Letters & Opinion

Science vs Stupidity — Part 8

Colourful COVID dividends from ‘Red Sunday’

Image of Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Frankly, I’d never given thought to a whole-day curfew (Sunday or not), so when I heard the announcement of a 24-hour curfew last Sunday that could or would have rolled-over in 36 hours (depending on your choice of yardstick), it didn’t matter to me.

Working from home since 2011 and having mastered the art by and better since the time it became a COVID requirement in 2020, I have no problem obeying Social Distancing and other related protocols, which principles have guided my life even more since suffering a left leg broken in four parts after being hit by a speeding vehicle while crossing a street on May 25, 2020 (Yes, the same day George Floyd was killed).

Good for me, while spending a year nursing a bionic iron leg with two plates and endless screws and graduating with online physiotherapy through wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and walking sticks, the COVID protocols being observed by those who visited did matter.

What did not matter though, was partying and frequenting my favourite watering holes, because, like the average Lucian, I’d taken care of my needs within the protocols – and all at home.

So, every day being a COVID protocols day for me and now (finally) able to walk unassisted (with my retractable cane always at or in hand) is just another working day for me.

And every Sunday being the day my show ‘Earl@Large’ is broadcasted, curfew and protocol times and restrictions have never applied to me at home, so when last Sunday was declared Stay-Home Sunday (or whatever) I already had my day cut-out.

But since the day would apply to my two sons who’re still recovering nightly from having had to father and mother, doctor and nurse me daily and all-day for more than the first six months after my ‘accident’ would have been Home Quarantined that day as well, I thought of enlisting them in a day of voluntary labour: to help move sizeable things in our living room (or drawing room) that have become too heavy for older me alone.

And they really did, transforming the space closer to what I’d said about turning it into a natural home, office and studio…

But even as we worked and long before I retired tired — to ‘take a rest’ that included sleep – I’d been saying I was sure there would still be violators of the protocols because, according to Mia Mottley about Barbadians, ‘This is who we are!’

Just like children will do anything they are forbidden from doing without explanation (and especially when it’s something they enjoy), there are adults too (and apparently more here than many other places) who will know the speed limit on a highway and still overspeed – and those who will defy any order, instruction or advice not to ‘party’ and ‘drink rum’…

I’d heard of ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Sarah Flood-Beaubrun’s expressed concern about not being able to go to church last Sunday, but I simply remarked that ‘If she really wanted to kneel-down and pray in a church, she could take a walk to the nearest one…

But she opted instead to target the Vicar General of the Catholic Church – as if she always felt good as a child, about growing-up and (like it or not) having to go to church every Sunday, followed by Sunday School, preceded by confessions to ‘Father’ and all the other activities to reinforce daily injections of Religious Knowledge at primary and secondary schools.

I remembered too, how a Cuban friend usually joked about growing-up in Havana and having to participate in obligatory voluntary activities on ‘Domingo Rojo’ (‘Red Sundays’), whether to help people in a neighbourhood or to engage in agriculture on the school’s farm, resulting in the average Cuban knowing some basic things about agriculture (and many other practical subjects) than the average CARICOM citizen who didn’t have the level of exposure at school.

The only reference I heard close to describing last Sunday as a local ‘Domingo Rojo’ was a forwarded joke about it being politicized by one partisan as ‘A Red Labour Day’.

I reflected on how politicians and party supporters have responded to the COVID initiatives, especially how supporters of the former ruling party – and especially including the usual secretly-paid suspects firmly planted with invisible masks in the media – have been working overtime, even wasting valuable talent, to devalue and ‘pappyshow’ the new prime minister’s serious insistence that the government elected by the majority to take care of all Saint Lucians will ‘Follow the Science’ to ensure its responses to the COVID pandemic are not based on rumours and unsubstantiated claims that vaccines don’t work or are part of a global conspiracy.

My tiredness that evening ensured I got the required but rare eight hours sleep (for once), but less than 24 hours later my predictive expectations about violations were more than just realized: the Police reported 143 violations, mainly having to do with house parties and violations by licensed and unlicensed bars – and all attracting police warnings as the new ticketing protocol wasn’t yet in place.

As expected, those advocating maximum punishment for protocol violations also continue trying to make it appear that the decision to decriminalize CVOID violations was an invitation to violate.

Saint Lucians and Caribbean people being who we are, instead of acknowledging the science behind the fact the only unvaccinated people are being hospitalized and dying and urging the elderly (with or without underlying conditions) to vaccinate instead of risking infection or death, some among us ignore the calls by doctors for stronger measures to encourage and require more people to vaccinate and instead choose to target and misinform already ill-informed or uninformed people to virtually risk committing suicide.

But even while the naysayers continue to thumb their noses against science and medicine, facts and figures, more people are ignoring them and opting to take advantage of the Pfizer vaccine to overcome their fears or suspicions about AstraZeneca, while as many – or more – have also decided to risk infection and await the Cuban vaccines – again on the basis of trust.

The Delta variant having landed here and the numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths multiplying at such rates as to alarm even the Preachers of COVID Doom and Gloom, people need to be more directly approached in ways and means that the island’s creative industries, now on tourism hold, can be activated in the national interest.

But it would still appear that our calypsonians are still expecting the government to again start pumping money into calypso like before, even without the economy earning any income, just like the so-many-of-us who would take a chance to party and drink, break Social Distancing and other protocols, just because they either don’t believe in vaccines or simply don’t think they’ll be unlucky enough to be the next COVID victim.

In that sense, I would welcome a few more Sundays like the last one – by any name, once it will reduce community contact and eventually save the number of lives that would eventually have been lost after being affected on that day, had all of us not had to just stay home – and just for one day!

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