12 May 2020

Ferkakte #nlpoli

In the past 36 days,  the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has reported no new cases of CVD-19 on 21 of them.

Three weeks worth of zero.

More than a month in which the reproduction rate for the virus is well below the level in which the disease would be considered under control.

The number of active cases n the province outside hospital all date from the middle of April and later, for the most part.  The four cases in hospital have been there a long time and likely are four people with very serious illnesses besides CVD.

And yet the provincial government lowered its restrictions very slightly on Monday, warned that it would take at least 28 days to see if it might be possible to safely loosen up restrictions a bit more.

The ferkakte alert system announced by the provincial government on 30 April 2020 is full of contradictions and confusion. There are too many to list.  The "plan" is full of other things, too.

One of the things it is not full of is empowerment for the people who must get on with life while protecting themselves and their loved ones from the CVD-19 virus.

Public empowerment is one of the six indicators the World Health Organization included last month in its guidance on lowering restrictions during the pandemic. People must be "fully educated, engaged, and empowered to adjust to the" new normal of their everyday lives.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, bureaucrats do not trust people.  Health minister John Haggie said last Friday that government is "beginning to regulate almost every aspect of daily life in a way no one has done before."

Gatherings must be limited in size, the province's Chief Medical Officer keeps telling people, because, essentially, ordinary people cannot be trusted to do what is right.  In social settings, they forget and will get closer than six feet and then, you know chaos.

Funerals are okay, starting Monday, although the new special order lifting the ban on funeral still wasn't published Monday night.  Funerals are okay because they are organized and there is someone in charge who can make sure there are plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer available and who can leave doors open so people won't touch door knobs.

Other public gatherings, whatever they might be, are limited to five people.

Private, social gatherings are verboten.  Well, the Chief Medical Officer talks about them like they are but really they are not.  Like the imaginary bubbles floating through the daily government dog and pony show about CVD, there are no orders that prevent  people from doing anything in their home.  The restriction on private social gatherings is more in what people think is allowed than what the regulations actually say.

Still, what is just a thought today could be reality tomorrow.  No one would have imagined a couple of weeks ago that the government would ban non-residents from the province in a blatantly unconstitutional regulation that was based entirely on rumour.  No one would have imagined either that, despite the effective enforcement powers already in the public health protection law, that government would double down on the unconstitutional moves and give politicians the power to disappear people like some Argentinian junta would do.

Just before the Easter weekend, John Haggie was ranting bout an imminent explosion of new CVD cases.  Haggie never said where he expected them to come from given the trends obvious in the government's own data. Your humble e-scribbler wrote about it on 13 April, a week after the low numbers started. Other people, including government officials resisted the idea that we were coming out of the first wave successfully.  Guess which view was right.

One of the points SRBP made in late April was, if the trends continued government would be facing  pressure to ease restrictions.   The public would want to get back to something closer to normal.  Well there is, but government has only thrown them a small sop, along with some unnecessary and greater restrictions.

There would be financial pressures to get back to normal.  The pressures are plainly there but the government and politicians of all parties are ignoring them entirely.

Lastly, there would be pressure from the health care system as well.  You cannot empty half the beds in the province and leave them unused for CVD patients who never showed up without causing even greater health problems from non-CVD patients.

As it turns out,  there were at least 5,000 procedures, cancelled, delayed or otherwise postponed.  We do not know how many people have died as a result of the diversion of health care resources to get ready for a CVD surge that, after March 25, never looked like it would show up. Maybe we are lucky.  Maybe no one died but we would be foolish to think that people will not be much sicker or that the backlog of treatments will not add even more strain to a health system already working at or above capacity.

All the pressures identified last month remain.  The miniscule changes to the government's restrictions that came into effect on Monday are window dressing.  It will take the health system weeks more to start letting some non-CVD treatments resume. The government's finances may not survive to Canada Day if they keep borrowing at the current rate.

And still there is no sense anyone currently in government has any idea where this is all going beyond a couple of months, maybe. They do not have a workable plan to managed CVD let alone anything else.  Their actions are neither informed by science nor based on evidence.  The people in government and more than a few outside seem to think the current high level of restrictions can go on indefinitely.

They cannot.

And yet the Premier and his key advisors seem to think they can.

That is ferkakte.