/Small, smart, safe

Small, smart, safe

By Sue Tiffin

We are all so tired.

While there is still excitement and hope in our lives – for the upcoming holidays, for a booster shot, for a new year in which maybe this time we’ll rid ourselves of the pandemic and also finally stop that pesky habit of eating potato chips for breakfast – everyone is exhausted. We all know how tired our friends, family and neighbours who work in healthcare, or education, or the service industry, or public health must be. But we’re all finding everything – the masks, the distancing, the worry – a little more tiring at this point, at the end of the second year living during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I’ve been attending the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District health unit weekly media sessions for a year now, first with acting medical officer of health Dr. Ian Gemmill, and now with medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking. 

Before a Q and A period, Dr. Bocking updates us on what is happening globally – such as when new variants have been identified or when vaccine trials were launched for children. She tells us what might be happening in the province with vaccine roll-outs or government plans to implement lockdowns or restrictions. She tells us about local epidemiology – in the beginning we heard about case numbers and hospitalizations followed by long-term care outbreaks, then we heard about new variants of concern and how many had been identified locally, and now we hear about school outbreaks and the percentage of people who have been vaccinated or not. These numbers represent not just cases of COVID-19 but our friends, family members, neighbours and residents of our community so the sessions can be emotionally draining. To Dr. Bocking, those numbers also represent the people she and her colleagues spend their working days caring for. We’ve even seen a glimpse of her life outside of her working days, when her session is interrupted by a child, and it reminds us all of what she is also juggling during these times, too, just like us. 

But still she comes back week after week. Admittedly, the same reporters have attended the session week after week too, and much of the information we hear and share is very repetitive. But we report it anyway, in case you didn’t read it last week and you want to read it this week. If you want to skip it because you’re feeling the fatigue, that’s OK, too. 

Though some of the messaging you’ll be able to recite until your end days – wash your hands, stay physically distanced, wear a mask, get vaccinated – during the past two sessions, Dr. Bocking has stressed information about holiday gathering that should not be skipped over because of fatigue, because we’re getting tired of not getting fully back to normal. At the risk of repetition upon repetition, I’m including it here to ensure her message is heard: 

“We need to be cautious with our gatherings and our enthusiasm for returning to normal over the holiday season,” she said at the Dec. 8 briefing. “Given the current trend in increasing cases, I think we will continue to see an increase across HKPRD health unit jurisdiction and now is not the time to be hosting large holiday parties with people from across different households, across different work places. Now is the time to be having small gatherings, to be engaging in smart planning of the gatherings, and also using safe practices … small, smart and safe [are] our key reminder messages here.”

We are all so tired. The holidays will give many of us a chance to rest, to rejuvenate, hopefully to reconnect with our friends and family. Please, plan to do so as safely as you can.