Right in the centre - COVID-19 lockdown could be handled better


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

think just about everyone is at the end of their patience with COVID-19 and it’s hard to blame them.

I strongly believe that C-19 is real and especially real for people who have lost loved ones to the virus. We do, however, have to understand that only 129 more people died in Manitoba in 2020 than in 2019. It remains to the researchers to find out why that is the case. A lot has been learned about C-19 and how to handle it all. Unfortunately, that knowledge came too late for the people who died.

There are some things I think should have been done and still need to be done.

Care homes are understaffed and underfunded. The underfunding has been going on for at least 20 years. As I said in a previous column, that means the Liberals and Conservatives are to blame at the federal level and the NDP and the Conservatives at the provincial level. Lots of blame to go around. At the risk of hurting some feelings, I think there could be better policies and more opportunity for training. It goes without saying that any organization can be improved at any time. That is in no way meant as an insult, especially to front line workers.

As is often the case, the foolishness comes to the surface at the top and there have been some serious mistakes in how policy is developed and how it is administered.

When all hell broke loose in some care homes, it has to be asked, “What could have been done better?” When care home residents were severely stressed, why weren’t ambulances and paramedics called in sooner? I can’t understand that. If someone was in emergency medical need at home, you would call an ambulance. If someone was under medical stress at the workplace or at the grocery store, you would call an ambulance. Why not at the care homes? Why did several people have to die before ambulances were called?

Care homes are often short staffed. If that’s the case, somebody should be held accountable. If care homes failed inspections, where are the repercussions? If people have been fired, then we haven’t heard about it. Anecdotal results tell us that some deaths may have happened because of dehydration. Nobody should die of dehydration. And when death comes, nobody should die alone. Letting people die alone verges on criminal.

But what about the world outside the care homes? Haven’t we gone far enough with lockdowns and staying at home? Between what happened in Manitoba with lockdowns and what happened in South Dakota with few lockdowns, there has to be some middle ground.

I think the biggest mistake was the unfairness of the lockdowns. It is impossible to explain why a cannabis store or liquor store can be open, but not a clothing store. Even harder to explain was how you could buy some clothes in a department store, but not other clothes. It was insane to imagine and even more insane to try and administer. All stores should have been allowed to stay open at 50 per cent or whatever capacity. We will never be able to explain how Walmart could stay open, but the nail technician, the dress shop and hairdresser had to close.