/Of government, a pandemic, and Jacks-in-boxes

Of government, a pandemic, and Jacks-in-boxes

By James Matthews

This is a level of seriousness people try to keep out of their lives. Excuse the improper formatting. It’s necessary for space and accommodating a newspaper’s column-width.

[BLACK SCREEN]

Dr. Nicole Bocking (voice-over against the black screen) 

When we ask people to take preventative measures in an attempt to relieve pressure on our heal-care system, it isn’t just because of COVID. It’s because of many different respiratory viruses, all converging at a similar time.

[EXTERIOR-SHOPPING MALL-PEOPLE FILING IN AND OUT]

Dr. Bocking (voice-over)

The BA.5 COVID-19 subvariant has born many children. And those children continue to mutate into multiple lineages and sub-lineages. And they continue to develop and mutate and transmit even easier.

[FADE IN-INTERIOR-HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM]

A nurse, visibly fatigued, her red eyes above a N95 mask

Respiratory symptoms. They thought telling people the ER was closed except for dire situations. Getting a breath is pretty dire, in the run of all things that make up a day.

[FADE OUT-BLACK SCREEN]

Dr. Bocking (voice-over)

The region has gotten its first confirmed influenza case and respiratory syncytial virus, you might know it as RSV, is bringing children to the hospitals.

[CALIOPE MUSIC ASCENDS IN VOLUME]

[BLACK SCREEN]

Children speaking loudly, making a commotion, protesting, griping. They’re obviously children.

[FADE IN-INTERIOR-QUEEN’S PARK]

[THECALIOPE MUSIC PLAYS IN ITS CYCLICAL WAY]

Red-faced, angry politicians point fingers across the legislature and their mouths move wordlessly. Then the honourable members are seen speaking as children.

[FADE OUT-BLACK SCREEN]

[FADE IN-THE JACK IN THE BOX YOU’VE BEEN LISTENING TO]

A chorus of voices, men and women

The provincial government stopped long ago informing Ontarians of COVID-19 infection rates. But you can tell all isn’t well in how hospitals throughout Ontario have, at various times, closed emergency departments because of staffing issues and other reasons associated with the pandemic. The pandemic is on-going, by the way. Nobody has declared it over, even though mask requirements, crowd capacities, and other safety measures designed to stymie the spread have been dropped.

[THE CALIOPE MUSIC STOPS AND JACK JUMPS OUT OF HIS BOX]

A single voice (voice over the bouncing, swaying Jack-in-the-box clown head on a spring)

Children’s hospitals have been reporting patient numbers that have rendered them overwhelmed. Let that sink in: Children’s hospitals. SickKids in Toronto and CHEO in Ottawa. And, for people who live too far removed from those facilities, their local clinic or hospital is their child’s care provider. Many of those have had to alter operations.

[THE OWNER OF THE VOICE WALKS INTO THE FRAME, ADDRESSES THE JACK-IN-THE-BOX]

The man (speaking to the Jack-in-the-box smiling clown)

You know they regularly disregarded the advice of the physicians who made up government’s scientific table on COVID-19? And we’re supposed to be led by them.

[FADE TO BLACK]