Covid-19:dont let hindsight be the most astute advisor. Measures we need to keep our communities safe and operational.

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.
3 days later, March 9th, I posted a study sent by a friend who is in medical research that was beginning to make news in Germany ,which stated the virus was most virulent under their observations, in the 5 days before symptoms when people are still going around doing their business. This is the actual study. While very small, the implications are significant. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.05.20030502v1
The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 10th and stated they were “deeply concerned by alarming levels of inaction” taken by governments around the world, and stressed the need to take immediate and aggressive measures.
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.
*** update.
Came home from a nature walk to see this. Public Health Emergency declared.
#staythefuckhome #flattenthecurve

Breaking news: Joy is not cancelled.

Screenshot_20200313-231044_GalleryIt was a spectacular day today.

Blue sky, snow capped peaks, the kind of day that makes you smile after a long winter. And a friend messaged me after posting my pics and asked: ” How can we be happy right now ?”

” It’s simple.” I said. ” Joy was not made to be a crumb” and sent her one of my favourite Mary Oliver poems. I shared it with other friends online and thought perhaps some of you might find wisdom and even ‘permission’ to still find joy amid this uncertainty….

It’s still ok to be happy. It doesn’t make you less concerned or a bad person. We can’t change what’s already happened. We can only do our part to help here, right now by flattening the curve. And this is where the wisdom of Mary Oliver fits right in…

 

” If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.

Give in to it.

There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind.

And much can never be redeemed.

Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world.

It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.

Anyway, that’s often the case.

Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.

Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)

~ Mary Oliver

 

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Please do your part to #FlattenTheCurve and #StayTheFuckHome

Some of y’all might be offended by the profanity in the hashtag above,but one man in Germany is not. And when I saw this, I had to share it because it gets peoples attention quick. 

Frustrated with what he perceived to be the slow action of many countries in undertaking proactive measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19, he created the website https://staythefuckhome.com/, and penned the Self-Quarantine Manifesto seen below:

His simple one page, easy to read website details how and why it is important to “Flatten the Curve”.

Anything above the dotted line in the steep curve, is the zone where we do not want to be, regardless of who you are.

Why?

Because if we don’t take proper precautions among the healthy and younger who have minimal or no impact from this virus, we continue to  spread it among those who can’t: the elderly, the immune compromised and those with chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and lung disease.

If we all don’t work to do whatever we can to help slow the spread of this virus, we could end up like Italy….they undertook ‘flatten the curve’ mitigation measures too late to actually flatten the curve of the chart above.

The result? A sudden spike in critical cases that swamp hospitals all at once, resulting in a virtual healthcare disaster where decisions have to be made on who gets care and who doesn’t. Italy’s situation is the steep curve on the chart above. We. Don’t. Want. That. Here.

I explained to a fellow online yesterday in no uncertain terms how it quickly can go from fine to unmanageable overnight using our local healthcare as an example.

Our local hospital is routinely at or over 100% capacity at the best of times. If even 20 critical patients requiring special care like ventilation showed up within a short time, it would be a problem.

If more kept coming as days moved on, it’s not hard to envision the result. Not enough ventilators, not enough anesthesiologists, not enough doctors, not enough anything.

Now, some selfish people *still* might think: “Well that doesn’t impact me!!” ….until they end up in a car accident and need care and can’t get it, or their spouse has a heart attack or their kid breaks a leg badly while skiing…you get the idea. We need to make sure hospitals keep functioning for everyone. Don’t clog the ER with minor issues. (You shouldnt anyways)

If we flatten the curve, aka, make sure we slow the progress of this virus so a spike of patients doesnt overwhelm our hospitals at once, nurses and doctors can treat *everyone* with the best care.  And we can avoid what is happening in Italy. I don’t believe anyone wants to see this. Slow the spread of cases and flatten the curve. Slower is better.

These small actions by all of us, have big impact and are the heart of what makes a community work in any situation.

We all need to step up at different times, and that time is now. We need to protect our elders and those who are at risk for more severe cases and YOU can do that by doing the suggestions on the list above that you are able to, depending on where you are. So far urban areas are seeing more cases than rural areas, but DO NOT assume that means it isn’t there already.

In the midst of thinking about what you can do personally, it’s also really important to ensure that if you know any elders  who may not have resources or support like family close by, that you *call* and make sure they have food or medication. (Take precautions by leaving it outside the door, even if you feel fine. You may have it, and not have symptoms yet or at all )

The same goes for checking in with those who disabilities, mobility issues or may have anxiety…anything that may be preventing then from going out to get what they need. A lot of people might just need some reassurance that someone is looking out for them, and does care. A call can do wonders.

The vast majority of us will be just fine, and thankfully kids and teens don’t seem to be impacted. Life and business must carry on, but with proper precautions. I’m glad to see so many organizations cancel events and so many large companies telling employees to work from home where they can. I also encourage all employers to be understanding and not punitive. This isn’t something anyone can plan for, and businesses who make it easy for employees to be absent if sick, will be appreciated.

 

So please, do your part to #FlattenTheCurve and #StayTheFuckHome, or practice other social distancing to keep all our mums and dads, grandpas and grandmas, aunties and uncles and all those with high risk conditions

https://staythefuckhome.com

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)

​Speak to someone:

Novel coronavirus information: 
1-833-784-4397

Health information 8-1-1

** these numbers are VERY busy.  Please see the BC Center for Disease Control link above  for information on what to do if you have symptoms and may have been exposed.

** updates in the comments as I see them

How to ensure sick people actually do self isolate if infected with Covid-19

Having been through the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 that many Canadians  seem to either not remember, or maybe were too young to have paid attention, Covid-19 hasn’t particularly freaked me out.

People tend to forget that even the average seasonal flu is already a deadly illness for seniors, for those with chronic health conditions and for those who are immune compromised. Government stats show that hundreds die in Canada every year already from flu or flu related complications.

This is why we have flu vaccines- it might not totally prevent flu but it can help reduce the impact of it, if you do catch it. And it can help slow the spread of flu among vulnerable communities , something many also tend to forget about..

But the one thing not being considered by politicians – who enjoy good salaries and benefits – in the effort to get people to stay home when and if they get sick, is that most people can’t afford to go two days without pay, let alone two weeks.

Not all employers offer paid leave or flex days, and not all workers have vacation time to fall back on. Most people live paycheque to paycheque. Many are behind a month already on a bill or two…if not all of them.

It’s not remotely realistic to think that people will or can self isolate at all, if you have to feed your family and pay rent or mortgage. Why do politicians forget this? Landlords are already eager to evict so they can raise rents. People can’t risk housing and food.

If the government truly wants to help halt the spread of Covid -19 now that it is here, they need to look to how Japan is quickly acting:

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200303_01/amp.html?__twitter_impression=true

Japan’s government says it will pay up to about 80 dollars per person per day to businesses as income compensation for parents taking leave from work in response to temporary school closures that began nationwide.

The health and labor ministry on Monday revealed the details of a new subsidy system as the government strives to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ministry will pay the subsidy of up to 8,330 yen per person per day to businesses if their employees take paid leave to take care of their children due to school closures.

It’ll also offer stipend in cases where employees care for people suspected of having been infected with the virus.

The measure will cover regular and non-regular workers who take leave between February 27 and March 31.

The ministry plans to determine and announce soon how the system will be implemented

Good plan.

Here in Canada, a similar solution that is more directly worker oriented, is to make anyone ordered/asked to self isolate or anyone who has to take care of someone who must self isolate, immediately eligible for sickness EI benefits by waiving the waiting period and processing payments immediately instead of taking 28 days.

Processing applications immediately is key, as most EI applications sit for the full 28 days before payment is let go, then backdated. We can’t wait that long if we want to keep sick or exposed people in isolation.

In the event a widespread outbreak occurs here, continue the payments for the period deemed to assist containment as they have in Japan.

As well, people are already posting letters and signs from employers stating if they miss too many shifts they will either lose fulltime hours or be fired. The province should ensure that non union workers know their rights surrounding this kind of situation, in their daily press conferences.

Problem solved. ( how long will it take the feds to act? Clocks ticking)

And for those who aren’t caring “because it’s the elderly and sick who it targets”, stop being selfish.

Viruses like this can kill those undergoing cancer treatments, those with chronic conditions like asthma and copd, and any immune compromised patient. That might include one of your family members or friends. Think about that.