A Time for Greater COVID Caution

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to write with good wishes for my speedy recovery from West Nile virus. I’m getting a bit stronger every day and expect to fully recover.

A friend jokingly chided me for getting a one-in-a-million virus. “Why do you always have to be different? Couldn’t you just get COVID like thousands of other people?”

Both viruses can be life-threatening, with many potential short and long-term consequences. I am, of course, taking every precaution so that I will never be able to make a personal comparison.

As we enter a time when the virus could begin to get much worse than it was during the summer, I hope you are all doing everything within your control to protect yourself and others. Schools are re-opening, cooler weather will start driving people indoors where the virus is much more likely to spread, and we’re getting close to flu season and all the complications that it brings to the fight against COVID.

In recent weeks, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of cases across Ontario and within Toronto. This week, Toronto had 265 new cases, up from 209 last week and 161 the week before. This trend, before we even reach the fall, is concerning.

Earlier this week, Toronto Medical Officer of Health Eileen DeVilla spoke about the inevitability of a COVID increase this fall and winter. What’s unknown is what that will look like. Toronto Public Health offers three scenarios:

1) A large new wave this fall/winter, with smaller waves continuing into 2021; 2) A series of smaller but repetitive waves over the next 1-2 years 3) A prolonged “ripple” of peaks and valleys but with no clear wave pattern or spikes

The City and Toronto Public Health are developing contingency plans for each of these scenarios. Although much is still unknown about this virus, a lot has been learned since the peak in the Spring.

We know now that the virus spreads much more readily in closed indoor space; it is spread not only by people with symptoms but by those not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) and those who have the virus but never show symptoms (asymptomatic). We also know that face masks, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing are an effective way of limiting the virus spread.

If we can all work together to keep the numbers low, that will greatly assist Public Health in its ability to do effective contact tracing, which is in turn essential to controlling the number of people that each new case infects. When that numbers get above one, the number of cases can start to increase exponentially.

A lot is riding on how we behave, especially in the coming month. Let’s all do our part. For those who just want to cover their eyes for a few weeks, here’s Billie Joe Armstrong with “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

– John