John’s Update (May 12)

Dear Neighbours,

First, the indisputably good news: Thanks to a very high level of co-operation from residents over the past two months, we have avoided the horrifying scenario under which the hospital system could have been overwhelmed. The curve of new COVID cases appears to be flattening, across the province and in Toronto.

Beyond that, the virus remains present, and the future remains uncertain at best.

We are faced with a jumble of confusing, sometimes contradictory, indicators: job losses and the stock market are going up at the same time; the Premier promises new Stage 1 openings to be announced Thursday on the same day the Province’s Chief Medical Officer quietly tells us we haven’t yet reached the criteria that support this action; clinical trials for a vaccine are underway but most experts say it will take 12-24 months for this to be available to the general population.

In conversations, I’m noticing an overabundance of unsupported optimism.

I’d love to be able to report that we’ll be back to normal sometime soon. That’s what we all wish. But we’re not yet near the end of the first wave and won’t even get that far if we open up too much too fast. Meanwhile, most experts predict a second wave, and perhaps more, until the population has been vaccinated.

The message: Our political leaders shouldn’t jump the gun, especially in large urban areas, and neither should we. Continue to follow the advice of Public Health. Keep yourself, your neighbours, and our health care workers safe.

In addition to the thousands who’ve gotten sick from the virus and the hundreds in our city who have died, there is another category whose health is jeopardized if we let the number of cases rise again. I personally know two people who had heart surgery postponed and two more waiting for cancer treatment because of the pandemic.

So please stay in your bubble for now. If we continue to bring the community spread down, we may be able to “double bubble” — combine our own safe bubble with one other safe one. Wearing non-surgical masks when you go out is now being recommended as an effective measure to stop the spread. But only wear each mask once or, if it is cloth, wash it between uses. Continue to go out for a walk, always keeping a safe distance from anyone outside your household. Hopefully, more open space will become available as the weather and case count continues to improve.

Phew. Today’s music video from Queen & David Bowie expresses how many of us are feeling at the moment. The lyrics get more hopeful towards the end.

— John