The headlines in the news this week were all about the COVID-19 (coronavirus). We’ve certainly seen a local impact with everything from the Wranglers season being cancelled to a request not to visit Carefree Manor, nevermind an apparent rush on toilet paper. We’ve seen a whole host of different reactions.
One of those is about whether it’s been blown out of proportion or not. The argument made includes that, so far, there’s only been a few cases in the entire Interior Health region, the fatality rate is not that high and it primarily kills older people (as if that’s somehow a valid reason to ignore it).
The behaviour we’ve seen in the past week has included everything from people leaving for holidays, being offended at not receiving a hug or handshake and unnecessarily touching all kinds of surfaces. We’ve seen some places nearly as crowded as usual and a whole host of other unadvisable behaviour. Often times, it was even seniors, those at highest risk, engaging in this type of behaviour.
Regardless of why this happened, it’s clear that it’s irresponsible behaviour.
We’d written a lengthy editorial for this week addressing those people by calculating, based on fatality rates in other countries what it might look like if COVID-19 was contracted by a significant portion of South Cariboo residents.
Once we’d made the calculations and written it up, it wasn’t a pretty picture. It was a little too depressing and we decided publishing it would do more harm than good. However, that doesn’t mean that the risk is any less real.
If this were to spread throughout the South Cariboo, we’d likely all know somebody, a friend, family member or acquaintance, who would die as a result of the disease. So we’ll keep it to just this, if you’re still going about town with business as usual, it’s time for some serious self-reflection. Ultimately, it’s just as much your responsibility to stop this disease as it is the governments’.
The best-case scenario at the end of all of this is that it looks like we overreacted because it didn’t really go anywhere.
Another reaction we’ve seen is to start hamstering all kinds of goods including, for some reason, toilet paper. It’d be one thing if it was a gastrointestinal disease but it’s not. More importantly, buying out grocery stores puts our most vulnerable, such as those on low incomes, at even more risk. This isn’t a disease we can beat on an individual basis. It’s something we have to beat as a society and we’re only going to be as strong as our weakest members. If they have to go further or to more extreme measures to meet their needs, it will be to the detriment of us all, nevermind the unnecessary suffering along the way.
Luckily, in times of crisis, there are also always people who react in a helpful way and go the extra step. Canadian 2 For 1 Pizza in 100 Mile House is offering seniors, high-risk people or someone who does not feel comfortable going out a free grocery delivery service. Another group, Ready Set Safety, is suspending their normal operations, instead offering free services within 50 km of 100 Mile House for elderly assistance, grocery and medication pick up and delivery. They can also check on elders. That’s the kind of community spirit that we need and makes us proud to call the Cariboo home.
Lastly, and importantly, this is all having a major impact on our local businesses after an already tough time in recent years between wildfires and mill closures. If there was ever a time to spend your money locally, now is that time. Nearly every local business is coming up with backup plans and safer alternatives from restaurants moving to take out to businesses making their products available online or preordering. It’s crucial that we make sure to minimize the impact on local businesses and residents while we make sure to stay safe.