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EDITORIAL: Confusion reigns in COVID-19 response (Oct. 2020)

November 2nd, 2020 · No Comments

As the pandemic continues and enters its second wave, the people of Ontario, and especially Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel region can count on one thing: chaos in the rules and guidelines that allegedly exist to protect us. While confusion reigns it is clear that we need a leader who knows how to lead, and if that’s too much to ask, that leader needs better people to be following himself.

Recently, the City of Toronto requested that the province re-impose Stage 2 type restrictions on bars and restaurants with indoor dining. The city provided no evidence, at least none shared with the public, that these venues are a specific source of coronavirus transmission. Yet, the province has heeded the request. By most accounts, restaurants and bars have done a really good job keeping patrons and workers safe by making their establishments meet every rule the health authorities insisted upon only to be suddenly shuttered now for at least 28 days. By the way, there are no new restrictions on daycare centres or places of worship, which can remain open.

In almost the same breath, Premier Doug Ford called upon Ontario residents not to have family and friends over for Thanksgiving, and to confine themselves to dining with the people they live with. He added perplexingly, “don’t kiss and hug your aunts and uncles.” Is the suggestion that there are a lot of people having their turkey with the aunts and uncles who they live with? Or, does he recognize that no one is listening to him anymore? So what he is really saying is that he knows everyone will have family dinners anyhow, but when they do they should just avoid kissing relatives.

No one seems to be correlating the spike in cases to the return to schools. If children tend to be asymptomatic then how do we know they are not super spreaders? It’s not just the schools themselves but all the other interactions that people are having that are enabled by it. The potential for exponential increases is on our doorstep and before we know it the ICU beds will be full of COVID-19 patients, with no room for those suffering from other life threatening medical conditions. 

One needs to look behind the curtain to see who is feeding Ford theses back-of-the-napkin plans. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams seems to have a vote of confidence from both Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott. This seems to be the bulk of his fan club. Williams endorsed the back to school strategy, which the province said was backed by advice from Sick Kid’s Hospital. It was not.

At a press conference on August 27, in response to a question about the risks posed to teachers when schools re-opened for in-person learning, Williams drew a comparison to health-care workers who he said were not being careful when they “go home, casually go around and don’t wear a mask, go off to the mall or wherever and expose yourself.” According to the province’s own data, 2,642 health-care workers at long-term care facilities have contracted COVID-19, and eight of them died. Williams does not see this as something they contracted while on the job.

Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, tweeted that William’s resignation is “long past time, to my colleagues who say this in private [yet] are reluctant to speak out publicly: we don’t have a lot of time.”

Ford needs new advisors. We need coherent, consistent, fact-based policy. Show us the facts, Mr. Ford, on how this virus is spreading. Otherwise, it just looks like you are making it up as you go. People will stop listening to you, and it may be true that they already have.


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