The Woody Covid Briefing Bingo

Good morning, possums, and welcome to the latest in our Completely Arbitrarily Named Briefing Bingos. There is a unifying concept, if a completely arbitrary one because everything is meaningless and nothing matters anymore, and also because the post needs a title in order to go live, but the title has to be chosen before the briefing happens because time is linear, but nobody has guessed it so far. The concept, not the nature of Time.

So far we have had:

Your guesses can go in the comment section for a chance to win fabulous, completely imaginary prizes. Nobody has even attempted this yet, but we’re getting to the point where there’s no excuse. Gonna get pretty obvious soon. Much like whether or not we’re getting an election this year.

It's not easy being green
It’s not easy being green

Here’s our video, starting fifteen minutes late today so you get to mark your “Starts more than ten minutes late” square right off the bat. 557 people watching right now. By 2pm that’s gotten up to 1500, but Fridays are always lower than Tuesdays for some reason. It’s not like people are off to the cottage on Fridays these days.

And your cards:

You know, that suit annoys me. It annoys me because on the tv it looks grey and on the laptop it looks blue. You know what? Mark BOTH the blue and grey suit squares. What the hell. Also, as always, the facial hair, mask, and maple leaf accessory squares.

Mark “Reporter sits in the front row” too. Brave reporter.

Trudeau starts off with a recognition that this weekend is the anniversary of the mass murder spree killer in Nova Scotia. Canada is a small town, even if it is the second-biggest country in the world, and a friend of mine knows people in the area who lost family members. In Canada there aren’t six degrees of separation; there are usually only one or two, which is why “we’re in this together” has particular resonance here.

Oh, and mark “Begins in English.” Is it chauvinist of me not to notice when he begins in English, but to notice when he begins in French? Let’s call it a reverse-chauvinist move, and a blot on my escutcheon, for lo, I was born in France. I am ashamed, possums. I am deeply ashamed.

In English he talks about the Nova Scotia attack; in French he talks about vaccines.

“Third wave” square active. Trudeau specifically talks about Toronto hospitals, and how their ICUs are filling up, and says Ontario has reached out for help and the federal government is “standing by”. Hmm. If Ontario has asked for help, just give it to them. FORCE it on them, if need be.

Trudeau mentions the Red Cross and their mobile vaccination teams. “This is about getting the vaccines to people where the situation is most serious,” he says, and I’ve got to call that a direct challenge to Doug Ford, who has set up vaccination sites in Conservative ridings and not where the need is greatest. Even Doug “Knucklewalker” Ford isn’t stupid enough not to see this is going to result in deaths.

Trudeau says they’re also talking about extra healthcare providers which, what magic hat is he going to pull those out of? I’ve been waiting four and a half years to get a primary care physician instead of just going to the clinic, and it’s the same across Canada. He says they’ve shipped out mobile hospital units, healthcare equipment, drugs to treat Covid-19 (I didn’t even know there were any), and so on in addition to the PPE and vaccines they were already sending. Trudeau says they’ve approved a request to deploy the Red Cross in up to 27 LTC Homes as needed; at what point is the Red Cross a branch of governent and, if we need them this much, why are they not already?

Interesting. There are apparently 300 contact tracers the feds have hired, but I looked for those jobs and the only people hiring were the Red Cross, not the government. And literally only one position, and that was in Vancouver. I should have applied for it, honestly. Mark “Contact tracing” square. Are these new jobs? I thought the new hotness was vaccines, not contact tracing? Because frankly what contact tracing is going to show you is that people shouldn’t be going in to work even if they’re healthy, and nobody in government wants to hear that.

Trudeau had a call with the major GTA mayors, which basically implies that in order to get this solved, he’s going to have to work around Doug Ford and the provincial Conservative government, and he’s not wrong about that. “Shades Doug Ford” in full effect.

“Into arms” square active for the very first time! And the good old “flatten the curve” makes an appearance too. Mark “Vaccines” and “PPE” and “We have your backs” three times. And salutes healthcare workers emotively.

“I know you’re exhausted. I know you’re all sick and tired of Covid-19. I know nobody wants to be in this third wave. Nobody wants to be facing further restrictions. We just want to be done with this. But we know how to do what we need to do. We need to follow the public health rules. We need to hang in there and hunker down a number of more weeks.

No one wants to do this. I got into an argument with my thirteen-year-old this morning, who doesn’t want to do this. Nobody wants to do this. But we know that if we hang in there, hunker down, and follow the rules for the coming weeks, as much as we’re tired of it, as much as we’re frustrated. We have a chance of getting to this summer in much better shape.

This is a moment for us to dig deep at what is (hopefully) the very late stages of this pandemic for us all, and make it through. It’s time show our neighbours and our loved ones what we’re all made of as we keep people safe.”

Justin Trudeau

That little soliloquy gives you the “Thousand yard stare” square, and your “Summer mentioned” square. Sorry, Francophones, you only got one sentence instead of a whole lecture. I guess that kind of thing doesn’t sell in Quebec.

Oh, and on a lighter note, mark your “I make myself a coffee and forget it in the kitchen” square because yeah. And “Stern teacher voice” which has been active for the whole of the last three briefings. I said “Third wave” square, yes? Mark it if you haven’t before. And the “Second wave” square too!

Now he’s on to talking about the Moderna holdup, and that Canada is getting 8 million more doses of Pfizer. We will be getting 8 million doses in May and almost 12 million doses in June just from Pfizer. Let’s hear Doug Ford whine about supply now!

Do I have a square for “Trudeau is so fucking over this?” Because yeah, that. Mark your “Feels parents’ pain” square too. “Stern teacher voice” is active. And now mark “Pfizer” for all the new bonus doses over and above what we were originally expected to get.

Mark your “Technical difficulties” square, because this computer update is killing me.

“Remember that this won’t last forever. There’s every reason to believe that we’re now in the final, although toughest, stretch of this pandemic. This is not the moment to let up, not even for a second. Hang in there a little longer, because we ‘re gonna get through this.”

This is one of the best speeches he’s done on the pandemic, and something basically the whole country PARTICULARLY CERTAIN PREMIERS needs to hear right now. Oh, and there’s your “app” square. Interestingly, the French speech is completely different from the English one, focused on encouraging people to ask for help when they need it.

Trudeau called the Queen to express condolences on the death of Prince Phillip, which surprises me because you’d think he’d have called earlier.

Now we’re over to Minister Anand, who gives more info on the vaccine supply, hammering home the idea that the federal government is doing a good job which, speaking as an anarchist, I must admit they are. Anand reminds us that a year ago NONE of the vaccines existed, and they’re working hard to stabilize manufacturing, supply, and distribution of all the available vaccines. Mark your “audio difficulties” because she’s breaking up a bit.

Oh, that’s a peaked lapel she’s wearing! I love a good peaked lapel! Briefly considered putting it on the bingo, but pretty sure Justin Trudeau would rather die than wear one, so I left it off. That’ll teach me to count the women out.

She’s got as spouse, 4 kids, and 3 dogs. I hope to god she’s got an enormous house for that lot. I’ve just got The Roommate and Buddy the Dog to avoid and I need a bigger house. Presumably anyone with that much company probably isn’t a loner. I hope not, for her sake.

I always admire how she includes “miigwech” in her closing. You don’t usually hear acknowledgement of First Nations from the federal government.

Dr. Tam says that mortality is up 38% this week, at 41 deaths per day, which is extremely alarming. 1,096,000 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in Canada to date, including 23,500 deaths, and over the past week an average of over 8,000 new cases are reported daily. 1500 people a day are being treated in ICUs. As she’s been saying all along, new variants are not just more communicable, but also more deadly.

“On this final, last stretch, through this crisis we can also gain strength from good news and focusing on the things we’re grateful for,” says Dr. Tam, making me think Justin Trudeau focused on telling everyone to include some kind of sunshine in their speeches today for the love of god. She mentions a UBC student (mark “random Canadian mentioned” ) who’s created an outreach program disseminating accurate vaccine information to Punjabi-speaking seniors.

Next up is Dr Njoo, who gives you the “is not wearing glasses” square as per usual. God, remember when they used to all sit at desks right next to one another in the same room like filthy, cootie-having barbarians? Honestly, the cootie metaphor isn’t used often enough in this pandemic. Covidiots have cooties. Everything outside your house has cooties including the outside of your clothing. Everything is made of raw chicken and maggots, basically. See? Motivating the public can be so simple sometimes. If I hear “cooties” in a speech at one of these briefings, tho, I’m gonna invoice the PMO so fast.

Now we’re onto the questions although there can be no question what the stupidest response to the federal government offers is: it’s Doug Ford’s. Can somebody please tell him that it’s statistically likely that the majority of Covid-19 deaths in Ontario will be Conservative voters? Like, I’m pretty sure that’s true, but even if it’s not, is there any harm in trying?

Later, at the Ford press conference:

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa we are on to the media questions. It’s interesting and I’m not sure it’s scientific that Trudeau keeps his mask on when the other panelists are talking, even though they are in god knows where and appearing via video screens, and the nearest person in the actual room is that fearless reporter who was sitting in the front row. I always thought they avoided it so as not to get on camera, but now I’m wondering if they do so because they know more about aerosolization than I do. Or is the Teacher-In-Chief just modeling good behaviour?

First up is Marieke Walsh of the Globe and Mail, who is once again just so grateful that the politicians gathered today for a press briefing are somehow willing to take questions from the press. I’m sure there’s subtext here that I am not getting, but if you do get it, by all means fill me in.

It’s a good question, tho, about how health authorities are calling on the government to change the way it allocates vaccine distribution, shifting away from per capita into a more responsive model based on need (ie Covid rates in individual locations). Is the federal government going to continue with per capita or will they follow the health advice of experts? Trudeau thanks her for asking a question (?) and responds that the feds and the provinces agreed on a per capita allocation, which means more vaccines that will sit unused in Doug Ford’s beer fridge. I may be paraphrasing. And he barrels right over her follow-up question to translate it into French, which he only does some of the time. Quebec, being a populous province, has a vested interest in per capita. She tries to pin him down about his personal opinion on per capita vs need, but he just smiles. Then she asks about the request from Ontario for 600 critical care staff: do we have 600 of them just lying around waiting to be used? Where are they going to come from? Trudeau basically says that they’re talking to mayors (not premiers? huh) and “those conversations are extremely live and ongoing” which doesn’t answer the question.

Although he does emphasize repeatedly how fucked Ontario is (I may be paraphrasing). In both official languages.

Okay, you get the “Donc” square, “Drinks water” and “Sign language interpreter swapped out.” So, that’s something.

Next question is from Mélanie Marquis of La Presse with a question about the J&J vaccine and how the distribution plan might change because of new information coming out about it (J&J is the same kind of vaccine as AstraZenica, btw). Trudeau responds that the health of Canadians is always his highest priority and hands it off to Minister Anand, who is no doubt unthrilled to be winging answers to technical questions in French. Anand stresses that the health of Canadians is also her highest priority (surprise, surprise), and they are working hard to get vaccines into Canadians as soon as they’re approved by Health Canada. Trudeau translates it into English briefly.

Also mark your “Gesticulates” square. Not very gesticulatory today, it must be said. But somewhat.

Question in French about the Conservative Climate Change plan, and boy howdy, does he ever unleash upon them. The Conservatives, not the reporters.

Trudeau lets fly with, “The pla– the ‘approach,’ the ‘pamphlet,’ not the ‘plan,’ that they put forward yesterday actually makes it less expensive to pollute, makes it more expensive for Canadians, and will not fight climate change and reduce emissions nearly enough. With Erin O’Toole’s carbon tax, the more you burn the more you earn. That doesn’t make sense to anyone.”

Seriously, do you still doubt there’s an election coming? You know somebody worked on that burn/earn thing, and you’ll be hearing a lot of it.

Next up Ryan Tumilty of the NaPo, who asks about Moderna cutting their supply and changing the official reasons for that, and if this has shaken federal confidence in Moderna, to which Trudeau replies “We have been extremely well-served…by Pfizer,” which, yes, is shade. And he tosses it to Minister Anand, who reminds everyone we have a diversified portfolio of vaccines; diversity as a strength is a core Liberal platform these days, is it not? Trudeau translates into French.

Followup question about whether Trudeau wants to commit to moving the target up from September, and what he’s going to do about vaccine hesitancy. Trudeau goes over the numbers again, explaining most people who want the vaccine will have their first dose by the end of June, but will not move the September target up (because why would he invite failing to hit a benchmark like that?).

New question from Louis Blouin of Radio Canada in the room, who talks faster than any human being I’ve ever heard, so I’m not getting much of this question. I did get the comparison between the Maritimes (who have done extraordinarily well) and Ontario (which has shat the bed harder than a litter of incontinent heffalumps). Trudeau replies that the federal government comes to an agreement about equitable vaccine allocation in discussion with provinces. So this is That Same Old Allocation Question from earlier today, basically.

Next up is David Akin from Global, asking about the government of Ontario saying they have not requested assistance, but Trudeau saying that Ontario has asked for help, so was it the Mayors who pleaded with the Emperor to overthow the King and once again I may be paraphrasing. “and do you have confidence that the government of Ontario is acting in the best public health interest of its citizens?” Yowza, mark “Gotcha” question square, but it’s Doug Ford who got gotten. Trudeau does a lot of nodding and replies that all levels of government are working together to the best of their ability. Is that a very passive-aggressive way of calling Doug Ford incompetent? I think so.

And mark “Got your backs” one more time. I think that’s a bingo, folks.

Trudeau says they’ve gotten a draft request for help from the Ontario government. I wonder if somebody sent that out without Ford’s permission or (more likely) with Ford’s permission but WITHOUT the permission of his puppet masters. Ford will rue the day he failed Justin Trudeau. This will IMHO end him. He’ll retire to a bunch of semi-corrupt corporate boards in Torontonian suburbs and my aunts can stop fangirling him.

I was wrong, there’s someone who speaks faster than Louis Blouin and he’s asking the next question. “First dose of J&J vaccine” I can make out. Trudeau says that Health Canada has already approved the vaccine and they are looking very carefully at the rollout internationally in terms of dosage, vaccine, etc, and that the release of the vaccine is up to American authorities and Johnson & Johnson.

Next up is Creeson Agecoutay from CTV National News, asking again when the federal government is going to step in and allocate resources where they are needed most (implied: with or without Doug Ford’s signature)? Mark your “Fidgets” square, this struck a nerve. Trudeau doesn’t even look at the reporter as he answers, he stares into the CPAC lens and reminds everyone that every single vaccine that comes into this country arrives because of the federal government and is then given to the provinces according to a formula that was agreed on by all provinces and territories.

There’s another “Every step of the way” so we may get a double Bingo this time. You know, it occurs to me that the sign language interpreters get swapped out but your humble blogger just has to power through solo. Man, we need a better union!

The Canadian Press reporter whose name I didn’t catch (sorry!) asks directly about the argument between Trudeau and his son this morning, which is literally the first time I’ve ever seen a reporter ask Trudeau a personal question. Is the word for that expression “nonplussed?” because Trudeau is visibly as little plussed as it is possible to be.

“Xavier is thirteen years old and he misses his friends. He doesn’t want to be doing school online. He wants to go outside and play basketball with his friends. He wants to have the normal life that quite frankly we all want right now. We wanna get back to normal. We want this Covid crisis to be over. We don’t wanna be told ‘No, we’re gonna have to hunker down for a few more weeks.’ The reality is, we know that the best way to get through this is for each of us to follow local public health rules, no matter how frustrated we are. We also know that if we don’t, we’re putting at risk our summer. We need to flatten the curve in the Third Wave. And I know in households across the country parents are having to talk to their kids about restrictions that parents don’t particularly feel enthused about either. None of us want to be going through this third wave right now. None of us want to be having to hold back from going outside and enjoying the nice weather and being with our friends and trying to get back to normal as we’ve been through this incredibly difficult winter. But the fact is we are in this third wave. It’s serious, very serious, in Ontario and some parts of the country, and it could get more serious in other parts of the country. This wave is different from previous waves, in part because the variants of concern are more communicable and more serious. That means the things we did before might not protect us the same ways. That’s why listening to public health advice, following the rules, and hanging in there for a few more weeks maybe a couple more months, is going to be the way we can get to a summer that is as close to normal as we could hope for.

I know we’re all frustrated, but we will get through this as long as we give it one last push.”

Mark your “Summer is coming” and “feels parents’ pain” in spaces and “Flatten the curve”. And Justin Trudeau should really send that reporter flowers or something because that question was a gift even though it wasn’t a softball.

Next up is Raffy Boudjikanian from CBC, talking about the Quebec effort to have trucks blasting pro-vaccine messages driving around. Man, if they also gave out shots can you imagine how busy they’d be?

And now my video is skipping ahead and we’re in the middle of Minister LeBlanc answering a question about the vaccine supply and its effect on the economy.

Next up is the gloriously-named Cormac McSweeney, who surely should be a character in a Truman Capote story if he ever wants to not be a reporter anymore. He has a question for LeBlanc about Ontario turning down the federal offer of help, claiming that the problem isn’t its ability to put vaccines into arms, but rather the supply of vaccines from the federal government, which is horseshit of the crudest grade possible even for Ontario Conservatives, and that is saying something.

Anyhoodle, y’all, got internet troubles so, at just shy of 4000 words, I guess that’s a wrap.

Sum thots on NeoLiberalism, by one who should know…

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