Right in the centre - Just think…a little more…please!


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

There are a number of people calling for a more complete shutdown of the Manitoba economy in an attempt to slow the C-19 pandemic. I have yet to hear from anyone who is calling for a shutdown who will actually lose their paycheque due to the shutdown.

I have heard from big city newspaper columnists, but they will still get paid. I have heard from University professors, but they will still get paid. I have heard from union leaders but they will still get paid. All the workers at CBC will get paid. They will get paid as the federal government pumps $2.5 million a day into CBC.

A few teachers are pressing for a shutdown but they will get paid. Most teachers want to stay on the job and are very upset at the prospect of not being able to teach their students.

The restaurant owners, bar owners, hair dressers, barbers or gym owners, they don’t want to shut down for two reasons. One is they may not be able to financially survive and as business owners, they may have a better handle on reality. They know shutdowns are not feasible and they probably don’t work.

If there were a shutdown, the usual victims would be small business owners, people who don’t qualify for EI and who would not be able to pay their mortgages or rent without being open.

Then there’s the industries that can’t shut down. There are the hospitals and care homes. There is the trucking industry, as without trucks, we would have food shortages in a week and, horror of horrors, a toilet paper shortage even faster.  The food processing industry can’t shut down. Neither can garbage collection, water and sewage plants. Shutdowns simply aren’t the answer. This week, 200 doctors called on the government for more resources. If we don’t keep the economy healthy, there will be no money to keep our vulnerable people healthy.

The answer? It became painfully obvious last week. The answer is faster, better C-19 testing. But who should be tested? Obviously not the general population, as they are only getting 9 per cent positives in the general population among symptomatic people. That means 91 per cent of the symptomatic people don’t have the virus. When they tested an entire care home in Winnipeg, and long overdue at that, 70 per cent were reported to test positive. Testing among the most vulnerable, showed us where the bulk of the positive cases are hiding, and that is among the vulnerable, not among the general population. Strangely enough, few of the 70 per cent of the care home tested people were showing symptoms.

What the CBC and the big city columnists could be ferreting out are real solutions. Rapid testing of all vulnerable people and testing people with symptoms. They could be promoting prescribing Vitamin D for all vulnerable people. It makes sense. Vitamin D is needed to protect people against all infections, including C-19. Old people don’t get Vitamin D very much, as they aren’t out in the sun, they don’t drink much milk and who enjoys taking a cod liver oil capsule? We might get some reports on what else works to prevent or treat C-19.

I spoke earlier about pre-determined narratives. Many media people don’t think a whole bunch. They get into a rut and tend to stay there. They would rather write accusingly about Brian Pallister spending weekends at his second home near Portage. They would rather write endlessly about care home C-19 deaths all the while having ignored influenza deaths for years. Also, when have you ever seen someone in the media talk about nutrition, vitamins, exercise, sunlight and the value of social activities and visiting in care homes? Get what I mean? That would take work and research. It’s easier to attend boring news conferences about tests, cases and deaths than really inform themselves and the public about solutions.

And, because the media only has basically a one track mind, and that is to criticize the government, the government is always on the defensive and fearfully feeds the media what they want to hear, grinding, boring data and, dare I say, bulls—t?

To media, to academics, to unions and any other shutdown advocates, I say, just think… a little more… please! We could all use your help. We have too many repeaters and too few reporters. Let’s change that.

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.