Events surrounding the COVID-19 new coronavirus have occurred at a rapid and unsettling pace.
Each day the situation changes as our political leaders make statements about what we as a population should be doing to prevent the spread of this pandemic, or announce measures being taken to help mitigate this crisis.
Make no mistake – this is a crisis on a scale that we as a valley, province and country have never seen before.
Not a single person is left unaffected by what is currently happening and the sense of anxiety driven by what has become chronic uncertainty and a constant diet of breaking news is palpable.
COVID-19 is both global and individual in its effect and reach. But more than at any other time in our history, as Canadians and a community we need to come together to support each other.
It is only by realizing your individual choices and activities can affect the entire population of this valley, province and country, that we will begin adapt to the scale of behaviour change being asked of us all.
Deflection and denial should make way for the seriousness that social distancing requires in order to achieve the goal of all this disruption – avoiding preventable deaths.
Public health officials have been warning us the risk to loss of life is directly related to the capacity within the health care system to handle the worst cases of this novel coronavirus.
Canada has just over 3,000 ventilators available. Banff Mineral Springs Hospital has four portable ventilators and three anesthesia machines that can be used as ventilators. The Canmore General Hospital has three ventilators.
That means that it would take only 10 critical cases of COVID-19 in the Bow Valley locally to put local health care at is maximum capacity.
As the unprecedented response to "flatten the curve" has unfolded, it has dramatically changed life as we know it.
It doesn't matter who you are, or what you do – everything is different and there is no way to tell at this point when, or even if, it will go back to what normal was even just a few weeks ago.
As quickly as things have changed, we have also seen the federal government respond to ensure the country's entire economy doesn't fall out from underneath us. Whether you are a business owner, employee, public servant, student, renter, or property owner – there is going to be an effect.
The key is to ensure any measures to mitigate this crisis does not result in any sector, or socioeconomic group, fall through the cracks. Whether you work shifts, or freelance, versus having a full-time salary – there must be adequate supports in place to prevent personal financial disaster. Businesses will also require appropriate supports as well. Many have been forced to choose between the risk of remaining open and closing their doors while laying off staff.
Just as we have rallied as a community to change our behaviours to reduce the spread of this virus, so too must we rally as a nation to support everyone affected in its economic wake – especially the most vulnerable.
In a valley that has the highest cost of living in the entire province with an economy that runs on tourism and travel – we must hold fast at this point and do our best to support each other.
The only way we are going to get through this is together – as friends and neighbours who weathered the storm united and resolved to find sunny skies again.