You can’t travel to Tofino or Ucluelet to watch winter storms. But you can visit the Goose Spit  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: We toss together the COVID virus, vaccine promises and new grimmer predictions

Dec 9, 2020 | Commentary, Latest Feature

By George Le Masurier

These last few weeks of 2020 may be the most confusing of a year when reality and insanity got tossed in an unappetizing and emotionally unhealthy salad.

Here we are, counting down the days to Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day and New Years with a longing to celebrate with family and friends. But we can’t. The COVID-19 virus is spreading faster than it did in March and April when public health orders locked everyone at home and turned our streets into ghost towns.

But we are also euphoric that science has produced effective vaccines. Is the world as we used to know it just around the corner?

These competing developments might create a strong temptation to take a sneak peek into our lost world over the holidays. Just a quick visit with family. Travel off this island rock. Invite some friends over — just our safe six — for some holiday cheer.

We’re so close to being liberated from our pandemic prisons and releasing our pent-up desires that some of us are already gnawing at the bars of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s cages.

So what’s the harm in bending the rules just a little? The vaccines are coming.

What the harm?

Well, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington predicts that new COVID infections and deaths will get much worse over the next few months and that vaccines won’t provide any relief until later next spring.

The IHME predicts COVID-related deaths will triple in Canada by April 1, 2021. The number of Canadians dying every day will quadruple into mid-February.

And the prediction gets grimmer. In British Columbia, COVID deaths will increase by 10 times! Daily deaths will leap to six times current levels until peaking some time in January.

Why will this happen? Because despite Dr. Henry’s tighter restrictions through Jan. 8 and her pleas for people to wear masks and keep a safe physical distance many of us can’t help ourselves. We’ll cheat a little and justify it because we’ve suffered for so long.

Also, our province has the lowest mask compliance (61 percent) of any province in Canada. Anti-masking demonstrations by groups of morons don’t help either.

Don’t you just marvel at people who, in the face of a worldwide pandemic that will eventually kill more than three million people, are able to conjure up some version of scientific rebellion or machismo? The virus won’t hurt me, “I’ve got west coast logger blood.”

If the death rate isn’t alarming enough for these people, maybe they should think about the long-term effects of a COVID infection.

Recent studies have discovered that 50 percent to 80 percent of people who survive COVID symptoms continue to suffer unexplained ailments — fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache and difficulty sleeping.

There’s a new name for these people: Long Haulers.

Doctors don’t know yet how long these ailments will last. A few months, a year, several years? We won’t know until they stop, if they ever do.

And, so far, the BC Health Ministry doesn’t mention Long Haulers in their reports nor does Dr. Henry in her daily updates. But these unfortunate victims of the pandemic will be suffering long after the rest of us receive our vaccinations.

So, don’t be confused. Don’t be lured into thinking you can bend Dr. Henry’s public health orders. Don’t gather with family members that don’t live with you. Or friends. Or travel anywhere.

Stay home, wear a mask and rejoice, not just in the spirit of whatever religious holiday speaks to you, but in the knowledge that with a little caution, you can get through this infectious nightmare.

 

Should British Columbia restrict access to people who don’t take the COVID vaccine? In lieu of making vaccination mandatory, Ontario plans to issue a certification document to those who have been vaccinated.

People without proof of immunization may not be allowed to travel or enter communal spaces, such as cinemas, performing arts centres, art galleries or other public spaces.

Will that policy face a human rights challenge? Possibly, but by giving people a choice, the province makes it clear that there are consequences for potentially endangering other people’s lives.

 

Thank you, MP Rachel Blaney, for challenging Transport Canada’s order prohibiting passengers from remaining in their vehicles during BC Ferry sailings if parked on a closed deck.

That order never made sense to us. Why force people into situations that increases their exposure to the COVID virus?

In a letter to the ministry, Blaney questioned “the value and logic of using ministry resources to process and potentially punish people who are simply doing their best to follow public health orders and keep their contact with others to a minimum.

 

Does the Comox Valley need a regional parks service? Electoral Area A Director Daniel Arbour appears to think so.

At the regional district board’s meeting on Oct. 27, Arbour made the motion (second by Area C Director Edwin Grieve) to direct staff to present a draft property acquisition policy to fund a regional parks service. That report is expected at next week’s CVRD board meeting.

Meanwhile, the Puntledge River Forest Protection Society made an excellent presentation to the regional board this week.

 

A European art world magazine, Metal, recently featured a story about up-and-coming artist Andrew Moncrief, who was born and raised in the Comox Valley.

Moncrief’s solo and group work has been exhibited throughout the world, and recently at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. He was a finalist for Canada’s Salt Spring National Art Prize last year and won a Canada Council grant for the Arts on his first try. He is currently contemplating launching shows in Germany and other parts of Europe.

It’s an insightful and personally revealing article. Here are a few excerpts:

METAL: How much of your early life and adolescence in Canada helped shape you as an artist? Are there any memorable personal experiences or other artistic influences that inspired your approach to painting and drawing, or that motivated you to pursue a career as an artist?

MONCRIEF: As far as I can remember, I was always doing something artistic or crafty. I grew up with a mother who was extremely creative and a father who was dexterous. In order to keep me occupied as a kid, my mom used to plunk me down on the counter with crayons, pencil crayons, construction paper, scissors, and I would just make things.

I definitely owe this to my parents and I definitely think I got a solid balance of artsy creativity from my mother, and I can safely say that I owe my work ethic to my father. He was a logger who built four family homes himself; he was always building or fixing, even on the weekends. He had a love of pouring concrete and could never sit still. I definitely am the same though – less the concrete. My mom was extremely creative or crafty, as she would say, we were always doing artsy things after school from as far as I can remember – painting rocks, clay pots, pieces of wood that were laying around the many construction sites that I grew up in.

Briefly, I am mostly consumed with issues of identity, queer identity, masculinity, body dysmorphia, and the internal struggles in reconciling what these mean to me personally, and my struggles with accepting myself as a gay man growing up. I first started my Bachelor of Fine Arts at North Island College in my hometown, and then eventually landed in Montreal in 2009, where I was subsequently accepted into Concordia University’s Painting & Drawing program in 2010.

Drawing by Andrew Moncrief

 

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