It should have been done before today’s announcement by the Alberta government of the new measures that are being put in place. If it had, it would have been a fairly light frothy piece about some of the articles we have in this issue and some of the things I’m looking to publish in the near future (including some reporting on the post-secondary policies (or lack thereof) of our federal parties for the upcoming election).
Instead, I got sucked in to watching the announcement and a lot of time disappeared as I attempted to comprehend just how we’d managed to get here. For those out of province, our case load of COVID-19 people is getting very high. More concerning, the expected disconnect between case counts and hospitalizations/ICU occupation never showed up. (I wonder why?) With ICU occupation nearly doubling over a single week, the government has decided that, contrary to its last announcement on the subject, COVID is not actually over, and by gum we do need some restrictions in place because personal responsibility doesn’t seem to be cutting it.
So where is “here” now? Hospitals in Alberta are cancelling any non-vital surgeries so that they can keep ICU beds free for COVID patients. Mask restrictions are coming back, all indoor public spaces, all indoor workspaces that aren’t kept at least 2 meters apart from others. Liquor can no longer be served after 10pm.
And, that’s about it.
Those in close contact with those diagnosed with COVID have no duties or restrictions placed on them. No restrictions on store occupancies, no requirements for distance other than the masking restriction, those who are unvaccinated are just as welcome to go to crowded pubs or long-term care facilities as the rest of us.
But, on the bright side, if you’re one of the people who hasn’t gotten vaccinated—and so are now part of the reason why surgeries are being cancelled—the government plans to reward you with $100 gift card if you sign up for a vaccination between September 3 and October 14.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if this gets more people to vaccinate right now, that’s probably a good thing, and honestly will save money for the taxpayer given the standard costs of an ICU bed for a COVID patient. However, it’s still a slap in the face for those of us who did the right thing because it was the right thing to do.
More concerning, I fear what message this sends to those who were hesitant, but in the end decided to get the shot because it was the right thing to do. What happens when another booster shot is needed? This new policy may well encourage those “on-the-fence” people to try to hold out until the government is willing to pay them. Future vaccine uptakes may be even slower than this one, with the accompanying results.
I’m having real difficulties just processing the weakness of this government to stand up for the majority of its citizens in the face of a vocal minority who have nothing but rage and fear to back them. And, honestly, I’m starting to feel some real rage about it myself.