By Jim Poling Sr.
Welcome to October, a nice month with a reputation for pre-winter fun gatherings, fall beauty and OK weather.
This October is different. Octoberfests are out. Crowded Thanksgiving dinners are not recommended. Halloween is looking to be the night of the empty streets, and that’s really scary.
The second Covid-19 wave has arrived, carrying in its wake the fears and social restrictions that we experienced during the initial outbreak of late last winter and early spring.
New cases are rising throughout much of the world. Ontario had two record-breaking days of new cases last week and Quebec’s new cases increased steadily, reaching more than 1,000 in 24 hours late last week.
October never has been a good news month for health. Temperature swings bring on colds and flu season. Ailments like sinusitis and arthritis are more prominent. Allergies increase misery as they take their last desperate gasps before winter.
Also, the American Heart Association says there are complications for those with heart problems as our bodies work to adapt to lower temperatures, icy rains and cold winds.
Add to that a Columbia University study of New York City health records showing that people born in October have increased disease risk.
One of the deadliest disease months in history was October 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic. In the United States roughly 200,000 people died of the flu in the 31 days of October.
All dark news indeed. Plus, the expectation that Covid cases and deaths, and all the madness that comes with them, will increase even more before October ends.
But let’s not focus on the darkness. Remember that old saying: It is always darkest before the dawn.
There are glimmers of light. Every single day the medical community learns more about this virus – how to lessen its spread, how to treat it and how to make it less deadly.
Last week scientists studying Covid cases in India reported that eight per cent of people carrying the virus were responsible for 60 per cent of all new infections. On the flip side, 71 per cent of people with Covid-19 did not spread it to anyone else.
That is encouraging news because our chances of encountering it are less than first feared, if we follow the advice delivered regularly by the medical community: Avoid people, keep your distance from those you can’t avoid, do not meet in enclosed places or tight groups and wear a mask.
After eight months of this everyone is exhausted. Exhausted from worry. Exhausted from working to maintain some necessary normalcy without creating more opportunities for the virus to spread and further damage our lives.
Exhausted from thinking about what can be done to help the front-line workers, put at risk every day, and the business owners and others suffering disastrous income losses.
No matter the exhaustion, remember that dawn will crack the darkness, providing the light needed to illuminate the lessons we need to follow for rebuilding better lives.
A key lesson is to shut up and listen. Listen to the medical experts who deal in scientific facts and know that injecting politics into a life crisis is really bad medicine. Ignore the politicians, who need to talk less and spend their time designing non-partisan policies helpful to everyone.
Especially ignore the social media goonies and the unintelligentia who say their rights are more important than a nation’s health.
Ignore also the United States, which no longer has anything positive to offer about building a strong, better society for the future. It is a country of self-serving individuals, while Canada is a society of communities looking out for others.
While waiting for the darkness to recede completely we can enjoy thinking about all the good things that will return when the light appears and the darkness is gone. Like the joy of walking up to someone, asking them how they are and giving them a hug.
This October will bring not only some gloom and unhappiness, but expectations of good things to come. The October winds and rains now taking down those beautiful leaves of autumn also are blowing away the craziness of the Covid-19 pandemic, and all the madness of the year 2020.