If my own circle of friends and acquaintances is any indication, no matter how dedicated we’ve been to following distancing and mask protocols, no matter how faithfully we have shuttered ourselves within our homes unless we absolutely need to venture out, we have all had enough of this pandemic and everything that has come with it.
For the past ten months we have all seen life turned upside down. Some have lost jobs, others have lost their businesses, and while we have been fortunate to have not seen as many cases or deaths as other countries, across the nation we have seen nearly 700,000 cases of the virus, and more than 17,000 Canadians have lost their lives to this virus (5,000 in Ontario alone). A low percentage death rate perhaps, but tell that to the families of the 17,000 lost thus far.
It could be much worse of course, all we need to do is look south of our border. In the United States they have experienced a per capita death rate triple that of Canada, and the latest numbers I have seen show nearly 23 million cases of the virus and some 376,000 deaths as a result. Deaths aside, while many who contract the virus experience only mild symptoms, for many others the symptoms are brutal and the effects can linger for months.
To keep our numbers low we have been asked to physically distance from others, and to wear face coverings indoors when in public settings. We endured a provincial lock-down last spring, and since Boxing Day we have been under a new (though seemingly less restrictive) provincial shutdown. Many of us have not gathered with family or friends for months, and loneliness and depression are on the rise. Many have missed birthdays and weddings, and the births of new family members as a result of the protocols implemented. And though vaccines are now approved and ready, getting those vaccines into the arms of Ontarians has been a painfully slow process.
Slow it may be, but the vaccines are seen by many as the bright light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel, and once vaccinations are in full swing we all hope to see many of the restrictions we’ve been forced to adopt alleviated, hopefully allowing us to return to something resembling the daily lives that we are accustomed to.
As I typed these words on Tuesday morning, Premier Doug Ford was preparing to announce to Ontarians that his government was implementing a 28 day stay at home order beginning Thursday, January 14. Under the new order everyone is asked to stay home except for essential outings such as grocery shopping or medical appointments.
According to the provincial government, the current COVID-19 modelling suggests that Ontario’s ICUs will be full by early February if things continue the way they are going. The latest models also suggest that Ontario could see some 6,000 new cases daily, a significant increase from the roughly 3,000 daily cases we have seen in recent weeks.
Many of us have been patient, and obedient during the many months of this pandemic, but at some point enough is enough, and we need to see this ordeal brought to an end as quickly as possible. Too many businesses have been crushed, and too many lives have been upended. We need to see this province step up the administering of the vaccines so that everyone can get back to work, families can once again gather, and badly missed public events could return, but none of that will happen any time soon if the Province doesn’t shift into high gear to get the population vaccinated.
We are told that the end is now in sight. We are told there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we are also being told that it looks like things are going to get worse still before they actually get better.
The weeks ahead won’t be easy, particularly given that most of us are at the end of our ropes, anxiously awaiting a return to normal life. Difficult or not, these are weeks that we must get through, and with any luck we will see the other side of this pandemic by the time summer rolls around (though I could be a little too optimistic).