Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The case for precaution

All indications are that the coronavirus is coming. It is not a question of if but when.
While experience in other parts of the world suggests we cannot prevent it, we are told there is much we can do to slow it down. It is called flattening the curve, and it appears to be a very worthwhile thing to do.
If you plotted China’s rapid infection rate on a graph, the line would take the shape of a steep curve that rises quickly from a few cases per day to hundreds and then thousands. In China’s case, the rapid onset of the disease quickly outstripped the capacity of the health system to care for the sick. More lives were lost and greater hardships were suffered than if early action had been taken. The experience is currently being replicated in Iran and in Italy, with many other countries looking like they might soon follow suit.
The spread of the virus to North America appears to have lagged slightly behind its appearance in Europe. This has given us the benefit of learning from the experience of other countries already brought to their knees. And it shows us it may still be within our means to adopt measures here that will slow the advance of the virus, or flatten the curve, as they put it. By reducing the infection rate to a pace more manageable by our health care workers, we might give them a fighting chance to provide better treatment to those afflicted with the disease, leading to better outcomes than have been experienced elsewhere.
All we are asked to do is a few simple things. Wash our hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Avoid touching our faces, the means by which the virus gains access to our bodies through our eyes and mouth. And, as the virus spreads from person to person most readily where multiple people are in close proximity to each other, we are asked not to gather in groups anywhere over the coming weeks and just stay home if at all possible.
To this end, schools have closed, musical and sporting events have been canceled, employees are encouraged to work from home and airlines are cutting back on their international travel, among the growing list of precautionary steps that are being taken around the world, across Canada and right here in the Pontiac.
As a strategy that involves avoiding and reducing the spread of the disease, social distancing is best launched before the virus arrives in the community. One of the challenges with taking such preemptive action, however, is that you need to act before it appears necessary to do so. By definition, you need to be willing to do what many will see as over-reacting in order for this strategy to work.
It might be easier to doubt the science or accuse the media of whipping the public into a frenzy over nothing. Or rationalize that the trouble is oceans away and that our remote community with low population density will remain untouched.
All quite comforting, but also high risk.
The risk is that the evidence rapidly accumulating around the world is borne out. That the threat is real and coming soon to our community. That we will have left it too late to prevent the worst of it and can respond with only diminished capability to a crisis that has overtaken us.
It is time to shut things down.
Nobody is saying it will be easy. It will mean going without some things we are accustomed to having, missing some events we would normally attend and not seeing people we would dearly love to see. It will be a hardship for local businesses and, most importantly, the stresses will be immense on our health care workers, not to mention the pharmacists, grocery store shelf-stockers, gas pumpers, farmers who keep on producing food, and so many other unsung heroes who keep our basic infrastructure functioning, and who deserve our deepest respect, undying gratitude and ongoing support.
Here at Pontiac Printshop, though we are closing the front door, we are not shutting down operations. Over the coming weeks, we invite you to contact us by phone, email and regular mail. As long as the postal system is working, you will continue to find The Equity in your mailbox every week. And if that is ever in doubt, there is also the online option.
Across the Pontiac, people are following similar paths, whether working from home or closing the doors altogether. We believe it is the right thing to do. In a community with an older population, many people living on low income, in many cases with compromised health, we are better safe than sorry.

Charles Dickson


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