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Thursday, 15 April 2021

Joyce Wayne: The Titanic Failure to Curb the Spread of COVID

Following is a repost from Joyce Wayne's new newsletter, Northern Exposure, about Canadian politics and culture. Yesterday I felt encouraged to do a brief posting of my own experience with getting vaccinated for COVID-19 after reading Joyce's excellent analysis. 


 The Titanic Failure to Curb the Spread of COVID

Joyce Wayne
Apr 11    

“Ever since U.S. President Ronald Reagan declared in his 1981 inaugural address that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,’ Conservatives have argued that the best way to run a country is to dismantle the federal government and turn the fundamental operations of the country over to private enterprise. Conservatives have argued that government is inefficient and wasteful, while businesses can pivot rapidly and are far more efficient than their government counterparts,” writes Heather Cox Richardson, in her Letters from an American.

I beg to differ with this Conservative mantra. Canada’s handling of the COVID crisis is a living example of how government inaction and lack of long-term strategies to protect its people have resulted in the virus’s exponential growth across the country from Quebec westward.

During the weekend, neither the Liberal nor the NDP conventions buckled down on resolutions about how government intervention could work to control pandemics, as it has operated successfully in Australia and New Zealand. The NDP spent more time focusing on the Israel-Palestine resolution than it did on re-building Canadian pharmaceutical capacity, so we aren’t entirely reliant on vaccines imported from abroad.

Two days ago, 7,020,562 or 18.7 per cent of Canadians had at least one dose of a vaccination. Another 794,186 or 2.1 per cent were fully vaccinated. At the same time, 60 per cent of those over 65 are fully vaccinated in America.  Joe Biden’s aggressive vaccination strategy is working, while our governments try to cover their tracks making endless excuses and blaming each other for why our so-called vaccination roll-out is slower than molasses, inaccessible to many and unforgivably confusing.

Why provincial governments in large urban communities haven’t considered organizing multiple drive-in centres or taking vaccines directly to housing complexes in COVID hotspots ---until a few days ago---, borders on the criminal. During last week’s press conference, where Doug Ford announced locking down the province once again, after opening it up a week prior, it sounded as if he’d just heard of the effectiveness of mobile vaccination units.

The combination of the Ford cabinet’s incompetency coupled with its overarching ideological disagreement with government action (except when it benefits its corporate friends) has created an ongoing health crisis the province has never before experienced. While Doug Ford continues to mouth platitudes about how much he cares about Ontarians and has our backs, let’s remember that he cancelled the previous government’s sick pay legislation and refuses to institute new sick pay provisions during the worst health crisis in a century. Employees are going to work sick because they need to put food on the table. The Amazon fulfillment warehouse in Brampton, the epi-centre of Ontario’s pandemic, remains shuttered. More than 600 cases of COVID emanated from that one facility. And it’s spreading like wildfire throughout that community.

While numbers escalated to more than 4,500 new infections in Ontario today, the celebratory nature of both Liberal and NDP conventions belied the reality of life on the ground. ICU wards are hitting capacity, and patients in Ontario are being transferred to outlying hospitals with or without their permission. For weeks, exhausted medical professionals were begging provincial governments to crack down and assert more stringent lockdown rules, but the Ontario government paid their exhortations no mind.

It’s not difficult for the Liberals or the NDP to look and sound better than Erin O’Toole’s party after last month’s disastrous Conservative convention. Or after the repeated fumbling by Doug Ford and his cabinet to assert its responsibility to keep citizens safe. Yet, resolutions to address the crisis were few and far between during this weekend’s party gatherings. Chrystia Freeland’s epiphany speech about the need to institute improved daycare access across the country received little coverage, although women are leaving the workforce in droves as the pandemic multiples.

Driving to our contactless grocery pick-up in Burlington, Ontario yesterday, my husband and I sat inside our car to observe a packed parking lot overflowing with shoppers. It felt like a regular pre-pandemic Saturday shopping blitz. Most stores were offering curbside delivery, which from what we observed, meant entering stores to pick up shopping, or dropping off clothes for dry-cleaning or entering restaurants for take-out. I’m not clear how any of this is curbside.

The confusion and inattention to new safeguards continue, the number of infections grows, directions for “lockdowns” change every week while politicians celebrate.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

getting the jab in rural Ontario

I got my first jab in rural Ontario on Monday, April 12. Twice I had tried to register online at the beginning of April without success. The provincial registry refused my booking with no explanation. Perhaps my system is too old or compromised with viruses, maybe there was some other reason - I'll never know. I'm able to buy the occasional item online without problems. I believe the provincial computer system should be as accessible and forgiving.

Fortunately I forgot that our village library is curbside only service, so I called to see if I could use a library computer to register. Our head librarian is extremely friendly and efficient, and she just went ahead and used her computer to book my appointment in the nearby village of Campbellford. We have a nice medical building in Marmora which isn't being used for vaccinations, so it's nonsensical why I had to drive 40 or 50 miles round trip to another county to get my jab. I thought we weren't supposed to travel during this third major clampdown.

The vaccination centre in Campbellford is in the new fire hall, which has all the ambiance of an airplane hangar. I arrived less than 10 minutes ahead of my scheduled time, and waited in the drizzle with all the other seniors. There was no information given, and when I asked the burly doorman, he said they don't have any information themselves. It felt like a cattle call of a situation, with no covid information or friendly instructions. Our huddled group of bedraggled seniors was finally allowed into an anteroom and motioned to sit on several chairs spaced 6 feet apart. A list of covid symptoms was read out while we sat mutely, drying off. After too many minutes we were finally directed down a narrow corridor, with several people scurrying past us in the other direction just inches away. The corridor led to our huge holding pen, with long lines of chairs occupied by perhaps 50 or 60 other cattle. I was pointed to sit in one line of chairs, and then another line, and finally the head chair in another long line-up. This is good, I thought, I'm at the head of a line, until I realized the two nurses and their wheeled station were working their way up from the back of the line. I didn't see any other injection stations, although there must have been several more in operation.

Eventually the nurses reached me, and briefly told me what they were about to do. They were the only efficient and friendly people I encountered during my visit. After the quick jab and advice not to drink alcohol for 24 hours, I was told to wait 15 minutes to see if there was a reaction, and then I was free to go. After my time was up I headed for the nearest marked exit, only to be told I couldn't leave by this door 15 feet from me, but that I had to walk down a centre aisle through all the other waiting jabbees.

It was not a pleasant experience. This could be forgiven if this had been the early days of vaccine access in Canada - the awkward "military" style of directing us, the lack of information, etc.. But this was many months into the mass vaccination process, and things are still a confusing, disorganized, disorienting and unfriendly kershsmozzle. I sure don't want to tell my friends who are vaguely anti-vaxxer what a snafu they'll encounter getting their shots, as they're already somewhat vaccine hesitant.