Today, Ontario is reporting 204 new cases of COVID-19. This is the result of completing 31,000 tests and it is the third day in a row that reported cases have topped 200. This is compared to a number of days in August when reported cases of the virus were under 100. A surge of the COVID-19 virus was predicted for this fall and clearly we are seeing the beginning of an upward trend.
Is this concerning? Yes. Is it something to be very careful about? Of course. Is it a reason to panic? Not at all.
Dr. Bonnie Henry is the provincial health officer for British Columbia. During this pandemic she, along with her counterpart in Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has received national attention for their calm, scientific, practical, and proactive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is what Dr. Henry has said about the increase of COVID-19 cases in most parts of Canada: “We knew this was going to happen. But we also know that we know how to control this. We do it through constant tracing, trying to keep a lid on it, trying to keep it away from those we know are most vulnerable.”
In my ‘Listen Up’ article last week, I wrote not only about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic but also about the importance of not allowing it to control our lives to the point that we cannot get on with them. In that context, I supported the province’s plan to get children back to school as safely as possible.
One reader who commented on this said, “We need not be partisan about it, as it’s a tough call for any government, but let’s not pretend that they are not rolling the dice.”
I agree with that. No one knows for sure how all of this is going to turn out.
Another reader, this time on Facebook, suggested I was out of my depth and unsympathetic because I didn’t have children going to school or on school buses. For the record, I have two precious young grandchildren who went back to school last week, on the bus. Of course I care and of course I worry, for them and for others like them. But I also worry about their future and what happens if we do no get back to some form of normality.
To be clear, I take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. It is a game changer for sure. The degree to which it affects our future depends on us. We must wear masks where they are required, respect social distancing, and frequently wash our hands. Anyone who doesn’t, anyone who opts for their “rights” over common sense, is simply adding to the problem. The new normal for me is to go back to my car to fetch my mask after being half-way to a public building. A pain in the butt? Yes, but a necessary one under current circumstances.
However, I continue to believe that looking at the future solely through the prism of the COVID-19 pandemic is both unhealthy and unwise. Without balance it is potentially a recipe for disaster. Our economy must open up. Our kids must go back to school. People need to get back to work again. Money that has been spent to encourage people to stay home must now be spent to encourage them to safely return to an active, stable, and mentally healthy life.
Canada’s parliamentary budget officer has stated that our current deficit level in this country will be unsustainable within one to two years. That’s not future generations folks. That’s now! We need to think about that, and we need to get our economy going again.
Dr. Bonnie Henry is right about this, too, when she says, “We need to refocus…it’s also important for the wellness of our community to get people to go back to work and to have children return back at school.”
In my view, we may have to live with COVID-19 for weeks or years. We should not deny it or panic. Washing our hands and maintaining a two-metre physical distance and wearing masks when required is the best method of protection as we get on with our lives. But we MUST get on with our lives.
Dr. Henry is a wise physician and public servant who exudes confidence and common sense. Her various statements make it clear that she exemplifies my thoughts exactly. Those are: we should be smart and stay informed. We should live life sensibly and to the fullest. We should be kind. We should stay calm and we should stay safe.
That is how we should move forward in a positive, productive, and hopeful manner.
Let’s just do it.
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