What if - we are still in lock down come December?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 12th, 2020



The strategic thinkers ask the “What if” questions.

Their job is to attempt to look over the horizon and figure out what lies ahead and then plan for that possible eventuality as well as they can.

The province is stepping very gingerly into opening things up. Parks and provincial conservation areas have been opened. Retail is permitted to sell you something and have it delivered to you at the curb.

I saw one clothing store promoting their product line – couldn’t get my head around buying a suit without tying it on first and then having the alterations done.

Restaurants are hoping the province will come up with some regulations they can live with – staying alive is their issue at this point.

We Canadians watch with despair and at times total disbelief at what is taking place south of us. Hearing the Premier insist that the border between us and them be kept closed now sounds like a really good idea. Interesting change for Canadians.

The province is dragging its feet just a little in announcing when and if schools will be opened. My take is that the writing is all on the wall – see you all in September is the message I think we can expect – but I’ve been wrong before.

Christmas tree

What if ?

The BIG question is – where will we be in December?

Will there be Christmas? If the province finds that every time they loosen up there are spikes in the number of new infections meaning they have to clamp down.

December is the month for retail. It is also a huge festive family month.

But what if things are just so bad that it would be necessary to put and keep regulations in place that severally limit what we will be able to do ?

The Premier broke the rules on Mother’s Day – will he, and others be able to exercise the discipline needed to stay the course should we be in December where we are now ?

The leadership of the country keeps referring to this as a war with absolutely no actual war time experience. We may be about to have to learn just what hard times are.

The people who are doing that strategic thinking are, hopefully, asking the hard questions.

There once was a small community in California named Paradise, which is what the people who lived there thought it was – until forest fires burned down every dwelling. Nothing was left standing.

We no longer have plagues; there are crop failures, tragedy hits some families. Life has never been fair.

All we have is our own inner strength – we might want to think about just how strong we may have to be.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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3 comments to What if – we are still in lock down come December?

  • No exceptions eh Claudette! What if you are like Anne who doctors agree at four had her spinal cord asssaulted by a vaccination and was doomed to institutional life. She is very grateful for what she has today that includes 7 grandchilderen – but for her family`s faith that doctors were wrong and she could one day be self supporting she would not be wrting this commemt. What is common sense to one can be fatal to another. Lest we Forget

  • Tom Muir

    A good question indeed – where will we be in December? Or any time for that matter?

    Just from basic epidemiological knowledge we can assume that COVID-19 will infect a large fraction of the population – 80 % plus in possibly 3 months – in the absence of any control measures or “behavioral changes”, self imposed by the population as the virus takes its toll in an exponential path of transmission and infection. This would be disaster all around.

    The evidence supporting the value of early, strong intervention is very strong. This implies a strict lock-down for suppression followed by #TestTraceIsolate to keep the epidemic suppressed. Notably, this is exactly what countries like South Korea and New Zealand have been able to achieve.

    The main point is that given the infection fatality rate and morbidity rate, and the global spread and continuing transport from place to place we are experiencing, we should be pursuing suppression, stopping the virus, rather than mitigation, trying to pick uncertain ways to reduce the pain.

    What is less clear is what is really needed for suppression. An important question is which aspects of a lock-down are critical for suppression.

    The basic models don’t help much here because they are too aggregate, in my opinion. In our conversations about coarse decisions such as suppression versus mitigation, or businesses open versus closed, we need much more discussion on fine grained choices. Which aspects of social distancing are the most important?

    My view is the advice we are following is not targeted enough, lumping together costly and marginally effective policies with very beneficial ones. I might be wrong, but I haven’t seen evidence that I am.

    I would suspect that the dynamic of re-opening we’re looking at is local policy decisions and people’s changing behavior as risk is perceived to decrease, result in increasing local case counts and then a cycle of increased social distancing to compensate. The public needs to know the goal of suppression and the finer points of making it work. This is still what we must do for the future.

    However, we have not yet achieved levels of the #TestTraceIsolate program sufficient to deliver this suppression result, but this is feasible and is needed for the future.

    Without the testing/tracing/isolation we’re going to be locked down for approximately… forever.

    If we are unable to reach suppression with our lock-down, partial or not, we’re left with agonizing decisions about how to keep society functioning while holding the virus in check.

    So, agonizing choices indeed may be our fate come December.

    And between now and then.

  • Claudette Mancini

    We will do what we have to do until a vaccine is developed and distributed. I’m sure some folks will discover what “caregiving” is all about and how to accomplish it, and governments will realize that some “freedoms,” like the one about refusing vaccinations are not in the best interest of the general population, and their right to refuse will be abolished. Call it what they will, but it is only common sense, and I applaud it.