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Posted: May 3, 2020

It’s time to think about changing our COVID-19 strategy

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

We’re now almost two months into the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s time for some reflection.

For the great majority of us who haven’t been touched by the dread disease, it’s time to thank our Maker – whatever Maker you happen to believe in – and even if you don’t believe in a Maker, thank whomever or whatever you want because you’re one damn lucky individual. The worldwide death toll for COVID -19 now stands at 240,000 and of course these deaths will affect millions more.

That’s a lot of death and heartbreak for a disease that almost no one saw coming.

However, I think it’s time to reflect on the implications of what the world’s first major pandemic in a century has done to us and how it’s going to change our civilization forever. The big change I’m hoping for is an attitude change towards our elders, who overwhelmingly are the prime victims of the pandemic.

We all know deep inside that in a world as rich and supposedly caring as ours it doesn’t have to be this way. Therefore, my hope when this nightmare finally settles down, is we finally acknowledge that consigning our seniors to bleak warehouse-type facilities to be looked after by underpaid and over-worked staff, and in some cases not even fed properly, is a crime against humanity and must be ended now. We can do it, and if we don’t, we’re a civilization not worth saving.

Keep in mind that COVID -19 is largely a seniors’ plague with up to two-thirds, and in some cases, more than two-thirds of the victims being the elderly and the medically fragile. If we really are our brothers and sisters’ keepers, surely it’s time we started acting that way.

Then, as the curve flattens as it has started to do in B.C. and many other places, there’s the touchy issue of relaxing the draconian health protocols that have kept so many of us confined to our abodes for what seems like forever.

I think it’s time to start loosening the bonds. So does B.C.’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who said in an interview this week that the chances of being infected by a passing pedestrian or jogger outside are “negligible” as long as they are six feet away. So, for God’s sake get out in the spring air and go for a walk in a park.

And a message for B.C. Premier John Horgan, who along with Henry has been providing great leadership in the COVID -19 crisis: “It’s spring, John and our minds turn to a lot of things and one of them is enjoying our wonderful provincial park system. So, be a good guy and open the provincial parks. I’m sure Bonnie would agree.”

And then there’s the other end of the precious spectrum – our children. They have hardly been touched by COVID at all. So why don’t we re-open the schools starting with the elementary grades first. Surely the kids, their parents and their teachers deserve a break?

Maybe the bars and restaurants could follow, too, with strongly enforced social distancing rules. And last, but certainly not least, let’s open up the hospital beds to deal with the lengthy elective surgery backlog. There are people dying in that backlog.

Finally, there’s politics. There’s always politics. You can’t avoid it, and in this case, I’m talking about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who I think has also provided strong leadership during the pandemic, but in my opinion is starting to wear out his welcome.

Do we really need Trudeau with an hour of free CBC Radio time every morning telling us what we already know? (self-isolate, stay home.) I don’t think so and if the Prime Minister continues, I think the taxpayer funded CBC should allow other politicians to speak too.

We all support freedom of speech, but even freedom of speech can be abused.

Lead image: Norbury Lake Provincial Park, like other parks across B.C., remains closed to the public. Carrie Schafer/e-KNOW photo

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who’s eternally grateful he’s escaped the COVID-19 demon up until now.

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