From the Mayor' s Desk:
Coronavirus - March 2020
It feels a bit like we were watching a two hour long movie and in the last few minutes we found we were suddenly actors in the movie. Except the movie we were watching was two months long and our few minutes was a few days. We are now all actors in Coronavirus 2 as our real life sequel rolls out. And act we must.
The Provincial action to close schools has had a sudden and dramatic cascading effect throughout the Province. Public Health has been acting from the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, all of us are engaged in slowing down the spread of the virus. Action from facility closures to travel bans to new policies have been taken by most public and many private agencies. Individual actions are following. The entire community is impacted.
We have all been learning new words and phrases: pandemic, self-isolation, asymptomatic, flattening the curve, surge capacity. Flattening the curve is what the current closure of public facilities is about. It is an action to slow the rate of change, slow the spread of the virus over a longer period of time. Our health care systems and facilities have some surge capacity – some capacity to handle a sudden increase in need for health care. But that capacity is limited. If there is too much of a surge, systems will be overwhelmed. We see the tragic results of that unfolding elsewhere in the world.
A small example of surge and system failure happened locally last week. The demand for toilet paper is usually very steady. People typically go about their daily business in a predictable way. Toilet paper shipments to retail facilities come and are sold according to those patterns. When suddenly there was an increase in demand as many people bought more toilet paper than normal, the capacity of the system to handle the surge failed. Store shelves were emptied. If too many people get sick in a short time, the capacity of the health care system to handle the surge in patients may fail and some sick people may not get treatment. We are now all acting to try and avoid that surge so that all of us can have health care, have toilet paper, when we need it.
In many ways there is a parallel between the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Both are global, international border lines mean nothing to them. Both are deeply impacted by human action. Both could have global catastrophic effect. Both need coordinated international action. Both need everyone to take them seriously and take individual action. Both demand some change of lifestyle, some personal sacrifice for the common good. But coronavirus is climate change on steroids. Coronavirus has got our attention because we can watch it coming towards us on daily newscasts and we can see how it may personally impact us or a family member. So we must act.
During this time we will adapt and make the best of our situation. We must support each other in appropriate, but of course, ‘socially distant’ ways. Let’s hope we can slow down the spread of the virus, limit the numbers who get sick. Winning an Oscar is unlikely. But if each of us takes direction from the experts, not the critics, stays calm, and acts to the best of our ability, this movie we are currently in, Coronavirus 2, may slow the spread of the virus as we enter the next phase of the pandemic.