Right in the centre - Until May 26, you say?


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Before I go any further, let me say that it looks like I made a mistake in my column two weeks ago, writing about the number of deaths due to all causes in 2019 versus 2020. I quoted the figures accurately, but it was pointed out to me that the stats are reported from July 1 to June 30 so the 2020 figures I wrote about didn’t show the actual deaths for July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. In other words, COVID-19 may have raised the actual number of death by more than the 120 or so it appeared to be. We won’t know until the stats are totalled.

I give full credit to people at all levels of the health department for doing the best they can to keep everyone safe. That said, the new health orders are in place until May 26. Dr. Roussin hopes we can be much freer after May 26. I certainly hope so. We’d better be, because if this 15th month of lockdown doesn’t work by then, it’s time to change things up.

The lockdown has helped, of that there is no doubt. But the greatest damage has been done. Many care home residents died and I am convinced many died unnecessarily due to inadequate treatment policies and staff shortages. I have said it before, care homes that got caught short of staff should have called in help from wherever it could be obtained and argued with the government about things like visitation and volunteer rules later. Now that so many care home residents have died and nearly all the survivors have had their second shot, if we believe the science, then going forward, care home residents should rarely be found among the daily C-19 victim list.

As the vaccines roll out, we should be soon at the point where anyone who is willing to take the vaccine will have had the opportunity to do so. Some will not take the vaccine and that’s their decision, whether we agree or not. Not everyone will get vaccinated, some may not be able to take the vaccine for certain health reasons. When we combine all those vaccinated with those who had C-19, there will be a lot of immunity. And, there are far more people, I am convinced, who have had C-19 than those who tested positive. Asymptomatic people likely didn’t get tested and were asked by Manitoba Health to not get tested to save space and dollars for symptomatic people and those entering hospitals, etc.

Why do I see May 26 as a make or break date?

• One is that by then the number of C-19 recovered people combined with the people who have had C-19 (tested or otherwise) will be very high.

• Two, what we have been doing isn’t working any longer. Even with fairly strict shut downs and business crippling rules, C-19 is still spreading. It’s not much wonder, as plane loads of people keep arriving from overseas and if anything should have been shut down, it was allowing international flights.

• Three, there are more people dying from depression, loneliness, suicide and drug overdoses than from C-19 right now. Every family, every community has stories of older people, especially, who just gave up and died from depression and despair.

• Four, the economy can’t take much more. Most businesses are hurting, Some have closed. The really frustrating part is that the spread isn’t happening at businesses or schools, the biggest shutdown victims. It’s happening everywhere and nobody really knows how or where. For example, I heard that a high school party spread C-19. Did it really, or did someone get C-19 and spread it in the English class or math class? The way to handle C-19 is to quarantine the hot spots, not shut down the whole country.

• Five, there is something to be learned from the rural versus urban experience. The larger the centre, the more crowded the housing or living conditions, the higher the spread seems to be. Makes sense. Most rural people don’t see a lot of different people so we are already somewhat isolated.

• Six, as I have stated many times and as Premier Pallister recently stated, the people who advocate for a lockdown are all people who haven’t missed a paycheque yet. In the bluntest of terms, it’s fine for big city news reporters to yip and yap at Dr. Roussin about bigger and better lockdowns when they are mostly still “working” in their pyjamas in their basement.

If we don’t see big changes by May 26, then support for the effectiveness of an extension of our two week lockdown (now 15 months) will evaporate. A new approach must be developed and whatever it is will almost certainly be an improvement.