In order to make good decisions, we need good information.
This is a statement that applies to many facets of public and private life. From area structure plan applications to COVID-19 infections – the public and elected officials are better able to determine the best course of action when they have the factual information they need to do so.
So when it comes to the rising cases numbers of this coronavirus in our Bow Valley communities, we would like to call upon businesses and government to meet this standard of proactive disclosure without hesitation.
But we also need to recognize as a community that a positive case of COVID-19 is not something that is shameful, or should be judged as such. It is simply a matter of fact that provides residents and visitors with information they can use to better assess risk and make decisions based on those factors.
With the Alberta government failing miserably at contact tracing, there are no longer any guarantee that if you were exposed to someone who later tested positive, that you would find out through official channels.
We found out this week that the provincial tracing app, long heralded by Premier Jason Kenney as the best available option for Albertans, has only been used to trace 20 exposures. This is absurd and disgraceful. It would be laughable, if we weren't discussing an issue that is a matter of life and death.
This disturbing set of circumstances calls into question the assurances from our political and public health leaders that contact tracing resources were being bolstered over the past several month to meet the demand of the second wave we find ourselves within right now. We are on a precipice and about to be swept over it by the momentum of exponential growth in this infectious disease.
Case numbers reported on Alberta Health's website are also suspect. Unless you are a permanent resident of the Bow Valley, you don't show up in these statistics. Given the number of visitors we have and seasonal staff, it is clear that reporting of local case numbers is woefully inadequate.
But we should not just look to the provincial government to tell us when there are cases in our community. We should also expect and demand that local businesses, organizations and event organizers will also be transparent when there is a positive case.
Multiple businesses in the valley have closed over the past week for a variety of reasons. But if you only relied upon the rumour mill, you would believe they were all as a result of COVID outbreaks. Some were as a result of a positive case, others have chosen to close as a precaution and several had entirely different reasons for being closed.
Misinformation is widespread at the moment and what we need is a good dose of non-judgemental facts. The responsibility to communicate these facts falls to us as individuals, business owners and community organizations.
If we as a community or a society are going to point fingers, or blame and shame people or businesses that report there has been a COVID positive case, we are going down the wrong path.
A COVID positive case should be viewed as information – not as something that invites shaming or derision. We would even suggest that those businesses and organizations that step up and confirm there was a possible exposure should be held in higher esteem overall.
We should be thanking those businesses and organizations that understand that their customers who may have been present and possible exposed to this virus deserve this type of fullsome disclosure.
Because if these groups don't step up to let us know there have been exposures – what are we left with? Rumours and a failed government disclosure system.