Coronavirus Latest: Aussies Are Smashing Their TVs To Protest Media "Virus"

Monday: VIC meat plant outbreak; "celebrities are not health experts"; what if a vaccine never comes?

Morning! It’s Monday, May 4. Here’s today’s ‘5+5: coronavirus edition’.
Each day I’m bringing you 5 things to know about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak + 5 non-corona things to start your day off.

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Wash your hands and sneeze into your elbow. Practise physical distancing - at least 1.5 metres of separation. “Stay the fuck at home”.

Latest Australian stats: as of 9pm Sunday, Australia has 6801 reported cases of COVID-19, with 5817 reported as ‘recovered’; there have been 95 deaths; and more than 633,107 tests have been done, according to the latest federal Department of Health stats. Full global stats breakdown below


‘99%’ group smashes TVs in media COVID protest

So this is a new one. A small but enthusiastic group of Australians have spent the weekend smashing their televisions and computer monitors with sledgehammers, garden tools and meat tenderisers, in a protest against media “telling us what to think” during the coronavirus outbreak. It was inspired by a Facebook group claiming to represent the “99%”, with around 23,000 members, started by a former contestant on a short-lived reality TV cooking show (ironically, considering the type of protest) contestant.

“Film yourself speaking about distrust in the media how you're sick of the lies. Destroy your newspaper, radio or TV however you see fit,” the protest instructions from the group’s leader, imploring people to post their video online. People are encouraged to read from a script saying they “formally put the defacto Australian and state governments on notice” over alleged “negligent criminal treasonous actions towards the Australian people”.

The former reality star, in his own video, pulls out an older boxy television, calling it a “tell-a-vision. This thing has been telling us what to think”.

“No longer will we be programmed,” he yells, as he lifts the TV above his head and smashes it on the concrete in his yard.

In a supercut video of various clips, dozens of people follow suit, using a range of tools to smash monitors and TV sets. “You are the virus,” one woman says of the media (my favourite is the guy at the end who tries and fails to set a newspaper alight).

It’s not clear exactly which alleged “lies” the group is upset about, but the complaints seem to link back to coronavirus lockdowns and social distancing rules.

The group’s leader also went out to Victorian state parliament over the weekend, filming a discussion between himself, a small group of supporters and police where he says “we’re not here to protest, we’re here to demand answers”. He asks police about lockdowns, death rates and previous virus modelling. The group has spoken about gathering for a similar meeting next Sunday at parliament also.

Victorian outbreak at meat processing plant

The state of Victoria seems to be shifting into the main battleground — politically, at least — for coronavirus in Australia. Following yesterday’s drama with education minister Dan Tehan taking aim at premier Daniel Andrews over schools (then quickly withdrawing the comments after cases were found at a primary school), another 22 cases were announced this morning in the state. It’s the biggest daily number in some weeks, with 19 of those linked to a meat processing plant (story here).

VIC has massively stepped up testing, with 13,000 tests yesterday — the biggest single-day total of any state nationwide so far.

“Celebrities are not health experts”

In case you needed another refresher, the president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has warned — listen to the experts, not random famous people on social media.

Harry Nespolon tweeted that in relation to an SBS article, delving into the dearth of fake news and misinfo circulating around COVID.

"It’s an order of magnitude bigger than all of the other examples of misinformation I’ve seen before,” Associate Professor Adam Dunn, who leads biomedical informatics and digital health at the University of Sydney, told SBS.

"And also I haven’t seen anything that’s had this much of a detrimental effect on people’s health and their lives as we’ve seen with this pandemic."

The hunt for a vaccine

While various experts talk about hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir as possible COVID treatments, the hunt is still on for a vaccine to stop infections before they take hold. The Guardian published this article last week, on the vaccine push to “ensure they go to the most needy, not the highest bidder”.

CNN has published this article asking the question "What happens if a coronavirus vaccine is never developed?” The article warns “It has happened before”, detailing how “nearly four decades and 32 million deaths later, the world is still waiting for an HIV vaccine.”

Today’s stats:

The latest stats from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (as of 9.30am AEST Monday) report 3,503,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide. There have been 247,306 deaths.

The United States has 1,157,687 confirmed cases, with Spain next but far behind on 217,466, then Italy (210,717). The U.S. has the most deaths (67,674), then Italy (28,884) and the United Kingdom third on 28,446.

In Australia, the latest federal stats (as of 9pm Sunday) show 6801 cases, 5817 people recovered, 95 deaths, and 633,107 tests.

The latest Australian graph:


  • Outside of corona, there is a bit of politics happening. Labor MP Mike Kelly announced his retirement last week, and the race to replace him is already on. For the Coalition, looking to snare his NSW seat of Eden-Monaro, the big contenders are already in parliament — federal senator Jim Molan, who may want to make the switch to the lower house, and NSW state politicians Andrew Constance (Liberal) and deputy premier John Barilaro (Nationals). However, the latter has now dropped out of the race, announcing this morning that he would not run for the seat, and saying Constance should be the man (story here).

  • If you’re in the market for a new podcast, try ‘Rabbit Hole’ from the New York Times. It asks the question “What is the internet doing to us?” and looks at “what happens when our lives move online.” The first two episodes so far are about the insidious logic behind YouTube’s recommendations algorithm, and how the technology — designed simply to make people keep consuming endless amounts of video content — has potentially radicalised a generation of young men into far-right culture warriors.

  • This dog named Bear helped find and rescue more than 100 sick or injured koalas in bushfire-ravaged parts of Australia. Good boy, Bear (story here).

  • Murder hornet. You heard me. If there’s not enough going on already, the NYTimes reports on “The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet” — AKA, “murder hornet” (story here).

  • It’s the 4th of May. May the 4th etc etc. This is the weirdst bit of Star Wars content I’ve seen so far


  • You must stay home at all times unless to shop for essential supplies; get medical care; exercise alone or with one other person; or work and education (more info here).

  • be hygienic; wash your hands properly, 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.

  • Listen to only official information from the World Health Organisation and legitimate health bodies — Don’t share dodgy stuff on Facebook. If it looks too good (or bad) to be true, it often is.

  • World Health Organisation latest statistics here

  • Australian government latest statistics here

Signing off - stay safe, be healthy, look after yourself and others