An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE SECRECY AROUND where COVID-19 cases are occurring has to stop.
From the beginning of the contagion, B.C. medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has refused to reveal which communities are experiencing confirmed cases.
Initially, her rationale was “privacy.”
Revealing names of patients, or which streets they live on, is certainly a privacy issue under the law, but naming communities isn’t.
At the weekend, Henry defended her continued refusal to reveal locations with the claim that people must understand the importance of preventive measures and not assume they’re safe if their community hasn’t been identified as having COVID-19 cases.
In fact, though, the secrecy has the opposite effect. Some people locally still think the virus doesn’t affect them because their community hasn’t been named, the false rationale being that it must be happening somewhere else.
There’s also a double standard at work. We regularly receive updates about cases at the Lynne Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and other seniors facilities. Why is it OK to identify a care facility but not communities with many more residents?
There are two good reasons for doing away with the general secrecy. One is a matter of principle — facts are friendly and we’re all part of this situation. We have a right to know.
But there’s a very practical reason, as well. Being aware of exactly where COVID-19 is occurring, especially if it’s in our own community, would make people smarten up about the need to take precautions.
The alternative is exactly what’s happening — communities like Sun Peaks taking matters into their own hands and releasing the information themselves. Worse yet, rumours are starting to run rampant.
Henry and the powers that be must lift the veil of secrecy.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.