Social distancing, class, and hypocrisy

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Aristotleded24
Social distancing, class, and hypocrisy

With the demands for social distancing to flatten the coronavirus curve, and the narrative that has been presented from the start of this crisis that things are going to change and that social distancing is here to stay, I think it's important to discuss how this plays out across the class specturm and show how the impact is not evenly felt.

Let's start with the Chief Medical Officers of Health. They might not be anywhere near 1% status, but they are certainly paid more than the average person. Their income is also secure throughout the pandemic. They are not worried about when they will go back to work or if CERB is going to run out or if their small business will survive. They simply do not experience the same level of anxiety that the rest of us do. They tell us to do "social distancing." Don't go out. Stay home. Don't go to work if you're sick? Good luck with that if you're constantly on the edge of not making ends meet and your employer doesn't offer sick pay. There have even been calls to restrict the number of times people can shop legally. Don't attend any events either, whether it's a church function or a curling bonspiel. Toronto decided that with all the crime happening in that city that its police agency had the resources to fine people for not social distancing in parks. Well, how will you buy groceries? Not to worry, they (along with the other people who can work remotely from home) can simply order online and have it delivered. They're not exposing themselves to the virus, they are not risking spreading it around, so problem solved, right?

Not so fast. Somebody has to work to get them what they need, from transporting to the store to working in the store to even going out in delivery. So accepting the premise that the best thing to do is to stay put, these people are at risk of not only contracting the virus, but from a cynical self-interested perspective, prolonging the pandemic. These people don't have the option of waiting it out. Let's talke a closer look at some of these outbreaks. As much as a problem as the outbreaks in the last paragraph were, did they cause any major disruptions? Are there any outbreaks that can be attributed to a basketball game in the park or people taking multiple shopping trips? Have any such outbreaks turned an entire city into a coronavirus hotspot? The answer to those questions is no.

So what is driving this pandemic? I've been speaking recently about the situation in nursing homes. This is not only claiming lives of residents, but of staff as well. It is easily predictable that a respiratory illness would hit the elderly population hard, and unions representing the workers have raised concerns as well. Conditions in meat packing plants are also driving the spread, and it turned the Alberta city of Brooks into a covid hotspot. Hundreds of people infected, three dead. These outbreaks are not happening because people are standing too close together while chatting over morning coffee. These are institutional failures, of companies and organizations not taking adequate steps to protect their workers. Think also about living conditions. If you have little money, you likely are sharing accomodations with people, possibly across many generations. Especially if you are all confined at home and your children aren't going to school or daycare, social distancing is not a thing where you live. Do you think that's not going to spread the coronavirus around? Essentially, there is a near direct relationship between the amount of money you earn and your ability to do social distancing. This right here should dispel the idea that individual actions alone will take us out of this pandemic.

Social distancing will also have the long-term effect of undermining the very social solidarity that is vital to the interests of the working class. When I go to stores, I already see plastic partitions between myself and the staff. As the provinces re-opened up, they told people to only meet with a few select people they know. The subtle message people are receiving is that all the people around me are a threat, even if it is presented as you doing what's necessary to protect others. This is essentially Tribalism 101. What if coronavirus simply sticks around and becomes one of the many diseases we have to deal with, as the World Health Organisation says it might? Of course it will be more prevalent in marginalized communities. Do you think (what's left of) middle-class taxpayers are going to want to fund services for these people? No, they will instead want the government to protect themselves from the disease. This will have a negative impact on public support for progressive ideas that rely on the public commons, from public transit to public housing, to even stores reverting back to single-use plastic bags. So we have to be very careful of this as we move forward.

My final message to the government is this: stop trying to scare people by telling them that visiting their friends and family (or even making new friends) is going to give everybody coronavirus, and go after the systemic failures that are actually dragging out this pandemic for far longer than it has to.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

I don't know if this is by design, but I think the way social distancing has played out is that it's not a means to control the pandemic, but rather a means for the more priviledged among us to ride it out safely at home. What do I mean?

Who supports the lockdown measures? I spoke in great detail about the professional class in the opening post. There is another important demographic involved. That is many retirees, who spend a great deal of time watching TV, and by and large trusting what the news tells them. The system has essentially worked for this demographic, so they have no reason to start questioning things now. They hear the media exaggerations about coronavirus to the exclusion of everything else, they get scared, and they want to be protected. What these retirees and the professional classes both have in common is that their income is not threatened by lockdown measures. They can safely stay at home. No more trips to the shopping mall are necessary, they can just have everything delivered. That exposes another reality. As these people wait it out at home, they are no longer out and about, interacting with members of the working class whose job it is to work the stores and to deliver their goods. If they used to work in an office but now work at home, they are no longer confronted with the reality of urban poverty on their commute or throughout their work day. The working and urban poor become invisible, and as these professionals and retirees continue to live in their bubbles, the plight of the lower classes fades from society's radar. The lower class essentially becomes invisible, to be forgotten.

People on the lower end of the economic ladder are hit with a double whammy. I already mentioned in the opening post that their working and living conditions make them far more susceptible to coronavirus, but there is another aspect as well. For those lower-paid workers whose jobs aren't essential, they have to cope not only with unemployment, but also the destruction of their communities. Their movements to visit family and friends, get recreation, or go to church are very restricted. Even the services they rely on are impacted, as governments close offices and restrict service times to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Many government workers unions are in support, because why should government workers risk their health by being in contact with dirty poor people? Far from encouraging solidarity, social distancing is undermining it. Let the more priviledged classes remain locked in their bubbles, while the lower classes are forgotten. That is how this pandemic will play out unless the need for lockdown measures is challenged and the institutional failings which are spreading coronavirus rectified.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

Speaking of issues of class:

Quote:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the league and the NHL Players' Association have agreed on a return-to-play format in the event the 2019-20 season can resume.

The 24-team plan would see the top-4 clubs in the Eastern and Western Conference play two mini round-robin tournaments to determine seeding for the playoffs.

This is the kind of thing that frustrates people. If we had to give up Easter dinner with grandma, with some of us knowing that grandma isn't going to be around for Easter 2021, why can't these guys give up a playoff season?

Aristotleded24

Really good article about migrant farm workers and covid:

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A video that recently surfaced begins with a shot of a makeshift bed -- a thin sleeping pad resting on top of a wooden blue pallet on the ground. The camera pans to show dozens more of these beds in what appears to be some sort of warehouse or storage locker, spaced out in uniform rows and lining the concrete floor. Scattered around are signs of human life, out of place in this harsh industrial backdrop: a suitcase with the baggage tag still wrapped around the handle and a pair of running shoes tucked just under the edge of a pallet. A well-timed click of the pause button shows a person laying in one of these beds, trying to sleep.

The comments reveal the video was taken just a few hours outside of Toronto, in Leamington, Ontario -- the "Tomato Capital of Canada," thanks to the high numbers of the fruit produced there. It is also one of the biggest hot-spots for temporary farm workers brought in through Canada's seasonal agricultural worker program (SAWP). What this video offers is a rare glimpse into the living conditions of migrant farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Back in mid-April, the federal government announced they would be allocating $50 million to the agricultural sector in order to support farm owners -- such as those in Leamington -- who bring in temporary workers through SAWP. The money was intended to help ensure safe living spaces and working conditions for migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, to cover expenses like hotel accommodations, groceries and health costs during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for workers arriving into the country. 

Yet in an open letter published on May 4, an anonymous migrant farm worker wrote about what was taking place at Greenhill Produce: "On Monday, April 27th, all 24 results were returned with a total of 13 Jamaicans test came back positive. We were told that by 4pm Monday afternoon, we will be separated. Enquires were made at approximately 4:30 Monday afternoon. We were told the Health Authorities will give instructions as to the separation."​

Another worker wrote in a statement: "The positive and the negative are living in the same house using the same utensils, same bathroom, doing everything like nothing is wrong." They go on to explain that their employers are refusing to purchase cleaning supplies for the workers to use to sanitize their bunkhouse.

Over the past two weeks we have seen viral outbreaks at a growing number of these farms across the province. Greenhill Produce in Chatham-Kent has been the primary subject of the media's attention, with over 100 workers infected as of May 21. 

This begs the question: With $50 million in federal support, why is this happening?

There is much more wortwhile reading there. This might be something worth paying attention to if we can get past the pearl clutching about people gathering in a park or visiting on Mother's Day or wanting to hug their friends and family.

This part especially  jumped out to me:

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Keeping people apart is a time-tested tactic which works to limit communication and restrict personal relationships. It's much easier to ward off the possibility of collective action when workers are cut off from one another.

You mean kind of like the social distancing restrictions in place now where, almost 3 months after the pandemic started and with nearly every region in the country outside of Toronto and Montreal noticing a decline in the number of cases and gatherings are still capped at anywhere from 25-30 people?

kropotkin1951

One of my local farmers on my FB feed was talking about the difference between Ontario and BC. In Ontario the farms were allowed to isolate their workers en masse on site. In BC they all had to isolate like everyone else coming into the country and the farms that wanted them had to pay for the isolation at proper facilities. So far we have had no outbreaks on farms in BC. Our food prices will rise but that is a minor concern compared to having workers die growing it for us.

Aristotleded24

I'm happy to hear that, krop. I personally think that the temporary foreign worker program should be halted outright and that anyone who comes into this country be supported on a pathway towards being a full citizen, but that is by far and away much better than what is happening in Ontario.

Aristotleded24

So after the left had been saying for months that it was a moral imperative that everybody stay home unless absolutely necessary to stop spreading covid to people who are vulnerable, to the point of supporting draconian restrictions on people's movements and how business operate, the left is now saying it's a moral imperative to get into the streets to protest because of George Floyd.

Am I the only one who sees how silly and hypocritical the left looks right now?

kropotkin1951

I am not sure who this "the left" is but they look like you could kick the straw out of them really easily.

The vast majority of the demonstrators were wearing masks and not spitting on each other and random passersby unlike at some other types of demonstrations. I am really sorry that Dr. Henry was not put in charge of Canada in January because the same things that were done here would have worked everywhere in the country. There was nothing draconian here, everyone except a surprisingly small number of assholes bought into the community health plan presented in daily updates. But then I live on an island that sent only NDP and Green MP's to the last parliament so it appears my neighbours and I share a different perspective than the majority of Canadians.

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:
I am not sure who this "the left" is but they look like you could kick the straw out of them really easily.

Christo Aivalis for one. Michael Moore also repeated as fact an assertion from "friends" working in the National Institutes of Health that the pandemic was going to be a 2-year event. Most other left-wing commentators I watch bought into that and told everyone to stay home as well. Of course, if you're used to staying at home as you spend nearly all your waking hours making YouTube videos while not getting out into the real world, that's very easy. Only Kim Iversen even questioned the basic premise behind social distancing and mandatory lockdowns in the first place. I felt very uneasy about those demands from the start and was very vocal about it. Even the coronavirus alert levels that so many governments have introduced reminded me of the 5 colour terror alert system the Bush Administration introduced in the wake of 9-11. I was very disappointed that after Moore brilliantly deconstructed the fear-mongering the Bush Administration used in response to 9-11, he used those exact same tactics in response to coronavirus.

kropotkin1951 wrote:
The vast majority of the demonstrators were wearing masks and not spitting on each other and random passersby unlike at some other types of demonstrations.

I'm happy that most demonstrators in BC were wearing masks. When I was out on Friday and could see the demonstrations from a distance, there were many without masks, and it didn't look like they were keeping the 2-meter distance rule. Besides, the instructions about gatherings were clear. There was no qualification about distancing or wearing masks. The instructions were no gatherings. Period. That's why every major event in the country has been cancelled until at least Labour Day. That's why religious services now have to be had online. That's why public spaces have been closed off, including public spaces which house drop-ins that serve many marginalized people. For many of these people, the ability to freely drop in and socialize with people is the greatest need they have, and not being able to drop in can lead to suicidal depression for these people. Not to take away from the reason behind the protest, but I honestly think one of the motivations people had in attending the protests was that they hadn't seen their friends in a long time and weren't sure they would be able to see them again, and there are very few outlets for people to go out and have fun at the moment. And last Easter, we were told not to visit and have live, in-person family dinners, (or even children's birthday parties) which are by definition much smaller groups than what we saw gather over the last week. The cruel irony is that many of the elders we were supposed to protect by not visiting them are so frail and advanced in age that Easter 2020 was certain to be their last Easter, pandemic or not. Even Dr. Henry bought into that. Now to recap, visiting family during Easter is not okay, but suddenly gathering in large groups is?

No wonder the right is having a field day with this, and I can hardly blame them. Glenn Greenwald is right in the clip I mentioned when he said it is scary how people will move from one pulbic dictate to the complete opposite without seriously questioning why we are being asked to do so in the first place.

I agree with Bill Maher when he said we need to improve our immune systems while protecting vulnerable people. This lockdown has been mentally exhausting already, I don't want us to have to do this again, or to be micromanaged in my daily movements to the point of having to stand in a certain spot in the store, not being able to just drop into a gym for a work-out, or not even being able to sing in church as the "new normal" once the lockdown measures ease.

kropotkin1951

So I gather "the left" are various US celebrities.  I presume those people are now saying it's a moral imperative to get into the streets to protest because of George Floyd. Fair enough I can't dispute you on those facts because I don't actually follow them.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

So now we have Michael Moore cheering the bravery of BLM protesters for risking their lives by protesting during a pandemic. But I thought the imperative in everyone staying home was that even if you were fine taking a risk with your own life, that you had to stay home in case you came into contact with someone who was of high risk. Are we really naive enough to believe that there was 100% compliance with mask wearing and social distancing at these protests, or that many of the protesters themselves don't live with people at a higher risk for the coronavirus? Remember when the lockdown protests happened, and people dismissed the concerns the protesters had about the fallout that the economic impact of lockdowns would have, including costing lives? Funny how now it's okay for people to gather outside to protest, when the main lesson from the Spanish Flu that was used to illustrate the importance of social distancing was how the Liberty Loans Parade knocked over the medical system in Philadelphia within days? Dr. Fauci said that the demonstrations would increase the risk. And of course, the professional classes, having too much confidence in their own perspectives and judgements and next to no empathy for workers, allows themselves to be brought into this and what should be simple health advice has now become politicized. And professionals wonder why workers are skeptical of their pronouncements from on high?

Aristotleded24
lagatta4

I was very annoyed by the comment on pensioners upthread. Not all pensioners have credit cards, so they can't possibly have their groceries delivered (and the delays here would have left them very hungry, if not starving). Many pensioners live on very little.

Aristotleded24

Poverty, especially among immigrant communities, common thread through covid failures worldwide: Kim Iversen

Even think about the places in Canada that have struggled, specifically Brooks, Toronto, Montreal, Windsor/Essex, and Northern Saskatchewan, with immigrant and First Nations people living in crowded living conditions. Surely meaningfully addressing housing in this country would be a huge investment, and cost much less in the long term than tanking the economy for months on end.

Aristotleded24

I wish I could post this whole article here:

Quote:

As the pandemic continued, there was a silent population of essential workers in Canada who kept our lives going, through their manual labour and often in exploitive workplaces. Meanwhile, others fretted about the latest COVID-19 data points, while building a deck or getting a new pet.

Those who are on the outside of these privileges must have been truly afraid, and rightfully so. COVID-19 was now another threat added to their burden, along with things such as: food insecurity, police brutality, or no chance at a future. They left their children at home while they went to work (if they had a job in the first place), worrying about their health and safety. They could not provide them the resources to keep up with their schooling; education was a luxury.

Canada has only recently started tracking race-based health data, due to the strong urging of leaders in Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. Apart from the crisis in long-term care facilities, which were hanging by a thread before the pandemic, it was predominantly these populations, in low-income, dense housing that were hit hardest by COVID-19.

...

If those who have privilege are taking up all the space and stealing all the air in the room, how can others who also need to breathe find any air for themselves? The reality is that if you are well off, and white, you have a lower risk of catching COVID-19 or dying from it.

Something to think about when asking for zero-risk during a pandemic.

Aristotleded24

This will come as a surprise to everyone:

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Newly collected race-based data on COVID-19 in Toronto confirms concerns that both racialized and low-income residents have been disproportionately impacted by the virus in the city.

The Toronto Public Health data, which was collected between May 20 and July 16, shows that of the reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto with valid race data, 83 per cent involve members of racialized communities.

According to 2016 census information, only 52 per cent of Toronto's population identify as belonging to a racialized group.

Members of the Black community represented 21 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases in the city despite the fact census data indicates that only nine per cent of Toronto's population identifies as Black.

Conversely, those who identify as white represent about 48 per cent of Toronto's population but only 17 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases in the city.

...

Only about 30 per cent of Toronto's population has a household income of $50,000 or less, according to census information, but that income group represents a little more than 50 per cent of reported infections in the city.

"While COVID-19 has affected all of us, unfortunately it has had a greater impact on those in our community who face greater health inequities," Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said during a news conference on Thursday.

She said in the short-term, addressing the needs of members of the community who are more at risk of contracting the virus involves targeted testing, better communication, and increased access to social supports, including voluntary isolation sites for people who have the virus or are at risk of contracting the virus and do not have a place to properly self-isolate.

"In the longer term however, if we want to have a true impact, a real impact on improving health, including COVID-19, we need to address these health inequities and get to the root cause of what underpins our overall health," she said.

"We need to focus on the social determinants of health, like affordable housing opportunities, access to employment and income supports, and educational opportunities. And yes, we need to address systemic racism."

But no, instead of looking at how systemic racism and economic inequality impacts health making things like the coronavirus worse, we like to shake our fingers at people who want to have fun, visit their families, or just in general do the things people like to do that make life worthwhile.

Aristotleded24

More data about the differential impact of covid on Winnipeg's population:

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Backed by data from Statistics Canada, the Chambers of Commerce, the Conference Board of Canada and other sources, Markowsky provided some specific impacts of the lockdown that began last March.

Overall, the unemployment rate in the Winnipeg metropolitan area stood at 11.2 per cent in July, an increase of 5.8 per cent over the same time last year, Markowsky said.

The socio-economic impact of the pandemic has affected Indigenous people, visible minorities and people with disabilities at higher rate than other demographics, he said.

The employment rate for men is recovering faster than women.

People from the city's Filipino and West Asian populations experienced higher job loss and a greater reduction in hours than white residents at the height of the lockdown.

Many people in those groups work in the retail, restaurant and hospitality sectors — those hit hardest hit by the pandemic restrictions.

Hands up if this comes as a surprise to anybody?

Aristotleded24

The escape pods are here:

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Now, pandemics don’t necessarily bring out our best instincts either. No matter how many mutual aid networks, school committees, food pantries, race protests, or fundraising efforts in which we participate, I feel as if many of those privileged enough to do so are still making a less public, internal calculation: How much are we allowed to use our wealth and our technologies to insulate ourselves and our families from the rest of the world? And, like a devil on our shoulder, our technology is telling us to go it alone. After all, it’s an iPad, not an usPad.

The more advanced the tech, the more cocooned insularity it affords. “I finally caved and got the Oculus,” one of my best friends messaged me on Signal the other night. “Considering how little is available to do out in the real world, this is gonna be a game-changer.” Indeed, his hermetically sealed, Covid-19-inspired techno-paradise was now complete. Between VR, Amazon, FreshDirect, Netflix, and a sustainable income doing crypto trading, he was going to ride out the pandemic in style. Yet while VRporn.com is certainly a safer sexual strategy in the age of Covid-19 than meeting up with partners through Tinder, every choice to isolate and insulate has its correspondingly negative impact on others.

The pool for my daughter wouldn’t have gotten here were it not for legions of Amazon workers behind the scenes, getting infected in warehouses or risking their health driving delivery trucks all summer. As with FreshDirect or Instacart, the externalized harm to people and places is kept out of sight. These apps are designed to be addictively fast and self-contained — push-button access to stuff that can be left at the front door without any human contact. The delivery people don’t even ring the bell; a photo of the package on the stoop automagically arrives in the inbox. Like with Thomas Jefferson’s ingenious dumbwaiter, there are no signs of the human labor that brought it.

...

But what if we don’t have to know about the chaos in the world? That’s the real promise of digital technology. We can choose which cable news, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels to stream — the ones that acknowledge the virus and its impacts or the ones that don’t. We can choose to continue wrestling with the civic challenges of the moment, such as whether to send kids back to school full-time, hybrid, or remotely. Or — like some of the wealthiest people in my own town — we can form private “pods,” hire tutors, and offer our kids the kind of customized, elite education we could never justify otherwise. “Yes, we are in a pandemic,” one pod education provider explained to the Times. “But when it comes to education, we also feel some good may even come out of this.”.

...

Climate, poverty, disease, and famine don’t respect the “guardian boundary” play space defined by the Oculus VR’s user preferences. Just as the billionaires can never, ever truly leave humanity behind, none of us can climb back into the womb. When times are hard, sure, take what peace and comfort you can afford. Use whatever tech you can get your hands on to make your kid’s online education work a bit better. Enjoy the glut of streaming media left over from the heyday of the Netflix-Amazon-HBO wars.

But don’t let this passing — yes, passing — crisis fool you into buying technology’s false promise of escaping from humanity to play video games alone in perpetuity. Our Covid-19 isolation is giving us a rare opportunity to see where this road takes us and to choose to use our technologies to take a very different one.

Pondering

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/01/office-workers

The service economy in financialised city centres depends on the consumption patterns of office workers: commuting every day involves not just buying a sandwich or a coffee from Pret, but helping to prop up an entire system. Were it not for the vast numbers flowing out of stations every morning, the capacity to extract astronomical rents, both from commercial and residential properties, would shrivel – and city centres would no longer be soulless corporate landscapes where multiple franchises of the same chain restaurant can be found within walking distance of each other.

Your push for the lifting of all constraints is libertarian which is more akin to the right than the left. The lower classes always suffer the most. They suffer the most during the lockdown and they will suffer the most in the lifting of it.

Covid 19 is getting the credit for revealing the class divide and starting the debate on whether or not their compensation is good enough. It revealed the terrible working conditions in seniors residences and the fact that they use temp agencies and don't hire people full time so they have to work at multiple homes.

 "The left" supports free transit and pharmacare and national daycare and a national housing program among many other measures that help to reduce inequality. 

 "The left" doesn't want to go back to the status quo. This is an opportunity to accelerate change for the better.

Aristotleded24

What good is a pandemic if you can't cash in on it and make a bit of extra money for yourself?

Quote:

A Calgary company accused of COVID-related price-gouging has been fined after pleading guilty to a charge under the Consumer Protection Act.

Following an anonymous complaint in April, investigators found CCA Logistics was charging "grossly excessive" prices on COVID-related items like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer.

The company was initially ordered to remove the items — $120 masks and $39 hand sanitizer — but when undercover investigators returned to the store, they discovered CCA had not fully complied.

Although no PPE items were sold to customers, the undercover investigator did secure an "offer of sale," which ultimately led to the charges under the Consumer Protection Act.

CCA lawyer Pawel Milczarek said the exorbitant prices were driven by higher costs on the supplier side. He also said the general wording of the order did not make clear which items his clients were required to remove.

"Ultimately there's been significant damage to a company that is otherwise above board and without incident," said Milczarek.

Aristotleded24

So buried among the general pandemic porn that passes for news on the CBC Manitoba website these days, I found this little story that I think should shine more attention onto the state of living conditions on remote First Nations:

Quote:

The First Nation — whose home community is at York Landing, about 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg — has been in lockdown since a family of seven tested positive for the illness last week. The family tested positive following a trip to Winnipeg for medical reasons, where it's believed that they contracted the virus. 

The community has been up against a shortage of tests, lack of adequate housing, and a host of other logistical challenges. 

The First Nation asked the federal government to send the rapid response team, in hopes it can help with some of those challenges, York Factory Chief Leroy Constant said Tuesday in an interview with CBC News.

The team of six arrived Tuesday afternoon and are now setting up to start rapid testing for close contacts of the family who tested positive, Constant said.

Can somebody please explain to me what a "rapid response team" is? Would this team be needed if there had been adequate health care and preparation in the first place? Is the state of covid in Manitoba's north made worse by the fact that Island Lakes needs a hospital but doesn't have one?

Note the story says that the affected family tested positive after travelling to Winnipeg for medical reasons. I thought we were supposed to curtail travel during the pandemic? Had medical attention been closer to home for these individuals, is it possible that they would not have contracted covid in the first place?

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I am well acquainted with those Cree communities in northern Manitoba and the fact that a rapid response team was deployed quickly is a credit to all involved.

Those communities have been super vigilante about securing their communities and preventing COVID-19 infections and spread. They have set up strict exit and entry rules, closed common places, gone to great lengths to set schools up safely for reopening, etc. There are less than 1,000 York Factory First Nation members living at York Landing so it is ridiculous to think a hospital would be built in such a community. Most of these small First Nations have a health centre and nursting station with doctors visiting on a rotation schedule. They have medical vans and air medivac services. Some First Nations in Manitoba also set up facilities to house members (patient and accompanying family member or advocate) in Thompson and even Winnipeg. Thompson Hospital is the first point of contact for emergency and serious health care needs but it is a small hospital with limited services. Those who have cancer or serious diseases that require surgical intervention or other types of treatment not available in a smaller hospital, must travel to Winnipeg.

Is the system perfect? Far from it - lots of issues to deal with to improve health services for Indigenous people. And for sure, Indigenous communities feel the impact of the socio-economic determinants of health far more deeply than the average white Canadian. But give credit where credit is due - First Nations have been the first and on the forefront of taking COVID-19 seriously and instituting any measure they can to protect their people knowing how historically they have been devastated by infectious diseases.

Aristotleded24

Thank you for your insight, laine. It certainly puts things in context, and I agree that First Nations communities have done very well to protect their communities from this virus. Even on the issue of lockdowns, I'm sure these communities have done much better to alleviate the negative impacts of such policies while protecting their people at the same time.

The whole "rapid response team" to me sounded like an inept response on the part of the federal government. In other words, the federal government had ignored a simmering problem to the point that it blew up and then the federal government had to send someone in to clean up the mess they created. You're also correct that I don't know why these individuals were in Winnipeg, as they could very well have needed medical treatment they could only receive there. My question is, how do the services on the First Nations communities compare to similar sized settler communities? I agree that a full hospital would not be built in York Factory specifically. Do residents of York Factory have access to the same level of care that would be expected in a town that size in Saskatchewan or Ontario? I do think it's ridiculous that a community the size of Island Lakes does not have a hospital. The more care people can receive closer to their communities, the better. I think there should be more done to close the gap between the care First Nations receive compared to settler communities, and the Island Lake hospital is a clear example, but I'm sure it's not the only one.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

There are huge barriers faced by First Nations communities when it comes to health care. A white settler rural community will have at minimum a full-time GP and possibly a clinic where labs tests and x-rays can be done locally as well as a pharmacy. Again, I imagine it depends on the population size but there are very few rural towns that have less than 2,000 inhabitants. When it comes to reserves, those that have 2,000+ members living there are considered large. I believe Norway House has about 6,000 members living on the reserve. It's a rarity in my experience that a reserve has a full-time GP or even a nurse practitioner. There usually is a nurse that lives on the reserve and is point of contact for medical services. Doctors may come into the community once or twice a month. There is usually a rotating schedule for visits from certain specialists including dentists, opthamologists and mental health clinicians. Certain conditions require regular medical visits to the nearest hub for services like dialysis (diabetes). Some cancer treatments can also be served at regional hubs but many have to travel to Winnipeg for more complex treatments and surgeries. First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (now under the federal department of Indigenous Services Canada) is responsible for providing a nursing station in reserve communities as well as funding preventative health care programs that are run locally, including addictions counselling, diabetes programs and community health representatives. They also fund transportation costs to get members to medical services outside their community as well as a host of uninsured benefits (these are items that fall out of the scope of universal healthcare such as eye glasses, dental treatments, etc).

In community health care is limited by how often there is a physician or nurse practitioner available to see patients. Prescription drugs have to be coordinated by the nursing station and again, there can be all sorts of problems with certain drugs not being on the inventory list. In terms of outside healthcare, the recent case in Joliette, Quebec illustrates how horrible systemic racism is and what First Nations people face when they do leave their communities.

Two of the key recommendations I have seen that support better health outcomes for First Nations people is (A) demand sensitivity training of all health professionals that is not just a fig leaf approach (there are some very good modules that have been developed in BC that could be adopted), and (B) make a greater effort to have more First Nations people entering and graduating from medical school.

NDPP

Q-Anon and the Recent 'Storm on the Reichstag': A Far Right Conspiracy Theory Gone Global

https://covertactionmagazine.com/2020/10/01/qanon-and-the-recent-storm-o...

"August 29, 2020 will be remembered by Berliners as the day when a bizarre crowd of almost 40,000 Corona deniers came together from all over the country, among them hardcore neo-Nazis, Reich citizens, Identitarians, anti-vaxxers, adherents to the QAnon conspiracy theory, and other proponents lured into the 'crossfire' under an anti-scientific and conspiracist umbrella.

Under the slogan of 'Demonstration for Freedom and Liberty' the rally was directed against the current Corona measures in Germany, but ultimately ended in some hundreds of neo-Nazis trying to storm the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament...."

Aristotleded24

Homeless safer in tents than in shelters:

Quote:

It feels safer to live in a tent at a city park than to stay in shelters or hotels far from services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of homeless men and women told a Toronto court Thursday.

The group — which includes 14 people living in encampments and two activist organizations — is seeking an interim order to allow the homeless individuals to stay in Toronto parks until a constitutional challenge of a city bylaw is heard.

The bylaw bans living or camping in parks after midnight.

The group fighting it claims evictions from encampments violate the rights of the homeless, while the city says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't entitle members of the group to live in parks.

Selwyn Pieters, one of the group's lawyers, said the homeless individuals are placed in harm's way if they're housed in shelters that have been subject to numerous COVID-19 outbreaks or in far flung hotels where they can't readily access medical, mental-health and social supports.

"The applicants camped in parks because it is the only way they feel safe the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

Hundreds of men and women have fled shelters since the pandemic began and taken up refuge in encampments that have sprouted up across the city.

There have been 649 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto shelters and five deaths.

NDPP

Toronto shelters are overcrowded and barbaric. Even before COVID-19, the conditions violated UN minimum standards for human habitation. Unfortunately, the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude of many Canadians precludes positive changes for this or the societal pressure necessary to make them. This may change as more and more Canadians are plunged into poverty and homelessness as will most certainly be the case in this period of systemic collapse.

Aristotleded24

laine lowe wrote:
There are huge barriers faced by First Nations communities when it comes to health care. A white settler rural community will have at minimum a full-time GP and possibly a clinic where labs tests and x-rays can be done locally as well as a pharmacy. Again, I imagine it depends on the population size but there are very few rural towns that have less than 2,000 inhabitants. When it comes to reserves, those that have 2,000+ members living there are considered large. I believe Norway House has about 6,000 members living on the reserve. It's a rarity in my experience that a reserve has a full-time GP or even a nurse practitioner. There usually is a nurse that lives on the reserve and is point of contact for medical services. Doctors may come into the community once or twice a month. There is usually a rotating schedule for visits from certain specialists including dentists, opthamologists and mental health clinicians. Certain conditions require regular medical visits to the nearest hub for services like dialysis (diabetes). Some cancer treatments can also be served at regional hubs but many have to travel to Winnipeg for more complex treatments and surgeries. First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (now under the federal department of Indigenous Services Canada) is responsible for providing a nursing station in reserve communities as well as funding preventative health care programs that are run locally, including addictions counselling, diabetes programs and community health representatives. They also fund transportation costs to get members to medical services outside their community as well as a host of uninsured benefits (these are items that fall out of the scope of universal healthcare such as eye glasses, dental treatments, etc).

With Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba currently under lockdown, I was recently thinking about this and how things like white priviledge play out. My views on lockdowns are not a great secret, however that appears to be how the community has decided to respond to this outbreak, and that is their decision to make. I got myself to thinking, if this exact same outbreak were happening in a white settler community, would that community have been confident in taking less restrictive measures (i.e. limits on public gathering numbers as opposed to an outright ban) than currently in place at Little Grand Rapids?

Aristotleded24

NDPP wrote:
Toronto shelters are overcrowded and barbaric. Even before COVID-19, the conditions violated UN minimum standards for human habitation. Unfortunately, the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude of many Canadians precludes positive changes for this or the societal pressure necessary to make them. This may change as more and more Canadians are plunged into poverty and homelessness as will most certainly be the case in this period of systemic collapse.

Just about everywhere you go these days, you see a sign that basically says, "if you are sick, stay away from us." Think about what it's like to be homeless. You're constantly on the move because the business is closing or you have used up the maximum amount of time at the library computer or the drop-in is closed. It must feel pretty restrictive. Now imagine that you are homeless and feeling sick, which many homeless are bound to experience. What will happen to homeless people with symptoms? Will they refrain from seeking help or shelter altogether and risk sleeping outside, even in cold weather?

Aristotleded24

We're hearing a great deal these days about airlines testing people before for covid before they board. I suppose that's okay, but isn't this priority a little backwards? Right now, you have many people throughout the world who are restricted about how they move about in their home communities. Many of these people can't afford to fly. Why is it a priority to test people going around the world before people are free to move about in their own communities? Wouldn't the tests be better deployed in the communities so we can get this virus under control, people would be allowed to move freely within their own communities, and a side benefit of that is that it would be safe to fly?

Aristotleded24

Serious question for anyone cheering on the work from home trend the pandemic has introduced: how are people who work for the same employer, reporting only to their supervisors without any chances to directly interact with their co-workers, able to organize and form a union?

Badriya

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Serious question for anyone cheering on the work from home trend the pandemic has introduced: how are people who work for the same employer, reporting only to their supervisors without any chances to directly interact with their co-workers, able to organize and form a union?

Uber drivers in Toronto applied for certification back in January 2020.  I realize this is pre-lockdown, but these drivers do not have many, if any, opportunities to interact with their co-workers.  The UFCW set up a website.  I suspect this model could be used to unionize workers now as well.

In response to these concerns, UFCW Canada has launched a major campaign that empowers Uber drivers to join the union, and has also created a website – called Uber Drivers United – where drivers can contact the union and join the movement to achieve fairness at Uber.

http://ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32325:toront...

Aristotleded24

Even Jacobin magazine is coming onboard with this:

Quote:
or the better part of a year the world has battled SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that has killed nearly a million people and sickened tens of millions. In the United States the virus has wreaked havoc, particularly on older members of the population. Americans aged fifty-five and older account for more than 90 percent of the nearly two hundred thousand US COVID-19 deaths, while roughly 0.2 percent were people under twenty-five.

Efforts to quell the virus have brought additional pain. As of late August, roughly nineteen million Americans were out of work as a result of the pandemic, and food and housing insecurity has increased dramatically. But the pain caused by lockdowns has not been shared equally.

Elites have seen their stock portfolios balloon in value, and many professionals have been able to keep their jobs by working from home. It is the country’s poor and working-class households, particularly those with children, who have borne a disproportionate share of the burden. Lower-income Americans were much more likely to be forced to work in unsafe conditions, to have lost their livelihoods due to business and school shutdowns, or to be unable to learn remotely.

Pondering

He talks about herd immunity having a bad name then goes on to explain it can be achieved through vaccination or natural immunity from having had it. 

First of all science has not confirmed that we achieve immunity after having Covid 19.  There is some evidence that we do not.

We are not in lockdown. Schools are open. We are permitted to leave our homes.  Like in Sweden, there are limits on large gatherings. Sweden relied more on voluntary acceptance of safety measures which Swedes comply with because they are a health conscious educated population.

I think they allowed bars to stay open but the differences in how we are handling the pandemic from a practical perspective are very similar. 

How would zero public health measures help anyone? Many jobs are simply not coming back because even if they open up most people will still avoid restaurants and bars and in person shopping so those businesses will not need as many employees. Opening them up will also likely lead to a surge for which we don't have sufficient PPEs or medical staff. Guess who will suffer from it? 

If we fully open up there would be no more CERB or equivalent because some people will be forced to go to work.

Most people working from home will continue to do so because it is safer and practical for both employers and employees. 

Yes, poorer people suffer disproportionally due to slowdowns and clousures but they will also suffer disproportionally if we fully open up because guess who gets to be on the front lines and guess who gets to stay safe?

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
First of all science has not confirmed that we achieve immunity after having Covid 19.  There is some evidence that we do not.

There are limitations from that, but at least they are trying to give an exit strategy rather than the "wait-for-a-vaccine" crowd.

For an athiest, you are quite fervent in your insistence that we should listen to "science" even though there is much uncertainty among scientists on the subject. I see no difference between that and how religious fundamentalists adhere to worship of their deity.

Pondering wrote:
Many jobs are simply not coming back because even if they open up most people will still avoid restaurants and bars and in person shopping so those businesses will not need as many employees.

Do you understand that people actually kill themselves over business failings and low job prospects? If the goal is to "save lives," do you have a plan for this?

Pondering wrote:
If we fully open up there would be no more CERB or equivalent because some people will be forced to go to work.

Some people haven't been called back to work and they have to apply for the change in benefits. I was talking to someone in that position a couple of weeks ago.

Pondering wrote:
Opening them up will also likely lead to a surge for which we don't have sufficient PPEs or medical staff. Guess who will suffer from it?

Not removing Saddam Hussein means he will assemble weapons of mass destruction and will attack us. Not giving more money to police officers and not building more jails means that more dangerous criminals are going to be on the streets and are going to come and get us all.

You have been using this fearmongering tactic and it is getting old. All throughout Europe, the death curve has remained very low even as it goes through a second wave. It is based in fearmongering and has absolutely no relationship to data or facts on the ground.

Pondering wrote:
Yes, poorer people suffer disproportionally due to slowdowns and clousures but they will also suffer disproportionally if we fully open up because guess who gets to be on the front lines and guess who gets to stay safe?

So finally an admission that the social distancing measures and moves towards having everything on line had more to do with protecting the feelings of anyone in the middle class who could stay home and work rather than actually protecting the safety of workers. These are the same liberals who are asking us to "check our priviledge" all the time, because they are the enlightened ones who are not racist and are dedicated to fighting racism. Yet they refuse to acknowledge their own priviledge of being able to work from home without income disruption or having to apply for benefits. It makes me sick.

Aristotleded24

Homeschooling up in Manitoba:

Quote:

“I really do think that this number rise is absolutely related entirely to the pandemic and the rising number (of cases),” said Jennifer Gehman, an online liaison for the Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home (MASH).

“I think there is a lot of fear, and certainly as Manitoba is moving into a more critical time in our second wave, I think that a lot of parents are struggling with the safest thing to do for their children.”

Gehman said she has heard from parents who started the year with their children in public school, but as cases rise and exposures continue to pop up in classrooms, some opted for homeschooling.

So priviledged families, regardless of their objective risk to covid, pull their children out of school as a means to hide out in their sheltered bunkers. Meanwhile, families who don't have that priviledge are stuck in the public school system to contend with lack of resources, possible covid spread, and the fear over their heads that the school could shut down in any moments. You can blame government cuts all you want, but that behaviour has been encouraged and enabled by the very social distancing messaging that the government has encouraged and that too many on the left have amplified. Left to their own devices, those with priviledge will do everything they can to protect themselves in a time of perceived crisis leaving anyone with lesser priviledge behind.

Bacchus

Numbers rising rapidly in Manitoba

Aristotleded24

Grievance filed against Manitoba care home:

Quote:

CUPE, which represents around 163 support staff at the care home, said the reason the grievance was filed is due to unsafe working conditions.

Shannon McAteer, who is the healthcare coordinator for CUPE, said the workers there are having to deal with so much.

"They're tired, they're scared, they're overwhelmed," said McAteer, "We told the government back in June, we sent a letter to the minister of health saying, 'you know, there's a staffing crisis already and when a second wave hits, we're concerned' and sure enough here we are. We have an outbreak."

She said because of the outbreak, the care home is now short-staffed, noting for example if there were originally three staff members to do a job, now there is just one.

"Staff aren't getting their breaks. So they're working straight through and they are rushing."

If the staff aren't getting breaks, that puts them under stress, which compromises the immune system, which increases the likelihood of a bad outcome for the staff should they become infected. Furthermore, this letter was sent in June. Remember when cases were down and government officials were warning that the virus would come back? Why haven't they come up with a suitable action plan for the current situation?

Pondering

So finally an admission that the social distancing measures and moves towards having everything on line had more to do with protecting the feelings of anyone in the middle class who could stay home and work rather than actually protecting the safety of workers. These are the same liberals who are asking us to "check our priviledge" all the time, because they are the enlightened ones who are not racist and are dedicated to fighting racism. Yet they refuse to acknowledge their own priviledge of being able to work from home without income disruption or having to apply for benefits. It makes me sick.

People in the middle class are workers. Many are front line workers. People working from home constantly cite their privelege. They aren't going to expose themselves to Covid because that would be stupid. Now that employers have seen the benefits of workers working from home if would be a ridiculous business decision for some businesses to reverse that. Same goes with online shopping. People have gotten used to it it, including workers. 

You point out the failure of the goverment to prepare for the second wave again risking the long term care homes yet you ignore the health care workers saying that they are not prepared. The hospitals are not prepared. There still are not enough PPEs nor testing kits for a surge. Canada still can't product all it needs.

Who do you think will suffer most if the health care system becomes overloaded? It won't be the people who can afford a private nurse. 

Nobody here is defending the government. We are all in agreement that they are terrible. We don't support restrictions because of what the government says, not even what their health experts says. We support them because:

Hospitals and longterm care homes are telling us they can't take another wave like the one we had in the spring. There is not enough staff nor PPEs.

Your solution is to increase the risk to everyone including the poor and to overload the health care system.

You make no sense because you are making up arguments to support your political ideology. You are not just criticizing this administration you are criticizing all governments in general because you are libertarian.

It shows because you accuse us of being supportive of government or of the wealthy rather than addressing the fact that we can't open up because we don't have sufficient PPEs or testing capacity. The government has failed us massively on that front. The answer is not to overload the health care system.

The reason our health care system is failing is that there have been cutbacks for decades so there is barely enough capacity even with nurses working regular overtime to care of current needs. There was and is zero room for a sudden expansion of patients. Government did this deliberately to ration health care. It was their goal to keep capacity at a minimum. 

I'm pretty sure everyone on this board blames the government for not being prepared and for deliberately starving the system to control costs. That does not in any way make the best move opening up and overloading the hospitals. That would not help anyone including the poor who suffer disproportionately. 

Pondering

Not social distancing will not help people lower on the income scale. It will not make them richer. It will not keep them alive. It will make life even more dangerous than it already is. CERB revealed that some workers were better off not working. 

That you see no difference between science and religion explains a lot. You want a full reopening because you are libertarian not because it would help people lower on the socio-economic ladder. 

Everywhere the virus in under control there are limitations on movement to control it including Europe. You use the success of restrictions to claim that they aren't needed but you cannot point to a single place that has not used restrictions to slow the rate of transmission. 

A full reopening would not save anyone's jobs. People who don't have to are not going to return to offices and start eating out at pre-covid levels even if everything opens up. Especially after the transmission rate increases and the hospitals are again overloaded. That is just the reality. Yes it is terrible that businesses are closing and people are losing their life-savings and everything they worked for and may even commit suicide. There is no way to ameliorate that other than government support. Killing other people won't help anyone. 

Not having sufficient PPEs is factual. It is not akin to claiming Saddam had WMD nor the other examples you used. If you believe nurses and orderlies are lying aboutt not having enough PPEs what is their motivation? 

Social distancing is to protect everyone not just the priveleged. It is just easier for the priveleged to accomplish it. 

Whether we open up or stay closed the wealthy are protected.  Staying closed benefits the under-priveledged more than the well-off. 

Opening up most threatens the people you claim to be supporting and that is sickening. You would sacrifice them on the alter of libertarianism. 

CERB is being replaced by a program administered through EI that would become unavailable to workers if we fully open up. They would be forced to return to work no matter how dangerous to generate profits for the wealthy but you don't care about those workers. 

The well-off will keep their children out of public schools and at home regardless of opening up or staying closed. The people most impacted are those who are forced to return to work while schools are kept open as babysitters with inadequate resources specifically to facilitate the return of worker bees. 

You seem to think that we can choose to go back to the way things were. That will not happen no matter what we do.  The tourist industry will return but it isn't going to roar back to life. There are thousands of jobs that are not coming back no matter what we do. At least not soon enough for people to return to work where they used to. Retraining programs are going to be needed. 

The problems you listed won't suddenly solve everything. It will make things worse. Again you ignore the medical professionals here in Canada who say they are overloaded in favor of what you think is happening in Europe.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I agree, Pondering. I am not seeing anyone here cheering on "government" except those leaders who have managed to do a better job than others - usually because they have fully supported their public health leaders. Others have done better than expected but the cuts to services including health care are biting them hard. Others are just fully repugnant and are continuing an agenda of cuts to services including health care (looking at you freaking Jason Kenney). As a whole, Canada's response to COVID-19 has been far more restrictive than the US and thank our lucky stars for that and for the fact that we have lower population density for most of the country. But we are far from being as strict as other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and many European countries.

The fact that the actual death rates is as a percentage of total population not THAT dramatic according to some leaves me speechless when it is so simple to save lives by sacrificing so little in comparison.

Can you imagine how quick many would be to socially isolate, wear masks, work at home or collect some form of EI, do online or remote learning, avoid public socializing, etc if it would mean less incidence of cancer? Having had gone through so many losses of life to cancer and still seeing too many other dear ones going through it, I would hole up in my room for months on end to see cancer end. I would be over the moon with such an opportunity.

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
People working from home constantly cite their privelege.

Citing one's priviledge does not change anyone's material reality. I find it irritating and pretentious, as if to say, "look at me, I'm better than you, aren't I a great person for acknowledging that?" It comes across to me as being more about the person citing priviledge than doing actual good.

What's happened is you've had an elite cadre of journalists, politicians, and government officials who have essentially appropriated for themselves the role of saviours. I find it's mostly these people who repeat the mantra or shut down any questioning by repeating the mantra of "protect the vulnerable." They have set the terms of debate within very narrow parameters, sucking all the oxygen out of the room without allowing anyone else to get a word in edgewise. Funny thing is, when I talk to people I run into who aren't actually priviledged (broadly speaking, people who were either let go from work or lost all their social connections) they have many thoughts and views, and they often don't align with what we are being told.

Pondering wrote:
Now that employers have seen the benefits of workers working from home if would be a ridiculous business decision for some businesses to reverse that.

That has absolutely not been the case for me where I work.

Pondering wrote:
Same goes with online shopping. People have gotten used to it it, including workers.

If it's a moral obligation for each individual to stay home and severely restrict their daily activities and contacts, then I find the cheering on of online shopping to be very hypocritical. Amazon has made it clear that they don't give a shit about their workers. Many of them have been infected, and Amazon is actually using social distancing rules as a means to bust unions. I actually think this is a bigger threat to covid spread (including to Amazon's older workers) than petty things like outbreaks in gyms or people singing in a church. On top of that, these workers already have to contend with the hazards inherent in working in a warehouse and driving delivery. That's a great deal of danger to expose these workers to for someone who claims to care about safety for everybody.

Pondering wrote:
You point out the failure of the goverment to prepare for the second wave again risking the long term care homes yet you ignore the health care workers saying that they are not prepared. The hospitals are not prepared. There still are not enough PPEs nor testing kits for a surge. Canada still can't product all it needs.

They've had months to do that. Instead, they have been using health care workers as pawns in a blatant power ploy.

Pondering wrote:
Who do you think will suffer most if the health care system becomes overloaded? It won't be the people who can afford a private nurse.

Class warfare 101.

Pondering wrote:
You make no sense because you are making up arguments to support your political ideology. You are not just criticizing this administration you are criticizing all governments in general because you are libertarian.

If you choose to label me a liberterian, that certainly is your right in a free country. I don't know what this has to do with the topic at hand.

Pondering wrote:
I'm pretty sure everyone on this board blames the government for not being prepared and for deliberately starving the system to control costs. That does not in any way make the best move opening up and overloading the hospitals. That would not help anyone including the poor who suffer disproportionately.

Except now the poor are suffering alone, out of sight of the middle-class people who have the option and the luxury to not have to leave their residences.

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
A full reopening would not save anyone's jobs. People who don't have to are not going to return to offices and start eating out at pre-covid levels even if everything opens up. Especially after the transmission rate increases and the hospitals are again overloaded. That is just the reality. Yes it is terrible that businesses are closing and people are losing their life-savings and everything they worked for and may even commit suicide. There is no way to ameliorate that other than government support. Killing other people won't help anyone.

In other words, as long as the restrictions make me feel safe, to hell with the collateral damage, that's not my problem.

Pondering wrote:
Opening up most threatens the people you claim to be supporting and that is sickening. You would sacrifice them on the alter of libertarianism.

Since I did a bad job articulating the viewpoint, and since it is and continues to be influenced by what I read, and since people still refuse to actively engage in the supporting material that I use, I will let the experts explain how it works (start at 20:43):

Quote:
Interviewer: Dr. Kuldorff, if the governernment suddenly switches to this new plan, and says okay if you're old or vulnerable you essentially find a way to shield, and we'll help you do that, and if you're not, off you go, doesn't matter if you become infected or not, does it remain a voluntary scheme? If a parent is worried about long covid or they're worried about effects on their child, will they be able to opt out and say well actually, we don't like the idea of being part of this herd that's going to be immune, we want to try to avoid getting it?

Martin Kuldorff: So the overall strategy is to protect the elderly while the young live their lives, but nobody should be forced to do anything. If a 25-year-old person wants to isolate themselves in a cabin up in the mountains for the next 6 months they can do so. If parents want to do homeschooling of children they can do so. So now we are forcing people to not engage and we should let people do so. But if they want to or not that's up to them.

Interviewer: Do you think that in the US for example where at least half the population is very frightented of this disease enough people would go along with it to reach the levels of immunity you need? Dr. Bhattacharya do you have any thoughts on that?

Jay Bhattacharya: I think there is a split in the population. I have seen and received numerous messages from the general popluation, some of whom are scared and some who are regretting the loss of their livelihood and other opportunities for their children and themselves. I think that giving freedom for both is actually very important for public health, right? I think public health should address the fear by giving accurate information, right? So I think in the US for instance, there's a perception that young people are actually at very high risk when in factscientifically they're not. I've seen people who are older who think there's not much risk when in fact there is. So I think accurate public health messaging about the level of risk will help address that fear and so that people will appropriately understand the risks. And then second, the focused protection idea expands freedom, in the sense that if you are not fearful, and you are in the low-risk group and you accurately know what the risks are, it allows you to re-engage. Even for older people, if I'm a grandfather...and my grandchildren might come to me, I can say, okay I might be at risk a little bit for them but I'm going to hug them anyways. That freedom is really important, it's an informed freedom as opposed to this perception that everyone faces equal risk which is not true from the disease.

Martin Kuldorff: So I think one key thing to think about here is that right now with the lockdown we are protecting lower-risk college students and lower-risk professionals who can work from home. At the same time older working-class people have to work, because they have to make a living or they work as a bus driver or in a supermarket and so on. With the current approach we are protecting low-risk people in the priviledged class while we are putting the burden of generating immunity, that will eventually protect all of us. That burden will be put on the working class, and especially the urban working class.

Interviewer: What happens to your bus driver in  your scheme?

Martin Kuldorff: Well if the bus driver is above 60 years old, they should not work, and one way to do that is to say that they can take a sabbatical for 3 months or 6 months, and they could use in the US social security or a pension plan in the UK and other countries. While they can take a sabbatical while they wait for herd immunity to arrive at which time they can come back to work.

Jay Bhattacharya: I think there are creative ways that you can use the welfare schemes that we have in our respective countries to allow this to happen. Instead what we have done is we have said everyone take a sabbatical and then of course not if you're an essential worker, if you're poor, you still have to work. Everyone rich, take a sabbatical, everyone poor you pay for the cost of this disease mitigation by you taking the risk. I think this is a strategy that in many ways promotes equality whereas the current strategy promotes inequaltiy and I thinkt that is a message that is worth emphasizing.

Pondering wrote:
CERB is being replaced by a program administered through EI that would become unavailable to workers if we fully open up. They would be forced to return to work no matter how dangerous to generate profits for the wealthy but you don't care about those workers.

I don't know why you think I don't care about these workers because I disagree with you, but I find this emotional blackmail technique applied here disgusting. I make it a point to not go too much into my personal life on these boards, but for the last decade of my life, I have either been unemployed or working at very low wages. I've also met quite a few people in this time who are in the same boat. It's my own experiences plus my interactions with these people that help shape my opinions and worldview, the same way as your experiences and the people you interact with inform yours. That was really disrespectful. Shame on you.

Pondering wrote:
Not having sufficient PPEs is factual. It is not akin to claiming Saddam had WMD nor the other examples you used. If you believe nurses and orderlies are lying aboutt not having enough PPEs what is their motivation?

I have said many things about the pandemic since the spring time. I challenge you to show me one post where you think I have accused front-line medical professionals of lying about their situation.

Aristotleded24

laine lowe wrote:
I agree, Pondering. I am not seeing anyone here cheering on "government" except those leaders who have managed to do a better job than others - usually because they have fully supported their public health leaders. Others have done better than expected but the cuts to services including health care are biting them hard. Others are just fully repugnant and are continuing an agenda of cuts to services including health care (looking at you freaking Jason Kenney).

Then why not focus our outrage on that instead of on our fellow citizens who want to do what people regularly do?

laine lowe wrote:
As a whole, Canada's response to COVID-19 has been far more restrictive than the US and thank our lucky stars for that and for the fact that we have lower population density for most of the country.

Neither Canada nor the US are homogenous countries. Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton and Vancouver are much more densely populated than places like Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, or Vermont. There was also a range of responses within the country. California locked down very hard right away, only to experience the second wave in the summer. You have a number of problems in the US. You have high prison populations and the ICE detention facilities, which are a breeding ground for infectious diseases. You have a health care system where people can't access care without money. Many work places do not offer sick pay, so people are so on the margins economically feel they have no choice but to go to work. This likely not only contributes to the spread, but I imagine the stress of working while sick is not good for one's immune system.

Furthermore, the US is a global outlier in terms of how far it's gone out of its way to mismanage the pandemic. To me, bringing up the US everytime someone tries to mention the issues with the response in Canada is a red herring. There are other examples we can learn from.

laine lowe wrote:
The fact that the actual death rates is as a percentage of total population not THAT dramatic according to some leaves me speechless when it is so simple to save lives by sacrificing so little in comparison.

There's a great deal to unpack in that statement. If you have a situation where someone commits suicide over a business failure or a young college student does likewise over seeing their dreams shattered, or an old person starves themselves to death in a nursing home from loneliness, it's not clear to me at all that lives are being saved. You talk about "sacrificing so little?" What constitutes a little sacrifice? Is it an old person who enjoys spending Easter/Thanksgiving with family spending their last one without? Is it someone with weak social support networks essentially losing all their friends because they aren't part of any strong, solid social bubbles? Is it a poor person in the inner city (who may not have phone/internet), whose only social outlet is the community drop-in, having nowhere to go and hang out for the day while the drop-in is closed? Is it a restaurant owner whose business goes under because people are too scared to eat out? There may have been differences between countries, but even within countries, there is a broad range of differences. You may feel that the sacrifices you made are the right ones, and I respect that, but not all are equal in their ability to do said sacrifices.

I know the issue of the numbers does come across as callous, and yes, every death is a tragedy. The reason I bring them up is to remind of the basic fact that public health takes place in a complex inter-connected web, and you cannot focus on one aspect of it at the expense of everything else. One of the by-products of the pandemic is that we are constantly disinfecting surfaces (long after the World Health Organization has said covid doesn't spread this way). Are the chemicals in these cleaners going to compromise our health in the long run? Or if people are scared and stay in their residences and cut back on physical activity because they are scared, and that leads to increased cardio-vascular illness down the road, have we gained anything? Yes, covid is a threat we have to deal with, but let's deal with it in the context of broader public health, not in isolation. What's happening is that we are agressive going after, testing for, chasing after, and reporting on covid cases and deaths more agressively than for any other cause of death on the planet. We don't have counters for any other cause of death, certainly not for easily preventable infectious diseases that ravage the developing world in greater numbers than covid has.

To illustrate my point about focusing on one aspect of public health above all others, I'll use an example that I know you're familiar with because it's a Winnipeg example. West Nile virus is a disease that can cause permanent effects if it is caught. It is spread by mosquitos. Should we blanket the province with malathaion on a daily basis between Victoria Day and Labour Day if doing so means that nobody would catch it?

laine lowe wrote:
Can you imagine how quick many would be to socially isolate, wear masks, work at home or collect some form of EI, do online or remote learning, avoid public socializing, etc if it would mean less incidence of cancer? Having had gone through so many losses of life to cancer and still seeing too many other dear ones going through it, I would hole up in my room for months on end to see cancer end. I would be over the moon with such an opportunity.

I'm certainly very sorry for your loss and I can understand where that is coming from. Where I take issue is with public health messaging that focuses on micro-managing people's behaviour, and essentailly says, "don't do this, because if you, you will spread the coronavirus, and if someone dies from that it's your fault." I'm very disturbed by this moralizing approach, and it has been destructive to social cohesion. The conclusion I have come to about the level of risk with covid and the measures taken to beat this are vastly different than the majority on this board. Unfortunately, the discussion has become polarized. "You don't wear a mask, you don't care if I catch the coronavirus." "Yeah, well you want to close down the economy, you don't care if my business goes under." It's not good for our mental health either. Not only that, but the basic message we have been hearing is, "close yourself to the outside world and protect you and the people you care about." How is that message conducive to building strong, resilient communities? I don't think that working from home or limiting contacts is particularly virtuious or heroic. I don't think that going on dates, eating out, having a family barbeque or singing in church makes one particularly evil. I respect both categories of decisions, as people will do what they think is right in consultation with and consideration of the vulnerable people they are close to. Different people are different not only in their objective level of risk, but in their tolerance and perception of it. If we want to accept the level of moralizing that is associated with covid, then anyone who has ever seen a doctor for a cough in a waiting room has possibly killed someone. Or take the issue of driving. Even if you are careful, you can still kill someone or end up causing someone else very severe disability. Should people never drive anywhere to prevent that from happening? Risk is unfortunately inherent in life.

Aristotleded24

Bacchus wrote:
Numbers rising rapidly in Manitoba

Having gone out of my way to not be worried about this thing, I'm now a bit concerned about those numbers. We went from a record-high 173 new cases a few days ago to 44 today. Usually when there is an outlier number of cases in either direction, the numbers in the coming days generally go back to where the previous trend was. It does mirror the sharp rise we have before, so hopefully that's the case. The last thing I want to see is a period of high numbers, followed by one or 2 days of drastically lower numbers only to see numbers go up again.