I am sure we’ve all seen the horrifying images constantly on the news bulletins, packed hospitals, overloaded morgues, and understaffed and underprotected healthcare workers risking their lives to safeguard the health of our nation. These are constant reminders of the severity of the crisis we find ourselves in at the moment.
While Ontario is doing relatively fine right now, with 10578 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 553 deaths and just over half of all cases recovered, this good position we find ourselves in would not have been possible without the hard working nurses, doctors and scientists working day in and day out to treat the patients along with the help of essential workers like grocery store clerks and pharmacists who keep the essential portions of our economy running at great risk to their own personal safety. We, as a province, salute these unsung heroes of the crisis. We cannot also dismiss the contribution of our provincial government. It was Premier Ford’s decisive actions, such as the closure of non-essential businesses and the cancellation of schools, which have helped our province avoid the unmitigated disaster occuring in Quebec. Like him or hate him, liberal or conservative, we all have to admit that the Ford Government has been instrumental in ensuring that the directives and guidelines of the public health agency are respected.
What is more horrifying than the images of the dying patients and overloaded hospitals are the images which are currently emanating from our neighbours to the south. We are seeing images of people protesting in the streets of Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, waving American, Confederate and MAGA flags and holding signs decrying “tyrannical government”. One has to then ask themselves what sort of government overstep would cause such riots: not the imposition of martial law, not the abolishment of the constitution, not the repeal of the Second Amendment, not even the curtailing of civil rights, but the imposition of business closures and the issuing of a shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. I find it laughable that some in America compare temporary lockdowns and business closures to the tyranny of taxation without representation and the Stamp Act. While these vile protestors represent the extreme of those opposing lockdowns, the sentiments they express are not exclusive to the fringe. Many people have constantly been complaining on social media about the restrictiveness of these lockdowns: “why have they closed down parks, we need our fresh air”, “it will cause too much damage to the economy”, “health officers know nothing”, “this disease doesn’t kill many people, why lockdown”, “I want to be able to walk in the park without an $800 dollar fine”. Some even suggest that this lockdown is the first step on the road to turning their country into a police state. While many of these examples come from Americans, we cannot kid ourselves into believing that many of our fellow Canadians don’t feel the same way.
I have only four words for these people: “calm the ____ down.” These measures have been put in place for your benefit, to ensure that you do not contract this disease, that you do not become another burden to our overburdened healthcare system, that do not become a superspreader. The purpose of this lockdown is to “flatten the curve,” that is to say flatten the distribution of cases over a longer time period in order to not exceed the critical capacity of our healthcare system. The simple truth is that people are going to get infected and people are going to die, we are past the point of kidding ourselves into believing we can contain the virus, but what we must do is to implement every possible policy in order to minimize the number of people who get infected. This means respecting social and physical distancing directives, constant hand washing, avoiding touching one’s face, limiting outside travel to the absolute minimum and isolating from the elderly and the immunocompromised without exception.
To those who believe that we can beat this virus without strict measures by way of herd immunity, I have simply to cite the example of the United Kingdom, who tried to delay the imposition of a lockdown for the sake of herd immunity, only to have over 16,000 die and even a Prime Minister infected. One can also look at the example of Sweden, whose chief medical officer has thus far stubbornly refused to implement a lockdown or social distancing measures for the sake of herd immunity, where out of a population of 10,000,000 (little over a three quarters of Ontario’s population of 13,000,000) over 1,540 people have died so far; a country with little anti-virus measures and a population of less than the population of our province has over three times more fatalities than we do. Even the concept of so-called herd immunity for this virus, predicated on the assumption that a large proportion of immune persons would slow the spread of the disease, falls very fast as research out of countries like the South Korea, Japan or the Republic of China(Taiwan), which shows that a proportion of those who recover from the disease will end up reinfected, indicates that those who recover from COVID-19 are immune for either a very short length of time, or simply do not gain immunity, negating desired effect.
Those who chose to selfishly and purposefully break these guidelines and those who constantly complain of “stifling” government measures, all while wilfully dismissing the proven statistics and the recommendations of reputable virologists and immunologists, live up therefore to their recently coined nickname of “covidiots”. They garner the same amount of respect from me as people who complain about midnight AMBER Alerts, that is to say absolutely no respect.
This is not the time to be getting partisan or political. Those on the left need to stop criticizing the Ford Government’s measures because he is conservative and those on the right need to stop criticizing the Trudeau Government’s measures because he is a liberal. Trust me, the time to criticize them will definitely come, we have elections coming up in the future after all, but it is our responsibility as citizens to listen and respect the directives of all levels of government during a time of dire crisis. And while I certainly do not like to entertain the follies and conspiracy theories of the fringes and the crazies, I am assuring you that we live in a country with very well ingrained democratic institutions and we are protected by the Charter of Freedom and Rights. Not only are the organs of power protected by our uncodified constitution of convention, they are so wide and spread out that no government can dream of unilaterally taking charge of government here in Canada and in the United States without the support of both the people and the institutions themselves.
This is going to be a very hard process no doubt, it will be mentally and physically straining, but we owe it to our forebears and to our sick to protect them because it is the people who disrespect the guidelines and who constantly complain who are killing our parents, our grandparents, our neighbours, and our friends. If previous generations where able to endure the hardships of the Great Depression, of war, and the horrors of the Shoah, then we the pampered and eternally entitled generation should be able to endure some very small temporary restrictions for the sake of those who fought in World War Two, those who survived the Holocaust, and, most importantly, those who laid the foundations of the economic success we now enjoy, and will enjoy in the future once we as a generation overcome this little bump in the road.