Guest Post by Ron Penney
of our geography we have a big opportunity to nip the Coronavirus in the bud but I
fear we are not taking full advantage of that fact.
And because we are late in getting cases, we can learn from other jurisdictions.
know that some will say: what does he know about this, as was said of me and my
other fellow naysayers when we dissented on Muskrat Falls.
this case I do happen to bring some expertise. A stint as Deputy Minister of
Health and head of the City’s Emergency Response Team when I was City Manager for
16 years. And, more importantly, retired public health experts are talking to me daily about what we
should be doing. The government should be reaching out to them.
is likely to be the biggest crisis to have ever faced us. Muskrat Falls and our fiscal crisis may well pale in
far as we know now, the single most important step is social distancing. At
every juncture we have failed to act quickly enough and have followed rather than have
have not stopped visitations at our nursing homes – the single most vulnerable
population we have. In addition, we have allowed nursing home and hospital staff
returning from outside the province to immediately return to work. Some private nursing homes are stopping visitors now. Why the wait?
have delayed our decision to close schools until some independent schools and
the University made independent decisions to close.
recent decision on closing Liquor stores has only served to confuse the general
public and cause lineups, which is the last thing we want.
shouldn’t have been distinguishing between those coming from foreign destinations and
domestic, a policy just changed on Friday. They all go through the same airports in the case of air travel. I’m pleased that now everyone returning to the province is also required to register and be given a quarantine order, but again that should have been done much earlier.
delayed the declaration of a public health emergency too long and many of those
who were told to self-isolate ignored that recommendation. Shame on them. It needed the force
of law behind it and adherence monitored. The Chief Medical Office of health has reported that our first pre-emptive case was a person who returned from foreign travel, who self-quarantined, but not “immediately.” Shame on that person. How many people has that person infected?
evidence from successful jurisdictions is that the implementation of policies
which ensure social distancing is the best way to reduce the advance of the virus. The best way to do that is to immediately order our citizens to shelter
in place. Allow us to buy our groceries and go for walks but otherwise stay
at home. That’s what I am doing already. Instead they are making the same mistake – recommending that we take those steps. It needs to have the force of law.
need a whole of government approach to this, as it is more than a public health
emergency. It will soon become a fiscal crisis adding to our already bad
financial situation. We are quickly going to need federal help as our revenues
collapse and we need to borrow hundreds of million dollars to keep ourselves
initiative by the Leader of the Opposition to ask for a joint committee, which
was agreed to, is a good first step.
need to reach out to retired experts in public health who would be only too
happy to help out.
take lessons learned from other jurisdictions and be bold so as to take
advantage of our geography and the fact that there has been a delay in having
cases in this province.
may irritate and inconvenience citizens but better to do that then risk the
we fail, our health care system will be quickly overwhelmed.
I’m in a high risk
category, luckily with no underlying health conditions, but I’m not too keen
on being caught up in a situation where life-saving equipment has to be
rationed and my life has to be sacrificed to help someone younger!
think it can’t happen here. It’s already happened in Italy where older people have been denied care and left to die alone.