When a radiologist takes an x-ray that shows you have a fractured hip, are you going to trust him to do the surgery to repair that fracture? When a scientist invents a new cell phone battery that is longer lasting and non-incendiary, are you going to ask him for advice on vaccines? Do you and I have any expertise on vaccines?
There are several factors that aggravate the confusion and anger about this this pandemic:
1. China is doing its utmost to conceal the origins of the virus;
2. People with no relevant expertise are offering “expert” advice;
3. Opinion, rumour and outright fiction are given the same weight as scientific evidence.
4. Scientific evidence is misunderstood and misinterpreted, sometimes deliberately.
For instance, there is much concern because the vaccine appears to cause myocarditis in 1-5 people out of every 100,000 who are vaccinated. Not as much is being said about studies that show the disease itself causes myocarditis six times as often and that these cases are apt to be more severe and longer lasting.
Why don’t we just accept that our public health officials are more competent than we are to sort fact from fiction? They probably aren’t getting everything right, but they are doing the best they can with the information available to them and we will be better off if we take their advice rather than thinking we know more than they do.
By far the greatest number of deaths from COVID have been people who are elderly or who are immune compromised due to other conditions. The same is true for seasonal influenza. The majority of these deaths take place in nursing homes. What if our system of warehousing the elderly in large institutions is a greater problem than the virus?
I’m a statistician, a numbers guy. Put a bunch of numbers in front of me and I’ll start analyzing them. Here are the numbers I have been puzzling over today:
Saskatchewan: number of new cases of COVID – 449 / number of people in hospital due to COVID – 311 / number in ICU – 65
Québec: number of new cases of COVID – 469 / number of people in hospital due to COVID – 321 / number in ICU – 94
The numbers are almost the same, yet the population of Québec is more than seven times greater than the the population of Saskatchewan. That means that COVID is seven times as big a problem in Saskatchewan. Why is that happening?
I think part of the answer appears when we look at the vaccination records. In Québec 73.3% of the population is fully vaccinated (two shots); in Saskatchewan the number is 61.5%. That seems like a pretty significant factor, especially considering that 75% of the infections and 80% of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated people.
Does that mean that the government led by François Legault is doing a much better job of handling the COVID crisis than the government led by Scott Moe? Both government have made vaccines readily available and made it as convenient as possible to find a nearby location to be vaccinated. They have urged people to get vaccinated.
Does it mean then that the folks in Québec are just a wee bit smarter than we are here in Saskatchewan?
I won’t venture an answer to those questions. I have probably stuck my neck out too far already in asking them. What do you think?
For the young folk out there who might not recognize these words, they are from the song that best captured the aspirations of the Jesus People movement that began in the late sixties and extended through the seventies. “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” was sung in churches, around campfires, in coffee houses and wherever Christian young people gathered.
The Jesus People movement was in some respects a rejection of both the hippie, or “flower power” movement of the sixties and the Christian church establishment. In many ways the movement was a genuine moving of the Holy Spirit and many young people…
We arrived home at midnight Monday from our trip to Quebec. The next morning I went to pick up our cats from the place where they were boarded. They were both sleeping peacefully when I first saw them, but as soon as they heard my voice they began a loud chorus of “Get me out of here!” Now we are all home and have spent the past two days resting up from our trip.
Can’t stand the smoke, can’t stand the heat, we’ve got to get out of this place.
We are in the middle of the hottest driest summer in years. Farmers are giving up on getting a grain harvest on some of their fields and cutting the grain for green feed for cattle. Hay crops are poor. The smoke drifting across the prairies from forest fires in B.C. and northern Saskatchewan adds to the misery. We see it, smell it, taste it, feel it burning our eyes.
My wife and I have decided to take a week off to visit a part of Canada where they have an amazing natural phenomenon – water droplets falling from the sky. They call it rain, perhaps you’ve heard of it?
OK, bad joke. I’m just in a bad humour. I hope a week in Quebec will brighten my outlook on life.
Effective Sunday, July 11 (yesterday), all COVID-19 restrictions required by the government of Saskatchewan have come to an end. When I sat down in church yesterday morning, the brother beside me said:
“This is something new!”
“No it isn’t,” I replied, “This is something old. We are done with the new.”
My wife sets dishes of water on the lawn for the birds. We think birdbaths can be a deathtrap for the little guys – a cat can sneak up beneath an unsuspecting bird and remain hidden by the lip of the dish. With the dishes at ground level, the birds can see any approaching danger.
She filled those water dishes before going to bed last night; this morning they were all empty. We suspected something else than birds had been around in the night. Finding a trail of scat droppings across the lawn confirmed our suspicions and gave sufficient evidence to identify the visitor.
Yep, we have moose in this country. We may not often see them, but sometimes they leave evidence of their visits.
At 3:30 in the morning the melodious song of a brown thrasher is heard through our open bedroom window. He is up at the very first glimmer of day, but it’s much too early for us to get up yet. He is the size of robin, with a much longer tail, shy about letting himself be seen, but not shy about letting himself be heard.
At this time of year here in the flatlands of Saskatchewan, there are 17 hours from sunrise to sunset, and 18½ hours when it is light enough to read outside without artificial light. The trees around us are alive with the sound of music. The brown thrasher is heard mostly in morning and evening, other birds from time to time, the wrens are twittering all day long.
We have many birdhouses around our yard. The wrens take possession of most of them, nest in two or three, and fill the rest with twigs. It seems they want to discourage others from moving in next door.
Last Saturday was the school closing program for our school. The rules now allow 150 people to gather outdoors, so we brought our lawn chairs and sat on the church lawn as the children sang and spoke to us. Whenever there was a break in the singing from the children, we could hear a brown thrasher singing from the trees.
The next day we gathered for an outdoor worship service. It was a hot day, so we spread our lawn chairs out under the shade of the poplar trees and the ministers spoke to us from the shade of the church entrance. There was quite a distance between us, but two big speakers brought their voices to us.
That makes me wonder; I can hear the song of a meadowlark sitting on a fence post as I drive by on the highway with the windows closed and the air conditioner going. Why do I have trouble understanding what someone says in church if they don’t speak directly into the microphone?