ANALYSIS: Sunday Roundup COVID-19 Information

By John Swartz

The first piece on COVID-19 I wrote started by quoting Douglas Adams’s Don’t Panic. I’d like to modify that. Many people are panicked and stressed, so let’s control panic instead

The sheer amount of conflicting information circulating allows those who think the virtual shutdown of the country, closing of borders, and hand wringing (washing) gives self-ascribed power to ignore official messages the rest of the population is following to do its part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Many people are well-meaning, believe they are trying to help, but they are not helping. Stop. Just stop posting memes and links on social media. The majority of people do not have the skill set to verify what they are reading or hearing, first to recognize bad information, and second to be confident what they copy/paste will actually help others.

In an ideal world, people would be sharing information from government and medically qualified sources only. There are links at the bottom to those.

So far in my experience, Youtube is littered with unqualified blocking out the light of qualified video creators. The COVID graphic Youtube is putting on everything (pictured, logo circled in yellow) and anything to do with the virus is actually a link to the government of Canada COVID website – it is not a stamp of approval, do not trust the video you watch because of that graphic

A good portion of TV news is short on detail and explanation, unless it has to do with how whatever measure our prime minister announces is going to affect business, or to sensationalize statistics. Take TV news with a grain of salt.

I have found nothing replaces reading government and official agency websites, and many health organizations working in the public interest (WHO, CDC, etc. – not WebMD and the like). Not all news is created equal, there are many reputable news(paper) websites with established reputations for long form and reliable journalism. The three Toronto papers (Toronto Sun not included), the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, and some independents are good editorial sources and their content will lead you to their sources for further reading. They also provide good analysis and explanation of the harder to understand issues.

A good example of making the extra step to verify what you see is this. I was forwarded a link to a video in which a nicely dressed, professional sounding fellow was explaining the numbers and projections of the virus transmission. It really sounded good, and contained a lot of information said elsewhere, but also new interpretation of data which also sounded good.

Then I checked to see who the fellow was, what his qualifications were. It turned out he was a DC, not a Dr. There are many fantastic chiropractors, I swear by mine. A good number of them do devote their time investigating and learning about body functions and nutrition alongside bone crunching and are well educated and well versed. On the other hand, there are some chiropractors who aren’t so thorough and propagate things they believe which are not tested, or sometimes sound so fancifully outside mainstream accepted practice only the gullible would believe them.

Sources matter. In the above case, my temptation to use the info was there, but discarded until proof is available.

Local Developments

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reports there are 9 confirmed cases, 2 hospitalizations and 2 deaths at this time.

Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital has opened a drive-thru testing facility. You get to it on Volunteer Drive from Mississaga Street only. It is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but you must be inline by 6:30.

Soldiers’ drive-thru testing center.

It is not a general testing opportunity to prove to yourself you don’t have the virus. They would like only those who are feeling sick, who have travelled recently, or had contact with anyone who is sick. Do not go there just to ease your mind if you do not have any symptoms.

I understand from someone who had all the symptoms for the last week, having a fever is a prime consideration for getting tested. Despite checking all the boxes, the person did not have a fever at that time, though was feverish the day before, and was sent away without a test. Interestingly, this person’s symptoms had abated after a few days, then returned to a more intense degree. Why a record of, or attempt to determine positively or negatively if the person had COVID-19 was not made baffles me.

The City of Orillia has declared an emergency. This puts the emergency response team in charge. The emergency response management committee members are:

 Chief Administrative Officer
 Mayor
 Fire Chief/CEMC
 OPP Detachment Commander
 Director of Development Services and Transportation
 Director of Environmental Services and Operations
 Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture
 Director of Human Resources
 Deputy CAO/Clerk
 Chief Building Official
 Citizen Inquiry
 Medical Officer of Health
 CEO, Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital
 President, Orillia Power Corporation
 Administrative Support

Fire Chief Brent Thomas is in charge now, but Mayor Steve Clarke told me while Thomas can act unilaterally if a situation warrants, for most decisions the committee will be consulted and approve any measures which might be taken.

Already the team has ordered all playgrounds closed. They will be taped off. Councilor Ralph Cipolla brought this issue up Friday at council’s meeting. He said playground equipment surfaces can be covered in the virus and a prime source for picking it up. He’s right. The virus can survive on plastic, as many playground fixtures are made of or coated with, for 72 hours. Granted being outdoors, the likelihood of a virus surviving long is low, but constant use will keep new viruses from attaching.

Top of the must do list accompanying the declaration is “Practice social distancing of at least two metres (six feet).” This is effectively an order. Also included are the same things we’ve seen about washing hands, coughing, sneezing, self-isolation if you’ve travelled and contacting medical authorities if you develop symptoms. Go here, for the full list.

By including those things, the declaration affords the response team some legal tools to enforce good behavior if need be. The OPP on the same day announced they have been given the power to issue tickets with fines starting at $750 for disobeying emergency measures as declared by the province and municipalities.

A woman in Quebec has already been arrested and dealt with for disobeying a self-isolation order she was placed under for testing positive. So be warned, if enough people don’t act properly, we are all going to end up in forced isolation.

The City has not established a public contact for people to report those not abiding by general orders, or those specifically mandated to isolate, and this space will be updated as soon as info is available.

The declaration also gives the City some avenues for assistance from other levels of government be it financial, or otherwise. Council already took some action regarding emergency funding for local social service agencies and for tax and fee abatement. The City treasurer told council they have $29 million in cash-in-hand and line of credit to fund emergency costs.

The Canadian government has closed the border to regular traffic. Supplies are still getting through, and those on essential business are as well. The prime minister made an important comment in a press conference Saturday. If you know of anyone outside the country who is having difficulty returning, he said to have those people register online with Global Affairs Canada at and someone from the government will be in touch to help them.

If you know someone who has recently returned from the United States, especially those coming back from the great state of Florida (as in great at doing nothing regarding this crisis) and they don’t know the government has ordered they self-isolate for 14 days, you might want to fill them in. See above for penalties for not complying.

New Routines

Washing your hands throughout the day is standard operating procedure now. What is new is scientists are finding the virus on clothing. I have not found anything regarding survival times, but synthetics like Rayon are plastic derived, so I expect 72 hours is the likely survival time of the virus on some types of clothing. Doctors are advising to change your clothes on returning home and washing in warm water what you wore out in public.

Soap breaks down the virus’s fatty protective external layer and the virus can’t survive. What is not being said with hand washing through the day advice is you should also wash your face because touching the face is sometimes a subconscious act and most of us are not aware we’ve done it. The virus invades through the mouth, nose and eyes. No one seems to mention ears, but the ears are directly connected to the nasal passage, so I’d add washing ears to

Food And Necessities

Grocery stores have altered their operating hours and made provision for seniors to shop. Max Foster, owner of Foodland, told me he needs the extra 5 hours of closing to restock shelves and clean. As it is delivery trucks are being delayed. It’s not there aren’t new things to restock, but the demand everywhere is overwhelming the logistics of delivering new stock.

SUNonline/Orillia’s position is to take this in stride and don’t grab up everything in sight. There is more, but loading a truck with enough to fill cleared shelves takes up more truck space for each store and there are only so many trucks and drivers. Take what you need for a few days, you can go back later.

Did you know, Diarrhea is not one of the symptoms of COVID-19?

Foodland is now open from 8 to 8. The first hour is reserved for seniors.

Zehrs, Food Basics and Metro are open 8 to 8 daily. Seniors can shop from 7 to 8 a.m.

Jason’s No Frills is open 8 to 8 Monday to Friday, 8 to 7 Saturday and 8 to 6 Sunday. Seniors can shop from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Costco is open 10 to 8:30 Monday to Friday, closing at 6 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Seniors can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Trying To Reach The Skeptical

They are still some people who think this situation is all hype. They don’t get the implications of what 500 people dead in one day in Italy means to us here in Canada, or Orillia for that matter. I believe they don’t think what happens overseas can happen here. We all need some ammunition to counter their ill-informed points of view, whether in conversation or online. As one online quipster said –

“Humans have a once in a lifetime opportunity to save the world by sitting in bed and watching TV the whole day. Yet they’re screwing it up.”

I found a Youtube video animating how fast the COVID-19 virus is spreading and how fast the death toll is rising. It was made by a 4th year Stanford University student, Cary Huang, who is majoring in machine learning (neural networks).

He zeroed out day one on a graph for all the pandemics of the 21st century (13 so far). These include COVID-19, 2 outbreaks of H1N1, Ebola and measles, 3 outbreaks of Cholera, Meningitis, SARS, MERS. All the killers.

On day 65, March 5, COVID-19 claimed number one in deaths (3,350) over the 65th day of the Hispaniola cholera outbreak. All the other outbreaks were significantly lower, with the second H1N1 outbreak of 1,300 deaths in third position.

On day 79, March 17, COVID-19 was still number one with 8,951 deaths, but the Hispaniola outbreak, at 2nd only grew to 3,602. The third most deadly was the second H1N1 outbreak in 2015 at 1,894. COVID-19 reached 1,000 deaths per day three times more quickly than H1N1, which is still the most deadly disease in total this century.

Extended further, following current trends, COVID-19 will achieve 1 million deaths by April 19 and by May 19 that number will be 79 million deaths.

Of course, we here in Canada and a few other places are doing what we can to stop the spread, and social distancing is crucial for the numbers not to play out as above. Unfortunately we live next to the country with the biggest assemblage of dummies in leadership since the mentally incompetent Caligula so we have to be extra committed to doing our part.

Trusted Websites

The Ontario Medical Association has answers to frequently asked questions here. Also see the Ontario ministry of health (here as well), the federal government website, City of Orillia and the SMDHU.

If you need help, or can help, check out the CareMongering-Orillia Facebook page.

(Photos by Swartz- SUNonline/Orillia)


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