Don’t downplay it

We’ve come full circle in the world of COVID-19 minimizing.

The last month has featured some COVID deniers’ and downplayers’ greatest hits, notably their ever-changing stance on cases, hospital and ICU admissions, and deaths.

When COVID-19 cases are down, these geniuses highlight that metric.

When cases go up, they shout to anyone who will listen that cases don’t matter and people should instead focus on hospitalizations. (Never mind, of course, that the first four waves of this pandemic have clearly demonstrated that hospitalization trends directly follow case trends).

When COVID hospitalizations rise, they balk at that metric, stating the stats aren’t accurate or that hospitalizations don’t even matter – it’s ICU admissions that count.

When ICUs start filling up, either those stats don’t matter or they focus instead on deaths.

When we start to witness more deaths, they say only old people die from the virus (as if those individuals don’t matter). When anyone who’s not a senior dies, they point out those people likely had something else wrong with them.

Locals have put up with a lot of nonsense the past 22 months from anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and COVID minimizers, but dismissing and downplaying deaths – of anyone, at any age – is going too far, even for these special individuals.

If your go-to argument on anything related to COVID-19 is that not that many people die from it, you may just not be a very good person.

There have been 41 COVID deaths in Wellington County, 132 in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health region, over 10,000 in Ontario, close to 31,000 in Canada and about 5.5 million worldwide.

So at what point would the deniers and downplayers start to care? If deaths were 10 times those current figures? Or 100? Maybe 1,000?

Those dying aren’t just some minor footnote in history. They’re people. They’re our neighbours, our co-workers, our friends and our family members. Downplaying their loss is despicable.

Of course, those focused on downplaying COVID and its victims also fail to recognize that death and complete recovery are not the only outcomes for those stricken with this virus. Many Canadians who contract COVID-19 – studies suggest anywhere from one third to upwards of 50 per cent – suffer for months (some approaching two years) with debilitating symptoms associated with long COVID.

That means hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and millions worldwide, will deal with prolonged fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive impairment, depression, heart issues, organ damage, multi-system inflammatory syndrome and more.

Much remains unknown (could it be permanent for some?) and if you contract COVID-19, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a “mild” case or avoid long COVID, regardless of the variant.

And for the “it’s just old people” and the “get kids back in class no matter what” crowds, children are not spared. Research and studies suggest they can suffer with the same debilitating long-COVID symptoms as adults.

Please don’t downplay this pandemic.

Do your part. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and, unlike a few Centre Wellington councillors, don’t spread misinformation.