• By: Dan Donovan

Another coulda shoulda woulda . . . but it is not too late.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of today (11 February 2021) there have been 106,797,721 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 2,341,145 deaths since COVID-19 began its devastating spread in January 2020.

A year ago at this time, large parts of China were in full COVID-19 lockdown and soon most of Asia, Australia, and Canada would follow. Canada and other countries around the world were in the early stages of trying to ‘flatten the curve’ and the spread of the coronavirus. By mid-March 2020 most of Canada was in a pandemic lockdown and would remain so for several months

For their part, the United States administration under former President Donald Trump went into mass denial and tomfoolery regarding the pandemic, questioning science and evidence and ignored advice on measures to flatten the curve in America. Instead, they responded as if COVID-19 was just another strain of an annual flu. The result of that immense stupidity was 27 million Americans contracted COVID-19 with over 430,000 deaths. With newly elected President Joe Biden’s leadership, it is hoped the coronavirus will be slowed in the United States in the coming weeks and months with a combination of social distancing measures and vaccination implementation.

Canada has fared better with almost 800,000 cases and close to 21,000 deaths. However, the pandemic will not end until most Canadians are vaccinated later this year and achieve the herd immunity numbers required to suppress future spread.

Most of the country has been in some form of lockdown since Christmas. Quebec has imposed a curfew and Ontario has basically been closed since December 24, 2020. Alberta went into lockdown and will start to slowly open again this week. Ottawa and other parts of Ontario will start opening again next week, although Premier Doug Ford has hinted that he may extend the lockdown for another week or even until the end of February in some areas depending on daily COVID-19 numbers. Ottawa residents will be re-opening stores, businesses, and restaurants on restricted hours next week and all will have to comply with ongoing restrictions including masks, social distancing and limited numbers in public and private gatherings.

After the current round of lockdowns end and even with vaccinations, there will still be a need for masks and continued precautions. Questions will be raised, and discussions had about Canada's response to the pandemic. Did we do enough, or did we hesitate when we could have done more to lesson COVID-19’s devastating impact. It is too soon to say.

Citizens across Canada have COVID-19 fatigue. They are tired and fed up with it all. Yet the virus is still here and will be until we get vaccinated. Political leaders will make decisions in coming days about the extent of lockdowns and re-openings depending on the region and the COVID-19 numbers.  The danger with reopening  too soon is that  that it could spike a rise in cases again. That must be balanced with people’s mental health and the economy. So, what to do?

On April 29, 2020 Ottawa Life Magazine published an opinion editorial by Colonel (retired) George Petrolakas titled Lifting restrictions before it is time may cost lives. It is worth reading again. His message was that it is better to err on the side of caution than not. Ten months later we know a lot more about the coronavirus and how to defeat it. The one thing that has not changed and that  that has saved lives is when leaders work together and make decisions related to COVID-19 that are based on science, evidence, medical advice and common sense. We wish them well in that endeavour.