In the fight against COVID-19, the time has come for Canada to switch from a policy of social responsibility to one of personal responsibility.
Over the past 10 weeks, we have done an excellent job in limiting the spread of the coronavirus while staying at home and practicing physical distancing when going out in public.
We have not only flattened the curve, we have begun to see a significant decrease in the number of new cases as a percentage of the number of tests now being conducted.
Here in Ontario, we have managed to increase the number of tests done daily from an average of 5,000 in early April, to more than 16,000. During the same period of time the average number of new cases per day has dropped from 543 to just under 400. (See this week’s column “By the numbers”.) You would think the opposite would be true, that as the number of tests goes up, the number of confirmed cases would go up as well, but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, just the opposite is happening.
Unfortunately, the number of hospital-izations have gone up from a total of 807 on April 16 to 1,028 on May 7. That represents an average increase of about 10 new patients per day, many of whom contracted the virus in a long-term care facility. But while the number of hospitalizations have gone up, the number of patients being treated in intensive care units has dropped from 248 on April 16 to 213 on May 7, and the number of people on ventilators has dropped from 200 to 166 over the same period of time.
Which brings me back to my main point – the purpose of staying at home to “flatten the curve” was to prevent a surge on our health care system in general and our hospitals in particular. It’s obvious by looking at the numbers we have done just that, especially outside of our long-term care facilities.
Flattening the curve was never meant to prevent people from getting sick. I mean this in a general sense. The vast majority of people who contract the virus experience mild to severe symptoms which can be dealt with by staying at home, or they are asymptomatic, meaning that don’t have any symptoms at all.
A vaccine is still a year away, if at all. Although there are currently 70 vaccines in development, only four are undergoing human clinical trials and there’s no guar-antee that any of them will prove both safe and effective.
It is clear that there is no easy fix to the pandemic and that the virus will not go away anytime soon. It is equally clear that the current policy of staying at home is unsustainable both socially and economically. Therefore, the time has come to switch from social responsibility to personal responsibility.
The social measures put in place at the outset of the pandemic have worked. We know what to do and how to act, which is why it’s time to start reopening the economy. If we all act responsibly and follow those same guidelines as we venture outside, there will be no massive second wave.
It’s time we take responsibility for own actions or inaction. If you don’t want to catch the coronavirus, take the proper pre-cautions and you won’t. If you are worried that you may be asymptomatic and are afraid of passing it on to others then take the proper precautions when you go outside and you won’t. That said, we need to be sure that a lot more people don’t die from the virus.
We know that the vast amount of people who have died from the virus were either over the age of 70 or had one or more ccomorbidities such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. – or both.We need to continue to encourage them to shelter in place while things begin to open up, or be extremly cautious when going out while everyone else can rejoin their lives while taking the necessary precautions. This may result in some people still getting sick, but they will deal with it and recover, all the while gaining some level of immunity.
It’s really the most vulnerable within the population who would have the potential to overwhelm the health care system if they choose not to shelter in place, which is why they must continue to do so with the help of both government and non-government agencies.
As a society, we had the responsibility to stay at home to prevent a surge in hospitalizations. Now each and every one of us has a responsibility to take the
necessary precautions in order to rejoin our lives, save those businesses that are on the verge of bankruptcy and save hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process while getting the economy back on track.
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