Right in the centre - Have we gone far enough?


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

I think a lot of people are asking that question. Everyone would like to have society get back to normal after six months of coping with COVID-19. Many towns and regions have had no cases... yet! Some communities have seen a number of cases. I have it on good authority that communities that had a C-19 case or cases, went into a quarantine mode and the spread was reportedly successfully stopped.

We need to open up our economy. If some businesses want to ask customers to wear masks, that’s fine. If individuals feel safer wearing masks, that’s fine too. 

All businesses need to be allowed to open up and most have. Schools need to stay open. Sports and arts programs all need to open up, too. But what about the elderly and the vulnerable? Do they not need to be protected and be encouraged to protect themselves? Absolutely! One thing C-19 has taught us is that we have not done a good enough job of protecting the elderly and vulnerable. C-19 sanitation procedures that have been actively preached, such as hand washing, staying at home when sick, quarantining infected people, all need more attention.

What we don’t need is a fear-driven economic shut down. The economic and mental illness effects of the C-19 shutdown appear to have had a much deeper effect than the disease itself in Manitoba. Certainly, 18 Manitoban deaths, mostly among elderly, vulnerable people, is sad, but it’s not tragic. What is tragic is how many unnecessary steps are being taken. There are some precautions that are silly, not effective and expensive.

The following is an edited version (in italics) of what I assume is written by an American writer but I was not able to identify the original source. Nevertheless, the questions are valid.

“What is the magic formula that is going to allow us to sound the all clear?

Is it zero cases?

The only way that will happen is if we just stop testing and stop reporting.

Is it a vaccine?

It took many years for a chicken pox vaccine to be developed and many decades to eliminate the disease.

We have a flu vaccine that is only partially effective and many don’t take the shot. 

Do you really think people will flock to get a fast-tracked, quickly-tested vaccine, whose long term side effects and overall efficacy are anyone’s best guess?

How long are we going to cancel and postpone events?

What if October’s numbers are the same as August’s?

What if next March is worse than this one was?

When do we decide quality of life outweighs the risks?

I understand Covid can be deadly or very dangerous for some people, but so are strawberries and so is shellfish.

We take risks multiple times a day without a second thought.

We know driving a car can be dangerous, we don’t leave it in the garage. Many speed and don’t wear seat belts. 

We know the dangers of smoking, drinking and eating fried foods, we do it anyway.

Is hugging Grandma really more dangerous than rush hour on the freeway?

Is going out with friends after work more risky than four-day-old gas station sushi?

Or operating a chainsaw?

When and how did we so quickly lose our free will?

Is there a waiver somewhere I can sign that says, ‘I understand the risks, but I choose a life with Hugs and Smiles, going to the fair, to church and hugging my Mom in her retirement home.’

I understand that there is a minuscule possibility I could die, but I will most likely end up feeling like crap for a few days.

I understand I could possibly pass it to someone else, if I’m not careful, but I can pass any virus on to someone else.

I’m struggling to see where or how this ends.

We either get busy living or we get busy dying.

When God decides it’s your time, you don’t get any mulligans, so I guess I would rather spend my time enjoying it and living in the moment and not worrying about what-ifs and maybes, and I bet  I’m not the only one.”


Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.