Over one month ago, we were faced with the realization of a pandemic, one which none of us actually had ever experienced, let alone fully understood the ramifications or consequences of. Uncertainty was the only sure thing we knew. However with time, more evidence has been uncovered, more facts revealed, and our ability to act and respond in an informed and knowledgeable manner vastly improved.
The Legislature is expected to resume sitting in a limited manner starting May 12th along with some committees resuming, and I will be attending to ensure the people of Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston are well represented. Our Parliaments, Legislatures, and representative government have essentially been suspended during this pandemic; whatever the future holds, I know that government and public policy can't be left in the hands of only a few to decide the path forward.
In the meantime, and as I have since the closure of the Legislature on March 13th, will continue to speak directly with members of Cabinet and appropriate Ministries to help limit and overcome the many contradictions and difficulties that have become apparent during this period of government by decree. I look forward to sharing this with you through these updates, as more details and easing of restrictions are realized.
In this Part Two of my COVID Scuttlebutt, I've decided to include statistics for your immediate reference along with a source from Stats Canada to help in the discussion of easing us back.
First, I would like to commend the many workers in our LTC, retirement homes, and those who have been providing healthcare in the home and hospitals, for not only their outstanding work ethic and commitment to help the most vulnerable, but the consequences they have endured.
I have spoken with many and those who have contracted COVID in helping others. It is apparent to me that although COVID has many similarities with the seasonal flu, the effects and symptoms are often far more severe and extreme for many. The word “essential” has a far greater meaning and deeper appreciation when listening to those who have been infected while at work to ease the suffering of others. Their actions need our recognition.
Socially distancing and other restrictions have certainly flattened “the curve” and thankfully, the most dire of predictions have failed to materialize, however it does not come without further consequences that need to be examined.
While our efforts have diminished the huge spikes in fatalities seen in other countries and has ensured our hospitals have not been overwhelmed, it has also lengthened or prolonged the time the virus will be present and for “herd immunity” to develop and become widespread. There is also considerable efforts underway to develop both vaccines and medications to alleviate the symptoms however currently, there are no timelines for these that we can rely on.
Although risks remain, they can now be measured against other similar risks with a much greater degree of knowledge. Even though there are differences, COVID-19 may be compared to our seasonal flu, as they share many characteristics, their transmission is similar, their infection, symptoms, and fatality rates as well have much in common.
Here are some of the relevant facts (as of April 20th) that each and every person ought to consider as you determine the level of risk that is not only appropriate for you and your family, but also how we as a community and country move forward:
- Each year in Canada approximately 8,500 people die from flu related illness, thus far there have been 1,728 COVID related deaths.
- Each year over 12,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu, thus far 2,369 people have been hospitalized due to COVID in Canada.
- There have been over 1/2 million COVID tests of people thought to be at greatest risk or displaying symptoms, over 93% were negative and not infected.
- 64% of those hospitalized were over age 60 and 3/4 of them had underlying or chronic illness. Over half of the fatalities are in LTC Homes.
While it is evident that much more has to be done for the elderly in LTC, it is also apparent there has been a desperate need for reform which has been overlooked for decades.
This pandemic has also exposed our inability to provide for, and our reliance upon other Nations for medical essentials, medications and other necessities. As individuals and as a society we must reevaluate some of these relationships, and not only end our reliance upon untrustworthy regimes, but develop greater self sufficiency.
There is also strong evidence that some/many people have either an inherent immunity or have been exposed and have developed antibodies and immunity. This number however can't be determined with any certainty until either random and/or comprehensive serology testing is undertaken. While some countries have started this undertaking and many in Canada are calling for it, so far there has been no action by Canada. You can read more on these efforts here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/immunity-tests-coronavirus-1.5535855
I trust this information helps and assists you during these most astonishing and uncertain times.
Stats Canada COVID-19 Information is updated daily and can be found here:
Finally, I must add another personal observation; It is abundantly obvious the vast majority of people have recognized the risks of this pandemic and have acted in the most responsible and respectful manners; respecting the need for social distancing, limiting interactions, and thoughtfully considering others. However, there is a less desirable characteristic that has become apparent in a minority of people which has led to very aggressive enforcement in some municipalities and a willingness to report on others of perceived non-compliance, these snitching attributes do not serve us well or benefit a civilized and free society. I would continue to encourage everyone to act responsibly, respect the freedoms and liberties of others, and ensure reasonableness is held in the highest of regards.
Please feel free to contact me or my staff if you require assistance at any time by email at [email protected], or by voice mail at my office 613-267-8239.
Looking forward to a return of warm weather and sunny skies with our friends and family.
Randy Hillier, MPP