Be kind. Be calm. Be safe.
It’s a mantra British Columbians have been hearing from provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, since the earliest days of our collective COVID-19 nightmare.
Along with that advice, have come regular reminders to limit personal contacts, maintain our physical distance and, more recently, to wear a mask when one or both of the first two prove(s) impossible, as we work together to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
These guidelines were largely heeded from the outset and B.C. reaped the benefits of all that good behaviour as restrictions were relaxed and businesses began to reopen.
Lately, though, our actions haven’t been quite so laudable and the numbers are beginning to reflect that, with an average of more than 40 new cases logged in B.C. each day during the past week (a number that jumped to 85 on Wednesday, after our print edition went to press).
Dr. Henry remains the picture of calm composure – the gentle voice that guides us and assures us we’re in capable hands. But it wouldn’t be shocking to learn that she goes home at night and screams into a pillow, after watching so much of that hard work go down the drain.
Perhaps it’s time to add another line to her famous mantra – be patient.
The rush, among young adults especially, to get out and enjoy summer, partying with friends – and strangers – after a spring spent stuck indoors in isolation, is certainly understandable. As is the collective desire to carry on as though everything is back to normal. But it’s not.
For people between 20 and 39, who make up majority of the new cases, a bout of COVID-19 is unlikely to result in more than a few days of feeling pretty lousy. In many incidences, the virus can come and go without the host’s knowledge.
Not everyone is likely to fare as well.
Helen McFadden, who is 80, wrote a letter to PAN last month, appealing to young people to take better precautions for the sake of herself and other seniors, who are particularly vulnerable.
“I have never been so dependent on others for my well-being as I am now that COVID-19 has arrived,” she wrote.
The day will come when we can once again gather together in with large groups and enjoy ourselves without having to worry about the consequences of our actions on society’s more vulnerable members.
But today is not that day.