Living with COVID

Written by Brenda Schimke

At the end of June, as the Delta variant was showing its ugly head in Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said, “we just have to learn to live with COVID”.

I’m not sure this is what those who got fully vaccinated expected—a return to mask wearing and another uncertain year for school children.

I’m not sure those in the food and drink sector thought ‘learning to live with COVID’ would mean another round of restrictions on an industry that had already been disproportionately impacted during the first three waves.

I’m not sure those waiting for joint replacements and other elective surgeries thought it would mean more cancellations and continued months of pain and agony.

Good heavens, I don’t even think Premier Kenney or Health Minister Tyler Shandro thought that Dr. Hinshaw’s promises would mean having to backtrack on restrictions less than two months later.

In Canada, like all rich, first-world countries, we have the luxury of a vaccination-lead recovery, versus a constraint-lead recovery.

Dr. Hinshaw’s plan to ‘live with COVID’ was always a fantasy. That’s why no other jurisdiction in Canada took her approach. Our vaccination rates were too low to remove masking, cut testing and contact tracing, or discontinue public updates.

On Friday our Alberta politicians lied to the public when they said the severity of the Delta virus wasn’t known at the end of June. Of course, it was known. Medical professionals never ceased pleading with Dr. Hinshaw and Premier Kenney to stop their ‘living with COVID’ plans.

It was always too early to pretend COVID was in the rearview mirror. Instead, it means learning to accept that in order to have some form of normality, which is not the same as pre-pandemic normal, we need to accept that our lives must be lived differently.

There is a price to be paid if we want to meet our friends and families or go to the cinema and restaurants or go to work and keep our economy going. Pre-COVID normal will not exist until the COVID virus stops mutating into more dangerous and virulent variants. The best way to beat COVID-19 is when 95 per cent of our population is vaccinated and we stop travelling to places with lower vaccination rates.

The fourth wave is solely attributable to those who travelled out of the country in March bringing the Delta variant back with them and those who won’t follow public health guidelines or refuse to be vaccinated.

With the exception of the very small percentage of the population who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated, less than one per cent, it’s the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers who are COVID’s best friends and society’s worst enemies. They are responsible for full ICU’s, a shortage of medical personnel, the cancellation of elective surgeries and, ironically, even the unpopularity of their hero, Jason Kenney.

Seventy per cent of Albertans did the right thing. They put public good over personal selfishness. Yet their sacrifices are meaningless as long as 30 per cent of the population are anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.

With anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers picketing outside of hospitals and harassing tired medical staff who, let’s not forget, are being forced by AHC to work double shifts and mandatory overtime, it’s time we start treating anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers for what they are—economy killers.

We’ve been treating anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers with kid gloves– no more. Our message should be simple, get your damn shots and enjoy your $100 taxpayer-funded bonus!

And, as for Dr. Hinshaw, if you think this is how to successfully ‘live with COVID’, speaking on behalf of the 70 per cent who did the right thing—it sucks!


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.