Until the last couple of weeks Vancouver Island has been a veritable haven of health, with very low COVID-19 numbers.
Compared to other health regions in the province we are still tallying the lowest number of new cases each day, but there’s no doubt that our numbers have seen an alarming surge.
Thanks to the First Nations Health Authority, which is far more transparent about where COVID-19 cases are than the province has been (more on that later), we know for sure that the Cowichan Valley itself has seen a significant uptick.
We hope that means all Cowichan Valley residents are ready to knuckle down and reinstate COVID precautions they may have become lax about after the first wave.
It would be foolish to think that we have not had any COVID cases in Cowichan until now, but with the certainty of cases in the community we hope this is the nudge that people need to remember their physical distancing (2 metres or 6 feet); hand washing as you move from one place to another, or using sanitizer if you can’t; and when you are unable to keep your distance, to put on a three-layer mask. Another big one is to stay in your bubble, and minimize unnecessary contact with others.
We understand the privacy concerns that have caused the province not to specify where people with COVID live, beyond general areas within health regions. Just look at the despicable racism that has been expressed towards members of Cowichan Tribes after an outbreak was declared within the First Nation (though the roots of that racism go far deeper than a present-day COVID diagnosis). We join all of our community leaders who have spoken out in condemnation of this shameful rhetoric. This is not what the admirable open communication from the First Nations Health Authority and Cowichan Tribes itself should inspire. In fact we think the province should take page from their book.
Of course no individual should be singled out. However, we think it would be helpful for the province to be a little more specific, letting people know if there are cases in Cowichan, Comox, Parksville or Nanaimo. These are still big enough areas that people could maintain their anonymity, but would light a fire under those not taking their COVID safety seriously. There’s no doubt that for many it has to actually be on the doorstep before it feels real. And the pandemic fatigue is real.
We all need to come together, now more than ever, and stop the spread before it can really pick up steam.