COVID-19 has triggered the biggest public health crisis in modern history and our government bureaucracies in Peel Region appear to be shutting down before our eyes. The public health and government response plan has been exposed to be a work in progress, escalating by the day based on national and international reaction. This is not an “unfolding crisis” as many politicians like to say. It is a full-blown crisis that demands immediate and constant communication to residents.
COVID-19 is certainly a major threat to the elderly and individuals with health concerns. It has a morbidity rate estimated to be 10 times that of seasonal flu and can spread easily as the world is witnessing. Millions of people could die from it world-wide and a majority of the population is expected to be infected over time. This may take months or over a year to progress through the population. The current response is to limit social interaction by restricting international flights, suspending sporting leagues, cancelling events, and cancelling schools. Yet this progression in shutting down society appears to be an ad-hoc response that residents have been ill-prepared for.
The run on toilet paper, long lines at the grocery store and empty airports are all predictable short-term reactions to government policy and national and international media frenzy. Now that kids are being forced to stay home and parents have to scramble to find childcare, the effects on the economy is threatening to be disastrous for families. Businesses for the time being appear to be accommodating to employees. How are hourly paid employees to cope, or small businesses that need a constant influx of customers?
All of the government bureaucracies in Peel, including our federal MPs, provincial MPPs, Regional/City Councillors, Public Health, Emergency Response and first responders have access to teams of communications and planning staff that are failing residents. Where are the daily press briefings with coordinated messaging for the region and the city? Who is accountable for answering basic questions that residents have? There are many seniors living on their own in the city that are being left to fend for themselves. What will happen if they get infected? Who will look after them in our overloaded hospitals? Do we even have enough ventilators for the anticipated need?
Corporate press releases and info graphic retweets by Councillors is not nearly enough. All media, especially ethnic media must be engaged so that we can inform residents and provide reassurance for what is happening now, and what the plan is going forward. The frenzy of social media and 24/7 international news coverage is driving the narrative while our local elected officials retreat away from residents. We need to see and hear our leaders at all levels of government now more than ever. They need to tackle the basic questions of living while COVID-19 works its way through the population. We are way beyond washing our hands and self-isolating.
For the Regional of Peel response to COVID-19: http://peelregion.ca/coronavirus/
Note: Brampton Focus has an open invitation to all public health officials, first responders and elected officials to appear on video 24/7 to share any message to the residents of Brampton.