Vaccines versus variants: A prescription for tough times

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The current COVID-19 third wave has at times put unbearable stress on both citizens and businesses.

Just when we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, a curveball was thrown. Variants have made infection rates spike, causing concerns for those with health issues.

And at the same time, businesses are again yo-yo’d back to restrictions, putting strains on incomes.

As an exasperated Michael Corleone cries out in The Godfather Part III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

Breaking points

While we try to protect lives and livelihoods, superhuman resilience is being called for.

But although observing health orders tries the patience of Job, the alternative is no answer. Ignoring medical advice and overwhelming hospitals is a risk all of us would inherit. Who among us would want to choose between treating a car accident victim over a cancer patient?

We also need to continue aiding workers and our economy.

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Walk in the shoes of a gym or restaurant owner. You’ve been through this twice before. Your staff is at their breaking point with wages ceasing. Your landlord is reminding you rent is due. You have $15,000 in inventory that will go to waste. You can’t put bread on the table when you’re forced to throw it out.

Walking the line

In the face of unheard-of stress, our citizens, businesses and Strathcona County staff have done remarkedly well.

None of us asked for this; we were barely warned of it. And there is little instruction on how to cope with a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic.

But crucially, by and large, most of us have modelled good behaviour.

Citizens generally have followed restrictions. Strathcona County continues to protect public health through our Emergency Services department. Our Recreation, Parks and Culture, and Family and Community Services have adapted and continue to provide important physical and mental health relief.

Workers and businesses are supported through shop local campaigns, with help from the Chamber of Commerce, and through Strathcona County’s 2020 tax deferrals (stay tuned for 2021) and a zero per cent tax increase. We have advocated for supports for small businesses to the provincial government and were pleased to see that come through last week. Our Economic Development team continues to connect businesses with supports, resources and information.

Soon we should hit close to 30 per cent herd immunity. That will be significant protection for society.

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We just need to hang on so we can start putting this behind us once and for all.

To rise: Acknowledge others

Despite everyone’s hard work, the uncertainty and anxiety do take a toll.

In a recent Rural Municipalities of Alberta talk, Dr. Jody Carrington pointed out we are biologically wired for connection, but we’ve been through a year of social isolation. Folks become emotionally unregulated. They can’t access kindness, passion, memory and understanding.

In short, they can lose it.

What to do? Dr. Carrington counsels:

  • Counter the fear and doubt. We will turn the tide with herd immunity.
  • Put yourself in others’ shoes. Acknowledge their experience. Perhaps the individual in the store asking you to mask up lost a loved one to COVID-19. Maybe the gym or restaurant owner is facing lost life savings.
  • Reconnect in safe ways with those who support you.
  • Take care of yourself with good nutrition and physical exercise.

How to get to brighter days?

As the good doctor orders, persevere with calm and respectful behaviour and recognize the pain others are going through. There’s the prescription.

This column was written by Mayor Rod Frank. The views expressed are his own. Follow Mayor Frank on Twitter @RodFrank12, Facebook at Rod Frank, LinkedIn @rfrank.ca. Reach Rod at 780-464-8000 or rod.frank@strathcona.ca.

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