By Pauline Kerr
Most of us figured measures to control the spread of COVID-19 would continue after the initial two-week school closure. New cases of the virus continue to be reported. This thing is not going to go away soon.
Lesson number one – two weeks is a very short time when we are talking about a pandemic, especially when there are people who still fail to take it seriously, such as the snowbirds returning from the sunny south who stop to do their grocery shopping on the way home, and folks who crowd into parks to chat while their kids play.
We have shifted from bemoaning the extra-long break, to resigning ourselves to the fact our kids may not be returning to school for quite some time. Wise parents are utilizing the many educational internet resources that have become available instead of allowing the younger set to go bug-eyed playing video games.
However, we must never forget some children do not have computers or internet access. Of course, there was a time when indoor plumbing was not something everyone had, either. Now it is a basic necessity. We realize the same has become true of the internet. We need to support initiatives that ensure every family has internet and computer access.
In the short term, it might be time for mainstream television channels to get on board and devote a couple of hours a day to educational programming.
It might also be time for Ontario’s education ministry to send out something through newspapers, mail and means other than the internet, with information on how to help our kids through this emergency should schools remain closed for several more weeks.
Lesson two – people can and do behave foolishly in an emergency, and we have to plan for that. We have shifted to wondering how to cope with the continuing toilet paper shortage, to wondering how the so-called covidiots were able to completely mess up the supply chain in a matter of a few days by hoarding various items.
There are several sub-lessons here. The first is for authorities to do whatever they can to ensure paramedics and other front-line emergency workers have enough gloves, masks and hand sanitizer before the hoarders take control, not two weeks later. Now we have a horrible situation where people who do not need them have stocked up on boxes of gloves and masks, and health workers could run short.
The second is to have legal measures in place to prevent profiteering and major hoarding. Free enterprise is one thing, but buying up enough disinfectant wipes to cause a country-wide shortage, with the intent of selling at a major profit, is criminal.
Lesson three – we need to remember the stores that implemented one package per customer policies early on, kept to their regular prices, and arranged for special measures to protect staff and shoppers. These are the stores where we want to do our shopping, now, during the emergency, and later, after it is over.
There were those who said we were ready to face this new virus; clearly we were not. But lessons learned during the SARS outbreak allowed Canada to be in better shape than a lot of countries. Likewise, lessons learned during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic will stand us in good stead in the future.
We have learned that some people behave like idiots in an emergency by doing things like hoarding various goods (no, bananas do not cure COVID-19!), while others stay calm, do what the authorities say and look for ways to help our community.
We have learned new respect for the people who have kept serving us coffee at the drive-through, checked through our groceries at the store and delivered goods – sometimes heroes wear ball caps and aprons.
Best of all, we have learned the power of a rainbow. A child’s drawing of rainbow, placed in a window for all to see, reminds us that brighter days are ahead. We will get through this.