There is a light, but we have to get to it

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By Nick Seebruch
There is a light, but we have to get to it
Picture of one of the first COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the region that distributed the vaccine to residents of Parisien Manor. Submitted photo.

Starting this week, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) region. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. The dawn is coming, but as the old line goes, “it is always darkest before the dawn”.

The number of active cases in the EOHU region is the highest it has ever been, with Cornwall leading the way. Hospitalization numbers and the number of people in the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH)’s Critical Care Unit (CCU) is also on the rise.

The CCH put out a message late last week warning that their resources were feeling the strain.

“The next few weeks are terribly worrisome; we need everyone to understand that what is happening in Toronto and Windsor can happen here if a broader effort to slow transmission is not met,” said Dr. Lorne Scharf, Chief of Staff. “The entire system is being stretched. Provincially, there is not enough specialized staff to meet demand as numbers continue to soar.”

CCH President and CEO Jeanette Despatie pleaded with the public to not give up, and follow health guidelines and fight the spread of the pandemic locally.

“Our community can help us manage this crisis by following Public Health guidelines on physical distancing, limiting interactions, handwashing and masking,” Despatie said. “There is hope with the vaccine’s development, but our essential health care workers in Cornwall have not been vaccinated and we must protect them by limiting the spread.”

People want this shutdown to be over, they want to go back to their normal lives. Parents want their kids back at school, and businesses to be re-opened.

I feel what many people are not understanding is the seriousness of our current situation. This province wide shutdown is supposed to end on Jan. 28, but it is not going to end for us, not if these numbers don’t change.

This isn’t a decision that’s in the hands of our local mayors or Dr. Paul with the Health Unit, this is coming from the province. According to the provincial COVID-19 management rubric, a seven-day rolling case average above 40 is considered to be in the Red Zone, which comes with serious restrictions. The EOHU region on Monday had a seven-day rolling case average of 152.2, with Cornwall’s average well above that at 286.9. On Monday, there were 244 active COVID-19 cases in the City of Cornwall alone.

We are not going to re-open on Jan. 28. How can we? This pandemic is out of control in our region and in our city. I never thought I would see a statement like the one above from the CCH in my inbox. They are asking for help.

Even if you are not at risk for COVID-19, you could give it to someone who is. If COVID-19 overwhelms our local healthcare system, that affects everyone, not just COVID-19 patients. Where are they going to put someone who is in a car accident, or someone who has a heart attack if our Critical Care Unit is full?

For those of you who still shrug COVID-19 off, for those who believe that maybe it is best if we all get COVID-19, and get herd immunity I will offer just one point as to why that is so dangerous and reckless. Chicken Pox is not a fatal virus, we all get Chicken Pox as children, but some of us, when we are older, get the shingles virus because we had Chicken Pox. Shingles might not be deadly but it is extremely painful. COVID-19 is a new virus, do you want to gamble on what surprises might lie in wait for you down the road if you get COVID-19 now.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are going to get there, but, we won’t all get there. Don’t go out if you don’t have to, and if you do, wear a mask. Sanitize your hands. Keep your social distance. Don’t spread the pandemic. Do it for a frontline worker at the hospital. Do it for a long-term care facility worker who has to stay with their patients as they pass away from COVID-19 because they can’t be with their families. Save a life.

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