Human beings are strange creatures. We need to feel as if we are in control. It drives us and makes us, at times, do some rather irrational acts.
The empty shelves of the paper product aisles in stores everywhere where the Charmin should be is one sure sign of this.
COVID-19 isn’t a gastrointestinal disease. There is no evidence of potential disruptions in the toilet paper supply chain. But nevertheless, there are no squares to spare (thanks, Seinfeld) in Yellowknife.
But grabbing onto the big, squeezable packages of bumwipe must be comforting to folks. Even if they are staying home more — whether self-isolating, or just with nothing to do with so many events cancelled — it doesn’t mean they are going to be evacuating their bowels more frequently.
Unless, perhaps, if they are going to take up new culinary hobbies incorporating a lot of spices.
But sanitary tissue hoarding aside, our lives have changed. And the new coronavirus that originated in China’s Wuhan city that causes COVID-19 is going to result in changes to the way society functions for a long time. And maybe, taking a 30,000-foot view on the situation, that’s not a completely horrible thing.
Yes, this crisis will pass. As with other viral infections, the arrival of warmer weather will help diminish the threat. We won’t be inside together as much and stronger UV rays will roast the coronavirus on more surfaces, such as clothing.
While this is a new disease, it also needs to be put in perspective.
But the supply chains really need to be examined and either fortified or restructured. To learn how much we rely on other countries for cheap goods is downright scary. North America has allowed major companies to move manufacturing to Asia — including a lot of our medicines, such as antibiotics — is proving to be a mistake.
I would be willing to pay more for everything from kitchenware to clothing and iPhones if they were made in North America. We need to bring manufacturing back to these shores. Not just for the security of availability — and the guarantee of quality, I remind you of gas-emitting water bottles and poisonous dog food — but the jobs it would create.
But I digress. Back to Yellowknife and how COVID-19 has deep-sixed a lot of things we enjoy in the North.
My first reaction to the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse was that organizers over-reacted. There were no cases in the North and the opportunities for many of the young athletes from communities to show their skills are very few and far between.
Then a friend explained to me the problem wasn’t just about the games themselves. It was the potential that an athlete from a small community could catch the disease — maybe not even knowing they have it — and return home where they could pass it to aging relatives.
That makes a lot of sense. The housing situation in the NWT is poor and many people squeeze into small houses. Health facilities in far-flung places such as Tulita, Paulatuk, Fort Good Hope and Deline are minimal and many older folks already aren’t in he best of health.
A story in the Globe and Mail from The Canadian Press last week explained the situation well.
The stakes are high, said Andre Corriveau, former chief medical officer of health in both the NWT and Alberta. Living conditions in many northern communities, with people living in close contact with each other in overcrowded houses, are conducive to the spread of infection.
“Once it arrives in a community, it spreads really fast,” he said. “There’s not much you can do. If four people are sharing a bedroom, it would be hard to say the person who is sick should stay by themselves in the bedroom and everybody else live somewhere else.”
The NWT has already asked people to reduce travel. It’s recommending elders or those with weakened immune systems stay at home and avoid contact with anyone who’s been to a community with COVID-19 cases.
Actually, the isolation of those communities could work to their advantage. If nobody flies into the places with the disease, nobody will be in danger.
Pretty simple. I hope people heed those warnings and avoid travelling into communities if there is any chance they could be a COVID-19 carrier.
One good move by the feds was to cancel all cruise ship tours through the Arctic for the rest of the year.
While it will be a modest financial hit for the communities where the ships would visit, the potential for the introduction of COVID-19 outweighs those benefits.
Overall, while our winter has become a bit more glum — with the cancellation of nighttime shows at Snowking’s Winter Festival and the outright axing of the Long John Jamboree — we will pull through this.
NNSL Media managing editor Mike Bryant wrote a good column this week on how he and his family made the tough decision to cancel a long-planned vacation to Cuba. Reading it helped me — a single guy with two cats who self-isolates as a hobby, pandemic or not — understand how the coronavirus threat has changed the lives of average folks in Yellowknife .
And while I’m not a huge sports fan, I follow hockey closely on my beautiful 70-inch screen. Especially my former hometown team, the Winnipeg Jets. The suspension of the NHL season last week was really the first time COVID-19 hit home for me.
Yes, I am a simple man. Losing hockey for me was a real bummer.
Which brings me back to the start of this blog.
What we don’t need is panic. But I assume the human need for control will escalate.
With the TP now gone until re-supply comes from the south, I bet there will be a run on paper towel, Kleenex and wet wipes. And then Mr. Bryant should keep close watch on those huge rolls of newsprint in his warehouse. They would be a rolled-paper hoarder’s dream.
Anything to keep our posteriors clean.
Wow, are we ever a weird bunch. Just short while ago, there was a warning issued about an outbreak of whooping cough in the NWT, but it didn’t cause mass concern.
Just stay calm, folks. Find a silver lining in the dark clouds.
Don’t wring your hands, just wash them. And if you have a fever and dry cough, see a doctor.