Right in the centre - More changes needed... again!


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Last week, I wrote “I think that all levels, be it government, staff, medical professionals and volunteers, have done a a lot of great work to try and get our elderly people through the COVID-19 pandemic.” I still believe that to be true. I don’t think there is one human being anywhere in Manitoba that wakes up in the morning and says, “I am going to go out and do harm.” Everybody is trying very hard to do the best they know how to get us through the C-19 pandemic.

Note I said, “best they know how.”

It’s what we don’t know that creates the space for vast improvement. Our main concern has to be how to best protect our vulnerable elderly people. The day-after-day grinding statistics are hard on everyone. I hope somebody, somewhere is looking at why some care homes have been devastated and some have not had a case yet. That is a bit of a mystery.

And surely, we have learned that shutting family members and volunteers out of the care homes and even hospitals was wrong. The horror stories of people who have died alone with no one to sit with them are very bad. I think if staff, who have contact in the community, can be health cleared to go into care homes, then so can family members and volunteers. The risk from a short list of family members and volunteers coming into the care homes and hospitals is statistically no greater than staff coming in. That said, the family members and volunteers are almost always a great help to residents and staff. I am sure when things got really busy at the now infamous Maples care home, that having family and volunteers helping might have been a good thing.

I want to also comment on the rally last weekend at Steinbach. Many of the protesters were not actually from Steinbach. Also, hurling insults at the protesters does no good except to make some people feel better. In my opinion, the protest was based on some ill-founded thoughts and it was definitely more than five people. Fines were handed out and there will likely be more to come.

It’s also important to not trust the media completely. It may be a minor point, but I wish reporters would learn to count. One report said 100 people, another said 200, another said hundreds and another said 500. Somebody is surely counting incorrectly.

And speaking of numbers and media, I am fairly tired of most of the Winnipeg media, as they have spent days and days, reporter after reporter, arguing about whether a family can have five people in for a visit. What a stupid waste of time! All the health officials have said many times, be kind, look after one another. Some families, some people will need a visit for help, for comfort, to combat loneliness.

Why aren’t the media out  there looking for solutions instead of nit-picking? Some media people need to get a life and a higher sense of purpose.

And finally, what about closures? I don’t think any business should have to close. Businesses need to be open to survive. It makes no health sense for small businesses to have to close and yet Walmart and Costco can be open. No sense at all. Let retail businesses operate at 25 per cent capacity. Let hair dressers and nail techs operate with sanitizing between customers. Let all businesses take precautions. If people are vulnerable, then they need to take extra precautions

I am firmly convinced that the total lockdowns will eventually cause more extra deaths from despair, loneliness and suicide than C-19 will. I am convinced that some of what we are doing now (masks, sanitizer, social distancing, lower retail capacity)  is preventing some extra deaths, but we have a long road ahead of us and we aren’t going to travel that road without some changes in methods.

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.