COVID-19 second wave – As we are entering the sixth month since the pandemic was declared, Quebec has just surpassed sixty-one thousand people who have contracted COVID-19. Our province is still leading in the number of cases and deaths in the country. However, a new procedure to count recoveries has made numbers in this category improve. According to a report by CTV News, “Under the new system, those who have tested positive and are no longer hospitalized will be listed as having recovered after 14 days. For those who are immunosuppressed, it will be 21 days, and for those over the age of 80 or in long-term care homes, 28 days.” Of course, numbers can be used to calm an already nervous population. Based on the recent past experience when the virus stroke for the first time, many people have doubts about the ability of the different levels of government to respond to a second wave of the virus. The constant pressure to restart more economic activities, and now the prospect of schools reopening despite concerns by parent and teachers, contribute to a climate of uncertainty amid new threats from COVID-19.
For her part, Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned just last week of a scenario where the public health-care system might be overwhelmed with cases. She was alluding to the fact that with the fall the flu season also arrives, which could add strain on hospitals and other health-care facilities. Dr. Tam said health authorities should plan for “something that’s at least several times worse than your previous experience.”
However, one aspect not sufficiently understood by large parts of the population is the role that each member of society must play to reduce the impact of a new outbreak. Reports of young people gathering in bars and parks, without keeping the recommended safeguards to prevent the spread of the virus, are now routine.
The extent of these cavalier attitudes on the part of some young people is hard to understand. Is it true that they really don’t care about spreading the illness to their parents or grandparents? I recall some exchanges I had with failing students while I was teaching at a local college. Since it was a private institution, the students mostly came from wealthy families. I—half-jokingly—would then remark that if they didn’t manage to pursue further studies, they shouldn’t worry. After all, they were rich, and when their parents die, they will inherit their fortunes. “Oh, sir, are you suggesting that I’d be wishing my parents’ death?”—they protested. Well, maybe Freud was right. Perhaps, those young people gathering without taking precautionary measures, are unconsciously wishing the deaths of their older relatives. Some benefit would come out of that, they may coldly think.
However, suppose those behaviours may be explained as irresponsible or echoes of unconscious “kill the father” desires. A different story is the one in which people are consciously defying science and common sense. The case of those protesting against the measures imposed by authorities to curtail the expansion of the virus. Demonstrations against what they call “restrictions to their freedom” have been held in the US, Germany, Spain, Argentina, and here in Canada and Quebec too. In most cases, they seem instigated by extreme right-wing groups, intending to politicize an issue that has resulted from a very objective occurrence: people are getting sick, and many are dying because of the virus. With the same stubbornness of those who insist that the Earth is flat, anti-mask demonstrators are trying to deny the obvious, and—unlike flat-Earth proponents—potentially causing harm.
Are we prepared for this “second coming” of COVID-19? Suppose that there is a mix of ineffective health-care bureaucracy, irresponsible behaviours by some young people, and an increase of the idiocy and bad faith of those who deny the existence of the virus. In that case, the answer could not be very optimistic.