Minnis Hosts First Drive-in Campaign Rally Amid Pandemic Ahead of Election

As the general election loom, the political arena saw its first drive-in rally.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed hundreds of supporters in Grand Bahama who stayed in or near their vehicles, to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.

Despite its high cases of infection in the country, the Free National Movement found a new way to reach its supporters.   The party supporters waved pom-poms from their car windows, blew the car horns in support of their candidates, while others danced while social distancing from others.

Minnis touted his vaccination program stating that 11,000 more Bahamians were vaccinated between Monday and Friday.

He hit out at the Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis who has criticized his government’s COVID-19 policies to control the virus.

Minnis praised the “decisive leadership” of his government.

“Some other people played down the pandemic and the vaccine. They talked fool and voted against the Emergency Order. If Brave Davis was leading the country, we would be in much, much worse shape,” Minnis said.

“He and I are distinctly different. I wanted to save lives. He wanted to open the bars.”

Minnis added that he laughed when he saw the PLP’s slogan, ‘A New Day.’

“I bust out laughing when I heard that…He is a PLP from the dark days of the ’80s…Brave is no new day. Brave is yesterday’s news. He would take us back to the dark days.”

Last week, Davis said his party will postpone drive-in rallies to help battle the spread of the infectious disease.

The big story

Bahamians will head to the polls on September 16 in an early election called by Minnis. It comes at a time when the country is battling high deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

The government has launched its vaccination campaign to combat the further spread of the virus. Three vaccines are now available–AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.



Families of Dead COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Get Death Benefit Cheques

Two families of deceased COVID-19 health care workers were granted payments today, following recent ‘sickouts’ across healthcare institutions over the disbursements of honorarium payouts.

The families of Nurse Sherrilyn Charlton-Bain and Custodian Marion Burrows-McKinney were presented with cheques, totaling $100,000.

Carlton-Bain and Burrows-McKinney died during the first wave of the pandemic. Charlton-Bain, deployed to the Prison Health Services, passed on October 10 and Burrows-McKinney, deployed at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) died on September 29.

The big story

At the height of the pandemic, the government agreed to provide a $5,000 honorarium to those frontline workers who provided care to COVID-19 patients from the onset of COVID, and a $100,000 life insurance policy if workers experience untimely death while serving.

It was an effort to provide a cadre of healthcare workers during the period March 19–June 18, 2020.

Why it matters

For the past week, healthcare workers in New Providence and Grand Bahama abandoned services and ‘called in sick’ over COVID-19 honorarium payouts. Some health workers said they were frustrated that they were left out of the disbursements of monies, but Minister of Health Renward Wells maintained that the payout was not intended for everyone as some workers did not meet the criteria as established by the Cabinet for payment of the honorarium.

What Wells said today

Wells stated that these challenging times have highlighted the important roles healthcare and frontline workers play.

Wells added, “The government instituted a death benefit to healthcare workers for a limited time to those who may have potentially lost their lives from COVID-19.”

He explained that both healthcare workers qualified for that death benefit, and now the government can pass on what was held in trust for both of them to their families.

“To the family members of Nurse Sherrilyn Charlton-Bain and Mrs. Marion Burrows-McKinney, we know that no monetary value can replace the life of your mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt or friend.  However, it is hoped that it will provide for a time the necessary funding that would have ordinarily been supplemented by your loved ones’ income.”

Bahamas Records Highest Number of New COVID-19 Cases in a Single Day

Health officials reported 228 new coronavirus cases on Friday, hitting a record number of infections reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Health show that this number is historical for the Bahamas and is a reminder that the virus continues to be transmitted.

Health officials said a total of 499 cases were reported between August 1-5. At the same time last week, July 25-29, 558 confirmed cases were reported.

Officials also reported two additional deaths that are being investigated.

Breakdown of new cases

  • New Providence  164
  • Grand Bahama  11
  • Abaco  15
  • Bimini and Cat Cay  3
  • Eleuthera  20
  • Exuma  12
  • Andros  3

Twenty of these cases have a history of travel within the last fourteen days.

State of Play

On August 2, the country celebrated Emancipation Day as a public holiday. It is worth noting that when there is a holiday, members of the public may delay being tested for COVID-19 and most laboratory facilities would be closed.

The Ministry said this often results in an increase in the number of confirmed cases reported days following a holiday.

New Coronavirus Strain Emerges. Some Countries Ban Travel To and From UK

A growing number of European countries have stopped travel from Britain after a new virus strain was discovered in that country. At least six European countries have announced flights will no longer fly there, while France and Belgium have banned train travel.

Why it matters

Health officials in the U.S and the UK said the strain apparently infects more easily than others. But they are still examining if it is more deadly. It is believed to be 70% more transmissible.

What’s driving the news

The British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the strain “moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant,” causing over 60% of infections in London by December, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The new strain is said to have nearly two dozen mutations and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target.

“I’m worried about this, for sure,” but it’s too soon to know how important it ultimately will prove to be, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who studies viruses at the University of Cambridge in England.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control.”

US Media Wrongly Reports on COVID-19 Infections in the Bahamas. But Ministry Steps In

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had to correct Channel 10 Miami News broadcast when television broadcasters incorrectly reported the coronavirus numbers in the Bahamas while warning Americans of traveling to the country based on Centers for Disease Control’s travel advisory for the Bahamas.

What happened and why it matterscovid19

  • The reporter said that there were 7,460 COVID-19 cases reported in the Bahamas on Tuesday, when in fact the number for that day was 29. The 7,460-figure referred to in the broadcast was the total number of cases recorded in the Bahamas to that date. The news story was repeated on several social media outlets and at least one local news station.
  • The incorrect reporting can adversely affect the country’s already ailing tourism industry as officials move to increase tourism numbers.

The big picture

The US government’s recent advisory is at a level 4, ‘very high level,’ warning its citizens that they should avoid all travel to the Bahamas, as travel “may increase their chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.” US travel advisories are issued at various levels for all countries around the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says such advisories are normal and are done in accordance with US regulations.

What the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did to correct the error

  • One report suggested that the Ministry took no action to correct this mistake made by Channel 10 and the Ministry’s leadership in Miami was called into question.
  • The Bahamas Consul-General in Miami “immediately and appropriately” contacted Channel 10 to point out the error. Channel 10 subsequently made a retraction the same day.
  • Furthermore, the Consul-General provided Channel 10 with the correct statistics for the Bahamas. The correction is on the website of Channel 10 and states, “Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that 7,460 cases of COVID-19 had been reported on Tuesday. That number is, in fact, the total number of cases that have been confirmed in the Bahamas to date. We regret this error.”

Worth noting

  • COVID-19 infections are actually trending downward based on the release of the latest statistics. Thirteen new cases were confirmed by health officials on Thursday:
    • New Providence–8
    • Grand Bahama–3
    • Abaco–1
    • Exuma–1

Featured Image: Tribune

Bimini Partygoers Ticketed as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket on the Island

Bimini police issued tickets to a large group of young people seen in a video violating the COVID-19 emergency order while attending a beach party on that island.

The video, which made the rounds on social media shows a crowd on a beach, where attendees wore no masks nor practiced social distancing. Attendees stood closely together, singing and dancing.

The deejay is seemingly in defiance of the protocols, stating, “It’s after 12. Bimini ain’t on no curfew. Nassau on curfew. It’s after 12. We are in Bimini.”

Why it matters?

The island has a total of 74 COVID-19 cases to date, with 11 new cases reported on Sunday.

The big picture

  • Back in May, a two-week lockdown was imposed after cases skyrocketed on the island and it was deemed a ‘hotspot.’ Officials believed the lockdown measures curtailed the increase and flattened the curve on that island.
  • The island recorded the country’s first coronavirus death, 57-year-Kim Johnson, who died after being airlifted to New Providence. She later tested positive for the virus.

What police say

  • The party was at Radio Beach, in Alice Town, held on Saturday night.
  • Party-goers were not given permission to hold the party.
  • The hosts and attendees were ticketed, and police are looking to identify the others to serve citations.
  • Police say these actions will not be tolerated and they will enforce the law.

It remains to be seen if the island will be placed on a second lockdown as cases rise again.

New Providence and Abaco are Looking COVID-19 Good

Health officials have seen major improvements in New Providence and Abaco as COVID-19 cases decrease since the last four weeks of weekend lockdowns and daily curfews.

There is a 50% decrease in new cases between October 10th and November 5th. And, in the last 7 days, statistics show an 8 percent decrease.

The big picture

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis implemented restricted measures for New Providence and Abaco in early October, including a 24-hour weekend lockdown and a return of curfews, emphasizing that coronavirus cases were deteriorating and the healthcare system was near collapse.


  • 34 new cases were confirmed on Thursday. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas to 6,916.
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have significantly reduced and currently stand at 59, which is down from the high of 122 on 22nd October.
  • At the Princess Margaret Hospital, there are 27 COVID-19 patients who are moderately ill. There are no patients in ICU at PMH presently.
  • 97 persons recovered from COVID-19 yesterday. This brings the total number of recoveries to 4,876. The recovery rate is now at 70.5%.
  • In New Providence, there are 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Doctor’s Hospital. 10 are moderately ill and 3 are in ICU.
  • There are 5 moderately ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized at the South Beach Acute Care and Referral Centre.

Why COVID-19 Is Still Rising in New Providence

Health Minister Renward Wells said COVID-19 in New Providence continues to escalate.

Over the last four days–September 28th to October 1st, health officials have seen a surge in the capital.

Stats provided by MOH  Photo: CSJ Report

Why does it matter?

This escalation in numbers comes at a time when:

  • the country is reopening its fragile economy
  • several schools are opening with face to face learning.

What’s happening?

  • The relaxation of restrictions, some people have decided to go back to business as usual, including their social lives.
  • Some people attend planned social events like showers, dinner, and birthday parties where they can contract or spread COVID-19.
  • People go home to their families where the virus is spread. These individuals also spread COVID-19 to their co-workers.
  • A consistent trend of workplace exposures.

Minister Wells stressed that the workplace is now a ‘hot spot’.

How do we curb the increase in New Providence?

  • Avoid going out of our homes for non-essential reasons. Avoid social gatherings and practice preventative measures at home, church, work, and everywhere else you go!
  • Employers must ensure that health and safety measures are in place at the workplace and that staff is trained to execute COVID-19 preventive protocols.
  • Employers must implement effective social distancing and work-from-home policies.
  • Conduct yourselves as though everywhere is a ‘hot spot.’

Featured image: peterloud.co.uk

Davis Says Country Is Worst in the Region. Johnson Tells Him Not to Celebrate on First Day Back

In his return to the House of Assembly since recovering from COVID-19, Opposition Leader Philip Davis condemned the recovery rate of the Bahamas, in its COVID-19 fight. He emphasized that the Bahamas is the “worst in the Caribbean region.”

“Don’t compare yourself to around the world. Because in so far, around the world, we are in last place as to how we are dealing with it (COVID-19). We are in last place. We are the worst off in the region in handling the COVID,” Davis said.

Davis was referring to the Global COVID-19 Index Dashboard, which ranks the Bahamas as 183 out of 184 countries. The dashboard indicates how well countries are coping with the virus.

The dashboard also list Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis as other Caribbean countries similar to the Bahamas in handling the virus.

Renward Wells and Elsworth Johnson beckon Davis to prove COVID claims

Wells stood up to refute Davis’ claims. He said if Davis looks at other statistics, the Bahamas is doing well. Wells said there is a 2.3% fatality rate for the virus.

This is the top tier of the 1% globally, indicating that the Bahamas is capable of dealing with Covid-19 patients.

Minister of State for Finance Elsworth Johnson added that Davis should come with solutions, insteading of “coming back the first day to say the country is the worst” which is “almost like a celebratory dance, when people are losing their lives,” Johnson said.

Why does it matter?

Health officials confirmed that the virus is rising in the country with 119 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 4,022.

  • 103 in New Providence
  • 9 in Abaco
  • 4 in Grand Bahama
  • 2 in Exuma
  • 1 in Andros

Former Health Minister Duane Sands said the Bahamas is “not winning this battle” against the virus, as not enough testing is being done.

He said the country has a case incidence rate per million, which is twice the average of all countries in the world — 8,797 per million as compared to an average of 4,075 per million.

And, the 38th highest instance of deaths of COVID-19 in the world per capita.