Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair mayor news on Monday, April 5, 2021.

I am not much for viral news but every now and then I wish some stories I come across get shared far and wide because of how significant they are. The one I came across on social media a couple of days ago was COVID-19 related and as much as I wanted to distance myself from it all during the long weekend, this one got my attention (along with the high numbers of new cases in our own province.)

A doctor from Ontario took to Twitter to share a story (with permission from the family) of a woman who died because of her husband contracting a COVID variant at work while not being adequately protected. Not by his own will, mind you. The disease unfolded quickly and deadly, said Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of clinical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.

The point was not to create panic but awareness, he said. Hospitals and ICU wards especially, are overwhelmed there. Also, he reminded that where some see numbers, others see people – family members, friends, or patients, who struggle and sadly enough, sometimes lose the fight.

It’s stories we don’t want to see happen anywhere else but somehow even stories from the frontline do not seem to convince everyone.

There are some who will still shrug and blame the media for sharing scandalous news or calling it all a hoax. Others will downright show their hate by vandalizing media vehicles, which is both unjust and appalling and happened right here in our community.

But here’s another way of looking at it: many provinces are having a hard time with the high volume of cases, new variants included, and with the seesaw of relaxing or enforcing restrictions. Meanwhile, the Atlantic provinces, which took a stern approach to handling the pandemic from the beginning, are faring so well that they are being used as a case study.

The main point is: it’s possible. To see numbers of positive cases go down and to reduce the spread. If others can do it, so can we. The thing is though, something’s gotta give if we are to bring the numbers down again and keep it there.

New restrictions are not meant to ruin anyone’s business or destroy people’s plans of seeing their loved ones.

They are about saving us all from a possible mayhem, such as the one we are seeing happening in Ontario for example.

Perusing through the stories about the Atlantic bubble success brings up an aspect that has been emphasized countless times during the pandemic: it’s not about the individual but about all of us keeping each other safe.

Truth is, numbers are going up in what we can safely assume is the after-effects of spring break during which many took to traveling and getting together. More might be coming yet after the Easter long-weekend and here’s where we ought to remember that some people are more at risk than others, due to their jobs.

Many of us have the luxury of darting in and out of stores while shopping for food or needed items, and we can choose to do so outside of busy hours. Store employees cannot do that.

Or, take teachers who are once again finding themselves into the fray, after spring break and Easter weekend.

Or healthcare workers, so  many of whom have shared stories of despair and hope since the pandemic has started, asking us all to be mindful for everyone’s safety.

Hence the bottom line. Debating the rights and wrongs of pandemic politics is a luxury only those who are not working on the frontline can afford. Stricter restrictions might be coming, and at the same time, we might see a respite as more people get vaccinated and the existing ones will be lifted.

It’s not all doom and gloom. It is possible to see fewer people get infected and more communities safer from this virus, but mostly, it’s empowering to know that it’s our choices that make it happen.