COVID No. 1
Read to save yourself from ignorance.
Write to save yourself from confusion.
I’ve got some stuff to get off my chest. The title, COVID No. 1, implies there may be follow-ups to this post. That may or may not actually be the case. If you go on to read this, I’d like to point out one thing up-front: I never asked you to.
I’ve been largely supportive of the Tasmanian State Government’s approach to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, but the re-opening on the 15th of December 2021 and events subsequent to that date have rapidly eroded my good will.
As the borders opened and cases inevitably started to spread, we had first the elimination of the notion of low-risk exposure sites and Casual Contacts, which was rapidly followed by an utterly nonsensical redefinition of the meaning of a Close Contact. Now, according to the State Government, you can only effectively be a Close Contact in your own home. That, and a complete surrender of the contact tracing effort have rendered the Check In App completely pointless. There is now literally no point in anyone ‘checking-in’ anywhere, ever again.
Version 1 of the Check In app was released on November 25, 2020, and it passed 100,000 installs on April 24, 2021 - more than nine months ago. I’ve been a regular user of the app, ‘checking in’ everywhere displaying a QR code as I was asked to, and as a responsible citizen should. But now, since there is no longer any effective contact tracing and only the farcical Close Contacts being reported, why would you check in? There is no reason, no point and I’m not the only one to make that observation.
The concept of a Check-In only works when you have broad based community support because if a significant proportion of people don’t bother then the collected information is insufficient to inform a contact tracing effort (not that we’re worring about that anymore anyway). So good job Government, you could barely have killed this thing more quickly if you’d made that your explicit goal.
And what is the goal now, exactly? I’ve held the view for some time now that COVID-19 is eventually likely to end up like the Flu: that is to say it will be endemic, and you’ll go a get a COVID shot every year just like you get a Flu shot. To be clear, I’ve never held the view that COVID-19 is ‘just the flu’ like a bunch of twits on the internet; it’s clearly (to date) been more serious than that. If you disagree, stop reading this and go do something productive with your time, like eating sand or sniffing glue. Remember, I didn’t ask you to read this.
The strains to date have not been something we’d like to be endemic; as of today COVID-19 has killed 824,000 people in the USA. That’s equivalent to killing 64,000 Australians. So far it’s actually been a little over two thousand but only because we’ve been more careful about letting it spread.
It is possible that Omicron (the flavour de jour) will be different. Personally I think it’s too early to make that call. It’s also naive to think that Omicron will be the last variant; before mid-November Omicron was virtually unheard of. It’s the second of January; it’s been 6 weeks. Do you really think there won’t be another variant?
But back to the point I was aiming for. We’ve opened the borders, massively reduced our contact tracing efforts, redefined the meaning of risk and the end result is that we are providing what I consider to be negligent public health advice. Oh, you spent a bunch of time with some people who have now tested positive for the super contagious Omicron strain while they were most likely contagious, but it wasn’t in your home? No need to get tested or isolate; you’ll be fine. That’s bullshit. That’s the politicial tail wagging the public health dog. And yes, that’s the ‘advice’ being given at the moment.
Is it possible that the unstated goal is now to encourage Omicron to spread as rapidly as possible, in order to hasten the endemic state? Honestly, the policy settings appear to be pointing towards that goal. Of course, it won’t be stated out loud in those terms, even if it were true. We don’t say the quiet parts out loud around here
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Nail, meet hammer. At this stage I don’t think the Government is explicitly aiming to bring on an endemic phase of Omicron; I don’t think they’re competent enough to do that on purpose. It might end up happening anyway through ignorance and negligence, but it probably won’t be by design. In the meantime, I’ll be avoiding eating out and attending events, and doing my damndest to avoid catching Omicron (or Delta, or whatever)….
I’ve got a bit more I’d like to say but I’m not entirely reckless about this; after all my real name is on this thing. Suffice to say I’m deeply unimpressed with the current policy settings. I’m sure I’m not the only one.