We’ (Caribbean People) have long patented how to split hairs, skirt issues and mark-time, singing ‘Ring-a Ring of Roses’ for ‘A Pocket Full of Posies’ while beating-around-the-bush about very serious issues.
It’s no different in the wireless 21st Century, us continuing to play colourful COVID numbers games with people’s lives and treating death like just another state of mind or being, not really to be too worried about.
We close our eyes wide when we want to, selecting when to put blinders on, donning wooden goggles when the startling COVID facts and figures stare us in the face, having taken more than one million lives in The Americas (The Caribbean included) in its first year, including over 4,000 frontline healthcare workers, mainly women.
Saint Lucia’s January 31, 2021 COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 figures well spell and tell statistics of death; and mathematical projections suggest that if enough isn’t done quickly enough, we might never have time to do enough to avoid a national epidemic.
Yet, in all of that, we’re still arguing over nonsense questions like: ‘Is COVID real?’, ‘Do masks really help?’ and ‘Can vaccines help?’, some claiming it’s actually ‘a Plandemic’, the more advanced conspiracy theorists still arguing, one year later, over whether the latest Corona Virus was ‘a Chinese plan to rule the world’ or ‘A Bill Gates plot to depopulate Africa’ – or whether ‘Gates and the Chinese are in COVID cahoots.’
And then there’s the loose use of language…
As with every health issue, medical and scientific terms are thrown-around by professionals as if people were supposed to have been born super-literate, with every technical word registered in their mental dictionaries, at birth.
‘Terminological inexactitude’ takes on new meaning too, with the medical professionals going head-over-heels to explain how recent COVID deaths included someone who ‘tested positive after death…’
I’ve heard well-meaning but badly-misled friends and family arguing over answers to questions like ‘How a dead person can test positive?’, ‘How can a dead person go for a test?’ and ‘Can a dead body be tested for anything positive?’
In more than a few cases, I explained (with the prior introductory safety clause of ‘Subject to correction…’) that ‘It’s possible the person may have been tested before dying and the result came after death…’ and more than once I was asked by a Doubting Thomas: ‘How you know?’
Same with preparation for arrival of a COVID vaccine…
With so many vaccines on trial and rich governments in a hurry to approve even before trials end and a third strand of SARS-CoV-2 being traced in Brazil and several Latin American and Caribbean states (The Americas), you’d think we’d be discussing how to find out which vax is better for our climatic conditions, which is more affordable, which is less effective, how long we have to wait and how we will vax the nation when it arrives.
You’d expect the brains here that weren’t drained would be interested in helping people wade through the cliches and scientific jargon like ‘Herd Immunity’ and explain, in simple terms, including in Kweyol, why we need to be ‘Better safe than sorry’.
Instead, we hear references to premature polls sounding more like still births than early-warning signals in the search for a cure.
Let’s face it folks, we’ve screwed-up badly from the very beginning: We flatly rejected national testing, made voluntary testing unaffordable, charged hotel prices for quarantine, failed to monitor Home Quarantine, failed to police protocol violators during the holiday season and blamed everyone else for the rising numbers – from ‘Backdoor’ entry to ‘People’s own carelessness…’
Worst of all, instead of following the science and the numbers, we still look only at the Economy and the Treasury, ducking and dismissing scientific warnings, insisting on not insisting that visitors who arrived with negative test results do a Second Test while here – and actually boasting in regional gubernatorial circles that our experience showed that ‘second tests are unnecessary’.
We have placed livelihoods before lives and we’re still playing Russian Roulette with COVID numbers through ingenious dice-rolling classifications and categorizations of test results into everything from ‘non-active’ to ‘imported’ cases.
All of that when most of those spreading the conspiracy theories either have or their parents had (or have) vaccination marks on their shoulders for everything from Mumps, Measles and Bilharzia to Small Pox and Typhoid, while refusing to acknowledge preceding generations actually lined-up for ‘Family Planning’ tablets before condoms arrived, or that Caribbean children were (less than 50 years ago) not accepted into nursery or primary school without their ‘vaccination papers’.
I’ve long been talking to friends and colleagues about organizing a regional seminar or workshop on How to Cover COVID, if only to get those of us who write and talk about the issue to do a better job of ourselves first better understanding the issues and refrain from burdening skeptical populations with conspiracy theories that not only defy science and remain just theories.
That’s because, left to those who couldn’t care less when, how or whether COVID goes, people should just not take the jab and risk unknown consequences, rather than take it just in case it works.
It sounds like a Catch 22 situation with both feet in the same shoe, but it’s not – not when people’s lives are at stake and entire nations can be affected indefinitely.
We’re long past the stage where we can’t let COVID define us, if only because it’s already turned us into nations of masked citizens fighting an invisible enemy that doesn’t care how we look, doesn’t discriminate and takes no prisoners.
Some grey-headed souls here have already started singing the legendary Barbadian group Draytons Two’s popular hit ‘Too late shall be your cry’.
But I daresay that while that message always stands, in this case it’s simply never too late to start to try.
Because if we don’t, too many of us will die!