The sad toll of COVID
Michael Bishop’s December 8 letter, “Perilous loss of perspective,” which purported to show how stupid we have been to worry about the COVID pandemic somehow bothered me.
I am a retired anesthesiologist and have studied and worked in operating theaters and intensive care units for half a century. Somehow, my colleagues’ experiences – canceling elective surgeries and, with intensive care units full, sending patients out of the province – didn’t seem like an insignificant event.
I also knew that in the United States, with their private health care, intensive care is so lucrative that it has many more intensive care beds per capita than in Canada – and hundreds are empty but available. Except during the pandemic when they were sometimes full in many states.
Yet Mr. Bishop’s numbers seemed unassailable. He is right. Of course, many Canadians die from causes unrelated to COVID. With an average life expectancy of 82 years, we would expect about one in 80 Canadians to die each year with or without COVID. Your likelihood of dying or being killed in the next 365 days if you’re under 60 and not sick is obviously low.
Then I recalled that I had read somewhere that statisticians can calculate excess deaths, those above the expected number, which are attributed to COVID.
Mr. Bishop may not have drawn conclusions from the most relevant statistics. As he says, the data is readily available on the Internet. Canada recorded 307,132 deaths from July 2020 to June 2021, just eight per 1,000 of us. But 19,408 were those excess COVID deaths. That’s more than 60 fully loaded 747 passenger planes that crashed in Canada in one year, with two-thirds of those passengers dead and the survivors landing in ERs, operating rooms and intensive care. Not exactly ho-hum.
Our American neighbors, with less than 4.25% of the world’s population, account for 16% of the 5,315,387 COVID deaths worldwide. I easily found a chart that shows some states have a 50% excess death rate – half of their deaths in the past year were unexpected and were due to COVID!
And yes, these are states that have lived by Mr. Bishop’s philosophy and have not closed like Nova Scotia. Not exactly numbers suggesting we should just relax.
Dr William P. McKay lives in Halifax
Rider on COVID
It is troubling to learn that as the province of Nova Scotia set and enforced a December 1 employee vaccination deadline, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) extended its own vaccination deadline by workplace until January 15. It is more than obvious that they see the benefits of Christmas as weighing more in the balance than the well-being of their customers.
According to your December 8 post, NSLC spokesperson Beverley Ware said store management and staff take every precaution any other retailer takes to keep their customers safe.
Not so. On December 8th, my wife drove to Bayers Lake NSLC in Halifax and noticed that the shopping carts were no longer wiped down with disinfectant between uses, as is the practice for other large retailers.
When a store clerk was asked if the carts were no longer cleaned, he confirmed, “No, but I can if you want. When asked why they weren’t wiped anymore, he replied, “Everyone is vaccinated, right?
Client security appears to be as casual in the field as it is at NSLC headquarters. The NSLC must adapt to reality. In case they don’t know, we remain in the grip of a major pandemic with people still dying.
Bernie Swain, Halifax
X inconsiderate revelers
Re: “COVID-19 Spreads From St. FX X-Ring Events to Community, Schools, and Signal Hill Group” (December 10 story)
What selfishness on the part of these young people from St. FX to have ignored provincial health protocols in order to have fun regardless of the disastrous consequences in their community and elsewhere!
The price to be paid by businesses in Antigonish and the surrounding area will unfortunately be felt for a long time to come. What about the people who caused this outbreak – will they pay for the economic damage, as they should?
It is difficult to understand how some people can be so careless about the lives and livelihoods of others. Did they learn anything in their university studies? It is beyond reason.
Gérald C. Boudreau, Île-Morris, Yarmouth County
Go back to the old normal
I am fully vaccinated against COVID. I am not an anti-vaccine. I think everyone should be vaccinated.
The medical community has served us well in containing COVID, a big unknown two years ago. But now we have two years of data to draw on and we have it under control; it is time for politicians to take the lead and for the medical community to step back.
We have seen a peak in cases in Nova Scotia, but no peak in serious illness. Chief medical officer Dr Robert Strang acknowledged it on Monday. Vaccines do what they’re supposed to do: minimize the impact of COVID on those who catch it.
COVID is here to stay; there will always be a new variation, but we got it under control. We cannot live in fear, in this “new normal” forever. We need the old normal and we need it now. The needs of the many must prevail over the needs of the few.
We need to stop reporting the number of cases and focus on the incidence of serious illnesses. If there isn’t a spike in severe illness, it’s time to shed the masks and restrictions, and get back to the old normal. Stop the fear, give us back our lives. If we are vaccinated, there should be no restrictions on what we do.
Billy-Joe McInnis, HR Director
Gray Cup for everyone
I watched the Gray Cup game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats this weekend.
From what I have witnessed, CFL’s statements about adhering to COVID protocols are rubbish.
There was virtually no COVID precaution on the ground; I have seen players stick their face shields together as they express their anger. In the stands, the same contempt for security measures was rife.
Where the hell do we go from here when we’re so dumb to keep letting business interests like ‘professional’ sports (business) including Olympic activities pretend it’s okay and tell our young people that is acceptable? Enough!
Terence Rowell, Dartmouth