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Evan Saugstad: A 2022 COVID mash-up

This past week must be one to remember, all the way to the ballot box, whenever that may be
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Evan Saugstad: "I do admit I spend more time than I should trying to separate fact from fiction relating to government COVID response."

saugstad​What is the difference between a leader and a ruler?

A ruler tells their subjects what to do by the power of authority with the purpose being to “rule” or direct people's lives. A leader does so by example and attracts followers by the strength and reality of their ideas or decisions.

Example: a ruler will tell us about how much money they saved by making us drive on snow clogged and icy streets. A leader will keep the streets clear and safe and when asked why the cost, explain that is why they were elected and why we pay our taxes.

What is the definition of a mash-up?

Something created by combining elements from two or more sources.

Example: Public Health reporting that every hospital patient that tests positive for Omicron as being hospitalized for COVID, despite being there for other reasons, or, in short, mixing facts with fictions for the sole purpose of creating obfuscation.

In May, I thought that keeping up to COVID protocols was like trying to dance to a two-step. Once we learned those steps, and figured out how to make things work, it was no longer good enough for our rulers. By November, I began to think it was more like a four-step. That thought was fleeting.

Now, I think it's more like a mash-up.

Imagine senior citizens popping in and thinking they will understand the mash-up moves and be able to navigate the dance floor with two different songs playing at once. Good luck in staying out of dance purgatory, and just like our evolving COVID rules, if you don’t understand the music, it's difficult to figure out the moves and not be sent off to COVID purgatory.

This past week must be one to remember, all the way to the ballot box, whenever that may be.

Justin, the Ruler, insisted that all truckers crossing the US border must be vaccinated until someone pointed out that it is us, the people will be forced to pay higher prices (justinflation) for goods carried due to a shortage of truck drivers. Then, that edict was banished to the dustbin, only to reappear more forcefully than ever a few hours later. Really makes one wonder why any truck driver, or anyone else who crosses the border carrying the same molecules in their lungs that we already have, are designated enemy #1?

Don’t need to say much more about Quebec’s Supreme Ruler and his call to fine anyone that does not meet his definition of vaccinated. Truly, the insane are now in charge of Quebec’s asylum. Can only think that Quebecers can look forward to more contributions for anyone caught speaking English in a public space (a language contribution), or contributions for those who wear a turban or hijab to work (a Christian contribution), but I guess he can find some who would support such innovative thinking. Come to think of it, isn’t Justin all things Quebec?

And then there was the Ruler of Health for Ontario begrudgingly admitting that the time of stay in ICU for COVID has dropped slightly (20 days to 7). Maybe she could use a bit of Dragnet reminding her “just the facts ma’am,” and a reminder that despite more COVID cases, hospital stays have dropped a whopping 65%.

I do admit I spend more time than I should trying to separate fact from fiction relating to government COVID response. I still believe that vaccinations have worked in reducing deaths and hospital stays, at least to date, and that we are likely better off being vaccinated than not for Omicron for the same purposes.

But that said, when do we move to the novel idea that for those who care, who follow sound advice, who understand the reality of this pandemic, who understand life has only one certainty, that if we wish to be COVID-free  we better look after ourselves and avoid the contrary?

If you think gyms and dance studios are a dangerous place to go, then don’t go. If you think it unsafe to send your children to school, then keep them at home. If you wish to have your booster because it may afford more protection for Omicron, then do so.

But for those who choose other paths, so be it and let’s move on. My risk is not from the unvaccinated; it is from all of you and I will adapt my lifestyle accordingly and live with that. After all, I still choose to drive on our icy and snow clogged streets, I just do it with a bit more caution and watch for those who choose to do otherwise.

As to the obfuscation, some simple math to ponder. If Dr. Bonnie reports hospitalizations have doubled in the past month (ie. from 50 to 100), then they have gone up 100%. If 50 of those in hospital are there for other purposes and then subsequently test positive, that means 50% are incorrectly reported, or in other words, hospitalization rates remain about the same. You obfuscated yet?

To Fort St. John city council, I say get out and lead, and forget about the ruler parts. Yes, you finally admitted that it does get cold in Fort St. John, it does snow, and, yes, we pay taxes to have our streets cleared. Snowfall still equates to snow removal, been like that for years, our bylaw still says we want clear streets, despite some of you wishing we were like our southern neighbours.

In terms of the municipal COVID response? Think of it this way.

Our illustrious national and provincial rulers keep quoting they are only doing what their masses tell them they must do, forcing needles into unwilling arms, and that the end justifies the means. But think a bit where their bravado comes from.

From communities like Fort St. John that say much the same, that all employees will be replaced if they do not get vaccinated. Yes, you have moved to delay your edict and that is a step in the right direction, but now give up on the ruler part and be a leader and turn this story back to where it should be.

Vaccinations for Omicron are not slowing the spread, science says both vaccinated and unvaccinated are spreading the virus. That should be your primary concern at the workplace and in our public spaces. If you so wish, then implement that every employee, vaccinated or not, be tested every day before they begin work, not just the unvaccinated, or skip all that and be brave enough to state the obvious and post a sign: “Beware, and enter at your own risk; COVID may reside at this place.”

Do what you did for the gyms and dance halls that were so arbitrary closed and tell Justin and John that this is no longer makes sense. Leave the mash-ups to those who understand the music and the obfuscation to those who operate “Escape Rooms.”

Most have already figured that out, and the rest aren’t changing.


Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.