By Chad Ingram
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, although it would be several more weeks before the true depth and breadth of the pandemic would become apparent to most of us.
It’s a dreary milestone and a year later in Ontario, we have surpassed a quarter-million confirmed cases of the virus, and are approaching 6,000 associated deaths. What had been largely positive public response to government reaction at first, with billions of dollars in aid out the door to Canadians, has turned to criticism in many instances as we weather the second wave of the virus. At the federal level there’s been some criticism of vaccine purchasing decisions and delays, and at the provincial level, the Ford government as of late has been criticized for delayed rollout of vaccinations, as well as policy around dealing with the virus in long-term care facilities.
There’s also a great deal of varied opinion on whether the provincial government is doing enough to quell the virus’s spread. Some believe it’s doing the best it can given the complicated and unprecedented nature of the situation, while others believe it’s not being nearly restrictive enough in its measures.
Certainly there are many who’d like to see the Ford government imposing more severe restrictions, the sort that have been implemented in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. However, at this point in the pandemic, it’s pretty safe to say that isn’t going to happen. It seems pretty clear the plan is to bide time with the sorts of measures currently in place until a sufficient number of us have gotten the vaccine, which the government is optimistically predicting could happen as soon as August. And while August may not seem soon, remember when the pandemic first struck it was thought it could be late 2021 before a viable vaccine was even created.
There’s also criticism of the seeming contradictions in directives, and when there are so many in place it becomes difficult for them not to begin to contradict one another. Big box stores may remain open while smaller businesses carrying the same wares are expected to close. We are told to stay home, but many of us are now sending our children back to school and daycare, where they are of course interacting with a bunch of other children.
Our kids have just started going back to daycare a couple of days a week after many months of quality time with mom and dad. Well, the eldest is going back. The youngest is technically going for the first time, and seems to be getting used to it. At 20 months old, the pandemic has literally spanned half of her life, and the vast majority of that time has been spent in our living room. So interacting with children her own age is a new experience for her.
For the three-year-old, it’s an exciting return to “school,” where she gets to see friends she went many months without seeing. She’s excited to go, often sad to leave, and is clearly relishing in the socialization she’s been deprived of for so long.
She also knows the golden rule when she gets home: “We have to wash our hands because we’ve been out in the world, and if we don’t wash our hands, we might get COVID.”
I couldn’t have imagined that a year ago.