Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I no longer trust the BC government's handling of COVID-19

 I have stopped trusting our provincial government and their handling of the COVID crisis.

I remember riding buses in early April, back when we all were thinking of the virus as being transmitted primarily via surfaces and close contact, and not that worried about airborne transmission. Every second seat was closed to enforce physical distancing, no one was allowed to stand, and buses were running at half-capacity. At that point, schools were shut. Businesses were shut. Gyms were shut. Restaurants were take-out only. Movie theatres - except the Twilight Drive-In! - were shut. I had to pick up records I bought at the door of the store where I bought them (that being Neptoon; by contrast, Zulu and Red Cat were completely closed, for a time). Even the schoolyard playground next to my apartment was roped off, with tape around the basketball hoops to keep people from playing. About all that was open for business-as-usual was grocery stores and drive-thrus. And at that point - early April, there were 37 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 17 in critical care

There are now 167 people in hospital, and 50 in the ICU - approximately three times the numbers as in April. But what does our province look like now? Buses are at full capacity, and strangers are sitting next to each other, or standing in the aisles. Schools are open. Businesses are open. Gyms (or some of them?) are open. Restaurants are open for dine in - most of them, anyhow - and movie theatres are back. Nevermind two kids shooting hoops: the same playground mentioned above is presently running amuck with mask-free screaming children. And every record store I shop at (as well as every thrift store, book store, and video store) is open for businesses as usual (though mask and sanitization protocols are in place at most of them). Metrotown Mall was a ghost town in April; now it is bustling, with many people not wearing masks, or wearing masks around their chins, or under their noses, or hanging lamely off one ear: I've seen every variant.

Given all this, it starts to seem like the province has some fuckin' gall to say that in-person transmission in private homes is driving the current hump in numbers. When I read news reports where Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix assert this, it invariably sets my bullshit detector ringing like a fire alarm inside a volcano. With all the above glaring differences between April and November, one thing is probably pretty much the same: people visiting other people at home. The odd holiday gathering aside, I would very much doubt that there is a marked difference in people's behaviour on this front. Certainly there is no difference for me or my wife: I may have set foot in one person's apartment back in April, while no one I'm not married to set foot in mine. November is exactly the same: I have visited one person at their home (in fact, the same person), but no one but my wife and I has been in mine. Erika's numbers for visiting would look much the same, too - one person in April, one or maybe two persons in November. We DID go over to her parents' for Thanksgiving, together, but otherwise, we have done almost no socializing in other people's homes. Most people I have visited since all this started have opted for safer solutions like sitting or walking outdoors. 

Maybe other people are radically different on that front, but even still, I simply refuse to believe, with transit, schools, businesses, restaurants, movie theatres, and so forth ALL BEING OPEN again, with people packed into full-capacity buses, Christmas shopping in the malls, and said kids running amuck (and mask-free) in the playground - that the main driving force behind the increased numbers is in-person indoor visits. I firmly believe that there is an agenda of reopening the economy and getting kids back to school that is driving this assertion - the government wants to be able to blame SOMEONE, wants to be seen to do SOMETHING, but they don't want it to be bad for business. 

BC is becoming like "America lite" in this regard. Maybe we could follow Trump's lead and just stop testing?

The idea that the current spike in numbers is due to gatherings in private homes seems a transparent lie, and pushing this nonsense on people is going to do plenty to shake people's faith in our government, at a time when we can't afford that. It also - if I'm right that this is MISINFORMATION - will do nothing to flatten the curve, if the main protective measure Dr. Henry wants to take is to insist you not visit your friends. I can't go hang out at a buddy's apartment, but I can ride a bus full of strangers to a mall full of strangers, and spend the day shopping with them, eating with them, watching movies with them? HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL, and how is it likely to help things? 

It's not that I'm dying to go see David M. again, folks - the person whose apartment I visited in April and November. I can live without it, it's not the point. The point is: if you want the curve to flatten, we HAVE TO SHUT IT DOWN AGAIN. Shut down non-essential businesses. Shut down the schools, the malls, the gyms. Put the tape back on the basketball hoops. Go back to half-capacity transit, with closed seats. And please, MAKE WEARING MASKS INDOORS IN PUBLIC MANDATORY. (Another much better idea than what the BC government has been proposing). 

If you don't want to do these things - if it's too hard on the economy, too hard on kids locked at home, too hard on parents - then okay - I can actually live with that, and use my own wits to avoid getting sick; but please, do not LIE TO US about what is driving these numbers up. It has nothing to do with people socializing with friends occasionally, and everything to do with the crowded public spaces we are sharing with (often-maskless!) strangers. 

Oh, by the way, re: schools, there was a pretty good article published back in June about how reopening schools would lead to a second wave. I think maybe the BC government missed that one. 

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