The new year 2021 is off to a disappointing start. The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. Case counts are still increasing at an alarming rate. There are new outbreaks in long-term care homes each day and students are learning at home. Ontario is nearing the middle of its 28-day lockdown which could be extended should the infection statistics not start dropping.
Add into all that the disappointing actions of elected officials from Ontario and around the country who adopted a “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to staying safe during the pandemic. Ontario’s example is now-former Finance Minister Rod Phillips, who traded pandemic sacrifices of not seeing ones family, for the sunny lap of luxury in St. Bart’s. It’s nice to know that while businesses shutter, students learn online and the elderly die in long-term care homes, politicians like Phillips can sit on a beach away from it all. Indeed we are all in this together, but we’re clearly not in the same boat.
Actions like Phillips’ undermine public buy-in to restrictions and public health guidance. It contributes to the growing pessimism of following these measures, and pandemic fatigue, which hurts the continued battle to lower infection numbers from this virus.
That all said, there are many reasons to hold on and be optimistic. Two vaccines are already approved and doses are reaching arms across the province. While not at the rate that it should be, those vaccines are here and there are more coming. Two other vaccines are in the approval process and Canada has acquired more than enough doses to ensure that every Canadian that wants to be vaccinated, can be.
Vaccinations and low COVID-19 numbers in our communities will mean that we can begin to recover. Businesses will reopen, kids will return to the classroom, and community activities will start again. Instead of seeing empty fields in our parks, baseball, soccer, and other recreational activities will take place. Arenas will reopen and community celebrations like Canada Day, Tubie Weekend, and Applefest will return. Even if all these events still have to “play it safe” with spacing restrictions and other changes, it is vitally important to have this part of our community back.
Until the vaccines are widely available, we all (even politicians) have to follow public health guidance to try to get infection levels under control. Once that happens, we will start getting back to some form of normal, and that is something to be optimistic about.