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EDITORIAL: COVID is much more than numbers and charts

Nerves about the vaccine are okay, blind refusal is not, writes editor Adam Louis

I was missing a mask.

Not so long ago, while covering a weekend event, I’d inadvertently dropped a cloth mask. The good news is I found it in The Observer’s parking lot. The bad news is it was behind a construction fence as the Aberdeen building is still undergoing renovations.

I could not have possibly reached through. Lifting the fence was not an option for several reasons. The construction crew wasn’t in yet. This was a predicament.

I had a walking stick in my trunk that was just short, but that’s when I remembered I had a second walking stick for reasons I’ve forgotten completely. I went into the office, taped both sticks together with scotch tape (which is much sturdier than you think), explained my odd behaviour to an understandably suspicious bus driver, and inch by inch fished my mask out of its prison and back into my hands – wet, dirty and unusable at the time, but still good.

As much as I don’t like wearing them for longer than I have to, the mask became important to me even now. Having a mask with me offers me one more way to protect the community around me from a yet-ongoing pandemic. Less to the point, that particular mask was relatively expensive. It was somewhat worth the weird MacGyver shenanigans I had to cook up to get it back.

Yes, just because restrictions have lifted does not mean the pandemic is over. The more aggressive, more communicable delta variant of COVID-19 is causing trouble for B.C. as cases have plateaued with occasional spikes back upward.

This isn’t a big surprise. Not enough people are vaccinated yet in the wake of a more aggressive form of COVID while restrictions are being lifted; it’s a bit of a perfect storm for the spread of COVID. It’s not great but it’s not completely out of nowhere especially in under-vaccinated communities.

Some people are still waiting on their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. To them, I say thank you, as well as to the fully vaccinated. A small number of others medically cannot be vaccinated at all; I understand and we will protect you during this difficult time.

Still more cling to anxiety, fear, misinformation, or some combination thereof and refuse to be vaccinated. This group is split into two subgroups.

First, there are some, like so many over-tired toddlers, stubbornly self-centered in their ways, won’t get a vaccine, and I won’t be able to convince them. I wish them well, and I pray the consequences of their actions don’t cause entirely preventable deaths.

However, I know there are some who just plain aren’t sure. I understand you. I was you, from time to time.

If you’re on the fence about the vaccine or you’re nervous about getting that first dose, it’s okay. I can’t completely assure you nothing will go wrong, I can’t say I have all the answers, but there are experts who can help us all understand and help you make an informed decision.

Amid the sea of quackery, there are reliable sources of information out there. Trusted sources such as the World Health Organization, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and medical professionals in vaccine clinics and manning the 811 phone lines are readily available.

There are a lot of pandemic numbers that float around every day, but in the end, remember that COVID isn’t about numbers. Personally, I love statistics becasue they help me make sense of a chaotic world and can clarify what we can expect in the immediate future. That case number isn’t some cosmic golf score we’re looking to improve. It’s deeper. It’s easy to forget that those numbers are the people around you.

I’m not pulling the pandemic or need for vaccination out of my wild imagination, and I resent any past and present implications to the contrary. I wouldn’t, at age 36, queue up for another vaccine if I didn’t think it was socially and medically important to do so. As editor of The Observer, I still consider it my ongoing (sometimes reluctant) duty to continue reporting on the pandemic as necessary and I continue to confidently suggest you get informed and get vaccinated if you can.

There are weekly, walk-in clinics for first and second doses at the Agassiz Agricultural Hall each Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as capacity and supplies allow. Please take advantage of this.

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Agassiz-Harrison Observer