It’s a real thing

Blame who you want, but the uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19 is very real.

Friends at a recent dinner party seemed to think somehow the media is to blame. Sure, the issue has made headlines around the world, but traditional media has a responsibility to stick to the facts and keep the public informed.

One broadcaster contact told us that their switchboard had been inundated with claims of positive results near her home city. After a call or two with authorities, their broadcast was able to confirm the Facebook claim was erroneous. As often happens in these cases, rumours swirl and cover-ups are alleged. The fact of the matter is there has been one death in Canada and dozens of people tested. Please don’t shoot the messenger.

Many businesses are taking the threat seriously. Travel for employees has been restricted for many public companies. The conference circuit has been curtailed as presenters Skype their points and attendees choose to stay home. The effect on the economy is real.

Even small firms have been more diligent in talking about precautions and better cleanliness in the workplace. Hygiene is a regular talking point now – we remain unsure why people don’t always wash hands, etc., but that is a story for another time.

The fact is we owe a responsibility to family and friends to avoid situations that may allow this virus to spread. If that means having travel plans curtailed and a period of staying closer to home, it seems a mighty small price to pay.

What we have found interesting this week is the economic reaction in North America, starting with the drastic drop in the stock market. To counter that the president talked about payroll tax rebates and in Canada there has been a fire placed under Finance Minister Bill Morneau to provide some relief. What all of this means, only time will tell. Businesses and the rich always seem to find a safe landing spot in times of crises.

So, for residents here, be thoughtful of others and practise optimal hygiene habits. Canadians will see this through as we have many times before.