On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. At the time, there were 46 test-confirmed cases in B.C.
Since then, we’ve heard a lot of doom and gloom news and, at last report, the province had recorded more than 90,000 cases and words like “pandemic” and “World Health Organization” and “state of emergency” have become part of our daily vernacular – they are now words that we are more familiar with than ever before. After 12 long, difficult months, these words, and the daily statistics on the number of new cases, outbreaks, and even the lives lost, have left some of us unsurprisingly numb to much of the news.
As we mark the somber one-year anniversary of the pandemic, we are weary, but we can also allow ourselves to have some cautious optimism. The Province is in phase 2 of the COVID-19 immunization plan, and our Provincial Health Officer has suggested we could be getting closer to our “post-pandemic” lives by this summer.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix, have announced changes to the current health orders. After months of being unable to gather – even outside – very small, outdoor gatherings are being permitted and the Province is working on guidelines to allow for the gradual reopening of religious services. This is welcome news for many, especially with religious observations such as Passover, Easter and Ramadan all approaching and Spring Break for SLRD schools beginning next week.
While we’re all looking forward to expanding our bubbles ever so slightly, it’s important to do so cautiously. We’ve “sprung ahead” with Daylight Savings, gaining an hour of daylight each day, snowmelt is giving way to spring blossoms. We’re all anxious to get outside and enjoy the bike trails and hiking paths. This is good! Our mental and physical wellbeing depends on it. What we don’t want to do is risk undoing all of the hard work that we’ve done over the past year, by taking this inch that the Province is giving us and turning it into a mile.
Please continue to follow the Provincial Health Orders. Limit your gatherings to outdoors, with the same group of up to 10 people (including your own household) and resist the urge to gather in large groups and indoors – at least for a while longer.
We are seeing glimmers of hope, but we are not back to pre-pandemic life just yet. The Province’s daily case counts continue to be high, including growing cases of the variants of concern. Patients continue to be hospitalized and people are dying. We have all given up so much. And some have lost far more than others. We’re tired. We’re sad. We’re lonely. But better times ARE ahead. We’re so close, now is not the time to put this progress at risk. And just a reminder, if you need information on mental health resources, please visit the COVID-19 section of our website, where you will find links to resources: www.slrd.bc.ca/covid19
Chair, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District