Shout out to Public Health

A recent Angus Reid poll showed that 1 in 5 Canadians don’t really have much respect for public health, so I’m potentially wading into choppy waters with this post, but when I look at the way the pandemic situation in Canada, and BC, is tracking (I have a spreadsheet and have been following some of the numbers since March… it was a little ritual to help me hold onto some facts, amid the swirl of uncertainty), especially compared to jurisdictions that have experienced dubious leadership through this), I really want to shout out to BC’s Public Health officers.

My understanding is that the freedom we’ve been able to experience this summer, and the opportunity we have to return kids to school, while it doesn’t come with iron-clad assurances of safety (but when have we ever been able to move through the world with the promise that absolutely nothing bad will come our way?), has been because of the incredible leadership of Dr Bonnie Henry and the public health care teams in BC, and the support government has provided to her. Many of the restrictions we’re operating under now, are about making sure we work to the capacity of public health to rapidly respond to, isolate and contact trace any infection or case of COVID-19.

I appreciated the letter to the editor in the Pique this week from Dr Denton Hersh,

…”we were not testing very aggressively at all at the height of the pandemic, because our system could not handle it. 

Now, we are testing and contact tracing very aggressively.

At the height of the pandemic, there were more than 130 COVID-19 patients in hospitals with more than 60 patients with COVID-19 in our ICUs. As of Aug 20 there are 10  people in hospital with four people in the ICU, 1.5 months after the Canada Day long weekend and two weeks after the BC Day long weekend. 

The death rate from COVID-19 has also decreased substantially in this province. 

By these measures, we are doing more than 15 times better now than at the height of our pandemic! This is a testament to the ongoing good work that our public health officials and contact tracers are doing.”

I don’t read his letter as saying, it’s all good, we can forget about this and go back to our previous carefree lives. But I do read it as saying, we are not in a state of crisis right now.

I’m trying to navigate all of this, and attune my nervous system to the place it needs to be – alert – but not numbed out/in denial or hypervigilant and terrified. It’s not an easy middle path to walk… because it demands a degree of mindfulness that probably takes decades of meditation and Buddhist practice to do with grace… But still. Goals.

Goals, and gratitude – I feel immense appreciation for the system I live in. There are injustices I want to address, not gloss over. But to be protected by a socialised medical system, a democracy, and a public health service, is not something everyone in the world is experiencing right now. And I am grateful.

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