Steven Miles and Jeannette Young at a press conference
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles and chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young (Image: AAP/Darren England)

COVID-19 has finally been pushed off the front page around the world, after the killing of George Floyd triggered mass protests and violent police retaliation across America. 

But the virus is still out there, and there are now fears the protests could lead to a second wave. On the home front, numbers outline how bleak the last month has been for the media.

Protests bring fear of second wave

America is burning, after protests against police brutality have been met with more police brutality.

The situation escalated over the weekend with businesses burning, riots and rubber bullets, tear gas and tasers. That kind of disorder is exactly what you don’t need to fight a pandemic.

As part of their pitch for calm, mayors across the country have warned that the protests could unleash a second wave, and urged demonstrators to get tested. It’s practically impossible to socially distance in a chaotic angry crowd, or when there’s a police boot on your face.

Just like police violence, the virus has disproportionately kills black people in America.

Media ad spend plummets

The last month has been brutal for the Australian media — employees at BuzzFeed News, Ten Daily, News Corp regional papers and Vice are among the many now out of jobs.

And new data gives us some understanding of how this has happened, with data from Standard Media Index (SMI) highlighting a monumental decline in media ad buys.

In April, media agency ad expenditure fell 35.4%, as the pandemic and shutdown snuffed out economic activity, a decline that is far deeper and more abrupt than during the global financial crisis.

Big ad buyers like those in the travel industry turned off the cash overnight, with a $20.2 million cut in spending. And the SMI also warns the numbers could look similarly bad for May, thanks to the loss of NRL and AFL, which generally attract big ad spend on television.

The mystery COVID death that wasn’t

Last week, we told you about the mystery of Australia’s youngest COVID-19 death. Nathan Turner, 30, supposedly died of the virus, despite not leaving his small central Queensland mining town in months. It turns out Turner didn’t have COVID-19 — later tests turned up negative.

The Queensland government and Health Department have come under fire over the misdiagnosis. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has apologised to Turner’s family, and Health Minister Steven Miles this morning defended the government’s actions in a media conference.

“I would prefer to be criticised for being too transparent, too honest and for acting too quickly rather than the alternative,” he said.

Turner had suffered respiratory problems for some time, but the cause of his death is now undetermined.