Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday March 27, 2020
Doug Ford has risen to the coronavirus challenge
As the spread of COVID-19 has utterly transformed life as we know it, it has also emerged as the most profound test of political leadership in a generation or more.
Of course, the pandemic is, first and foremost, a health crisis. In the global response, doctors and public health authorities have been foregrounded, and rightfully so. But it is also a crisis of public confidence and so it is appropriate to look at the crisis through the lens of the political leadership as well.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, having gotten Brexit done, now faces an even greater challenge. He has been forced to pivot from an initial anachronistic approach of herd immunity (i.e., letting the virus run amok) to proper suppression and mitigation efforts as in the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was voted out of office last month, but while a new government has been unable to form, the former doctor-turned-politician has, quite literally, risen to the role of caretaker government. On St. Patrick’s Day, he delivered a national address that marked the high watermark of his premiership.
The pandemic has forced Angela Merkel, long averse to televised displays of leadership, into doing precisely that. And in so doing proving why she continues to be primus inter pares among world leaders.
March 13, 2020
As for Donald Trump, there is only one word: disaster.
Here at home, Canadian leaders, at all orders of government, have acted on the advice of scientists, doctors and public health experts, as they bloody well should. And for that we can, as a people, be grateful.
From Prime Minister Trudeau to our premiers and mayors, the performances of our leaders have been commendable.
But perhaps the biggest success has been the commanding performance of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. It was not even two weeks ago that Ford was embroiled in a kerfuffle over manufacturing defects with new provincial licence plates; today, it seems hard to imagine a scandal with smaller stakes. And a protracted dispute with the teacher’s unions had dragged his government’s approval rating underwater. Now, in his daily briefings about the province’s response to COVID-19, he is modelling leadership in real time.
Series: Young Doug Ford
As the crisis has deepened, Ford is exemplifying the tenets of good crisis communication. He has been transparent and forthcoming, hosting daily briefings which may seem routine, but are in fact distinguished by attention to small details.
The premier begins promptly on time, wearing a suit and tie. He has been honest and plainspoken about the scale and severity of the challenge before us. He has delegated and empowered his bench of ministers, including Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott and Finance Minister Rod Phillips. He has put aside partisan considerations.
He is working hand in hand with his federal counterparts. And, for a man whose political career has been defined by animosity towards the mainstream media, this week’s explicit recognition of their essential role marked a turning point. (Continued: Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday April 1, 2020
Breaking down the COVID-19 numbers
In a little more than two months, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, raced around the world and turned a handful of known cases to more than three quarters of a million, with at least 36,000 lives lost – reported figures that the scientific and health communities widely agree are too low.
The spreading virus has pushed numerous countries to scramble to lock down cities, shutter non-essential businesses, and close their borders to all but their own citizens, adopting some of the extraordinary measures executed in China that might have previously been unthinkable elsewhere.
Researchers and armchair epidemiologists alike are analyzing the trove of data to create models, find patterns and clues on whether curves are being flattened, which country is on a faster or slower trajectory, why death rates and ages vary, what measures seemed to work, and when the pandemic might end.
The flood of numbers and questions they raise can be overwhelming for the average person trying to make sense of the data.
Epidemiologists and an infectious disease expert who spoke with CTVNews.ca said it was too early to make predictions or draw conclusions from the data, but stressed the importance of understanding the context surrounding the numbers.
While most of the focus has been on the daily tally of new cases, epidemiologists say that other data points are more useful.
Cynthia Carr, a Winnipeg-based epidemiologist with two decades of experience interpreting and developing protocols for gathering and analyzing health data, said the daily focus on new cases can be a distraction and spark unnecessary panic.
“[The public was] not listening to the information. They were in a store with 1,000 people at Costco buying toilet paper” when that was the last place they should be, said Carr.
The total number of tests administered, infections, hospitalizations, intensive care patients, and deaths are all key indicators for different reasons, explained Erin Strumpf, an epidemiologist and associate professor at McGill University.
“It’s more about the rate of change in those numbers than it is about the actual numbers on a given day,” she said.
The mortality and hospitalization rates – and whether they are increasing or decreasing over time – gives more context and balance to the data, Carr noted.
“You should never just look at one piece of information,” Carr said.
“I have said from the beginning, when we increase our testing capacity, you would quickly see an increase in cases… we’re getting more of an accurate denominator, an accurate representation of the number of people with the illness.” (CTV)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday March 16, 2020
What historians heard when Trump warned of a ‘foreign virus’
For immigration historians and other scholars, the way US President Donald Trump is describing the coronavirus pandemic has a familiar ring.
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said in an Oval Office address Wednesday night. “I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
As soon as Trump’s words describing a “foreign virus” hit the airwaves, Nükhet Varlik knew she’d heard them before.
“We’ve had plenty of examples of this in the past. It’s mindblowing that this still continues,” said Varlik, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and at the University of South Carolina.
“It opens up the ways of thinking about disease in dangerous ways,” she said. “Once you open that door…historically we have examples, we know where it goes. And we don’t want to go there. I find it extremely dangerous.”
It’s the latest chapter in a story that historians see as centuries in the making. From the plague to SARS, whenever an outbreak spread, racism and xenophobia weren’t far behind.
Here’s what scholars told CNN about some of history’s shameful episodes, and the lessons we can learn from them: The ‘Black Death’ in the 14th century; Cholera outbreaks in New York in the 19th century; 1900 Quarantines in San Francisco’s Chinatown; Health screenings and quarantines on Ellis Island; and SARS (Continued: CNN)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 12, 2020
As virus outbreak spreads, schools face a dilemma
When the new coronavirus surfaced at Saint Raphael Academy after a school group returned from a trip to Italy, officials decided to close the Rhode Island Catholic high school for two weeks.
February 4, 2020
Instead of cancelling classes, the school in Pawtucket instituted “virtual days” where students are expected to work from home, check for assignments through an online portal and occasionally chat with teachers.
A few miles away, a public charter school also closed after a teacher who attended the same Italy trip awaited test results. But at Achievement First, the two days off were treated like snow days — no special assignments and no expectation that kids keep up their schoolwork.
As more schools across the United States close their doors because of the coronavirus, they are confronted with a dilemma in weighing whether to shut down and move classes online, which could leave behind the many students who don’t have computers, home internet access or parents with flexible work schedules. As the closures accelerate, children at some schools, like Saint Raphael, will be able to continue some form of learning, while children at schools with fewer technological or other resources, may simply miss out.
September 3, 2013
The deep technological and wealth gap that exists nationwide between poor and affluent students has made the coronavirus outbreak even more challenging for school officials, who are wrestling with not only health and safety decisions but also questions about the ethics of school closures.
These deliberations have been playing out in schools all around the country during the outbreak, from urban districts in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles to rural ones in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.
“If we shut down for a week or two weeks, and some of the kids can do it but some can’t, what do you do?” said Edward Albert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. “There are some places that don’t even have phone service.”
Although widespread closures are a new development in the United States, they are already a reality in nations that have been hit harder by the virus. The United Nations’ education agency, UNESCO, says nearly 300 million children in 22 countries on three continents were being affected by school closures last week. In response, it has begun supporting online learning programs. (PBS)
Meanwhile, Ontario’s elementary teachers are set to resume contract talks with the government on Wednesday, but they’re warning that if bargaining doesn’t produce an agreement, the union will resume job action after March break. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
February 28, 2020
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
June 28, 2018
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
CHRONOLOGY OF A CARTOON GONE VIRAL
This particular editorial cartoon has gone through several modifications than the original one published above on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The original double wave cartoon received attention around the world and was modified, rather crudely, with adaptations made to my Canada flag, and translations squeezed in to replace my English “be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Some of the changes were done fairly well. Some of the people behind the alterations took the time to ask for permission to do so, and preserved my moniker, while others did not.
Nettuno 1958 – 5 aprile 2020
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
Possibly my most shared, cropped, and altered cartoon ever.
A crude repurposed image showing a third wave, with my moniker cropped out, appeared in wide circulation on various social media platforms in May, 2020. It appears someone with some knowledge of image editing software duplicated the recession wave, added a third wave by colouring it rather fluorescent green and replacing the wording to climate change. In doing so unfortunately, my signature, or moniker as cartoonists call it, was deleted out. It was on its way to being meme-ified – unsourced and unsigned, the bane of editorial cartooning. I believe the flag in this example is Argentina’s.
Meanwhile, a hemisphere over in the UK, someone revised the Argentinian version, and replaced the label recession with “Brexit”. Look closely and one will note the Union Jack flies atop the Palace of Westminster! Credit goes to Twitter account RRI Tools for pointing this out in June, 2020 with this tweet.
I thought these ideas behind modification were pretty good ones, but the crop jobs weren’t so great, and the flag of Argentina only caused confusion on an idea that could work for anyone around the world. So it was then that I decided to remove the flag and create an authorized version bearing my signature. Here it is:
Originally drawn for March 11, 2020. Revised May 23, 2020.
But it seems someone else in another corner of the planet, Ricardo Hurtubia, a teacher from Santiago, Chile, had added a third wave as early as April 4! Good on him for keeping my moniker in there. News to me by the time July rolled around:
con mis fantásticas habilidades para Power Point, he logrado esta obra de arte luego de un día entero de trabajo
(broma 😜, pero el mensaje de fondo va en serio🙁) pic.twitter.com/qPrmSaneRy
Not long after the above tweet was posted, an anonymous twitter account holder going by the name of Cilantrófago, posted a re-adapted image in Spanish that cleaned up Mr. Hurtubia’s, somewhat, adding a 4th wave. His major failing, however, is chopping out my moniker, and unfortunately, for Cilantrófago, he or she qualifies as a Social Media Jackass.
In mid June, I was included in a tweet sent out by David Obura, a director of Cordio, East Africa, a marine ecosystem consultancy based in Mombasa, Kenya. He’s also a scientist with the Earth Commission. A 4th wave had been added as a further warning regarding the effects of climate change on the world’s ecology. He isn’t actually the person who added the “biodiversity collapse”, but liked what he saw and sent it out. The re-adapted version is quite a good one, with a thought provoking message, the lettering is close enough to my own, and the image retains my moniker. Thumbs up, but I would like to know who the person is behind the re-adaptation.
The readapted readapted version of the cartoon became the centre piece of a demonstration with a Samba Band on Paignton Promenade (in Torbay, Devon, England) Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2020 with the “Four Waves Banner” shown below and paraded by the Green Spirits group:
Enchanted by the passion of the Green Spirits, and after receiving more licensing permission to use the 4 waves, I decided to update the cartoon to include the biodiversity collapse wave. The caption bubble was also enlarged, and my moniker was placed in the top corner.
As of Autumn 2020, according to google image search, there are more than 1680 posts of these variations across the Internet on various social media platforms and websites.
POV International – Brug coronakrisen som løftestang for nødvendige forandringer: Vi skal “Build Back Better”
Medium.com – Field Notes: Teaching Climate Change in Higher Education
Noted is this eerily similar looking version found on this page on a site called EcoMatcher. They aren’t based in any particular country but whether the renderer knew it or not, that’s pretty much exactly what I drew in the very first version (posted at the top of this page) to represent Canada, from the rockies in the west to the Toronto skyline in the east. Seems the readapters of the image had a pretty good idea of the original cartoon’s chronology.