By P.H Pensées
To deify Dominic Cummings, distracts from the bigger pandemic picture. A quick glance over this week’s newspaper front pages, and the same face appears, that of Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief advisor. Social media appears in the same manner, with trending hashtags following every detail of the man, his life and the story unfolding at a fast-forward pace. Those that may have little or no knowledge of who Cummings is, can now find an array of information with a click, such as who are his parents. Indeed, a quick fact check for this article brought up a parody website higher up in the search results than his own blog.
Opinions, reactions and questions are abounding everywhere on the alleged, actual and unanswered actions taken. It is expected to see such strong responses and emotive language in a time of crisis. A time of compromise, and to use a now common 2020 phrase, ‘unprecedented times’. Should we be angry or in uproar? What should happen to Cummings, both legally and politically? These questions are an oxymoron combination of important, unanswered and a moot point. Lives have been changed, both temporarily and long-term. The population is just trying to stay afloat in the quickly changing current of new normal, and social restrictions. Politically and legally these actions, and indeed others of political interest will be examined. However, Dominic Cummings was never going to be the saint or saviour in the Covid-19 pandemic. A man I have not yet met but can say for certain it will take a community, a country and global effort to tackle this new pandemic era. One person by themselves can not do this, and neither should the response to this time be concentrated around one man.
While the interest is concentrated on eye tests and castles, there are many other topics surrounding the pandemic. Ones that require the same energy being input and clear reporting to the nation. Today, (27th May 2020) the schools minister Nick Gibb announced that school meal vouchers would be funded for the school half-term. Schools and parents need this information in a timely fashion, not cut-out masks on front pages. On the topic of education, parents are still asking for the scientific evidence behind school reopening’s. Families and educators alike are waiting for further information for the plans concerning school years 2,3,4,5,7,8 and 9. Students wait with crossed fingers that the pandemic has been kind to their final grades.
Tenants are approaching the end of the three months ban on evictions, whilst homeowners could be seeing the end of their mortgage payment holidays in sight. Both tenants and homeowners could require additional help at this time. Financially struggling families may still not be aware of the help available, including the additional Covid-19 hardship payments towards council tax bills. If only the front pages were as dedicated to this information to help households now.
Hidden in plain sight is several Covid-19 related issues due to the pressing issue of Cummings. Firstly, changes to the shielding list this week, where some patients simply received a text message informing them of the need to not shield any more, including some patients with asthma. The furlough scheme is expected to have an important announcement this week by Rishi Sunak. This update should be at the forefront for businesses and furloughed workers everywhere, as changes to how the scheme works to be announced. Any change has the possibility of leading to further redundancies this year, impacting the nation’s workforce and economy. Thursday 28th May will see another review into the current lock down restrictions in England, and alongside that is the technical issue of the number of people being tested for coronavirus being unavailable.
Questions, information and facts on these topics require unified reporting. To gain confidence in the national plans to fight this unchartered territory, clear unbiased reporting is needed. Recovery rates, and vaccine discoveries. Anti-viral medications and hospitals with no Covid-19 cases. Press support for maternal mental health for the mothers who are facing a lack of baby groups and changed birthing arrangements. Reassurances over the PPE situation, and praise for the individuals, communities and businesses coming together at this time. Encouragement and support for the frontline, not just now but to protect the future of frontline representation. How the media portray pressing topics now, and how the government responds could easily attract or repel frontline career choices in health, education or politics.
In hindsight, the whole response will need evaluating including the actions of individuals. With multiple impacts on every person, business and sector at these times, focus is required on the issues that matter most. Dominic Cummings this week is a blind spot for the bigger pandemic picture and should not be considered representation of the whole national test for visual acuity in tackling Covid-19.