Editorial – One million and counting

Canada passed an ominous milestone Easter weekend when the number of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began in this country reached 1,000,000 people. That means one in 38 people in Canada has had a known novel coronavirus infection. Think about your family, friends, co-workers, and classmates. Statistically, one in every 38 people you know currently are, or have, contracted this deadly virus. For many Canadians, while public health restrictions, shutdowns, and delays to parts of everyday life have altered how we live, this virus has not directly affected our lives – yet.

We are now in a third wave of this pandemic, which in reality is just an extension of the second wave. This time though, the risk to your health is even greater than in the first two waves.
The first two waves hit the elderly the worst. Long-term care homes were ravaged in Ontario. Multi-generational homes and congregant living spaces were indiscriminate targets of a virus that preys on weakness. As early vaccines triaged to those most in need, and the second wave began to subside, our numbers did not improve.

Active case counts did drop, schools returned, stores reopened, but hospital numbers – especially in Intensive Care Units – did not subside. Now weeks into this Third Wave, ICUs are over capacity and COVID-19 is running rampant. Our health care system is on the verge of collapse. The news is dire, the risk high, yet action is the weakest yet.

In Ontario, successive action has been watered down each time restrictions are required. Government has tried to balance political action with science, but there is an issue with that. Politics is the art of compromise, trading the needs of the many against the needs of the few. There is no compromising science. Science is fact. Fact is truth.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table made many recommendations last week, including a stay-at-home order to flatten the curve of this Third Wave. Instead, the province’s shutdown order included less restrictions on movement and gatherings than the previous two. That includes enforcement. Shopping malls were open as if there was no pandemic going on. People were gathering in parks, conservation areas, and front yards, restrictions be damned. When the need for help in combating COVID-19 is at its highest, the province is taking the least amount of action. That is why, without individual action by people, this wave will continue – and worsen.

It is not going to be vaccinations alone that ends this pandemic. It is going to (again) take individual effort from each of us to be smart, not take unnecessary risks, and be diligent. The need for action by everyone has never been greater. Please do your part.

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