January 1, 2022
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
The ominous spectre of the Omicron variant is just starting to affect our case counts. By the time you are reading this, the situation will be much worse than it is as I write this.
I don’t know about you but this one feels like a gut-punch. The optimism that came from being double-vaccinated has basically evaporated overnight. Until I am triple-vaxxed, my protection against symptomatic COVID is somewhere south of 40 per cent, possibly lower from pre-existing conditions. A couple days ago I thought I was statistically at a 90 per cent chance of not getting COVID symptoms.
It’s bad and it sucks and it’s going to get worse before it gets better (for lack of a more eloquent assessment.)
But while things may look dire, we have the tools to mitigate what could be another strain on our health-care system and our overall mental health. Switching to, at minimum, a K-95 mask will help in the fight of an airborne virus. The COVID theatre of deep cleaning won’t help us. Don’t get me wrong — cleaning and regular handwashing is good for a lot of reasons. But going crazy with the Lysol is basically performative at this stage of the game.
Free rapid testing will do a lot of good as well. Sadly, our provincial government prioritized businesses (largely used to test people who choose not to vaccinate) instead of offering easy-to-access tests to the general public as they do in places like Nova Scotia. So the majority of us who have followed all the rules throughout this ordeal have had to pay $40 at Shoppers Drug Mart if we want a test so that the people who aren’t interested in protecting their neighbour can avoid vaccines and test for free. There is no choosing between health and the economy. You have both or you have neither.
And one of the best things we can do is improve our air quality indoors. This can be done fairly easily by monitoring CO2 levels, opening windows and even making relatively inexpensive DIY HEPA filters. The government should be thinking of ways of helping both economically disadvantaged Ontarians and businesses improve indoor air quality.
It goes without saying that increasing vaccination and following the science on the timing of boosters (and any shots that might come after those) will be huge if we are to avoid a complete catastrophe. What Omicron has shown us is the urgent need to get the entire world vaccinated and quickly.
In addition to all the above measures our greatest asset might be each other. Not counting the white noise from an increasingly irrelevant but loud minority, we have come together throughout the pandemic to help each other either financially or otherwise.
Things might get dark again, but we can do this. We have the science and we know what works.