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Byron Shire
September 20, 2021

Not enough ICU beds

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My best mate lives in a country town in the UK. Over the last year, she estimates around 10 per cent of her community have had COVID-19, including her Nan who died, and our friend from school who, at 47, now has long covid. That friend’s kid tested positive without symptoms.

With Australia now on a similar ‘let it rip’ trajectory to the UK, we can reasonably expect 10 per cent of Mullum to contract the Delta variant of covid. That’s a conservative guess, and you all know why. But at 10 per cent, 360 of us will get it, a couple of dozen will need hospital care and three or four will die.

So where are we going to access that care? Lismore won’t be able to service everyone in the region. Tweed is already struggling with 60 per cent of its staff Queensland-based and not allowed across the border. And as for Queensland itself? It may as well be a different country. If a double vaccinated health worker can’t come to work here, you sure as hell can’t get a bed there.

ANY kind of medical attention will be hard to access, so if you have a heart attack or car accident, surviving it will be a dice roll.

For those of you thinking ‘but this attitude comes from fear!’ you’re exactly right. Look, Mullum is my heart’s home: I generally DO come from a place of love, I am a lifelong optimist, and I am not prone to catastrophising.

But pondering this scenario generates a fear within which challenges everything I thought I knew about myself – my very identity. And so it should! After all, healthcare collapse is just one exhibit in the COVID shit-show museum. What a time.

Sam Leader, Mullumbimby

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I think your estimates are wildly optimistic. With the northern rivers having some of the lowest vaccination rate in the country, what appears to be the spiritual home of antivaxer, the numbers will be different. According to Sarah Gilbert who was the chief designer of the AZ vaccine and just simple logic, everyone unvaccinated will get covid 19. The Australian average death rate amongst unvaccinated who get tested positive for covid is 3%. That can go as high as 20% in ages over 70 and much lower in lower ages. I think the Northern Rivers population is about 280,000, discount that by 17% for children. Say then only 60% of Northern Rivers adults get vaccinated, that leaves about 98,000 unvaccinated adults giving a death toll of 2,700. Say 40,000 people live in Byron Shire, by the same reduction again taking out children and the vaccinated at 60%, the deaths could be 390. Good news is in neighbourhoods like Blacktown, their first dose adults just hit 90% and that is really where all LGA’s need to be, at least, as we have near zero herd immunity thanks to our prior success at elimination.

  2. And barry too many syllables for you above. My daughter works in emergency at st George hospital Sydney and the one of the buildings of 7 floors is devoted entirely to Covid patients, so may be you should read the whole letter.

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