Frankenstein’s Covid Briefing Bingo

Three in one week, kittens! Three Covid briefings in a single week! For fans of the bingo, this is great news; for fans of public health and individual well-being, not so great news.

Covid-19 is definitely a case of “no news is good news,” at least in countries where the government is not in the Fake News business every day, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything it stands for. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in that country to be President?

Yet again, we should listen to Linus. And Descartes.

Meanwhile, in the US:

Sorry, where was I?

Right, I was about to explain that I’m pre-blogging some of this in order to make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow at 11:30am precisely, whereupon we will all sit around waiting for five or ten minutes like usual. And that today’s episode is brought to you by the Paul Naschy classic Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, the foundational Wolf Man movie, which you must admit has a schlock-o-riffic trailer, to say nothing of the poster.

The face that launched a million silver bullets

We got bored, kittens. Bored, and angry. And you wouldn’t like us when we are bored and angry. People were sharing our cards around without giving credit to your ever-so-humble-and-forgiving blogger, and you know what that does to us. But instead of bothering you, we simply sulked around the house all day annoying the roommate, huffing loudly, and updating the briefing bingo cards so that they all contain an active hyperlink to this very blog. Just try and share those around Slack without crediting the source NOW!

Ahem. Where was I? Other than arbitrarily using the glamorous second-person plural, the Eva Gabor of pronouns? About to tell you a long, involved joke about a screenwriter with writer’s block and an elf who comes to his rescue and what happens when the elf asks for credit, because writers are super touchy about credit, but sorry, where was I?

Oh right, about to post the game cards:

And all the previous bingo episodes are on the Briefing Bingo Category page. Earlier ones have the content in the comments section, because we were trying something new, okay? Not every experiment has to work out, OKAY?

Whew. Can you tell it’s been 12 hours since I had a coffee?

Our cast of characters for today are:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (so posh he has TWO Twitter accounts)
  • Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough
  • Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam
  • Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Howard Njoo (either a non- or a stealth-tweeter)
  • And President of the Queen’s Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic Leblanc

And here they are:

At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement and provides an update on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. He is joined by federal ministers Carla Qualtrough (employment, workforce development and disability inclusion) and Dominic LeBlanc (intergovernmental affairs), as well as Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s chief public health officer) and Dr. Howard Njoo (the deputy chief public health officer).

Okay, let’s do this!

Before everyone arrives you can mark off “someone appears by video screen.” You can mark it off twice, in fact. And also “Starts more than ten minutes late” which is on the sixth generation card if I recall.

And we’re off. I think that’s enough French to tick the “Starts in French”.

Good lord, 1500 cases diagnosed in Ontario, 5000 new cases in Canada. Trudeau says we could be facing 6500 new cases per day in Ontario by mid-December, which is staggering. People, stay the fuck home. Doug Ford, listen to your big buddy.

On a superficial note, tick off your “blue suit” box and “Pushes responsibility to provinces” box. And “Vaccine”. I’m gonna HAVE to put “bend the curve” on the next bingo card. We are apparently no longer “flattening” it. “Bend the curve” sounds like the title of a surfing movie; I bet Trudeau came up with it.

Oh, there’s your “Names Biden” square, is it not? I was not paying close attention because I just remembered my coffee is sitting in the kitchen. Do I have a “Now more than ever” square? If so, mark it.

Everyone’s favourite square, “Finds a new way to give Canadians money”, is active now. And “foreshadows an announcement to be made by someone who is named”, the most awkwardly-named square.

Here is the PM’s post about the details:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the details of an investment of $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) with provinces and territories. This investment will help Canadians in underrepresented groups and those in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – such as construction, transportation, and hospitality – quickly access supports to re-enter the workforce. It could include skills training, on-the-job training, employer-sponsored training, financial assistance and benefits, employment counselling and services, and job opportunities. This funding is in addition to the $3.4 billion provided to provinces and territories in 2020-21 under the WDAs and Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs).

Helping Canadians develop the skills they need to find good jobs

Ah, there’s “Flatten the curve” which sounds practically retro in these days of bending it. And “Flu shot” and “app”. Trudeau is all, “for the love of god, people, don’t just download the app, USE IT!”.

I like how Qualtrough has kid’s art on the wall. Tick your “Someone wears glasses” box. Money for training got my attention, for sure. $1.5 billion for job training will certainly make a big difference. Now we’re on to Dr Tam.

55,000 are being tested daily with a roughly 6% positive result. I’ll come back and insert further specifics in a bit. Gotta go grab my coffee.

Yay for Twitter:

Full summary of today’s federal Covid-19 situation is on this page

And yes, this is your fault people: family gatherings, birthday parties, social occasions are how it is spreading and why it’s spiking now. “Layering our protection practices is the best protection.” And mark your “three C’s” square. Dr. Tam hands it over to Dr. Njoo and I dash out to the kitchen to get my coffee.

First question is about gun violence and where’s the long-promised federal money for gun violence prevention. Trudeau avoids answering the specific question and gives a “we continue to fight gun violence and will introduce new legislation.” Second is about how or IF the feds and the premiers are working together, specifically Doug Ford and the federal government; this is your “is the bromance over?” question. Tick the “Bromance” box.

“From the beginning” square active. Next card should have “Whatever it takes, as long as it takes”. And mark your “Throat malfunction” square; is it time for another swabbing, perhaps?

Mark your “Sign language interpreters swapped out” again. Trudeau is now stressing that the federal government can help, but there can be a point where they can no longer, if the rate spikes too much, enough to swamp healthcare. Thus, it’s imperative to flatten or bend or squash or nuke the curve.

Nothing I like better than lag time on the computer that means an entire paragraph is hanging in the ether while the Archons read it, but mere humans cannot. Mark your technical difficulties square.

And there’s “Drinks water”. And I should have a square for “Trudeau fails to translate the answer into the other official language.”

Question about the meeting of the PM and Premiers: why was it not mentioned on the readout. Trudeau says he’s been talking about it for months (implied, weren’t you paying attention?) And mark “PPE” and “From the very beginning” squares.

Question about dirty spy tricks by the Chinese government. Trudeau gives concerned face and talks about “coercive diplomacy”. Mark your “Two Michaels” square. Oooh, mentions the Uighurs. Didn’t think we’d get that. And yeah, I need a square for “Rule of law” because these people are neoliberals after all; it’s gonna be a perennial. I admit, I’m rather proud I could spell “Uighurs” without having to look it up. Yay, my 2/3rds of a degree is paying off!

Nice question about “do the different rising numbers mean different provinces are doing better or worse at dealing with the pandemic” which, duh. Trudeau reiterates the federal government is there to “support” provinces, businesses, citizens. And says provinces need to bring in rules about gatherings and behaviours, best practices, which is the strongest statement yet really. Again he says that we just need to take responsibility; it can’t JUST be up to individuals, but it is significantly up to individuals.

The pressure is clearly on the premiers now to answer to the public for what they have or have not done with the federal money. And Trudeau will always push responsibility to the provinces. He’s all “I can lead that horse to water, but drinking is up to them.”

[editor’s note: “horticulture” joke goes here]

“What we do in the coming days or weeks will determine what we get to do at Christmas.” Mark your “shout out to religious holiday” square. Did you know Trudeau is a Christmas baby? I have a friend who was born on Christmas, and she’s always been annoyed that she’s the one person who’s never had a free meal from Denny’s. And her family cheaps out, only giving her one set of presents rather than two; do you think Trudeau’s ever had a free meal from Denny’s for his birthday?

“Are you satisfied with what the provinces are doing with the federal support money?” Today is “ask questions that make the federal government look good and the provinces look like money-squandering yokels” day.

“We will continue” needs to be a square. Mark your “Mask” and “Maple leaf accessory” squares. And Trudeau is out.

“Winter is coming” should have been a square, oh well. Dr Tam is talking about how challenging it is for individuals to resist the urge to connect face to face with their friends and family. Winter means people will be indoors, air will be recirculated.

And there’s your “Stupid gotcha question” and Dr. Tam’s response is basically “This is how science works.” And “We answered this previously, but we’ll be happy to forward you the references if you want.”

If there was a drug that made you impassive in the face of hostile stupidity to a Dr Tam level, I would take it.

Now a question about how measles is spiking around the world, a good reminder that Dr. Tam is not just in charge of the Covid response. She says we haven’t seen a spike here, and reiterates that vaccinations are important. Follow-up question about home testing kits for Covid, and mark your “rapid testing” square. Dr. Tam says that tests are only of use after you get sick, and she’d rather focus on the prevention. “It is not a substitution for the other measures. I think we should look at everything, but right now it’s not an option that’s available.”

Question about why, given the negative outlook, the PM is talking about the possibility of people getting together for Christmas. Dr. Tam says “you can have a fun safe holiday connection if you do it safely.” and is VERY doubtful we can have a regular Christmas. “No one is advocating parties,” she says.

Holy shit, that reminds me: my Christmas ghost story anthology was supposed to have been out last month, but I can’t even finish it because of the Covid closures.

“Do you still trust the Ontario government to make these kinds of decisions?” oooh that’s the most pointed question I’ve ever heard at one of these briefings. Dr Njoo says “Our job is to look at the science and give our advice and recommendations to our political masters, and I’m sure that’s what is happening on the provincial level.”

I was wondering if Minister Leblanc would get to speak. Seems a waste to have him sitting there, not even giving a speechette/blurb. But now he gets one. My French is not good enough to follow it, but YAY thanks to random internet connections on gossip sites, I now have my very own French tutor! Bilingualism shall be mine again!

Mark the “rapid tests” square. Dr. Tam says that the country has deployed 3.8 million but doesn’t have the provincial breakouts off the top of her head.

Q: “Can you be more vivid about the consequences of 10,000 cases a day?” Even The Roommate has to laugh out loud at that. Um. Wow. Dr Tam responds we’re at close to 5000 a day now, we’re scaling back on routine surgery, concerned about ICU resources. Healthcare workers are already exhausted. She and Dr Njoo say, “Just look at Europe.” Nobody wants to be Northern Italy in the spring of 2020, for sure.

All of those things, of course, are provincial political responsibilities, not federal medical ones

Dammit, I’ve got as square for “Hockey” but but not one for “Basketball” despite it having been invented a few miles away. Question is about the Raptors being clear they want to play games at home. Dr. Tam says Dr. Njoo is the sports expert, hands the question off to him saying, “The ball is in your court” which gets an audible laugh, which, also, should be a square. I better get working on the Seventh Generation square.

And we’re done.

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