Editorial: Please note -- COVID-19 is active in our community

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
April 14th, 2020

Last week, cruising  a local on-line community discussion forum, I noticed that some people were assuming that Rossland has no active  cases of COVID-19, and seemed to be arguing that the restrictions designed to curb its spread are therefore unnecessary here.  At the time, I acknowledged that we had no way of knowing if there are cases here.  Since then, I have heard from a reliable source that we do have several cases in Rossland – some reported to be in quarantine.

I wrestled with my conscience about whether I should publish the information that Rossland has active cases of COVID-19, because our government seems to want to keep its actual locations a deep, dark secret – except where that’s impossible.  I think the idea was that everyone should behave as if they KNEW the coronavirus is active in their community, since we cannot know for certain that it’s not.  The virus has a long latency period, during which carriers are infectious without looking or feeling ill … but are unwittingly spreading the virus.

Dear readers, please don’t think I’m telling anyone what to do.  I don’t have the power to do that. This is an editorial, and that means I’m expressing an opinion, or maybe even — bonus! — several opinions. 

Now that we all know  there are active cases in our community, I suggest that we no longer have any shadow of an excuse for disregarding any of the Public Health Officer’s advice on how to curb its spread – in other words, how to avoid spreading it; how to lower everyone’s chances of suffering the illness, which by all accounts is no picnic once it sets in, or dying of it, or prematurely losing one’s beloved  friends and relatives – of any age.

Here’s what I think we should do: 

1.            Remind ourselves every day that people of all ages are dying of this disease in other parts of the world, and that it’s a highly infectious and very unpleasant disease, and that we know there are active cases in our community.

2.             Do not get together in groups to hike or bike or sit around socializing, even outdoors.

3.            Wear a mask of some sort when you’re out shopping.  Home-made fabric masks may not be as effective as medical-grade masks, but they do inhibit the travel of those tiny invisible droplets that we all spew every time we say anything – it isn’t just when we cough or sneeze.  Wearing a mask when out in public is now recommended by all the best authorities.

4.             Do the social distancing thing, only more so.  Six feet?  Pshaw.  I want at least ten or fifteen feet between us, thank you. If possible.

5.             Quarantine?  HONOUR IT.  Don’t visit anyone, especially anyone who is in quarantine.  If you’re in quarantine, STAY THERE.  The RCMP now have the power to impose penalties if you don’t. Remember that new research keeps showing that even people who have recovered from all the symptoms continue to shed the virus for longer than originally thought. 

6.              If you’re a smoker or a vaper, this is a good time to quit.  For sure not the easiest time, but quitting can help you become  more resistant to the worst effects of COVID-19. If you share your home with anyone else, quitting will also keep them safer. Vaping is a health hazard at the best of times – and so much more so when there’s a deadly virus on the loose that can cause fatal pneumonia.  Vaping makes lungs so much more receptive to the virus and more vulnerable to its damage.  Click this link for an article that explains how it does that, in more detail.

7.              In your spare time, if you have any, contemplate the relationship between how we treat the rest of life on earth and how diseases like the one caused by this coronavirus come into the human population.  Reading the article at this link can provide some fuel for those thoughts, and here’s another one.  Consider the effects human activities are having on the biosphere as a whole: oceanic health, the multi-faceted climate crisis — which has been pushed out of most people’s minds by the pandemic, because the pandemic seems to most of us to be a more immediate and deadly threat, though I suggest that perception is erroneous.

Think about the many species we have driven into extinction already, plus the ones that are now on the brink of extinction thanks to our insatiable appetite for their meat, their foods, or their habitat, not to mention our habit of spreading persistent toxins around; and think about how we might reconstruct our society to curb our deadliness.  Because, ultimately, our health and even the survival our own species is at stake here.  Certainly the relative comfort and ease of our lives is on the chopping block, and I’m not talking about the effects of the pandemic.  If you can get a copy of  “A Short History of Progress” by Ronald Wright, please do read it if you haven‘t already. 

8.             Despite your own added stressors during this time, try to be more tolerant than usual of your relatives’ and neighbours’  aberrations and irritating opinions and habits.  Exercising your natural generosity of spirit can help your own state of mind and emotions too.  Keep repeating “We’re all in this together” – and ignore that urge to toss overboard the ones who disagree with you about anything.  Maybe read this article, urging stoicism (and explaining it a bit.)

After all, it takes all kinds.  Doesn’t it?  — Well, except the  kinds that don’t wash their hands enough.

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