Wednesday, 13th January, 2021

[Day 303]

We are always a little delayed on a Wednesday morning as it is the day on which we have to update our Waitrose shopping order in time for delivery in the morning. At the same time, I need to remember, (a few minutes after midnight!) to book my slot for a fortnight’s time. I have learnt over the weeks that new delivery slots get released just after midnight and although there were a few glitches with the website last night (on the server side), soon was all resolved and we got our order into hit the relevant slot.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to deepen as the number of deaths at 1564 exceeds the rate of one death per minute during the last 24 hours. There are some very slight signs that the rate of new infections (which eventually feeds into hospital admissions and ultimately, for some, deaths in hospital) may be just about lessening. It looks as though the death rate in this second wave of the pandemic has already exceeded the entire death rate from the first wave and we are not yet at the peak of this second wave. It could be that the lockdown measures are starting to have some import but it takes a week or so for these to be reflected in hospital admissions and even more in the death rate.

Meanwhile, many eyes this evening are focussed on the American political system as the House of Representatives may be about to impeach Donald Trump – if so, this will be the first time in history that a sitting president has been impeached twice. The House of Representatives have filed one article of impeachment, accusing Donald Trump of “incitement of insurrection”. This comes following the deadly riots that took place at the Capitol in Washington DC last Wednesday after a speech by Mr Trump to his supporters. Impeachment just means that formal charges have been laid and it takes a two thirds majority in the Senate to convict which is quite a high bar. However, there are other sanctions that can be applied which only require a simple Senate majority so there are several options open to the legislature after impeachment has actually taken place. As I blog, I am following the rather arcane procedures in the House of Representatives where each speaker is only allowed about a minute – this prevents the uttering of filibustering speeches I would imagine.

Returning to domestic matters, readers may remember that last Saturday a group entered the park with a portable loudspeaker declaiming loudly that the whole of COVID-19 is a massive hoax and similar rubbish. I read in a local newspaper feed that four people from the area have been arrested charged with offences against public order. The principal transgression is that this group have been entering local hospitals (often at night) and photographing empty areas of the hospital to attempt to ‘prove’ that the pandemic is a gigantic hoax. Four men have been bailed but with the condition that they are not allowed to enter a hospital, except in a case of medical emergency. I suppose this means that might still try and speak again in a public place but the press reports are very sparse so I only have the slightest of details.

There are several juicy little morsels of news this evening. One of these is that because of the intense pressure felt within the hospitals at the moment, there are plans to ‘decant’ several patients from hospitals into hotels to release much needed hospital beds. What the patients feel about this, I wonder – some might enjoy it but others may feel very nervous and worried by these procedures. A second little titbit of news is that Boris Johnson has admitted that the schools may not reopen after the half-term break in mid February. If this is the case, then we can forget about schools opening at all until well after the Easter vacation. The third little bit of news is the way that British politicians are positioning themselves in the light of the impending Trump impeachment. Boris Johnson for one is still arguing for the ‘special relationship’ with Donald Trump. Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has accused senior Tories of “sycophancy” in their dealings with the Trump administration. “Ministers were so eager to swallow the Trump playbook of how politics should be done that they abandoned British values, interests and their own self-respect,” she said.