Corona Virus Community Response
Ashburton and Buckfastleigh.
Over the past week it has become clear that the UK Government’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic is wholly inadequate. Many have noted that the UK does not have the will, the human resources or the command structure to facilitate swift and immediate action to deal with the massive scale of the crisis.
As Professor Ashton has said, we need a community response. I believe that if government is incapable of coordinating such a response we should do it ourselves. Here’s how.
I will outline how this will be funded later in this document.
A) The Scale of the problem.
We know that the virus spreads very fast infecting people at an exponential rate with a doubling time of about 3 days; every three days the number of people infected doubles. Eventually nearly everyone will get the disease probably about 80% of the population unless we act now. If we do nothing this is what will happen.
The population of Ashburton is about 4,000 people. The population of Buckfastleigh is about 3,600 people. Add various other people staying in the area but not officially resident and we’re talking about around 8,000 people in total.
The mortality rate, death rate to be very clear, is about 2% so we can expect 160 deaths in the next few weeks in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh – over half of those will be elderly but many will not, there will be young people laid to rest too. But we do not know in advance who those people will be because many more will be seriously ill and need intensive care. Up to about 20% of the population – say 1,600 people. Many with pneumonia, or other conditions. I doubt there are currently that number of intensive care beds in the whole of Devon.
Even if only half of the above numbers become ill, we are still looking at 800 people being very ill and 80 dying – that is not acceptable. In fact the more useless government is, the more will die – not because they are not able to be cured but because the hospitals will be full to overflowing.
B) What to do about it.
- Voluntary lock-down: close all schools, restaurants, pubs, venues, hotels and places where people meet for unessential activity.
- Limit journeys for essential activities only while ensuring essential services can be kept operational.
- Ensure that all local people with genuine experience in evidence-based medicine are available to help including the surgeries in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh. Train as many people in basic nursing care as possible.
- Approach land-owners and landlords to voluntarily offer their premises as local pop-up hospitals, clinics and testing stations – temporary local hospitals could be in hotels, schools, places of worship, conference venues and other buildings otherwise used for gatherings.
- Order sufficient medical supplies for testing, care of the seriously ill and dying – in short equip the local pop-up hospitals.
- Test everyone.
- Admit those who are ill to the pop-up hospitals.
C) How to pay for it.
I don’t have local demographic data to hand but the 8,000 population will live in about 3,000 households. About 4,000 people will be working and about 4,000 will be children and retired people. Home ownership is likely to be at around 75% so assume around 2,250 private homes.
- Each working adult puts £100 cash loan into a Community Fund raising £400,000
- Each Household pledges to temporarily underwrite the Community Fund to the value of £100 each, allowing the Community Fund to borrow £300,000
- Home owners pledge to temporarily underwrite £500 each against the value of their homes to allow the Community Fund to borrow £1,125,000
- Let us also try and persuade 100 local businesses to pledge to temporarily underwrite £1,000 each, allowing the fund to borrow another £100,000.
The total available to spend immediately would be £400,000 and a credit line with a bank would be £1,425,000. The total fund for the initial stage of the crisis over the next few months would be £1,925,000 to provide basic nursing and care for the ill and intensive care for the seriously ill and dying.
The Government has pledged to spend what it takes to beat the virus. They have not sent sufficient funds to local government or the local NHS so we must act ourselves. We must act now. To find a suitable bank I would suggest the managers of the two Co-ops approached the Co-operative bank.
If further funds were required later in the year, another round of fundraising would be sort. At the end of the crisis, the total bill would be sent to the UK Government and all citizens would be reimbursed for their cash donations and the borrowing payed off. If the UK Government refuses to pay, we will sue them. If we lose we will all lose money but if our model is replicated all over the country they will have no choice but to pay – just as they paid the banks when they bailed them out. The worse that can happen is that we all have horrible debts but we might well save 160 lives. What price a life?
I will put my money where my mouth is. I am on a very low wage, have chronic health issues and rely on tax credits and housing benefit but will give £100 cash as a household, £100 cash as a working adult and will pledge to temporarily underwrite £1,000 using my work tools as collateral if the scheme goes ahead.
D) Organisation. We would need urgently.
- A young, fit, fiercely persuasive and experienced and energetic graduate to co-ordinate.
- A green light and endorsement from both Town Halls.
- A green light and endorsement from both medical centres/surgeries
- Two organisational hubs at each town hall.
- A dedicated website
- A dedicated computer
- A bank account
- A team of medical experts
- An accountant
- A procurement expert
- A lawyer
- Volunteer drivers, carers and publicity people.
If you think this is a viable idea, even if risky, even if unlikely to happen, please support it. We are in for the toughest of times as a community and the will to say ‘yes’ will make it happen. We are 8,000 people, we deserve to live.
T H E W I L L T O S A Y Y E S
Nick Nakorn 15th March 2020