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EDITORIAL – Dr. Henry needs to end double standard and start trusting us

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THERE CONTINUES TO BE a double standard in the release of information where COVID-19 cases are being found in B.C.

Provincial medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says four or five employees of a fast-food restaurant have tested positive for the virus but she won’t tell us where.

“I’m not going to say the name of the restaurant because it’s a small one,” she said during a briefing this week.

Size shouldn’t matter. She says customers weren’t exposed so we’ll live with that one but it points to a possible resolution to the information impasse.

Henry has been tight-lipped from the beginning about where COVID-19 cases are showing up except to give totals for the various health regions.

Her initial excuse was privacy, and a supposed need to stop people from either panicking or becoming complacent. None of that cuts it, especially because her policy has been so inconsistent.

A couple of weeks ago, Henry released a little more in the way of suspected origins and locations but that seems to have been a one-time deal.

She has no hesitation in naming long-term care facilities or farm properties that have had outbreaks. No privacy there.

Cases at a Kamloops super market, the ANAVETS club, a curling bonspiel and the Sun Peaks medical centre were made public in spite of her no-tell policy, and rightly so. The media, the IHA and, in some cases, individuals gave us information she wouldn’t.

All of them were in places where the public might have been exposed to the virus.

That would be a good guideline for Henry to follow. Let people maintain privacy in their own homes but when it’s in public venues she should tell us.

When people are fully informed, they can take precautions. Henry says the drive-thru restaurant case is a “wake-up call.”

It would be a lot easier to heed that call if she’d trust us.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to 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 (7857 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 – Dr. Henry needs to end double standard and start trusting us

  1. Sean McGuinness // June 18, 2020 at 9:54 PM // Reply

    I don’t really see a double standard here. She’s exercising an abundance of caution which is good. All was has to do is look to the U.S. to see what happens when you allow things to open up too soon. As a health official in a pandemic, you don’t want people to think that things are not dangerous anymore. You don’t want people to let their guard down. If you tell people, either directly or indirectly, that there are no cases in their area, that may lead people to a false sense of security. The larger point is that observing the rules is more important than observing the numbers. Same principle with the rules of traffic. That said, I do think we’re ready for the next phase. Eventually things have to open up a bit.

  2. It would hurt the business of the fast food place where infections took place of course, for a while at least. But I think that it is the right of the public to choose whether they wish to deal there or not. It would be very upsetting to get sick and then learn after the fact that you ate from a restaurant where there was a virus outbreak, and the fact was hidden from the public because of business.

    It seems that every time you read or listen to the news the experts change their minds. Nobody knows 100% for sure. Until they do know, the least they can do is let people know where there are outbreaks in businesses you may deal at. Yes you should assume the virus is everywhere and act accordingly, but why not be given the chance to avoid places where it is for sure. I do not believe that the experts can guarantee its safe to eat food that has been handled by an infected person and prepared on surfaces that could be contaminated.

  3. Walter Trkla // June 18, 2020 at 12:04 PM // Reply

    She has a responsibility to manage the collateral damage that comes with releasing the names and location of the fast food joint. I think that she has earned our trust that those infected will be segregated and the outlet where the infection took place will be quarantined to protect the users.
    The Media does not seem to see such responsibility other than its our right to know. What benefit does the community get when we release the names of the accused in a crime and have a trial by media. What about innocent until proven guilty is that not worth protecting, that is why we have a court system.

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