Stay at home

More than a few times this week I’ve thought back to earlier in the year, when many of us were oblivious to the danger presented by a virus picking up steam across the ocean. Ignorance was truly blissful, if the tension and fear in the air these past ten days is the comparison.
The week has been a non-stop cavalcade of bad news piped into our eyeballs and eardrums like that memorable scene from “A Clockwork Orange”, and we’re all just strapped in for the ride.
You turn off the TV or radio, and it’s all people want to talk about on social media or in person. There’s nothing else to talk about. It’s a wave that’s washed over our globalized society and we’ll be dealing with the immediate fallout for months, the long-term repercussions for years.
The progressively more invasive steps that the provincial and federal governments have taken signal the seriousness of the situation. What other time in modern history have schools, restaurants and all recreation facilities been closed down across the country for over a month? This is beyond any plagues or crises of recent memory.
People who never show symptoms can easily transmit the virus to others, which is why it’s difficult to translate the danger to the average person.
It’s something that you may never experience yourself while transmitting lethal doses to numerous others. You’re should act as if everyone else is carrying the virus, while simultaneously acting as if you’re carrying it yourself.
It’s a tightrope to walk, but it’s even more difficult for people who have been laid off or had their hours reduced, which include my colleagues here at the Pontiac Print Shop. It’s tough for the seniors who face even more isolation than usual. It’s tough for the students of all ages who’ve had their academic year turned upside down and even tougher for the parents who have to take care of them while simultaneously keeping food on the table.
That’s not even mentioning the numerous essential service workers that need to stay as healthy as possible while continuing to serve the public.
If you’ve got things under control at your household, it’s time to call up friends and neighbours, especially people that will be cooped up for the foreseeable future. Keep your distance in public and wash your hands frequently, if not for yourself, for the people you know that are susceptible to infection.
Our society is oriented towards self-interest primarily and a prolonged disaster of biblical proportions might be the catalyst to illustrate the shallowness and short-sightedness of that worldview. We’re not good at putting others’ needs in front of our own at the best of times, but when people hoard supplies, or act indifferently to quarantine orders, it’s practically a declaration of war on their fellow citizens. As recently as a few weeks ago, most people could claim they didn’t know any better, but no longer. The rapid escalation of response this past week has ended most of the jokes and the scoffing.
What we’re experiencing right now is the result of our actions two weeks ago, the outside estimation of the virus’ incubation period. We’ll only see the results of our attempts to flatten the curve in tehe coming weeks. It’s like being in a slow motion plane crash and all you can do is shout encouragement to your fellow passengers.
How do you rally a community-wide emergency response while keeping a distance of two metres from each other? The disaster wrought by last year’s floods was unprecedented, this is orders of magnitude more serious.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay separated. We’re in this for the long haul.

Caleb Nickerson

 

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