Mark Wignall | Some will be left out!
A recent Washington Post article reminds us of this frightening statistic: the first 100,000 cases of COVID-19 occupied all of three months to reach that milestone. It also stated that the second 100,000 cases sprinted to that number in 12 days.
Two Fridays ago (March 20), at about midday, the United States recorded just under 17,000 across all 50 states. As I write this (March 26), at a little after midday, that number has galloped to 69,000.
With the best mathematical modelling applied, a reading of where Jamaica will stand in a month from now or in six weeks is difficult to plot because any assumptions about people’s behaviour must take into consideration that our people are not robotic and, in fact, are highly undisciplined.
So far, Jamaica is still under 30 cases. At this juncture, we would have preferred it to be zero, but the reality will not allow that. I believe that as far as the cases go, we may be in a good place, and it ties in with the quality of the leadership being shown by the leadership of Andrew Holness and his Health Minister, Christopher Tufton.
It must be stated, however, that the relationship between the quality of the leadership and keeping the number of cases to manageable limits is not set in stone. The Government knows this, and all of us ought to recognise the negative possibilities. For now, it is quite understandable that we cling to the hope that the growth in new cases attaches itself to the good leadership being displayed.
Last Wednesday, another part of the economic fallout was felt as Becky called me. She was the girlfriend of an acquaintance of mine. “Is 15 years now mi work fi dis family doing days’ work three days per week. Last Friday, di lady pay mi $10,000 fi di three days and tell mi dat she can’t afford to employ mi anymore.”
She told me that the lady of the house told her that if things changed, she would get back the three-day gig. “Mi also work fi another family fi three days, and the lady tell me Friday gone that she didn’t have di money but will pay me the next week. A not even sure if dat soon cancel, too. Just pure fretting mi doing.”
The reviews of the Budget presentations from Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his Finance Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, have been most favourable. Unlike years ago, Jamaica was always in basket-case mode. This time around, the Government is in a much better position to offer stimulus funding to various sectors of the economy to the point that it is even considering assistance to bar operators who have been forced to close.
According to BOJ Governor Richard Byles, “Our monetary policy measures, along with the Government’s fiscal stimulus, are aimed at mitigating the impact of this pandemic on the economy and supporting a speedy recovery once the crisis has passed.”
The eight words taken from the BOJ governor’s pronouncement late last week will be the most important words in the coming months. “… a speedy recovery once the crisis has passed”.
One gas station operator in the corporate area running a station from one of the big two French outfits told me last week that a month ago, the multinational increased his monthly rental from just under $700,000 per month to $950,000.
“I don’t know if you know that we do not make a lot on gas, that is, the mark-up. Most gas stations try to make up for that by having in-house shops or renting spaces to well-known brand concessions. If I did not have an understanding banker, I could not survive, so I will be holding out the hope the recovery stage kicks in well within six months. If it goes beyond that, all I am seeing is calamity.”
Stuck at home? Make love
One of the best times to rekindle a relationship gone sour is during the passage of a hurricane, especially when the roof is quite solidly attached to the house.
COVID-19 offers the perfect time to indulge in the rediscovery of each other. “Are you crazy!”said an acquaintance of mine who, late last year, told me he was considering leaving his live-in woman. I had suggested to him that he use the COVID lockdown period to talk to the lady.
“I cannot afford to get my mind off where wi going to be in another month. Sex is the last ting on my mind now,” he said.
A lady I know who told me six months ago that she is finished with men told me last Monday that she is enjoying her mother’s company at home. “You are asking me if I don’t miss him. Let me answer you: No!”
Another lady I know confesses to me that she has been eating too much chocolate. “I give my man sex on my terms. Him can’t use COVID-19 as excuse to get any extra. I don’t naturally fret, but somehow I don’t see the virus getting us any closer. We have bills to pay, and they are due every month. I don’t have the mental readiness for sex right now.”
“Garlic and limes and oranges are expensive,” said the vendor on Mannings Hill Road, St Andrew, to me last Wednesday. “Most other things are reasonable.”
Fruits like orange and lime have never really been cheap, and it appears to me that with vitamin C being touted at this time as good to have, the price has shot up even more.
More $100 bags of ganja are being sold as it seems that the $50 bags are being phased out. Tubers are reasonable, and over the next few months, many more of us may find reason to purchase a bag of prepped callaloo for $150.
It is cheap and COVID-19-ready. Oxtail may begin to disappear in the rear-view mirror.