• By: Ryan Lythall

To whom it may concern — An open letter to the restless ones

Above: I'm asking Ottawans to stay home in order to keep everyone safe.

To whom it may concern:

Hello, my name is Ryan Lythall, and I’m a person with a physical disability. Being physically disabled, I’m susceptible to getting COVID, more so than most because a large part of my disability affects my lungs.

Just like you, most aspects of my life came to a screeching halt with the arrival of Covid-19. Before COVID showed up, I was a very active person. I went out every day and did typical things such as go to movies with friends, go to sporting events, coffee shops, and more. Once Covid-19 hit, that all stopped. In the early stages, I was hopeful that things would improve by summer or late summer. For a while, things did seem to improve. At least, that’s the impression I got.

Businesses reopened, people started to return to a certain level of normality. At the time, summer was in full swing, and we all wanted to get outside, especially after being cooped up due to winter, and then COVID in the spring. Things were still far from being back to normal, though. Events, both large and small, were cancelled or scaled back, but there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that things were turning around, at least, here in Ottawa. Unfortunately, that didn’t last.

As we reach the end of summer, the numbers are starting to increase. Part of the reason for this is due to students and teachers returning to school. Another reason is that people and businesses are continuing to ignore guidelines to protect themselves and others. As a result, more than six months later, we’re again advised to limit our social gatherings, and if we don’t, we risk getting fined. Something doesn’t seem to add up, though, as with many aspects regarding COVID.

I know that all businesses need to make money. My heart goes out to all places that went out of business and continue to struggle due to COVID. As soon as establishments reopened, many flocked to them, which is good for business, but bad for lowering COVID cases. Of course, customers want to support their favourite place and do their best to stay open.

Here’s my question.

How are we supposed to take guidelines seriously if places are open and strongly urged to support them?

This past weekend, I came across numerous posts and messages on social media from people saying they were going to events, and some were eager to perform again in front of a live audience in a venue. I understand the need to perform, make money, and see your friends, but the pandemic isn’t over yet. Late last week, Ottawa residents learned that we’re experiencing a second wave. So, why are so many people seemingly ignoring this?

Speaking on behalf of others susceptible to COVID, I’m pleading to you to PLEASE stay home to protect yourself and others. As we’ve all seen, technology has made it possible for us to see each other, perform online, shop, and do business online. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s vital that we do as much as we can virtually right now. The longer we keep doing things to minimize the risks, the sooner this will be over.

All levels of government seem like they were grossly unprepared for the pandemic. Issues such as shortages of PPE, lack of healthcare workers, and now a severe lack of testing sites. People that we voted for have fallen short in terms of expectations during a time of crisis. When it comes time for another election, we’ll remember the way leaders mishandled the pandemic.

It’s up to all of us to look after each other and the ones we love. Wear a mask, wash your hands, check in on loved ones, and even strangers. If you don’t want to cook, order food to be delivered.

Now, more than ever, we need to band together to put an end to this thing, or at least get it under control until a vaccine is available.

We can do this.

I believe in you.

See you next week.

Photo: Sam Thomas, istock