Clearly nobody wants to see stampeding crowds and panic in the streets over the COVID-19 virus.
But now that we’ve established the obvious, is it really asking too much that public health officials reveal – if they are aware of any, that is – whether there are any known cases here in Surrey, a city of more than half a million people?
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there were. This is not saying we have any inside knowledge, because we don’t.
But if there were, would people not be more likely to embrace public health authorities’ advice to regularly wash their hands, with soap, as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry put it, “like you’ve been chopping jalapeños and you need to change your contacts.”
At times like these, it’s especially important that we can sleep well at night knowing the medical profession has our backs on this. Trust, of course, comes hand-in-hand with transparency, not holding back information like it is some kind of state secret. If that is indeed the case here.
Refusing to say if there are any cases in Surrey, is not transparency. During the same teleconference with reporters on Tuesday, in which Henry remarked, “We really need to be really cognizant of what’s happening in our local community,” she also declined to reveal if she was aware of any cases within the City of Surrey, when asked by the Now-Leader.
“We are only identifying cases by the health authority that they reside in,” she replied. These health regions, of course, are relatively enormous in size compared to the cities they serve – even those with more than half a million, such as the City of Surrey.
If our health authorities expect the public to react with blind faith in their ability to manage this situation, as best they may, perhaps health authorities should invest some trust in the public’s ability to handle, like adults, what’s happening – or not – in our city. Quid pro quo.