Do what you can, wear a mask

Have we learned nothing over the past two and a half years?

Just as pediatric hospitals are cancelling essential surgeries and young children are being put on ventilators, some “adults” have already started whining about the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask to protect kids.

It’s infuriating, but sadly, not surprising, given the nonsense we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, on Monday announced he is strongly recommending (we know how that will go) that Ontarians wear masks in indoor public spaces. 

There were rumours last week of a possible mask mandate, and doctors and nurses groups are pleading for one, but before Moore could even deliver his recommendation, anti-maskers and “freedom” fighters were already announcing their defiance on social media (where else?).

Most of their deranged theories are based on the premise that COVID-19 vaccines are/were ineffective (not true), that masks don’t work (also not true), that masking should be a personal choice (collective action is required) or that hospitals are always overcrowded so we shouldn’t worry about it (we most definitely should).

Look at the facts. Every pediatric ICU in the province is beyond full. Every single one. 

This latest crisis is driven by the “triple threat” of three respiratory illnesses: the flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The RSV wave has not yet peaked – experts say it might next month – and too few children are vaccinated against COVID and the flu (the latter appears to be more severe than in previous years).

All of this, of course, is exacerbated by the fact you can’t find children’s cold/flu medication in stores, though we’re told this will soon be remedied.

Many RSV admissions are very young children or babies, which indicates it has nothing to do with them not being exposed during the pandemic or that their immune systems were somehow compromised by previous masking mandates, as some have ridiculously tried to suggest.

And places that never had mask mandates are also seeing RSV surges, further proving this latest “theory” is hogwash.

Sick Kids in Toronto started cancelling surgeries this week to create ICU capacity – the first time it has done so throughout the entire pandemic.

A SickKids doctor told the Toronto Star this week that the hospital has 22 children on ventilators – twenty-two! – and multiple children are resuscitated daily. 

Similar things are happening at McMaster Children’s Hospital and other facilities, which have also made the heart-wrenching decision to cancel kids’ surgeries, and some are diverting older children to adult hospitals.

Meanwhile, already-taxed emergency rooms across the province are seeing an influx of very sick children.

We will surely be accused of fear-mongering by the usual suspects, but the fact is no one has to live in fear. We just have to take small, effective steps to keep innocent children safe.

The government clearly isn’t doing it, so it falls on us. Let’s not fail our kids the way we failed our seniors early on in the pandemic. 

No preventative measure is 100% foolproof, but something is most definitely better than nothing, and layering measures is the best way to stay safe and protect others. 

Be considerate. Do whatever you can.

Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Stay home when you’re sick. 

It’s pretty straightforward.