Early progress report indicates Prince Edward County has passing grade

Without a shared prior experience, an operations manual or a definitive plan as to how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out in Prince Edward County, these times are an exercise of experiential learnings and a home study at that.

So what have we learned in our course so far?

In terms of social studies, I think everyone connected to social media would agree that particular platform’s good only slightly outweighs the bad. And that’s on a good day.

If you are tuned into Facebook and Twitter, you’ve likely been bombarded with half-truths and fake news about the novel coronavirus, China, political leaders etc. Maybe you’ve been swept up in the shaming dramas of so-and-so returning from a trip and being seen here or there. The Soviet-era editors of Pravda would be proud.

It’s tough because if you are self-isolating, there’s only so much housework, baking and ‘Netflixing’ that can be done in a day but a regular disconnect for sanity’s sake is never a bad thing.

That ties in with our next class-Mathematics and adding up the cost of COVID-19 to the mental health of our citizenry.

People in our community are facing collective stressors and anxiety to a level of which no-one has ever known. While it seems like a large portion of businesses made the Ontario Government’s first cut of what is deemed an essential service, there are people going without work in Prince Edward County. That’s going to bring hard times for families isolating together and I shudder to think about some of the conversations the younger ears are hearing in households that aren’t on the most solid of foundations to start with.

It’s not hard to surmise what will happen when you add the crush of financial stress with health anxieties and multiply it with a dose of cabin fever. That’s a dangerous equation of which the sum is typically abuse in one form or another.

Reach out to those you might have concerns about. A friendly phone call -remember those?- might just be the difference.

If there’s a music component to our course, it’s that we’ve learned County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson has been hitting most of the high notes and, if slightly off key, he’s been able to quickly get back in tune with the choir.

Ferguson’s leadership, especially when compared to a lagging response in a neighbouring metropolis, has been exemplary and one Prince Edward County residents can take faith and reassurance in. Ferguson’s only slight misstep-if you could call it that-was asking visitors and seasonal residents to adhere to public health guidelines if they were coming to Prince Edward County.

This was when other cottage Mayors and Wardens were telling folks leaving the city for rural towns and villages to turn around and go home. Rapidly.

Ferguson tried common sense and diplomatic tact but when Premier Doug Ford and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told urban dwellers thay should not be trying to escape the city, our mayor quickly hung up the “Closed” sign and rightfully pointed out that beaches and amenities are shut down anyway.

Hopefully those Short Term Accomodation owners, cottagers and tourists that don’t get their mail at a Canada Post office in Prince Edward County take the hint they are welcome…to come back at another time.

Prince Edward County is making the COVID-19 grade so far but to really ace this class, those in the back of the room and daydreaming need to do a better job listening to our health officials. Stay at home whenever possible, avoid all non-essential travel and practice good hand washing habits.

The hard lessons for our community are in the coming weeks and I hope we are all prepared for the tests that will surely reveal our collective resolve.

-Jason Parks

PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY

IN AN ICY EMBRACE With Nicholson Island in the background, icicles hang off a tree along Huyck’s Point Beach earlier this month. With non-essential travel being implored by health officials, the Gazette is requesting reader’s ‘Scenes of Spring’ to be showcased in ‘Picturing our Community’. Have a great shot from springs past? Email it to us at gazette@bellnet.ca (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)