Prolonging the Pandemic

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We are nearing the end of the second year of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by this coronavirus. First identified in December of 2019, it has swept around the globe, leaving death and disruption in its wake.

In order to protect our communities from overwhelming COVID-19 infections we initiated protocols for individual isolation and quarantine; we asked our populations to wear masks, stay 2m apart, and wash up with hand sanitizer before and after we went out for groceries;  as communities we had slowdowns, partial shut-downs and total lockdowns. We waited for the CDC and Health Canada to issue emergency approval for newly developed vaccines.

Our national and local Medical Officers of Health, and politicians, kept us apprised of the necessary health measures and coronavirus case counts. The choice was simple: follow the guidelines and get the pandemic under control, or don’t and suffer the consequences. Politicians played Russian roulette with our public schools as stressed parents coped with online learning at home. Businesses began to shut down and frustrated owners and staff put pressure on their local elected officials to get things re-opened. So we rushed into “shopping mall therapy” as soon as infections hit a low point.

Every time we get a drop in infections we “open up the economy” again. In Doug Ford’s Ontario that means strip clubs, bars, restaurants, and packed sports stadiums. We do it “for the people” and inevitably see a spike in infections shortly thereafter. We call them “waves” but they are really just indicators of our collective consumptive stupidity.

Medical science told us that if we stayed masked, distanced, hand-washed and fully vaccinated that we would have a chance to hold this pandemic at bay. But we just couldn’t wait to get “back to normal” and now there is no normal. Once again we re-opened and our case count is rising. Thanks to the number of people now vaccinated this bump is not as severe as April of this year when we peaked at 4500 cases.

The rise to 711 cases on Thursday, November 18, 2021 pushed Ontario’s seven day average to 600 cases and talk of modifying the re-opening guidelines bubbled up from the Science Advisory Table cauldron once again. Dear Doug and friends, please try to get it right for once. 10,000 Ontarians have already died from this coronavirus, including 4,000 from Long Term Care facilities. You are acting like immediate gratification “one marshmallow” children. In 1972, Stanford University psychology professor Walter Mischel conducted a study on delayed gratification. In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward (either a marshmallow or a pretzel stick), or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned.

Some of the children had immediately gone for the one small reward, but a smaller group had waited to double their pleasure. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes in everything from educational attainment to healthy body mass index. Our politicians and their advisers are playing to the immediate gratification crew.  I would prefer to wait until we have this pandemic under control before asking for my second small reward. I suspect most Ontarians who prefer a healthy life over death from COVID-19 would want the same.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

UPDATE Friday, November 19,2021 – Ontario’s COVID-19 case count 793 : “Today’s case count comes after officials logged 711 new cases on Thursday, 512 new cases on Wednesday and 481 new cases on Tuesday. Ontario’s rolling seven-day average now stands at 625, up from 537 at this point last week.”  You do the graph.

Reported by Abby Neufeld, multi platform writer for CTV News Toronto

@abbyjneufeld

 

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