Right in the centre - Stuff happens


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Never in my memory has there been so many cancellations of events across Canada. COVID-19 has resulted in thousands of events and activities being cancelled. The tide is turning, as people are making up their own, new events and activities to fill the void. Grad parades have popped up all over the country and have been so popular that I can see them  becoming a permanent part of annual grad celebrations in the future. Spontaneous events are filling our summer, as we await a return to regularly scheduled events.

Over the Canada Day holiday, many formal events were displaced with other activities. In some communities, the decision was made to cancel the traditional community fireworks displays. Predictably, private fireworks purchases were up and while there may not have been as many community events, there were lots of private ones.

• Summer baseball is expected to start up for some groups, but not for others. In some centres, hockey camps and training sessions have already begun. The government, hockey organizations and Sport Manitoba are all labouring away to determine how Canada’s favourite sport will play out this season. Hockey, at any level except the NHL, does not have the financial capacity to operate without fans. How to keep fans comfortably safe will be a consideration going forward. I think there will be a hockey season, but it may operate a little differently than in the past.

• Much discussion and attention is being devoted to getting a vaccine for COVID-19. Initial talks say that a vaccine will only be partially effective. Unlike polio vaccine, which has proven nearly 100 per cent effective, flu vaccines have a much lower effectiveness rate. Unlike the polio vaccine, flu vaccines can cause a person to get quite sick. I have spoken to many people who, in the past, have taken a flu shot, but have become very sick after the shot and swear they will never take another one. Combined with a much less than 100 per cent effectiveness and the fact a lot of sickness is caused by the vaccines, the yet to be invented COVID-19 shot may not be the way to go. I have resisted the suggestion that all older people (yes, that’s me now) take the flu shot. I am not convinced about it being right for me. Considering that we have only had a little over 300 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, out of a population of over a million, how will we ever know if a vaccine is effective, anyway?

• The reasons we have fared so well in Manitoba and the reasons other places have tens of thousands of cases and thousands of deaths will be debated for decades. We may never find out the real reasons. What we do need to do is learn from this pandemic and not make the same mistakes again.

We need faster, easier testing. Known, or suspected cases, need to be isolated. Extra care and caution need to be taken in care homes, group homes and anywhere people cannot get some degree of spacing and isolation.

• The current situation in our care homes is neither advisable nor sustainable. The health care system is trying to figure out how to get more visits in. Care home staff are working to the max to keep everyone clean, healthy, fed and with some social interaction. We have to find a better way for residents and staff.

The proposal to build “visitation shelters” at the care homes is one of the stupidest ideas to come out yet. They make no sense at all. Visitation needs to be inside, in a set aside area, if necessary. There needs to be access to washrooms and sanitation. If washing hands and extra cleaning is what it takes, so be it. What we have to somehow get away from is subjecting our elderly to the intense loneliness and the feeling of being abandoned by families and friends that we have brought into place.

It’s horrible. Elderly people are dying, alone, feeling they have been abandoned by their families. Veterinarians say pet owners should stay with their pets when they are euthanized so the animals aren’t stressed out, wondering why their owners are absent as they take their last breath. There must be a lesson here we can take from the pet world. Surely, we have to apply common sense and try to do away with the isolation and the masks that make speaking and hearing almost impossible.

• COVID-19 is “a flu” and it has killed seven Manitobans. The regular flu has likely killed 40 people in the same time frame. It’s time to get the bureaucrats to back off a bit in our care homes. We need to face the facts that people in care homes die. Should they also be faced with the adversity of loneliness and death without their loved ones? I think not.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.