What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, your correspondent filled this weekly word allotment with an epistle denouncing the time-dishonoured governmental practice of recycling announcements of the same funding multiple times for maximum effect (Due credit, or redo? – Jan. 23, 2020).
The following week’s offering was a dissertation on the efforts of the many fine organizations serving up massive doses of community activity, generally with the admirable intention of raising funds for a cause and beating the winter blahs (Winter blahs stand no chance – Jan. 30, 2020).
While various levels of government continue to warm over and serve up tales of their magnanimous methods of spending our money, the once-steady stream of community events has all but dried up a year later.
Monday marked one year since the first case the COVID-19 virus was confirmed in Canada, in a patient who came to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital after returning from the pandemic’s epicentre, Wuhan, China.
Since then, we have lost more than 19,000 Canadians, nearly 6,000 Ontarians and 15 residents of Wellington County to COVID-19.
Nation-wide about 750,000 people have experienced a case of the virus, over 260,000 in Ontario alone and just shy of 900 of those live here in the county.
Around the globe there have been nearly 100 million cases and 2.14 million deaths since the pandemic began.
Those raw numbers, of course, don’t aptly illustrate the pain the virus has caused. Each death represents a lost loved one, each case serious hardship for individuals and families. For those not directly affected by illness, there are lost jobs, shuttered businesses, lost experiences and countless other impacts.
It’s only natural to wonder how we are faring compared to other jurisdictions, given the sacrifices being asked in the form of lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and other emergency measures. The answer, it seems, would be somewhere in the middle.
Residents of U.S. have contracted more than 25 million cases and more than 420,000 have died. If population scale were the sole determinant of case numbers, the rate of cases and deaths in the U.S. would have translated to 6.5 million cases in Canada and 165,000 deaths. Their population, by the way, is 8.7 times larger than ours, not the 10 times generally cited.
That we are experiencing exponentially fewer cases and fatalities than a country that was until recently run by a literal madman with a penchant for denying reality might seem a pretty low bar to clear, but it does say something about the seriousness with which Canadians have generally taken our response to public health measures.
At the other end of the scale is New Zealand, a nation which has endured only about 2,300 cases resulting 25 deaths. It’s fair to note this is an island nation with no land borders to regulate and only about four million people total, but it’s clear their early and strictly-enforced border closures played a role in their success in controlling the spread. They also implemented last March the kind of stay-at-home order Ontarians are currently living under, although “lockdowns” are difficult to compare across jurisdictions given differences in what activities are defined as “essential.”
While you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you spend any time on social media, lived experiences indicate Canadians, Ontarians and residents of our local communities have been, for the most part, respectful and stoic in enduring safety measures deemed necessary by public health officials.
In doing so, we are protecting not only ourselves, but each other. It just makes sense.