IN THIS RACE, we want to be tortoises, not hares. Slow and steady.
One of my nephews is a speed skater. For a few years, he was very competitive, going all the way to the Junior Canadian Championships.
Back then, by following his speed skating results, I came to appreciate slow and steady. Speed skaters win races in a fraction of a second. There is only one winner of a race. But, if on race day, a skater has achieved a personal best, that is still a victory of sorts.
With enough personal bests in a row, a skater can improve to the point that they win the race. A fraction of a second at a time. That is slow and steady.
Now it isn’t speed skating race results that I review every morning online, but the grim tallies of new COVID-19 cases, and deaths.
Up until now, China had the most deaths from COVID-19. But today, researchers at John Hopkins University announced that Spain has surpassed China in the number of deaths, with 3,434 reported.
Just over a week ago, the U.S. had the 8th highest number of cases. It now is ranked 3rd, after China, and Spain. But in a few short days is poised to take 2nd place, and likely 1st place in the most cases worldwide.
Being at the top of the rankings for COVID-19 is not where any country wants to be.
So here we all sit, social distancing, in our individual homes. It doesn’t feel like we’re doing much at all.
But slow and steady is the way Kamloops, and Canada will win this race.
Slowing down the number of interactions we have in a day, individually, and collectively, will keep us where we want to be.
Currently, Canada, ranked 16th in number of cases, has a death rate of 0.7 per million. Compare that to the U.S., currently at 2 per million, Spain at 73 per million, or Italy with a crushing 113 deaths per million.
Slowing down the number of trips to the store. Slowing down the number of people we see face to face in a day.
Steady, as in keeping up social distancing for days and weeks ahead. Don’t get together with friends. Don’t go out that extra time when you could stay home instead. And do the same next week.
The number of COVID-19 cases won’t disappear in a day, or even a week. It may not be manageable within a month or more. But COVID-19 will disappear if we give it nowhere to go through social distancing.
Watching speed skating taught me a lot about incremental improvements, and how they can add up to big results. Back when my nephew skated at the 2016 Junior Canadian Championships, he skated against another young skater named Graeme Fish. My nephew decided to pursue university, but Fish kept skating competitively.
Slow and steady, Fish improved, until he set a new world record in the 10,000 meter event in February 2020.
Slow and steady might now seem like we’re doing enough, but that is how we’ll win this race. Be like the tortoise, not the hare.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.