Covid's 1 year anniversary - a blog, in 1000 Words or Less
For me, and I’m guessing for most Canadians, Friday the 13th, 2020 marked the day Covid19 became “real.” The crisis actually started long before the 13th.
March 11th was the day the WHO officially labelled it a pandemic.
The first presumptive case of Covid was recorded in Canada on January 25th.
A month earlier, on the 31st of December, China acknowledged the outbreak. The secretive country is well known for lying and obfuscation when it believes the facts will diminish them in the eyes of the world; it’s logical to assume the outbreak was so bad by 31st they could no longer reasonably deny it.
It’s also quite likely that Covid had already spread around the world before the 31st of December, even if it hadn't yet “taken off.” 10,000 athletes from 100 different countries participated in the 2019 military Olympics in Wuhan between October 18th and 27th, and then left the disease’s epicentre and flew home.
Clearly, Covid was a growing problem for the three and half months prior to March, but for Canadians, anything abstract or theoretical about it ended in harsh reality on the 13th, not only because of the superstitious nature of the date, but also because spring break began that afternoon and Canadians were cancelling their vacation plans en masse. March 2020 started normally. Thirty-one days later bewildered Canadians were asking, “What just happened?”
“Bewilderment,” describes the month perfectly. I can’t decide what adjective best sums up the year. I keep coming back to: Frustrating. 2020 was also:
…it was an emotional ride.
Friends from overseas had planned on visiting Canada in July. In late January they were already considering cancelling their travel plans. I encouraged them to wait. “Be patient,” I said. “July is months away. I can’t imagine this Covid thing lasting that long.” Today I laugh at my naivety.
In February I was in Taiwan with work. The Taiwanese were already acting aggressively to control Covid. Temperature checks, sanitation stations, controlled access into restaurants and public spaces were common place. When I returned to Canada, business was being conducted as usual. I remember being puzzled at the stark contrast. I never expected the crisis to be so extreme but I thought some basic precautions were in order, although, a year later, I don’t think they would have made a difference.
On Saturday, March 7th, my wife, a couple of friends and several thousand fans attended a Brad Paisley concert in Abbotsford. Less than a week later, gatherings of more than 250 people were cancelled.
On Wednesday March 11th, my spring vacation plans were locked in; my wife and I were still traveling as planned. Twenty-four hours later, after several hours on the internet and telephone, I’d cancelled our flights, hotels, rental cars, etcetera…the province of BC had recommended not traveling unless it was essential and was asking people to self-isolate for fourteen days upon their return.
On Friday the 13th at 3:00 PM, when school ended for spring vacation, I was among bewildered thousands who felt as though they’d stood in front of a steam roller.
The weather on BC’s west coast during spring break 2020 was excellent. To my mind, Mother Nature was having a little fun at our expense: “You can’t do much except stay home, so you might as well check off all the annoying little jobs on your honey-do list.” Who else painted every wall in their homes? Who else pressure washed their decks two full months before they normally would have? Cleaned out drawers, closets and garages? Detailed their vehicles, mowed lawns and trimmed hedges every third day, whether they needed it or not? Went for long walks and pretended they were as much fun as the vacation they were missing?
By the end of March, the media’s feeding frenzy for everything Covid was in high gear. I understood then, as I do now, that Covid was the biggest story most legitimate journalists (as well as the “personalities” who report drama rather than news), will ever experience so obviously, it was the story with which they were going to lead. For the rest of 2020, they emphasized every pessimistic fact (and theory), at which they could point a camera. Bolstered by the Canadian government’s continued reactive behaviour, the media’s negative tilt continued, even as the truth of Covid became clear: the WHO’s modeling was vastly inaccurate, the health care systems were not overwhelmed, the mortality rate (in Canada) was less than one percent, international air travel did not significantly increase Covid spread... The list of, if not positive then at least neutral stories, the media could have reported were ignored in favor of doomsday stories filled with words like “possible” and “potential.”
Everything I found maddening in early spring intensified into anger with the passage of time. The virus exists. Its impact was always going to be significant and there isn’t anything anyone could have done about it, other than using common sense and refusing to consume bats. Our federal government’s abysmal (and well documented) response made the situation worse. The media made it immeasurably worse again, and we all watched as economies crashed, friends and neighbors lost their jobs, psychological damage increased, all while policy makers fumbled around, continually taking the reactive path.
And, that’s pretty much where we are today…a year later spring break has begun, nobody can experience it as they have in the past and we're starting to hear that we’re in the final few miles of the marathon and it’s time for optimism.
…but I’m going to hedge my bets. No reasonable person should believe a word that comes out of Justin’s stammering mouth. He’s never given Canadian’s honest leadership, so expecting proactive, positive forward momentum from him or his liberal government is a ridiculous hope and if you’re in doubt about that, Google how well his latest Covid reaction (the enforced hotel quarantine), is going. There’s seemingly no progress on aggressive testing that could be used to reduce quarantine periods and although other countries have talked about vaccine passports, there’s been nothing but radio silence from Canada on that front. Vaccines are seen as a tiny light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel but depending on which article you read, inoculating everybody in Canada will be done by July…or September.
As much as the media is selling the “time for optimism” storyline, I’d prefer to see facts instead of being told what to believe by an institution that hasn’t been all that honest for the better part of a year…
I want to see my colleagues get back to work.
I want to see stores opening in our little town, instead of watching small business owners cover their windows in brown paper.
I want to read about plans to open borders.
I want self-deputized mask police to fuck-off and go far far away. In an empty room, from twenty-feet away, there’s no need to yell in a panicky and simultaneously sanctimonious voice: “Put your mask on.” I want a return to common sense, people.
On the first anniversary of the strangest twelve months most of us will ever experience, I’d have to say “frustration” sums up the year. Frustration is as optimistic as I’m willing to get, at least until permanent forward change is in place. In the meantime, I’m going to go detail my truck and find something to paint.