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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Local doctor’s warning about new variants deadly serious

'Do your part, be part of the solution, or you are part of the problem.'
n-weekend 27.31
Thanks to new, faster-spreading coronavirus variants, what Whistler is currently experiencing "is a different COVID-19 than last summer," writes a Sea to Sky physician. File photo by Braden Dupuis

I am going to speak clearly and from the heart in plain and simple English, as both an athlete and a physician who has been living in the Sea to Sky for 30 years.

I love this community and I love our lifestyle and I want it to return to normal.

We are all sick and tired of COVID-19, all the restrictions on our lives, the affect on the economy, the lack of our ability to ski on the hill—I know, I know, I’m the same as you. 

But where I differ is that I am educated in evidence-based medicine and as a physician, my knowledge base and my understanding of immunology, virology, vaccinations and medicine far surpasses most people’s ability to Google and research. 
I am tired of people thinking that scanning the Internet is synonymous with education. If you don’t like me speaking plainly well that’s just too bad.

My medical colleagues and I have spent years learning how to deal with illnesses such as this one. [B.C.’s Public Health Officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry, all the physicians in public health, all the physicians in Canada receive communications from all levels to understand this pandemic in a way far different than you do in the public news. 

No, the physicians and public health are not perfect, we have not done things perfectly, and there’s been a lack of communication at some levels.

At times it feels like an absolute shit show and the decisions that are made suddenly seem ad hoc. I realize that completely, and at times as a physician, I do question what they’re doing—but also in contrast to one of our local physicians who has written several times in this paper I feel that they have far more knowledge and far more information at their fingertips than I.

The problem is when you’re in the middle of a crisis you don’t have time always to tell people why, when, who, what, where—instead you just react to the crisis by doing, and then the information comes out later.

If we had a forest fire that was about to burn down our town we wouldn’t sit deliberating that we should’ve done more fire thinning, that we should use water instead of chemicals, that we should have better plans in place and that we should’ve had a different budget—we just fight the fire with anything at our disposal to do so with heart and soul and desperation.

The new variants are here.

The new coronavirus mutations, which are best understood as spelling errors in a replication of data entry, and well, some of these have an absolute competitive advantage. What does that mean? Some of these new mutations are more deadly, infect more easily and in bigger numbers, and can have a much deadlier effect on the young, as well as all members of society.
What we are seeing is a different COVID-19 than last summer. It’s infecting more people, making people sicker, and affecting both young and the old. 

If you’re not aware, Ontario has now returned to a stay-at-home order, which is like last March—stay home except for getting groceries and other essential things. As in stay home! Stay home does not mean locking yourself in your house. Please get outside and exercise and if you have any social contacts remember, “outside is better than inside.”

This is not the same situation as last summer with the kind of quasi-stay home and the “be good” type mentality. 

This is serious—deadly serious.

It’s in the news if you missed it—but I will tell you that one of our firefighters was in the ICU and some of the firefighters are positive for COVID-19. In the last week I have joined my colleagues to screen; i.e. swabbing for COVID-19 at the Squamish centre.

I can tell you the numbers are staggering and many of those people will be positive as they live with someone who has been positive.

I also know that we’re seeing increasing illness that’s a very different kind of COVID-19 than initially.

I would far rather immunize people to give them hope of returning to life than testing them because they’re already positive. 

Despite what’s happening we’re still seeing people post on social media that they’re going to Sedona to mountain bike? That they organizing big mass parties to celebrate gaper day? That they’re still having house parties? Get your head out of the sand stop being stupid—this is a different entity altogether.

We have identified that due to travels between our three communities (for work, essential travel, and family-sharing parenting etc.) Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton are all part of same zone so [we don’t consider] this travelling. But please, use extreme caution as some communities have more COVID-19 than others.

Let’s just chill it out for one month let’s not argue and bicker about why, when, who, what, where—actually take a proactive stance. 

Do your part, be part of the solution, or you are part of the problem.

Dr. Cathy Zeglinski, MD CCFP Dip SEM // Whistler