and there I must stay for 14 days unless “conducting authorised business as a specialist within your scope of work.” Apparently, I am permitted to leave if the house catches fire, but I must stay nearby and return as soon as possible. It was about 2 deg C in the middle of the night in mid winter on the cliffs above the Southern Ocean, though briefly not raining, as the poor bugger read all this out to me.

Now it’s Sunday, I’m home. Milly came round yesterday afternoon before I arrived and stocked me up with much better provisions than I would buy myself, to make up for the fact I guess, that if I continue running to Victoria it might be some months before I can go round to her place for dinner, let alone take her out.

This afternoon I will catch up on the Indigenous Lit Week posts I have missed (most of them), start writing up one of my own (Tues or Weds I hope, Lisa), catch up with the rest of you, do my EOFY bookwork (just joking, though I’d better do my end of quarter GST), tomorrow I will unload and Friday, I hope, I will be on my way again.

 

Recent audiobooks 

Kurt Vonnegut (M, USA), Galapagos (1985) – SF
David Quammen (M, USA), The Soul of Viktor Tronko (1987)
Peter Temple (M, Aust/Vic), The Broken Shore (2005) – Crime
Chevy Stevens (F, Can), That Night (2014) – Crime
JD Robb (F, USA), Kindred in Death (2009) – SF/Crime
Henry James (M, USA), The Turn of the Screw (1898) – Horror

Currently reading

Martin Boyd, The Cardboard Crown
Anita Heiss (F, Aust/NSW), Not Meeting Mr Right
Sally Rooney (F, Ire), Normal People
Elizabeth Gaskell (F, Eng), Cranford
Anita Heiss ed. (F, Aust/NSW), Growing up Aboriginal in Australia
Meredith Lake (F, Aust/NSW), The Bible in Australia. Don’t Ask!

30 thoughts on “In Quarantine, Again

  1. Ah yes, us Victorians are on everyone’s blacklist right now… Alas, I fear we are the first to have a second wave. And the first to have a second lockdown. I think life over the next couple of years will have many waves and many more lockdowns (although, hopefully we can adopt new language – as someone on Twitter said, ‘lockdown’ has a punitive connotation, whereas terms like “sheltering in place” or “shielding” imply protective benefits, reminding us why we’re doing this).

    I remember David Suzuki, and in fact he was highly influential in my life and early career (I heard him speak in the nineties and somewhere I have a signed copy of Time to Change). It would probably be frighteningly true if I read it again now…

    Take care, and hope your quarantine time is relaxing not frustrating!

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    • I heard that some truck drivers are avoiding Victoria and I imagine bigger trucking companies will do more changeovers at the border so that drivers are nearly always in their home state. I’ll keep coming to Vic for the time being because that’s where my work is. No more social visits though, so it might be a year or two before you and I share a gin.

      Given that I’ll be in near permanent isolation in WA until I’m willing (or forced) to stay home more than two weeks, it might be a while before I share a drink with anyone.

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  2. Orange County, California (which I am watching daily) FOR 11 July:
    Pop. 3.2m; New cases/deaths 1251/9; Total 23,901/421.
    Horrendous. My friend’s city within the county, has a population of under 64,000, with 307 cases. I feel so sorry for her as she is not a supporter of the regime, and has been angry from Day 1 of his election.

    Love your pic by the way.

    My brother is hoping to drive down to Tasmania this coming week. He understands that if he drives through Vic straight to the Spirit of Tasmania port (stopping only for petrol) he won’t have to quarantine (as he did back in April) but just self-isolate BUT of course, as you found, the rules could change by the hour.

    As for ILW, at least you’ve posted on review. My first I will hope to post around Wednesday/Thursday, if I get the book finished in the next two to three days.

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    • Officials in public health in the USA must be weeping with rage as they attempt to limit the spread of the outbreak while the president, still supported by many if not most Republicans, actively undermines them. America will be the new Argentina by the time this is all over. I’m sure Trump will have a heart attack or something before the inevitable court cases and appeals wind through the courts but I hope his smug, and complicit, adult children at least rot in jail.

      I took a whole series of pics – and there was another 1950s goer and 3 tractors which gave my brother palpitations – for a Facebook group called Old & Abandoned Australia.

      Good luck Ian. Do the right thing, of course, but if Tasmania is being cautious then I guess it’s 14 days hard for you.

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      • Oh don’t you feel sorry for Fauci, and the legion of them around the country. I just can’t imagine how they must be feeling, how frustrated.

        l’ll try to fnd that Facebook page.

        Oh yes, Ian will do the right thing, but I really hope it’s just self-isolation. He will cope with quarantine, if it comes to that, but he deserves to catch a break.

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  3. David Suzuki was a bit of a hero of mine. Kate & I did the same uni course (I was a few years ahead) and he was v influential in many of the environmental planning subjects I took.

    As for Leongatha, my old stomping ground, I’m not sure when I’ll be seeing her again. Was there st Christmas but that seems a lifetime ago now. My parents say it hasn’t stopped raining for weeks (They had to get new drainage for the continually flooded garden) so I’m not surprised everything looked green!

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    • I had heard so little of Suzuki that I was surprised to find he was still alive. Turns out he’s 4 years younger than my mum, so I don’t blame him for taking a break. As Canada comes on line this evening perhaps we’ll find he’s still speaking up at home.

      It was funny being in Leongatha, but once I was oriented I could see which way our street was and where in the main street mum parked when my 4yo brother released the handbrake and the car rolled down the hill. I have a couple more loads to do and may stay in a pub there for a night or two while my customer puts my trailers through his paint shop, which will give me a chance to walk around where I first learned to ride a bike. I wonder if Janet Brewster who broke my heart in 1959 will meet me for coffee.

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  4. What a pain to get caught out with those changes of regs. A few hours earlier at the border and you’d have Ben free. At least Victoria is acting swiftly and taking the right actions. I’m thankful I don’t live in USA where my life would be endangered because of political ambitions and idiots who rank personal freedom higher than health.

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    • I don’t really mind my home state being strict, for once I can say ‘It was for my own good’ and mean it. The big problem in Victoria has been the privatisation of policing – a worldwide problem, as crowd control and security are increasingly handed over to amateurs and cowboys.

      I’m interested that you feel the UK government has handled the crisis better than the US. My understanding is that your death rate is higher. For instance this article from The Conversation, news stories written by Australian academics
      https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-five-reasons-why-the-uk-death-toll-is-so-high-140005
      not that I disagree with your description of America’s leaders!

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  5. The whole thing is an absolute pain, and the worst part is that there seems no end to it.
    In general I don’t mind staying home, but I was looking forward to a nice restaurant for my birthday, and I was also looking forward to a nice day in the Yarra Valley. ‘Tis not to be…

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    • There may well be no end to it, to Covid 19. Though we may by good fortune manage to lockdown it out of existence, if the other states haven’t de-isolated prematurely. Otherwise it will be a case of living with it – limited crowds, rigorous personal hygiene, face masks on, the end of swimming (sorry Kate). Cheap restaurants and small bars are based on cramming 100-200 people into very small spaces – they’ll be gone for sure. We will have to re-imagine eateries with tables at 2m centres, 3m with wait staff. A pub dining room 10m x 10m would hold 16 tables at 2m centres, 64 customers max but closer to 40 if most bookings were couples. I’ll stop now, it’s too depressing.

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  6. That all sounds very confusing; glad you’re stocked up with supplies and hope you can have a nice time doing some reading and catching up.

    4.3 million in Birmingham?? Then I looked at the source: that’s Birmingham, the Black Country which includes Wolverhampton and Dudley (and yes, that’s a conurbation so fair enough) and then Staffordshire, which is a whole other county! However, as I’m sure you found, it’s hard to find figures for just Birmingham. I remembered suddenly there was a look up by area thing on the BBC and found it https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51768274 so actually more deaths than your stats and now I wish I hadn’t looked. We are a big conurbation with a high percentage of BAME residents and lots of poverty and overcrowding and big hospitals, though – we were a hot spot at the start.

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    • Birmingham is the UK’s second biggest city, right? Which is why I went for the conurbation pop. (Wiki gives pop. figures of 1m, 3m and 4m for the city, the urban area, and everything around, now I look again). Even so it’s smaller than Melbourne or Sydney, which surprised me. Those BBC figures show that you are well past the peak which is reassuring, though the situation in Victoria is a demonstration of how easily it can flare up again.
      Anyway, I’m glad you’re out and running (and once again writing about running). Stay cautious!

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      • The West Midlands conurbation includes Coventry and Warwickshire while Staffordshire is stretching it. And second city, which we argue about with Manchester, not sure which is bigger! Remember we are very concentrated in London with smaller other cities.

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      • I hadn’t realised how concentrated. The two facts I remember from school geography were that no one in England is more than 68 miles from the sea, and London and Australia had the same population – 10 mil.

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  7. You have as many COVID cases in all of Victoria as the next county over from me, Elkhart, and keep in mind that counties are quite small. Elkhart County seems to always be in the news. It’s the RV manufacturing capital of the U.S., so during the recession it had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Obama even came to . . . I dunno, show support? Their mayor now did not create a mask health ordinance, so their cases have risen so fast that the Centers for Disease Control out of Atlanta, Georgia, sent up a team of people to find out what the hell is going on. I’m in the next county over, and we certainly have our fair share of people from Elkhart who come over to work. In fact, I work with several such people. Wish me luck.

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    • Australia has been lucky – lucky that it’s an island anyway and also that the states are relatively simple to cut off from each other – or well managed, or a bit of both. The Right pick such odd battles – race, climate change and now, Covid-19 – I can only imagine the rational response to each makes them feel threatened. It’s a damn shame they’ve politicised mask wearing and social distancing, and I feel for you having to live with the consequences. Interestingly, mask wearing hasn’t been mandated here yet, though I expect it will be soon, if the ending of severe isolation brings an uptick in cases.

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      • No. By 10% of people maybe and by police etc in face to face situations. Perth has effectively zero cases so it’s hard for me to judge, and I am very rarely in enclosed spaces other than my home anyway. What the situation is in Melbourne and Sydney shopping centres and public transport I don’t know. The roadhouses where I eat and shower in South Aust and Victoria have very good separation policies in place but yes, I probably need to start wearing a mask.

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  8. Glad you’re safe and well, Bill, and my commiserations to everyone in second lockdown. I fear the rest of us will be joining you soon, anyway. Your reading lists are always impressive – I’ll be especially curious to know what you thought of Mrs Gaskell (Cranford) and Meredith Lake’s bible book. I’ve heard it’s excellent (I’ve met Meredith briefly and she’s awesome).

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    • Thank you. At the moment Covid-19 is like Tattslotto wins, people have them but not anyone I know. Covid-19 is not going to go away though, anymore than that other coronavirus, the common cold has, so I suspect that will change.
      Both the books you mention I am finding hard going. Lake’s history pre-supposes an importance for religion that I do not grant; and Cranford, much as I like Gaskell, is tedious. But both will be reviewed! Normal People on the other hand I raced through. I loved it and it will be reviewed ‘soon’ too.

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  9. From the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator:

    Monday 13 July update

    Effective immediately the Northern Territory has changed their travel restrictions to stop all travel from declared coronavirus hotspots. All of Victoria is currently a declared hotspot.

    Anyone who is permitted to enter WA who has been in Victoria for the previous 14 days will be served with a notice on arrival. The notice will compel them to take a COVID-19 test on day 11 of their time in Western Australia or at any point when symptoms develop.

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  10. Good luck with the second lockdown. Waiting is an opportunity to read.

    Here the epidemy is rising up again and we will have to wear masks in all closed buildings (which is fine by me) I want to wreck the neck of these inconsiderate and stupid young people who party in crowds and risk creating new clusters. If they don’t feel threatened for themselves, don’t they have grandparents to care about?

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    • There is a major new cluster in Sydney which appears to have been caused by Victorian truck drivers drinking or staying at an outer-suburban hotel. So not just kids. But kids partying is going to be an on-going problem it seems, and I don’t think the hormones that drive their ‘thinking’ even acknowledge that grandparents exist.

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  11. It must be frustrating to be a trucker right now. I know some of the Canadian truckers who have to drive to the US are coming back with Covid. Take are of yourself! I’m glad you have someone to bring you groceries!

    I didn’t know the premise of Galapagos… it sounds timely. Was it good?

    I love David Suzuki!

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    • It would be more frustrating to be unable to work. My only problem with Milly bringing me groceries is that she brought me too much. Eating and not being able to move around are a very poor combination!

      Vonnegut is always good. Most of the novel is about the castaways and the circumstances which led to this final voyage, but the perspective is from a million years in the future when humans have devolved into seals.

      I thought you might say you see Dr Suzuki from time to time on the news.

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  12. I’m behind in my online reading, so I’m late to learn of this. I hope, by now, your days are feeling a little more normal. Surely you’ll have eaten through all those groceries by now, at least.

    Suzuki was a huge presence in my life. He went to high school near where I lived for many years (he attended there in the early 1950s though) and he was the first person I knew of, as a celebrity, who came from a place that I knew. When he published his biography, I was all over it. 🙂 His experiment with reducing household waste fundamentally changed the way that I bought and made things and I still think of him as inspiration in these efforts even now. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a peek at him and the family members, who are still wholly engaged in the Foundation’s mandate. It’s wonderful to think that his influence has stretched to the other side of the globe!

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    • I think Suzuki was the go to guru for a while – too short a while. I avoid population debate because it is so often code for excluding ‘the other’, but the idea of getting to 16 billion in my children’s lifetime terrifies me. I can’t think of a celebrity who came from anywhere near me, a couple of footballers maybe, certainly no one important. I don’t even know the guys on Outback Truckers.

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