QThe photo above is taken from the Washington Post today.
It shows the obituaries section of a community paper in the northern province of Bergamo in Italy, where obituaries normally take up 2 or 3 pages. In recent days, there have been 10 or 11 pages. The measures we have and are taking in BC and elsewhere are so things like that, don’t happen here.
Like all of you, I have been watching things develop since day 1. But the mention of this dental conference in yesterdays press conference caught my eye for several reasons.https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pacific-dental-conference-attendees-exposed-covid19-1.5499437
At that point officials knew the virus was here due to international travellers.
The dental conference in Vancouver took place the weekend of March 6th and has resulted in several cases across Canada from a single, 2 hour visit of an infected person.
Also on March 6th, BC unveiled their plan for pandemic preparation. At that time officials said it was low risk and did not see the need to cancel the Rugby Canada Sevens. In the presser after, Horgan said people should still go and enjoy events as long as they did not feel sick or showed any signs of illness, but be cautious, and wash their hands.
On March 12th, considering what was developing in Washington state and the rest of the US, and still not seeing the more aggressive actions urged by the WHO happening in Canada, I wrote another post referring to a similarly frustrated German residents post, urging people to #flattenthecurve and #staythefuckhome.
Yesterday we had two major press conferences, one from Trudeau and one from BC officials. We are now seeing the curve we are trying to flatten, beginning to spike, and Trudeau announced a travel ban and border closure that doesn’t protect us to the biggest threat of new cases, entering from non commercial traffic from the US.
Thankfully Adrian Dix immediately negated this and said it was wrong, asking Americans not to come to BC. ( Brava Adrian, your quiet strength is both reassuring and admirable ) Thankfully, looking at border cameras this morning in BC, it appears people are listening in the US, as there is little traffic at BC border crossings.
Based on science and evidence presented that this does transmit before symptoms appear, and by the actions taken by other jurisdictions that are keeping their cases under control, like Singapore, we as individuals must continue to make the choices we need to make, to stop or slow the spread of this virus by our own actions.
I am apt to say we may have missed the biggest chance to flatten the curve, which makes it very important that everyone needs to work hard right now to slow this down.
Practice social distancing and *do not go out if you are feeling at all sick.*
Most people who get this aren’t showing symptoms or are having very minor symptoms like Trudeaus wife, and children are still largely un-affected.
But we do need to stop the spread to protect our elders and all those who are vulnerable. Many people are doing an excellent job of social distancing already.
But taking these important actions is already having a massive impact on everyone financially and with stress.
This is a list of measures I hope to see from the federal and provincial governments asap.
I, like many are seeing the impacts these measures are having on families and friends. I have two relatives laid off right now because of Covid-19, and many friends. All are worried about making rent or mortgage payments.
Government has to find a way to keep things afloat because the cost of living has been so unaffordable for so long, no one has any savings.
What Government can do
1) Top up the Child Tax Benefit cheques going out Friday significantly for the next 3 months minimum. Those who qualify to get them, have low to moderate incomes and rely on them most for rent, mortgage and food. Hoarding is an issue in every community including my own and getting enough groceries for a 2 week self isolation or longer, is not an option. People will starve.
2) Top up disability and social assistance payments for the next 3 months minimum. Again, many are limited to where they can buy food because of no vehicles or disability. They can’t stock up for a 2 week self isolation because they are already living in poverty. People will starve.
2) Ensure that not only is the one week waiting period waived for EI benefits waived, the processing time is too. Just approve the damn claims and pay out.
3) Work with banks and credit unions to legislate a no penalty halt to rent and mortgage payments for 2 months at this point for everyone on EI.
4) Provide a free call in line or registry of mental health professionals like counsellors, psychiatrists etc for people to call throughout this challenging time. I urge all mental health professionals who are able to, to volunteer services in their communities where they can, to help people who are experiencing extreme stress and anxiety right now. I see a need among my own friends, many of whom don’t want to add more stress to their own spouses, and others who really have no one to talk to. ( I wont get into how this should already be a BC medical covered service….)
What corporate Canada can do.
1) Grocery stores are starting to offer early openings and specific times for seniors and those with disabilities to shop. Well done. Now ensure that every single staple product has a limit that would allow a person to have some extra, but not enough to allow hoarding.
2) Utility, cable and telephone providers would be prudent to defer payments with no penalty or interest charged. Reduce pricing.
3) Every corporation should be immediately cutting cheques to food banks in their communities, many of which are now on a 1 day supply or less, and places like Kraft Canada, Presidents Choice, Quaker, etc etc need to be sending pallets of staples to local food banks.
Here in the Comox Valley I was just advised they have about a day left, because no one is leaving donations at the grocery store donation bins, and the stores dont have enough stock of staples to keep things going. Its appalling how people have acted in hoarding food.
What those who are wealthy can do.
Donate, donate, donate. To food banks. To social service organizations who help feed the homeless, to groups that serve seniors, to breakfast clubs.
So many people are clueless as to how many people rely on school breakfast programs.And many also arent aware that teachers and counsellors usually keep extra food on hand for kids who need it.
Its a hardship on spring breaks and holidays at the best of times for parents to make up the difference and now its even worse because, again, hoarders who are prepping like grocery production has come to an end. I can guarantee you that right now, somewhere close to you, there are hungry little bellies and a stressed out parent crying into his or her hands in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do when the food bank runs low.
Other actions to consider
For those who are able to, support your local farmers right now. Support your local small businesses who are the heart of every community. Buy a gift card or gift certificate. Call to arrange a time to shop. Every dollar in their pocket counts right now as we navigate through these closures.
Ok, if I forgot anything please add to the comments below. I will post again later on, with a lighter note to distract and maybe a story or two. Get outside if you can, and enjoy the sun, just not in a crowd. We got this.
Came home from a nature walk to see this. Public Health Emergency declared.