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EDITORIAL: Calm and collective action needed on COVID-19

Cases of COVID-19 in Alberta are on the rise and we should all be concerned with what that means.

Cases of COVID-19 in Alberta are on the rise and we should all be concerned with what that means.

Being concerned about a threat to public safety is not an unreasonable expectation, especially when we know that this virus can lead to death and the long-term effects of it are still unknown.

While some think that considering these implications and seeking out statistics and facts on it is trying to scare people, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Fear will not help us as Albertans and Canadians right now. But an approach that is calm and considered will. That is why government officials like Chief Public Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney are pushing personal responsibility as the solution to the rise in case numbers.

Kenney, among others, remains in isolation after being exposed to a confirmed positive case in his own cabinet. It is clear that even our leaders who preach about the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are not exempt from the consequences of their actions. 

This invocation of our individual responsibility to curb the trend that we are seeing in infection rates is also concerning because telling people to do the right thing doesn't always provide the results you want. Hence laws in this province to require seat belts, as just one example.

Public health and public safety is a responsibility that sits at the feet of all of us – including government officials. An over reliance on people to do the right thing at their own behest can lead to a higher risk of infections because not everyone is inspired by suggestions to change their behaviour. 

Sometimes you need clear rules and consequences to protect lives. Relying entirely on personal responsibility will not get the results you want, especially with the amount of misinformation being circulated in our communities.

If we as a province don’t heed the warnings of Dr. Hinshaw now, we will be subject to even harsher restrictions when this thing blows up beyond our control.  

Furthermore, promoting herd immunity by letting this virus spread unfettered is a stupid and dangerous idea some seem to think will make this whole pandemic go away faster. When in fact, what it will do is kill more people faster. 

Last time we checked, it is immoral and unethical to suggest that any person or group is expendable to minimize the inconvenience to other people's lives. 

Another popular sentiment being shared is that wearing a mask is bad for your health. This nonsense is a smokescreen to hide people's selfishness of not wanting to wear a mask because it is uncomfortable or inconvenient. 

There are those with legitimate medical reasons who cannot wear a mask. But the precedent that regularly wearing a mask is reasonable and safe is demonstrated every single day in operating rooms, on worksites and during the winter months when we wear masks to keep our faces warm outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.

We are at a turning point with this virus in Alberta right now. It is up to all of us to change our behaviours to reduce risks and it is up to our political leaders to take the steps necessary to ensure that happens. 

CORRECTION:

A letter to the editor published in the Outlook on Oct. 15 from Karsten Heuer contained incorrect information. The amount of residential and tourist homes being proposed by Three Sisters Mountain Village in the two area structure plans is within what was approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Board decision – 8,150. 



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