No tracing, no isolation, no public health restrictions—according to Alberta’s top doc, Deena Hinshaw, the COVID pandemic is over and we’re dealing with a simple respiratory virus.
Of course, other than Saskatchewan, she’s the only top-tier public health official in the world who believes COVID is now insignificant and that we can run around and intermingle, unmasked and socially together, with positive COVID-spreading strangers.
Time will tell whether she is brilliant or delusional.
Canada’s top public health doctor, Theresa Tam sees things differently. She argues Canadians aren’t sufficiently vaccinated and the delta variant still has plenty of victims to work through. The fourth wave will be the pandemic of the unvaccinated, which includes children under 12 and also those with only one jab.
When Alberta’s statistics are translated from percentage of total eligible, to percentage of the total population, only 46.7 per cent of Albertans have been fully vaccinated; 9.3 per cent have had one dose, leaving 44 per cent (1.9 million Albertans) completely unprotected when the fourth wave arrives late summer/early fall.
Those unprotected include 656,000 children under 12 (15 per cent of the population), those who cannot for medical reasons take a vaccine, and at least 25 per cent who are anti-vaxxers or can’t be bothered. Those numbers should be concerning for Dr. Hinshaw.
Unlike the flu virus, the COVID virus doesn’t just come in the fall/winter and then peter out until next year. COVID has been with us year-round and the longer COVID viruses run rampant in a community, the hardier and more deadly they become.
Delta will be replaced by something more vicious and transmissible if we don’t get at least 80 per cent, preferably 90 per cent, of all eligible Canadians fully vaccinated across all age groups. Yet today, Alberta’s vaccination uptake has all but stalled as Kenney and Hinshaw give more and more disincentives to get vaccinated.
When Dr. Hinshaw announced dropping isolation restrictions for people exposed to COVID or positive with COVID, it seemed out of character for a doctor whose mandate is public health. It would be like a surgeon agreeing to take a patient’s cast off a broken leg at week four rather than week six because the patient was tired of having his play and freedoms interrupted.
Dr. Hinshaw has left the most vulnerable to fend for themselves. She has passed all responsibility to the parents of young children to keep them safe from COVID. At the same time, she has taken a sledge hammer to testing, contract tracing and daily reporting of community spread. This decision creates an information void that parents would have found useful when assessing the risk/benefit of sending their children to in-person schooling this fall.
Dr. Hinshaw seems willing to sacrifice our children, even as delta variant cases are climbing and becoming more significant in younger populations worldwide. Last week in Alabama, 32 young children, including an infant, were battling COVID in intensive care units.
We do not have enough data to know the long-term consequences children will suffer from COVID even for those having lesser or no obvious outward symptoms.
Studies are starting to suggest COVID affects not only respiratory functions and energy levels but the brain’s cognizant areas. To what degree, and how long these issues will manifest into the future, won’t be known for decades.
If Premier Kenney had made the decision to let COVID positives wander around spreading their virus to the unsuspecting, it would be understandable. He and his Caucus have spent two years showing complete disdain towards children, seniors and public servants. But Dr. Hinshaw’s decision to allow unidentified COVID positives to visit everywhere, even schools, without any caution or warning to potential victims, seems both mystifying and unconscionable.
By Brenda Schimke