So, it's been a month since this thread has been posted to...time to see what seems to be working, and what does not. I live in Canada, BC to be specific, so for me using stats from Canada and the USA is most simple and accessible - I am not judging, only presenting the statistics and trends around me.
My personal views on many things Corona have changed over time. In some ways, I still view it as a PANICdemic, in that there is unfounded rumours and hysteria. On the other hand, I am now very pro-mask, and find myself getting annoyed with those who seem to think this is "just the flu". So this is the first thing I would like to address.
In the USA: "CDC estimates that the burden of illness during the 2018–2019 season included an estimated 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths from influenza." https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html
Considering the USA is now at 100,000 deaths and that number is rapidly climbing....THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS THE FLU!!!
TRANSMISSIBLITY: this is another hot button for me, and it boggles my mind daily that people don't take this seriously.
Monday, North Carolina had over 1,000 new cases, in a single day!!! Their population (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/NC
) of 10.1 million is approximately double that of BC at 5.03 million (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action..
.) - our province (at time of writing) has 2,562 cases, in total, since the pandemic began. I can only conclude we have fared as well as we have due to our wonderful Dr. Bonnie Henry and her refusal to give in, despite many adamant protests when she chose to differ from elsewhere, and set her own course to sail us through these rough waters.
CAN WE FLATTEN THE CURVE: or as many wondered, should we flatten the curve, should we "shut down", should we risk jobs....this is how we, in BC, have dealt with Covid 19, I am both relieved and proud to say, we are kicking Covid's butt! Below is a brief synopsis of how our province has, thus far, managed the Covid 19 fight.
At times people thought Dr. Henry took too long to implement certain recommendations, other times they complained the suggestions were too strict or silly. Somehow she took appropriate steps, at appropriate times. When cases moved from contact tracing to community spread, she took it seriously, and started the very strong recommendations to stay home, institute social distancing, and practice proper hygiene, based on the results, three months later, her strategies have worked.
When it became clear, in March, through contact tracking that certain industries (personal care, eat in restaurants) were hot spots she DID shut down that minor portion of our economy. No other business were forced to close, ever. It was her calm, constant confidence that WE ALL had a part to play that led most businesses to shut down, or figure out a contact-less way to continue operating. It soon became apparent that schools would be at risk when vacationing kids returned to class; so she shut down schools just BEFORE spring break. Beyond that we have only had required quarantine for those returning from away - everything else has been voluntary, and with Dr. Henry watching you from the TV, you just had to listen and do as she so gently but firmly and logically suggested.
Care homes were and are still the hardest hit - given the nature of their work, in some ways it was to be expected...but the low wages and refusal to offer full time employment has meant most Care Aids had to work multiple part time jobs in multiple facilities. This has and continues to cost our province and our country the most lives. BC quickly instituted a plan to consolidate Care Aid workers to a single facility, this was and is (in my experience) the single most successful action in stopping the spread, outside of social distancing, in our province. It took weeks for some communities to comply, due to staffing issues - those that were forced to delay, suffered greatly, with continued outbreaks, and the heartbreak of loved ones dying in isolation as non-essential contact was banned by all care homes.
April came and went, the federal government stepped up adding aid packages, as needed, and did a great job to ensure everyone had what they needed. We continued to hunker down at home, voluntarily, going out only to shop or if one was an essential/front line worker. Roads were deserted, wildlife flourished and appeared where it had not been seen in ages, we accepted the new normal, and as we were assured every day when Dr. Bonnie did her briefings, this is not forever. She somehow managed to mark each newly diagnosed case, admission to the ICU or death with honest, solemn dignity. We helped our neighbors, perfect strangers, we all repeated her mantra "Be Calm, Stay Safe, Stay Home and Be Kind", and took it to heart. She did gradually ban gatherings of more than 50 people, then more than 10 people then more than five people, but never actually to the point of fines or threats. The naysayers were frowned upon, but mostly treated with respect and sighs of concern. Businesses like grocery stores added signage "stand here" or "keep social distance"; they added plexiglass barriers between staff and customers, closed every second checkout to ensure social distancing. We got used to standing in line as stores limited the number of patrons inside at any given time. The bulk of the population did as they were asked, stayed home, supported our front line workers, and every night at 7pm we salute them with cheers and pot banging.
May arrived, fortunately the gorgeous weather has continued for us all to enjoy, as out of doors is relatively safe, and Dr. Bonnie encouraged us to get out, but stay safe, and continue our social distancing. We learned some new phrases and definitions. "Family unit" now means those we LIVE with, be they biological or not, in the same home, sharing the same toilets and kitchen; "Stay Home", means don't travel, stay in your local community; as things continued to improve we were told we could cautiously "expand our social bubble", meet up with a FEW friends, while maintaining social distancing etc. The last week of May saw the gradual re-opening of all businesses - gradual not because of government regulations but because only those who feel ready to open are doing so, others are still making tweaks and adjustments. Schools re-open next week, but attendance is voluntary.
I am so grateful for the calm thoughtful leadership of Dr. Bonnie Henry, her careful plans that thankfully were followed by the majority of the population here - we have not only slowed the curve, we have damn near halted it, not a single new case on Tuesday, vs over 1,000 in North Carolina. We do still add newly diagnosed cases, and sadly, new deaths most days,I call that, the power of social distancing, effective hand washing, and staying home whenever possible. We have not been unscathed, BC has, as of today, 2,562 confirmed cases; to date, our country has 90,909 confirmed cases, other provinces have not fared as well as we. Ontario has roughly triple the population of BC (https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action..
.), with TEN TIMES OUR CASES AT 28,700; Quebec has less than double our population - they have TWENTY TIMES OUR CASES AT 50,232. At some point we will learn the why and how things differed so greatly from province to province...for now we are grateful that over half of our confirmed cases nationwide, 47,905 have been given the all clear and recovered. Canada is a country of 37,742,154 (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=population+of+canada
) people and have, to date, lost just shy of 7,000 citizens to Covid 19; BC has lost a precious 164 lives to date (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=jcovid+deathtoll+in+bc
) our curve is definitely flattening, in BC it has more than flattened. The United States has approximately ten times the population of Canada, at 331,002,651; they have suffered in excess of 100,000 deaths...sadly, I fear they may have shut down too late and may be opening too early - based on what we have seen here in the provincial differences in contraction, spread, and deaths. In Canada we are fortunate that most seem willing to focus on the public good, as opposed to infringement on personal freedoms. I fear, where the rigid upholding individual rights and freedoms supersedes public good, it may hinder the fight against Covid 19.
Any loss of life is unacceptable, please learn from our example. Shrink your social bubble, do not gather in groups (extended family, friends, funerals, birthday parties, places of worship); stay home when possible, practice strict social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing. If BC is any example, the answer to the question does early implementation of social distancing work, I will say a hearty and resounding YES and shout it from the rooftops. Honestly, these habits cost us nothing financially, and we can adapt to other ways to socialize; the penalty if we don't is the loss of lives, possibly a friend or loved one. Know that your actions DO make a difference, we have proved that, here. Be Calm, Stay Safe, Stay Home and most of all, BE KIND.