What a difference a week makes.
Just over a week ago some of us may have harboured fantasies of life as we know it not being turned completely upside down by COVID-19. But since the virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11 and the infection numbers in Canada and around the world have continued to rise dramatically, chilling reality has swiftly replaced wishful thinking.
As Dr. Kevin Patterson stated in a videotaped Salt Spring Forum event that was posted online Saturday, Salt Spring Island will see cases of COVID-19. All we can do is try to minimize the number and especially the number of vulnerable people who become infected.
As Patterson also pointed out, some countries have successfully curtailed infection rates through aggressive testing and isolation of infected individuals, and strict restrictions on gathering and travel that are now being implemented in Canada and elsewhere.
The need to heed directives to practice social distancing and to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently cannot be stressed enough. As well, those who are returning from travels or who are sick absolutely must “self-isolate” for 14 days. That means limiting exposure to people in your own home and not just refraining from going to the grocery store.
While common Salt Spring acts like hugging, and socializing at numerous public events and meetings have been put aside indefinitely, one other well-defined community characteristic will no doubt surface instead: the predilection for helping each other. Already, able-bodied younger individuals are volunteering via social media to do grocery deliveries for elders and others who may not be able to go out. As of this writing, Salt Spring Island Emergency Program’s neighbourhood pod program will not be formally activated so that vulnerable individuals will be checked on in a systematic way in areas that have organized pods. Regardless, this is a time when extra efforts should be made to connect with isolated friends and family members via phone or internet.
What will things look like next week? Hopefully not much different than today, as we all put the pause button on normal life for the sake of our families, friends, communities and humanity.