Partner ban backflip; bin night dress-ups; free childcare; and a long time inside.
Hello, welcome to ‘5+5: coronavirus edition’ for April 2 — gladly, we made it through April Fools’s Day without any major disasters.
Each day I’m bringing you 5 big things to know, and 5 other bits, about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak — misinformation and dodgy claims; good news and bad news; resources to do your own fact-checks, to not fall for shit, and keep abreast of the latest info.
The fire hose of news being blasted out every day is getting more intense and confusing. Let me try to help you get it under control.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter at @joshbutler if you have tips, feedback, ideas or just want to chat. If I’ve made a mistake, shared something I shouldn’t have, or done something wrong, please tell me. I’ll be here.
Wash your hands and sneeze into your elbow. Practise physical distancing - at least 1.5 metres of separation. “Stay the fuck at home”.
5 BIG THINGS
The latest stats from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (as of 6.02pm Sydney time on Thursday) report 938,373 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide. There have been 47,273 deaths, and 194,405 people have recovered.
The United States (216,722 cases) now has nearly double the confirmed cases of Italy (110,574), the next-highest. Spain has jumped to third with 104,118 cases. Italy still has the most deaths (13,155) followed by Spain (9,387)
By comparison, in Australia — the latest federal Department of Health stats (as of 3pm Thursday) show 5,133 cases. The death toll is 23. We’ve done more than 268,000 tests, hailed as one of the highest testing rates in the world, and one of the lowest positive result rates, with testing soon to expand more.
The latest Australian graphs:
OK so maybe you can visit your partner after all
The new stay-at-home laws have been in place for three days now, and we’ve finally — finally — got some clarity on the (very basic, IMHO) question of “can you visit your girlfriend/boyfriend if you don’t live with them?” After Morrison announced the rules at his Sunday presser, the answer was ‘probably yes’ — then on Monday and Tuesday the NSW Premier’s office told me ‘probably no’, and Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said ‘no’ — then on Tuesday, Victoria’s police minister said again ‘no’ — but then on Wednesday, NSW’s police commissioner said ‘yes it falls under care’, and Victoria then backflipped and said ‘yes’ too.
What a roller coaster. Understand now? No? Good, me neither.
But in NSW and Victoria at least, it looks like you’ll be able to visit a partner. Maybe you CAN get laid during the pandemic, after all.
We’re still awaiting clarity on booty calls and Netflix & Chill, but this is something (although we’re being told not to casual date, so ‘partner’ probably won’t apply there)
“A good rule of thumb is that if you are questioning whether you should be doing something, it is best to give it a miss,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.
Settle in for a long spell at home
It was listed in the orders published online, but now it’s been verbally confirmed — these stay at home orders will be enforced for three months, maybe longer. The NSW order expires June 29, so you’d best be prepared to stay inside, only going out for essentials, and not really seeing your friends, until at least the middle of winter — and realistically, with fears the virus could survive longer in the colder months, that June deadline might not be the end of it.
Childcare is free
Yes, you heard that right. There’s been some mind-bogglingly big spending announcements in recent days, including some eye-popping expansions to Australia’s social services safety net (doubling the Jobseeker payment and extending it to countless more people, for a start), and the socialist rollout continued today. Scott Morrison announced childcare centres would be effectively free for parents who need to work, with a billion-dollar package announced. It’s a total overhaul of this system (story here)
The Western Australian border is closing
"Based on the medical advice, we will move to introduce a hard border closure effective from midnight, or 11:59 pm, on Sunday night," WA Premier Mark McGowan said Thursday, calling the state an “island within an island”. (Story here)
5 OTHER THINGS:
Scott Morrison recited bible verses on an online prayer session via Zoom, organised by members of a group that recently published a blog asking if coronavirus was punishment for sin or the work of the "demonic" - my story here.
People are dressing up to take out the bins, in a coronavirus isolation group. It’s very funny (story here)
NSW Police issued 13 infringement notices for breaching coronavirus stay at home rules — including to a guy sitting on a bench eating a kebab (after they’d warned him twice already). Other people fined have included window washers at traffic lights, people sitting in a car, and some guys drinking in a park. The fine is $1000. Don’t muck around.
But people are already trying to find loopholes:
IMPORTANT EVERY DAY:
You “must” stay home at all times unless: shopping for essential supplies, and even then, doing that as infrequently as possible; getting medical care; exercising alone or with one other person; or work and education.
be hygienic; wash your hands properly, for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, multiple times a day (here’s how you need to do it, plus a handy Dr Karl video tutorial); sneeze and cough into your elbows; use hand sanitiser
Listen to only official information from the World Health Organisation and legitimate health bodies
World Health Organisation latest statistics here
Australian government latest statistics here
Don’t share dodgy stuff on Facebook. If it looks too good (or bad) to be true, it often is. Verify, fact-check, don’t be part of the misinformation problem
Signing off - stay safe, be healthy, look after yourself and others