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EDITORIAL – We should be very angry about COVID-19 deaths in care homes

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An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT’S A HEART-BREAKING IRONY that the ones we were supposed to protect the most from COVID-19 are the ones who have been hurt the worst.

Day by day, the deaths rise in long-term care homes across the country.

From the very beginning of this pandemic, the cry was that we must look after the elderly and the vulnerable, the ones with the weakest defences against the virus.

We were willing to shut down the economy, restrict travel, self-isolate, social distance and spend billions to fight it. The rest of society was willing to make any sacrifice necessary to save the demographic most at risk.

The message changed somewhat as it was discovered that younger people are also a target of COVID-19 but we know those with existing health issues and lowered immunity — primarily the elderly — need special care.

And yet, they continue to die at an alarming rate in the very facilities that are supposed to keep them safe. Ninety per cent of Canada’s roughly 800 COVID-19 deaths have been among those 60 and older. Sixty per cent of B.C.’s COVID-19 deaths have been 80 years old or older; 20 long-term care facilities have been invaded by the virus.

More than half the deaths have occurred in long-term care homes.

New control measures call for screening, restricting visits, protective equipment and limiting staff from working at multiple locations.
How is it possible that such fundamental procedures weren’t properly in place at the start? Each day, we get new reports of deaths in long-term care but never an explanation of how it got so messed up.

Clearly, there are underlying issues in the system that need to be fixed. But the sad fact is, we had a job to do and we’ve failed.

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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7715 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – We should be very angry about COVID-19 deaths in care homes

  1. Tony Brumell // April 15, 2020 at 10:57 AM // Reply

    Why isn’t my home or yours considered a long term care home ? The results could be the same if isolation steps are insufficient or lacking in efficacy. Parents who go off to work each day may well be exposed to CV 19 and unknowingly bring it home for the family.People who go to work must not go home or stay in the tent in the back yard or the in law suite. Taking it into the home is a potential nightmare.We want to protect the elders in long term care homes but we MUST also protect our own long term care houses/apartments.

  2. Sean McGuinness // April 15, 2020 at 8:57 AM // Reply

    Be careful of assessing blame, because you don’t know to what extent long-term care homes and seniors’ residences have girded against the spread of the virus. It may very well be the case that many of these places have taken the utmost precautions. Any residence where many people live together in close quarters, often sharing common living spaces, is going to have a very difficult time keeping everybody healthy. In these places, any error, no matter how small can result in a disaster.

  3. Ian MacKenzie // April 15, 2020 at 6:27 AM // Reply

    You’ve got it right this time, Mel.

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