Notes from the Isolation Ward, Day 8

Alone Together

There’s nothing like a time of crisis to drive people apart. Think of what happened to Canada’s German and Japanese citizens in World War 2, or eastern Europeans during World War 1. We declared them public enemies, confiscated their property and shuffled them off into internment camps.

It’s happening again. President Trump insists on calling COVID-19 the “China virus.” Secretary Pompeo scuttled the G7 meeting by insisting that it be called the Wuhan virus. As a consequence, Chinese-American have been abused and even threatened with physical violence.

The National Post reports that some white supremacist groups are spreading false rumours that the coronavirus is another “Jewish Plot” to take over the world or are threatening to target Jewish people, among others, with coronavirus. Anti-semitism raises its ugly head, once again.

It’s bad enough that the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to distance ourselves physically without some people sowing division emotionally and psychologically. Pointing the finger at some group as being the cause of all our troubles does nothing to solve those troubles. As one First Nations Elder once said, every time you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you (try it, you’ll see what he meant).

Fortunately, most people are not going down that self-destructive path. “We’re in this together” is the catchphrase. Neighbours who barely know each other are running errands for those who are in quarantine. Neighbours stand on their balconies or front porches and hold communal sing-alongs or dance-a-thons. Artists are presenting on-line concerts or giving free on-line “how-to-play-the-instrument-of-your-choice” lessons. We’re just being so nice to each other!

All of which raises the question: Why can’t we all be like this all the time?

* * *

From “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!”, the Spanish Influenza (part 7):

Come early November, we were still well. I remember the morning Dr. Donnelly came to see how we were doing. “Fine so far,” I said, “although Mr. Sibbery took ill while visiting us at the beginning of the week so I’m worried that we might be infected now. And Ed is down with the flu but fortunately Andy is still hale and hearty and able to help with farm work.”

“Mr. Sibbery did contract the flu,” said the good doctor, “but he’s recovering quite well, as is Ed. I just came from Wright’s place and he’ll be fine in a few days. However, I do have something I want to discuss with you and Abe.”

Abe and Mr. Robinson were out in the garden planting trees and digging up horseradish, so I sent Edith out to fetch Abe in while I made a pot of coffee and set out some cookies I had just baked.

“What’s the news?” said Abe, as he washed his hands and sat down at the table.

“It’s about the flu,” Dr. Donnelly replied. “Or rather, it’s about an anti-flu serum that’s been developed. It’s supposed to prevent you from getting the flu and even if you do get it, it will be less severe. I’d recommend that you and Addie get vaccinated.”

We talked about it for the longest time, at least until the coffee pot was empty, the doctor explaining how this serum had been tested in the East and it seemed to be effective. In the end Abe decided to be vaccinated. I wasn’t so sure, but a week later when Abe still hadn’t come down with the flu, he finally persuaded me that I should be inoculated too.

“People our age are the ones most likely to die of this cursed sickness,” Abe said, “and I don’t like the idea of being left a widower with two small children to care for.” I was quite uneasy about being having a hypo, but Dr. Donnelly was very reassuring, saying that this was the best preventative known.

To be continued . . .

#COVID-19 #NovelCoronavirus #SelfIsolation #Quarantine #GoodNeighbours #Pandemic #SocialDistancing #MargaretGHanna

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