parting gifts

Red alert, day 34. Lockdown, day 24. Suffolk has 499 (+6) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1589 (+27, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 509 (+13, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning. The UK has recorded 98,476 positive results (after 398,916 tests, some on the same person). There have been 12,686 (+761) patient deaths.

Health Minister Matt Hancock denied having promised there would be 25,000 tests a day by now. (On April 14, there were 15,994 tests.) Hancock’s headline message today was that he he wanted to ensure people who were dying could see their loved ones. According to Twitter they now seem to be getting to see them on a nurse’s or doctor’s phone if they are lucky. He also pledged to expand care home testing.

In what would become his most mocked talking point, Hancock, who has rejected NHS nurse pay raises in a vote referenced without a date by Twitter, said he wanted carers to be recognized with a badge that said CARE. Apparently they would have to buy the badge.

Hancock also praised a 99 year-old veteran who walked a marathon in his backyard to raise money for the NHS, because apparently we can’t do that by taxing companies and oligarchs. The 99 year-old veteran now has a slew of imitators. (I will confess to never having understood the logic of funding individuals to run and walk and swim to raise marginal funds for healthcare. How about we all just march at a slow and inclusive pace to the polls and elect a government that will collect the taxes? I don’t mind being taxed a bit more too.)

The Duke of Westminster has donated £12.5 million to the NHS, although Twitter says he could have donated as much as £3.3 billion if he’d paid his inheritance tax. (The Grosvenors own large slices of central London and are good at trust funds. May I point out that equivalent slices of Helsinki are owned, or used to be, by the University of Helsinki Students’ Union. This is the difference between the countries in a nutshell.)

At least two thirds of graduating students have had job offers withdrawn because of the virus, the Guardian reported, citing a survey of 5,000 students.

The drive to recruit more farmworkers to pick harvests has been unsuccessful. Planeloads of Romanian workers are being flown in as usual. What critics have not taken into account is that the farms are in remote areas and many require you to leave your family and live on site. Also, picking at speed is not exactly unskilled labor, any more than most other tasks whether they’re insecure and poorly paid or not.

Anecdata: New York Airbnb hosts are unable to rent their properties as hotels and so will be dumping them onto the normal rental market, or possibly the sale market, creating downside pressure on real estate (@teroterotero). We can dream. Other lifestyle indicators: bicycle use is up, Netflix value is up.

Some reports on COVID-19 and language are beginning to appear. On the retrospective side there is a blog post from Bernadette Paton of the OED, antedating terms like self-isolation and PPE. On the prospective side there is a lexicon of terms people are trying to make happen from Tony Thorne. The subtler effects will take longer to see. My Helsinki colleague Elina Huhtikangas wrote her MA thesis on breath in Shakespeare and its relation to airborne diseases. Perhaps we’ll again start talking about sweet and foul breath. (Elina moved to Manchester circa 2003 and we lost track of her. I can’t find her work but there is more on the topic.)

I listened to a DAUK tax webinar that said citizens abroad are entitled to the $1,200 one-time payout; however you have to have filed your last two years’ tax returns. OK, that’s on the to-do list. I am finally going to have to master online taxes as I am doing it without a printer (not even a library printer) and possibly without postal service. Current UBI scorecard:

Of course you have to actually get your paperwork processed to get any benefits and there are some scary reports going around of wait times in the benefits pipeline at the moment.

Posted on by Diana ben-Aaron
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