Friday May 22, 2020
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 22, 2020
We can’t give in to ‘quarantine fatigue’
If you’re driving in the dark down a rough, mountain road, you’d be wise to ease your foot off the accelerator.
Your limited vision, not knowing what’s around the corner and the risk of making a fatal wrong turn will be enough to convince you the best way forward is to go slow.
And that should be the motto for every Canadian as the country begins to emerge from the prison of its two-month, COVID-19 lockdown.
It won’t be easy. This is the third day since Ontario allowed stores, parks, campgrounds, golf courses, marinas and construction sites to reopen. Prince Edward Island is preparing to welcome its returning summer residents. In many parts of Quebec, children are back learning in their elementary schools while limited outdoor gatherings are legal again.
We can already taste some of the freedoms we took for granted, but have been denied since mid-March. And we yearn for more.
We’re tired of staying alone in our homes and apart when we’re out. We can’t wait to return to our favourite coffee shop or hug an old friend. As for those of us rendered jobless by COVID-19, the day we can get back to work and start paying our bills again can’t come soon enough.
Besides all this, the heartening progress that’s been made — including the flattening of the curve in new COVID-19 cases — will make a lot of us think we’ve got this battle won. That conclusion is grossly premature.
According to Dr. Theresa Tam, the nation’s chief public health officer, we’re experiencing “quarantine fatigue.” But we have to resist it, limit our expectations and keep taking all the safety precautions that once seemed extraordinary but are now simply ordinary.
“This is quite a difficult period … one of the most difficult periods of time where people have been observing this public health advice,” Dr. Tam said Thursday. “And now, some things are easing up, and there is this exuberance of maybe getting out there. (It) means that people may forget to do all the core public health measures.”
Canadians can’t let this happen. We have to realize it’s not an accident that this country is managing to wrestle the pandemic to the mat. This positive turn of events has been made possible only because of the patience and self-sacrifice demonstrated by the vast majority of Canadians.
Thanks to their efforts, Canada has avoided the devastation wreaked by COVID-19 in countries such as the United States, where 95,000 people have died from it, or the United Kingdom and Italy. COVID-19 has killed more than 35,000 in both places.
Of course, it’s been horrible in Canada. The death toll hit 6,145 Thursday and there are still hundreds of people suffering from COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units. But we have averted the worst-cases scenarios in which federal government scientists warned 350,000 Canadians could perish from COVID-19.
So now we have to walk toward the new normal before we run for it. Lack of discipline could result in a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that would force another lockdown and make two months of unprecedented effort seem wasted.
We need to keep abreast with what’s been reopened and what’s still off limits. If we’re not already wearing a face-mask when we can’t physical distance, we should start. We need to keep washing our hands until they’re red, and veering off sidewalks to stay two metres from another pedestrian.
And we shouldn’t need a flashing, yellow light to persuade us to go slow. (Hamilton Spectator)