It's time for fear-based messaging to end.
Early on in the pandemic, there were volunteers self-organizing to do things. There were thousands of people sewing masks and scrub caps and donating them to hospitals, LTC homes, and other places of need. (I was involved with several Facebook groups doing exactly this.)
You may also recall that a number of distillers reorganized themselves to make hand sanitizer available during times of shortage.
But as a society, we didn't want to mobilize more of this, which is a damn shame.
During the contract tracing, when it was still happening, I wondered why hundreds of people with interviewing and analyst skills were not invited to contribute. For example, anyone with a journalism background, anyone from the marketing research industry... but there was never a call put out for that. So the whole thing fell apart.
We need a strong civil society (many kinds of organizations) to sustain a strong democracy. our leaderships do not seem to value these groups any longer, except as places to support campaigning.
Now that we are short of HCP in hospitals, we could have ordinary folk giving vaccines under the supervision of one well-trained HCP. Because it takes very little time to learn how to give an injection. I have been told this is all because of liability/insurance or similar blah, blah. I'm not buying it -- we protected LTC from lawsuits, we could have done the same in other areas. If that was even the issue.
In fact, it is worse than you think, because the volunteers that used to work in hospitals have not been welcome since the beginning. (At least this is the case with Sunnybrook, so I am assuming it is widespread.) So HCP are going to be forced to take on mundane tasks formerly done by volunteers.
Maybe citizens need to start organizing ourselves. How do we do this? Because politicians are not going to do it, that is very clear.
Once again you have hit the nail on the head, Jen. Just don't make any predictions, okay?
Jen, a couple of points.
First off, my bona fides, such as they are. I am thrice vaccinated, 71 years old and have those famous underlying conditions. That means that I am rather more likely to catch this thingy and, perhaps, more likely to suffer significantly from it.
Second, I absolutely believe that this disease is - and has been for some time - endemic and will remain so. That means that we must learn to live with the disease and go forward from there.
My conclusions from points one and two are that I am in a vulnerable group but we must simply go forward intelligently. The theater of the last two years is pointless. It is clear that the governments and their handmaidens, the media, have - at best - been misleading us and - at worst (my personal belief) - been knowingly and actively lying to us for political and financial gain.
How we get out of our current situation given what the governments and media have been doing is a real question. Many of my fellow citizens have absolutely drank the Kool-Aid (a reference to Jim Jones, you know, and we all SHOULD remember how that turned out) and simply are continuing to freak out.
Finally, my response to a point that you make when you say, "... we've been told to sit down, listen to our betters...) These people are NOT our betters, they absolutely are our WORSERS.
There is one critical issue which in my humble opinion turbocharges the fear-mongering. Yes, the omicron variant seem less severe than previous iterations of COVID-19, mostly because it resides in the upper tract of our respiratory system and not so much in the lungs. It is also a lot more transmissible, so it will make a lot more people sick. Maybe not ICU-sick if you are vaccinated and otherwise healthy, but still a lot more beds are going to be needed as we "ride the wave".
Here is the issue, though, as you guys explained earlier this week: our health care system is fragile. We as a society are terrified to think it needs reform (Swiss model, maybe, or any other model with private sector involvement which will increase timely access, quality and capacity to the system). So if a person has a stroke, or a heart attack and there are no beds available, or if the person catches the Omicron variant and needs a 1-2 day stay with oxygen... there is simply no capacity. So the only alternative seem to be restrictions and fear-mongering in the hopes that holdouts will vaccinate and that the curve can be even slightly flattened. Right now, if a Province runs out of room and many are pretty darn close, plus other life-threatening conditions can't be treated... What do we do?
If this situation does not trigger a proper discussion about how inefficient and sub-standard our overall health care is, I don't know what would.
omicron in a perverse way is a gift in that it is shattering the illusion that we had any real control over this in the first place while not killing at a rate anywhere close to its predecessors
re: "The answer is no. The answer is obviously no. "... Although I agree with you, I am still shocked by my local straw poll how many people dont agree with that. This is one of the problems we face, we as a society really are not on the same page, and not even in the same book in some cases.
WRT to volunteers being part of the the solution, I think in our modern era, there is not nearly the utility in raw numbers and raw people power that there used to be. I work in IT and our company regular gets asked if we can use volunteers or unpaid interns to "get experience" in exchange for their labour... Sorry, what exactly am I going to do with someone who has no experience and no pre-existing skill I can make use of ? Even if I could get a 4 month commitment, its still going to be a few months before someone can vaguely be useful without having to come up with make work projects. My time is maxed out already, and I then need to spend cycles training someone who may or may not have the aptitude and who may or may not stick around long enough for the investment to pay off. Our global economy for better or worse is increasingly specialized with crazy deep siloed skill and knowledge. The mythical "man month" was a myth in the 70s and even more so now.
"If the leadership is willing." Would you care to name one or two leaders who COULD lead? Lester B. Pearson is gone. Jean Beliveau is gone. Maybe Stephen Lewis? Wayne Gretzky? Christine Sinclair? Pretty thin list.
Welcome to Team Reality.
We need to remember that the only reason our health care system is so fragile, $300B later, is that we chose to lock down again and again and again, and blew our money on support programs for a suspended economy, rather than simply increasing system capacity. Driving out unvaccinated health care workers (many of whom already had superior natural immunity), when data shows that the vaccinated are MORE likely to be infected than the unvaccinated, was a disastrous own goal.
So much of this was driven by panic: we threw out all the emergency response playbooks, even good journalists became cheerleaders, we threw out the Charter, the list goes on. And, at the end of it, there is no evidence that any of it did any good. We need to punish the politicians and bureaucrats, hard, so they don't get any ideas in future emergencies.
Well written and bang on! Enough of the fear and anger. We need to dig deep and find our humanity and journey back to a world we recognize and can find joy in.
Great piece, this - along with the one about volunteering. I’ve shared far and wide. Feeling helpless benefits no one.
There is something more we could be doing. It will help us more on a personal level and not necessarily with the fear mongering politicians and legacy media. And that is to take care of our own health. Get lots of vitamin D3 (as soon as fall hits, we all become vitamin D deficient and so our immune system takes a beating), exercise more and eat real food. No more (or at least much less) trips through the McDonald's drive-thru and avoid processed foods.
None of this was encouraged or talked about over the last 2 years, even though the majority of those in ICU's were vitamin D deficient, overweight or they had hypertension. I've noticed through the decades that vitamins and supplements have been looked down upon in favor of a quick pill from big pharma. A coincidence....I think not. Pfizer is one of the biggest paid advertisers of news programs.
And what did our government do for our health? They shut down parks and gyms. But you could always find an open fast food joint. Nice to know they were really looking out for our well being.
The fearmongering is a natural reaction to the public response, and most of it has been necessitated by political activism.
The job of the "fearmongers" is to moderate the pandemic as much as possible. To make as many people as possible catch it as late as possible, if it must be endemic.
So, they gave us all the information people needed to Do The Right Thing, and people did not. It isn't their job to just give up the fight for people's lives, because some fellow citizens don't care if they get others killed, so they had to keep pushing the message.
The "fearmongering" is just pushing the basic message - which should have been enough - over and over and over, and going to the very limits of what can be defended as "true" or "a prudent assumption", or just "defensible"...because just saying the basic facts calmly, didn't work.
Mostly, the basics didn't work because there were shameless liars taking advantage of the public servants' inability to fight back - to the point where some have had their lives threatened.
Is it even fearmongering, or just advising people of facts? I had to like a thread by a South African physician looking at their death-rate soaring up from 9/day to 128 yesterday, who said, "I guess after that 'mild' wave of infections, we are now just having a wave of "mild dying".
What you're calling for is leadership which seeks to build or create movements within society. We do not have that. We have leadership whose every move is in pursuit of the trends which they see in polling, whether to persuade us that they stand for a position we already endorse or to persuade us that someone else believes something we already hate. If a liberal democracy is as narrowly construed as you'd have it, we've moved well outside of it.
One thing that's become obvious over the past couple of years is just how bad public health management has gotten. I suspect this is a field that's become a backwater since the mass vaccination breakthroughs of the 1950s effectively mitigated the scourge of many infectious diseases. Public health is not staffed by the best medical talent, nor has there been much attention paid to the field in decades. We've been saddled with poor communications, officials with little or no capacity to assimilate data from a novel situation and modify their response accordingly, and a patronizing arrogance that's exacerbated both. When you consider how poorly the COVID response has gone with all of the attention and resources thrown at it, it's entirely unsurprising that the drug overdose crisis has festered and worsened for over a decade.
What is incredibly frustrating after all this time is 1) public health still isn't really responding to COVID's aerosol transmission, and 2) we're still constantly arguing over the severity of COVID and the effectiveness of mitigations. Both of these problems seem rooted in stubbornness.
Aerosol transmission means lockdowns and travel bans are a crude, inefficient means of preventing spread. Instead, the response is about vaccination and reducing exposure through improved ventilation, masking/filtration, and high risk gatherings. You don't need to close schools, but you need to accept the trade-off that kids need to wear masks (good ones!) consistently and you need HEPA filters in classrooms.
The debate about severity still drives me nuts when we're talking about something relatively preventable with a risk that would be considered insane in other contexts. We're talking about "only" a 1% mortality from something you can get going out for drinks with friends? Hey - only 1 in 135 space shuttle missions blew up on lift off! OK, fine - that's a lumped statistic including older people with a much higher rate. Let's look at US stats for COVID death rate between the ages of 20-29: it's 1 in 1250. Sounds better, right? Let's compare that to the death rate of BASE jumpers: 1 death in 2500 jumps. Except a BASE jumper straps on a parachute and jumps off a bridge to get exposed to that risk. You expose yourself to COVID by refusing a vaccination, and hanging out with buddies to watch a hockey game without masks.
Then there's the debates about the effectiveness of mitigations, which seems entirely rooted in motivated reasoning because they don't want to wear a mask or get a vaccination. There's no good faith discussion to be had because they don't want to change their minds. They don't like it, and that's it. People are far too quick to dismiss these things as useless simply because they're not as effective as they think. Even with omicron spread, we see a symptom of this: you quote health authorities saying "everybody is going to be exposed to omicron", and then the New York Times interprets it as "everybody is going to get omicron." Uh, no. Not the same thing at all. In fact, infection rates in vaccinated population are still about 1/3 that of the unvaccinated population. Vaccinations and other mitigations are still working, just not as well. The fact that we're all sick of wearing masks everywhere isn't sufficient reason to just let 'er rip, because things can always get worse.
I agree with everything in the article except the last line. I think the train of mistrust in our “leaders”, both political and scientific, left the station a while ago. Trust is at an all-time low. I have no idea how that trust can be regained, except by the appearance of someone who really can lead and inspire. Not likely unfortunately.
"We lost as many 5-11 year old kids to suicide as we have to COVID, per the CDC." https://twitter.com/FBillMcMorris/status/1479166837384523777?s=20 What are the stats for Canada? Still think the lockdowns are working?