Column: Shopping bravado won’t help flatten the curve

The View From Here by Martha Wickett

A plywood company gives its entire supply of face masks to Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver where at least three staff tested positive for coronavirus.

A family in the Lower Mainland buys up all the face masks it can and then sets up a stand, selling them for $20 each.

This has been COVID-19, a pandemic of contrasts, where people are kind and wildly generous, and people are thoughtless and greedy.

It’s easy to see why people take more than they need, leaving others with nothing. It’s based in fear. Few of us have lived anything like this before. Somehow bathroom cupboards bulging with toilet paper must bring a sense of security and control.

But it’s the people who dismiss the danger who are truly alarming. Those whose bravado includes standing close to other people at the grocery store, carrying on as if nothing is different, ignoring directives.

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If B.C. manages to ‘flatten the curve’ and keep the number of people who get the virus a gradual incline rather than a steep spike, it’s these people who will be the first to say, “See, everyone panicked for nothing.”

The truth is, it is not panic that closes schools and offices and businesses and tells people to stay home or, at least, two metres away from each other. It is an informed, knowledgeable and rational strategy for limiting the spread and preventing a long-term crisis. People with no symptoms can carry the virus. As of March 21 there were 1,430 confirmed cases and 20 deaths in Canada; 424 in B.C. and 10 deaths, with 27 of B.C.’s confirmed cases in Interior Health. As of March 23, there were 294,110 confirmed cases worldwide and 12, 944 deaths.

People around the world have been celebrating health-care workers, the heroes in this pandemic, who give everything to help others. It is these health-care workers and the system they operate in that the person with a swagger who dismisses all directives should take a minute to think about.

They are already overwhelmed with demands. What happens when thousands more are suddenly sick? What happens to health care? What happens to the economy then?

The smugness of the person who thinks they know better than the top doctors just might falter when their parents or their friend or their kids or they get sick with coronavirus. If, for whatever reason, they need a doctor, medication, a hospital bed or maybe a ventilator – there may be none.

Please. Self isolate. Keep six feet away from others. Wash your hands.

It’s that simple and it’s that important.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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