Caution: Pivot-free zone.
People speak and talk about Covid Fatigue. I have it. But not, I believe, in the way they mean. I’m not fatigued about being careful, washing my hands, using smelly hand sanitizer, not flying, not eating in restaurants, limiting my social circle to virtually nothing, dashing in and out of grocery stores so quickly they may think I’m shoplifting—I’m not.
But I do have Covid Fatigue. I’m tired of hearing about it. Tired of reading about it. Really, really tired of some of its done-to-death images and messages.
Pivot is a good place to start. Covid has put the boots to the word. It’s rendered it meaningless, hip, au courant, fashionable, nauseating. Everybody is pivoting. Every organization is pivoting. Governments are pivoting. Style is pivoting.
When everybody is pivoting is anybody pivoting? Or are we all just channelling our inner whirling dervish and spinning like tops?
The word used to mean something. It used to invoke both action and stability. One pivoted around a base, generally a stationary base. But it’s come to mean any change in direction, focus, intent, frame of mind. And used that way it is as absurd as if I said I was driving to the village but pivoted to Function Junction instead.
It’s annoying. So stop it. Right now. Before I make you actually pivot until your head spins.
I’m tired of watching news with the inevitable footage of someone having a swab shoved so far up their nose it looks more like someone performing a primitive lobotomy than an effort to corral some mucus. It’s enough to know there is testing. It’s more informative to know there isn’t enough.
I’m tired of seeing people get placidly vaccinated. When I got vaccinated I wanted to feign some kind of seizure just to inject a bit of theatre into the ordinary. I was warned not to by someone I blindly obey.
I’m tired of hearing hospitals and ICU wards are “nearing” capacity. With every wave we’ve heard the same claim, day after day. Like the boy who cried wolf, we’ve become numb to it. Maybe if they do close access to ICU and we see people wheezing and gasping for breath in hospital hallways people will begin to take it seriously.
I’m referring to the ones who continue to believe their parties are immune. Some of who live among us. In mansions up in Sunridge where a big spring break party took place. Like the ones that didn’t work out so well and ended up with their host in ICU. I wonder whether doctors who are haunted about having to make live-or-die decisions might look at someone like that and say, “Hope you enjoyed your parties. No ICU for you.” I’m really tired of those people.
I am hugely empathetic hearing about doctors and nurses and aides and first-responders facing and experiencing burnout. But like nearing capacity, it’s information thats effect has been blunted by repetition. It’s good to see some of them taking to the streets. It’s good to hear some of them have influenced local health officers to take steps beyond those tepid initiatives coming out of provincial leaders. It’s heartening seeing some protesting. We owe all of them an unpayable debt of gratitude and a very long paid vacation. But it’s not sufficiently changing the dynamic.
And that dynamic is what I’m mostly tired of. That dynamic is this: The decision makers at all levels of government are failing us. Miserably. F—Failing.
Unfortunately, there are far too many people—and I use the word loosely—who are blaming the wrong people. They’re blaming the public health officers. They’re threatening them, acting like real life is their very own antisocial media network. Imagining they’re anonymous because they’re wearing a mask. You know, morons.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a moment of honesty uncharacteristic of high-ranking public officials, said, a number of months ago during a controversy over the province’s inaction, that she and her office advise politicians—it’s the politicians who make the decisions.
And so it is.
I have no doubt most, perhaps all, health officers are hugely science-oriented. Not nonsense internet science but the real kind. I have no doubt they know what needs to be done. And I have no doubt they’re frustrated as hell watching the upstream politicos making a hash out of their advice and blundering their way into third and fourth waves, making decisions that place healthcare facilities near capacity and healthcare workers well past burnout.
Clearly there are a lot of doctors out there who understand the steps needed and are increasingly making their voices heard as premiers and mayors continue to try ineffective half measures. Their voices are beginning to be taken seriously.
The most reluctant provincial leaders are finally taking some of the steps they should have taken months ago. More lockdowns. Finally embracing paid sick leave. Targeting hot zones with vaccinations instead of treating the decision of who gets them the same way airlines used to board planes.
Yet, in our own province Health Minister Adrian Dix plays political badminton with the federal government over the issue of paid sick leave. It’s long been the Canadian national sport and I consider it one of the answers to the perennial, navel-gazing question of what makes Canadians unique. Minister Dix acknowledges the importance of paid sick leave. His response? Blame the federal government for not including it in the recent budget. On April 27, B.C. Premier John Horgan weighed in saying he would look at introducing a made-in-B.C. program. It amounts to the tiresome game the feds and provinces play. “It’s provincial jurisdiction.” (Insert eye-roll here.) “No, it’s federal jurisdiction.” Supposedly sentient adults believe this divide provides cover for each other’s inaction. But it comes off sounding like a playing field argument—”You’re out; no I’m safe. No you’re not. So’s your old man.”
Finally, I’m tired enough to fall over dead at the day-late, dollar-short approach that our federal government has taken to protecting our country’s borders. While claiming we have robust travel bans, the reality is we have among the most porous borders in the world. While banning flights from India—finally—the work around is travellers getting out of the country and then flying in from somewhere else. Duh. It ain’t the planes bringing the mutants in; it’s the people.
But despite my layers of tiredness, I continue to lead an almost monastic life. It’s the only safe course until this nonsense is over. I hope you can continue to focus through your own Covid Fatigue. See you on the other side.