31 Days. Can you believe that it has been just 31 days? 31 Days since Premier Doug Ford announced that schools in Ontario would be closing for the 2 weeks following March Break. On that day, March 12th, 2020, there were just 141 cases of COVID-19 in Canada…and our neighbours to the south had just 2000 cases.
When that announcement was made, many of us thought Premier Ford was just being cautious…after all, this wasn’t a big deal in Canada; it was just something we heard about on the nightly news that was striking continents that were way too far away for us to worry. 31 days ago, there were 120,000 cases worldwide – but only a handful of those cases were close enough for us to worry…right?
31 days ago, they started to talk about social distancing…a term that has now become a regular part of our vocabulary. We heard talk about “Flattening the Curve” – a struggle we are still trying to accomplish today. The term “pandemic” seemed a little over the top just 31 short days ago. People started hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer and a trip to the store became more like a scavenger hunt.
31 days ago, I couldn’t have imagine that we would be where we are today. Could you? As of this morning, there are more than 25,000 cases in Canada – 7,500 of which are in Ontario. Our southern neighbours have surpassed half a million cases and globally, we are nearing the 2 million mark. Trips to the store are few and far between as we all try to do our part to just stay home. We all celebrated Easter differently this year – something we never anticipated 31 days ago. Instead of big family dinners, we had small intimate meals with those that live in our homes – perhaps with extended family on Zoom or Houseparty. This type of social gathering has become the new normal.
But what is most remarkable is that in these 31 days we have seen communities come together like they have never had to before. We have seen partisan lines be obliterated in the name of humanity. We have seen leaders emerge in ways we never thought they could and we have seen rapid measures implemented by all levels of government to ensure that Canadians can be safe and focus on their family’s health without fear of losing everything. A special thank you to our nations leaders – regardless of your party affiliations, you have each stepped up to do what is right for every Canadian and I am grateful.
We have seen our healthcare workers be pushed to the max. They have shown their warrior stripes as they walked right into the fire to fight this war. Just one week after our Premier’s announcement, our local hospital, Headwaters Healthcare Centre, opened its drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility. The way that this team, in partnership with local organizations, came together so quickly to make this happen for our community was nothing short of magic. To our healthcare warriors: Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything you do each and every day.
We have seen great leadership and care shown by those who are taking care of the seniors in our community who are most vulnerable to this terrible disease. Thank you to all of the team members at our long-term care facilities and retirement homes…the work you are doing each and every day is ensuring that this part of our population remains safe and protected.
We have seen incredible response from major retail corporations who have reacted quickly to implement measures that protect their essential worker teams and their customers alike. 31 days ago could you have imagined a plexiglass partition between you and your grocery store cashier? Every day these incredible men and women go to work at grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, convenience stores, restaurants and other essential establishments – they put their health and safety on the line to ensure that we all have the things that we need to survive. There aren’t enough words in the english language to thank each of you enough.
31 days ago we were forced to press pause on our lives. It has been scary…no, it has been terrifying and uncertain. In my lifetime, in most of our lifetimes, we have never been through a time where we didn’t know what was going to happen next – whether we would have jobs or companies or paychecks, whether we would be able to have family dinners or go to the park, whether we would ever be able to give our friends a hug of reassurance or love, whether we would be able to protect our families financially, emotionally or physically.
It is incredibly hard but I am trying to find the silver lining. To find the best in this situation. I am terrified of how the bills will be paid. I am terrified of being the sole teacher for my daughter as she finishes her grade 9 year…especially navigating math! I am terrified of protecting the physical and emotional health of my family. But I am recognizing that although some days it feels like I am, I am not powerless in this battle. I have the power to do my part and you do too. Listen to the experts. Stay at home unless it is essential that you go out. I have the power to learn new things, like how to use yeast and bake bread, and I am teaching those things to my daughter. I have the power to help ensure that this generation of children, the generation of youths who lived through COVID-19, have a different appreciation for the little things in life. An appreciation for baking with their family and sharing nightly family dinners (something that hasn’t happened regularly in my house until recently), an appreciation for outings with their friends and for large family get-togethers that we previously took for granted. A generation who has a special kind of respect for frontline healthcare workers, long term care PSWs, developmental service workers and social workers. A generation who treats grocery, pharmacy and other retail employees with the respect that they deserve. A generation who says: “Back in my day…” and follows it with a story filled with awesomeness about how we took care of our neighbours through this dark time.
Our world has completely changed in 31 days – we have been knocked off our game and we are all just trying to get back up and find a new way to balance. I for one am still terrified as we navigate these uncertain waters but I see all of the good coming out of our community and I am reassured. I see people making generous contributions to our local FoodBank and I am reassured. I see local restaurants who have had to completely adjust their business models who are still continuing to be leaders in our community by making meals for anyone who needs it and I am reassured. I see local businesses finding creative ways to help the community and each other and I am reassured. Reassured that we will be ok. That we will get through this together. We are Orangeville and we put #CommunityFirst