Opinion: ‘Roger in Burnaby’ thinks COVID is a ‘small medical problem’ as cases surge

Chris Campbell

Fresh off last weekend’s disgraceful “freedom” rally in Vancouver, I have been inundated with another batch of COVID-19 truther emails.

One was from “Roger in Burnaby” who emailed a list of health conditions that kill more people than COVID-19.

This list included cancer, strokes and diabetes. This is a common theme from the truthers. They seem to think that because other things kill more people then COVID-19 is no big deal.

“Notice the virus doesn't even make the top ten,” Roger wrote. “I had to cheat to get it number 12 but the whole world is in panic mode (because) of this small medical problem that affects 85-year-old people with chronic conditions.”

It, of course, ignores the fact that cancer, strokes and diabetes are not contagious. The reason why there are lockdowns and rules in many areas about wearing masks is to stop the spread of the virus. Just look at what’s happening in the U.S., especially in areas where state officials have not mandated masks. COVID is out of control.

Roger also ignores the fact that it’s not just about deaths. People who get COVID often get really sick and it’s horrific. And even after they recover, many are experiencing potentially long-term health damage that researchers are still discovering.

Lastly, Roger is another one of these terrible people that devalues the lives of seniors, as though these folks somehow deserve to die.

Meanwhile, there are many ways that people are unfortunately not helping the local situation. The head of British Columbia's largest health authority says multi-day events including weddings, funerals and gender-reveal parties have caused a surge in COVID-19 cases the same day the province announced a record 274 cases over the previous 24 hours.

Dr. Victoria Lee, the CEO of Fraser Health said different groups of up to 50 people typically come together for a single event that can go on for days.

She says about 70% of the of 203 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday were linked to Fraser Health, which serves a mostly urban population of 1.8 million people, stretching from Hope to Delta and including the Tri-Cities, Burnaby and Surrey.

On Thursday, cases surged to 274 cases, breaking another record. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health teams have identified several cases linked to weddings, which started in small groups, but as the night went on, the revelry led to more hugging, dancing, singing and eating together.

“While the intent might have been under 50, that changes as the night goes on,” said Dr. Henry, noting party buses and limousines have also become problems again.

When asked whether the number and nature of the new cases would lead public health to lower the 50-person mass gathering limit in place since the spring, Dr. Henry said “We are considering all the options” and that “Certainly, changing the orders are one of them.” 

Fraser Health’s Dr. Lee said some gatherings are being reported to municipalities and that may require the authority to have "further conversations" around bylaw officers enforcing measures aimed at reducing the spread of the pandemic.

There have been several transmission events at a variety of workplaces, in break rooms, carpooling and sometimes the workplace itself. But most have been linked to social functions, said Dr. Henry, advising workplaces to follow through on health and safety plans that may stipulate social distancing options at work, as well as limited or staggered staffing throughout the week.  

Dr. Henry and Dr. Lee both noted part of the surge in cases can be attributed to Thanksgiving gatherings where large groups came together to celebrate. 

Both doctors warned that people should stick to the same six people beyond those in their household to keep cases low at a time when "pandemic fatigue" is setting in.

“As we move into the winter, we move inside more and that increases the risk,” said Dr. Henry. “This is not forever. I know I’ve been saying that for months, but it’s true.”

“But we still need to maintain those measures that protect our communities now.”

-With files from the Canadian Press and Stefan Labbe

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.


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