If we are going to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to find a way through our fear.
Things are scary right now. There is a lot of information out there about risk, about a brand new infectious disease, and about what you should and should not be doing.
Health care systems are preparing for the worst. It is hard to know what will that look like, because it depends on what we all do right now to help prevent this coronavirus from spreading at a rate that will overwhelm our hospitals.
If you're not afraid, why not?
Perhaps you haven't been paying attention, or maybe you don't value human life as much as the rest of us.
Because, really, that is what this entire situation comes down to. The value we, as indivduals or communities, provinces and countries, place on human life.
The sheer magnitude of the response to this virus comes down to placing the utmost value on all human life and making it the highest and greatest priority to eliminate preventable deaths.
Yes, there are other challenges we as a society currently face that falls along a similar vein – poverty and addiction to name just two. And while we should be dealing with them in a way that values human life, the emerging COVID-19 crisis we are currently dealing with requires our full attention immediately in order to prevent deaths in our community in the short term.
If we consider what public health officials, like Alberta's own Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, tell us. If we consider what other countries have experienced, and we place the highest priority on saving lives when and if we can, then the time has come to hunker down and take this thing seriously.
If you don't limit as much as possible how much time you spend in public spaces, people will die. This seems to many to be an overreaction, but as it turns out an infectious disease doesn't care if you believe in the risk or not.
The fact that we can prevent the loss of friends, neighbours, loved ones in our own community by just staying at home as much as possible leaves the success or failure of these measures entirely on our shoulders as a society.
The economic crisis that is like a tsunami after an earthquake and is devastating for every single person who has lost a job and local small business owners. But we must as a society ask ourselves whether the economy is more important than saving human lives.
Is heading out for a hike in a provincial or national park more important than saving lives? Is ignoring orders to self-quarantine after travelling because it is easier to go to the grocery store yourself more important than saving lives.
Denial is an understandable and very human response to bad circumstances, so when it comes to the issue, nobody is surprised there are still those who haven't come to accept the new reality and have engaged in activities that could spread this virus despite recommendations to the contrary.
There is no way to tell when this increasingly surreal and tragic situation will be over, or how much worse it will get.
But one thing is certian, that is if we don't find our way through our fear and see more people changing their behaviours, there will be a preventable loss of life and that is truly unacceptable.