Editorials - Dec. 9, 2021
Not so fast
Despite the efficacy of the vaccines, the COVID-19 virus doesn’t seem quite finished with us. Just as the world was looking forward to a more “normal” holiday season, yet another variant has been identified and has been accompanied by dire headlines, border closures and more than a little frustration.
The omicron variant’s emergence, while troubling for the present, may be a sign of better times ahead. The 1918 pandemic of the Spanish flu has never really ended. It is still with us as the H1N1 flu, but mutations of the virus eventually led to it becoming less lethal.
There is a theory called “the law of declining virulence” which lays out the logic that viruses become less deadly over time as the host species’ immune system learns to fight it. It would also seem to be in the best interest of the virus to have the host live so that the virus can successfully transmit to as many new hosts as possible. So, a more transmissible variant is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is also less deadly than the previous incarnation.
Most scientists agree that COVID-19 isn’t likely to go away, but will likely morph into something akin to the common cold or a seasonal flu. How long we have to wait to get to the version that we can live with, though, is anyone’s guess. – DS
Getting it right
The power and reach of misinformation (and disinformation, its evil twin) is nothing new. It’s to blame for everything from recent elections results to vaccine hesitancy. However, with misinformation and disinformation, we think of exactly those scenarios: senior politicians, large corporations, high-profile celebrities, etc. In small communities, where there is often nowhere to hide, getting it wrong, intentionally or not, can have very real and severe consequences.
This is the case in Latchford, a small Northern Ontario town which now finds itself in need of a doctor after its only full-time physician has decided to close her practice. This comes after Latchford Councillor Scott Green posted incorrectly on Facebook that Dr. Gretchen Roedde was not seeing unvaccinated patients. Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre says Green made a mistake, but now has the unenviable task of attracting a new doctor to the community in the coming months.
Green, who has since resigned, sent apology letters to residents and has assured them that he is not against vaccination, but the damage was done. Not only was Roedde inundated with nastiness from the anti-vaccination crowd, but Green was then targeted from the other side. The two have since met and become friends, but both are now leaving their posts due to an erroneous social media post.
Misinformation or disinformation aimed at high-level politicians with media teams and endless resources is bad enough, but they’re equipped to fight back. The toll it can take in small communities is immense and, whether it’s a 69-year-old doctor or your local municipal councillors, they are only human and capable of walking away when enough is enough. Then, you’ve lost a doctor or a councillor or a business, all because you didn’t take the time to check your facts. Think before you post; real lives can hang in the balance. – SL
Big pieces of big pies
While there are many facets to the ongoing labour dispute between Major League Baseball’s players and coaches, which resulted in the players being locked out by the league’s owners last week, the situation could come off as more than a little tone-deaf given the challenges of those in many other parts of the world.
The Major League Baseball Players Association and the league’s owners are at a standstill as players want more money in the face of decreasing average salaries. Over the past three years, the average salary of a professional baseball player has dropped from $4.05 million to $3.89 million, resulting in the request for more money and the first work stoppage for the players since 1995.
While no one wants to see the average salary in their field go down, the association may have chosen the wrong time to go to bat for more money for players, given that most employees around the world are either recovering from unemployment, still without a job or working reduced hours due to COVID-19. While many people were able to continue working throughout the pandemic, whether that was from home or in small businesses, many were also faced with layoffs or, in dire situations, their workplaces shutting down completely.
The problem here is that those people who faced job losses or reduced hours are the people who support baseball’s owners and players, so pushing for higher wages right now, regardless of whose side anyone may fall on, could seem a little petulant.
While we’re all entitled to bargaining for a better wage, maybe the middle of a pandemic isn’t the time to be trying to make millionaires a little more money. – JDS