Anyone who knows me will cringe at the title, as I am a famously dyslexic at math. The numbers jumble and cavort on the page, and spreadsheets are like Rorschach tests: “Oooh! A pretty butterfly! No? Oh, I see it now, it’s baby Jesus riding an elephant!” But numbers to me are alluring, hinting as they do at hidden solutions. It’s as if the algorhythms of life are solvable, just buried in the labrynths of arcane formulae. So I wake each morning wanting to know the numbers, and today they proclaim 450 new cases, and one more death. But, I stutter, on March 1st we had only 28 cases and no deaths — now we have 3636 cases and 14 dead?? And its accelerating?

What do you see? Armageddon. Another dead septuagenarian lying on his back, with what appears to be a humongous danger-noodle between his legs. Another dead Australian. That interpretation suggests I have a morbid fixation on the virus. Ask how many Australians have recovered and I couldn’t officially tell you. Our chief broadcaster the ABC suggests we’ve had 224 recoveries vs 14 deaths, but our government’s epidemiology reports don’t even mention recoveries. So how about some official good news guys! Maybe there isn’t any… I get the feeling there isn’t a politician in the country who wants to be the first to line this ominous cloud in silver, not until it’s shed every drop of woe it intends to rain upon us.

Two dead Yorkshire Terriers standing in a pool of their own blood. Or the skeletal pelvic girdle of another dead Australian… Worryingly, I’m now hearing that pets can catch the virus. Earlier this month a dog in Hong Kong tested ‘weakly’ for the virus, in the world’s first case of human-to-animal transmission; now, a cat in Belgium has reportedly contracted COVID-19 from its owner. I can’t do ‘social distancing’ with a cat that just wants a cuddle or a little scratch under the chin! How many hundreds of thousands of individuals are sheltering at home right now with nobody but Scruffy to keep them company? Doesn’t sound like positive news to me.

Poor kitten! But back to the numbers. After a couple of positive (ie reducing) days, here in NSW we’ve experienced a surge in the past 48 hours. Mostly this is as a result of a huge increase in testing (32% of our population so far), so we’re picking up outliers and hopefully reducing community transmission rates. But another worrying stat is the number of Australians flouting health orders by not maintaining social distancing or, worse, going out in public when they are actually COVID-19 positive and subject to a quarrantine notice! We should reintroduce public floggings at bare minimun, to deter the “she’ll be right” minority that put the majority at risk. But that mentality is ingrained in the national psyche, as is an implacable anti-authoritarianism. “Don’t tell me what to do!” is usually followed by the c-word, which trips off and Aussies lips as glibly as an American say “Have a nice day!”

If you watched ‘ciggy butt brain’ overseas, let me tell you that it’s 100% accurate. I’ve met Damo and Darren a hundred times, and yes, they speak exactly like that. Except they’d both be sheltering at home now, wouldn’t they? Except they aren’t. Damo and Darren are out in the community, visiting their dealer in the morning, doing a bit of thieving in the afternoon, getting wasted every night. The fact there’s an international plague the likes of nothing we’ve seen since 1918 would not deter them one iota. They know they’ll survive this. Cockroaches like Damo and Darren will survive because herd immunity only benefits you if you’re part of the herd.

Tomorrow, I’ll be waking before dawn to load my prospecting equipment into the car, drive 300km and spend the day fossicking on Dark Corner Creek for gold. I won’t care if I come home with nothing, enough that I’m out of the house for a day. I won’t see another human being except for the Indian guy behind the perspex sceen at the service station when I fuel up for the day and and buy my breakfast pie. Of course I have hand sanitiser in the car and will de-bug before I eat said pie, because I touched the petrol pump and god knows what festy plague-carrier handled it before me. That’s the world we live in now. Everybody is a threat. Every surface, teeming. The new normal? Two months ago, we were talking about bushfires and terrorism, remember those?

Batman. Or a Qantas flight bringing the next bunch of infectors to our island nation. Why haven’t we shut our borders yet? Because our weak-ass Prime Minister doesn’t want to hurt ‘the economy’. How badly will it effect the eonomy when we start stacking the dead in the streets? People need to stop counching every decision in light of their re-election chances, and get fair dinkum. People are dying. Do what you have to do to stop the dying. We can rebuild businesses. But nobody will listen to this until they lose somebody they love. Batman can’t save us now.

Just look at this fucking buffoon. In the US right now, the US President has said that a NY quarantine will ‘not be necessary’, because Cuomo is worried about ‘paralysing’ the financial sector. God I love New York. I am horrified that the people in charge are putting economics ahead of New York lives. As awful as it is to say this, I hope Trump loses somebody he loves, because until that happens he will continue to put an economic dollar value on the lives of Americans. The rest or the world will look on in fascinated morbid horror as the numbers mount: today, 52,318 confirmed cases with 728 deaths, and the numbers are accelerating.

To my US readers, God help you, and good luck. If you’re home and want a chat with somebody far away, message me anytime.

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