Our response to COVID-19 has to be one we can justify

Re: “$53 million pledged for mental health,” April 16.

When I read the headline in my Red Deer Advocate, I realized it was time to put pen to paper.

I believe it is time for people to speak up and say “enough is enough” – the federal government and Public Health Agency of Canada response to COVID-19 has gotten completely out of hand.

I have degrees in public health and in sociology and neither discipline provides me any justification for the overreaction of health and government officials, nor for the fact that, up to this point, citizens have tolerated the directives and closures handed out.

The sociologist part of me knows that people have difficulty dealing with unpleasant situations.

They develop coping mechanisms to help them try to make sense out of inexplicable tragedies – hence, the emergence of the “blame the victim” mentality.

In the case of COVID-19, the villain is the virus itself – not other countries, and not Canadians who attempt to continue their lives, their education or their livelihood.

Fining and reporting citizens who try to continue with their activities of daily living will not improve the health of Canadians – in fact, it is reprehensible.

The public health part of me thinks that that the Public Health Agency of Canada and various provincial health leaders have lost their sense of perspective.

I have lived through and worked through a variety of outbreaks and disasters – pertussis, polio, measles, H1N1 influenza, evacuations due to fires, etc. – and cannot personally find any justification for what we are being told to do.

Certainly, measures such as exclusion of the ill and their contacts from public places, and an emphasis on personal, institutional and commercial hygiene is reasonable and makes sense at all times, to help prevent the spread of a wide variety of infectious diseases.

However, in reality, and particularly in the absence of any effective vaccine, COVID-19 will become endemic in the population.

There are likely many times more disease than have been lab confirmed; we are only being given statistics on the “tip of the iceberg” of this disease incidence.

Is prolonging the spread of a disease that has a very low mortality rate worth ruining the lives of more than 37 million Canadians and taking away their joy of living, and crippling the federal economy, perhaps forever?

Yes, staying at home could help prevent a citizen from getting an infectious disease, becoming a victim of crime, becoming a motor vehicle accident casualty, or tripping and breaking a hip, etc.

But is this a solution to life’s challenges, or is it social anxiety disorder?

By postponing weddings, funerals, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, christenings and other lifetime celebrations, we have created a self-imposed malady from which there will be no recovery.

Audrey Gauthier, Red Deer

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