ZYTARUK: Public health, economic health, and the mixed messages in between

ZYTARUK: Public health, economic health, and the mixed messages in between

If you sometimes feel like you’re running Hell’s Gate on a pool noodle, you’re not alone

homelessphoto

So let it be written…

The Surrey School District is the largest in B.C. It’s also the city’s largest employer, with 11,731 staff members serving 73,948 students in its 101 elementary schools, 20 secondary schools, five student learning centres and three adult education centres.

We are advised, as schools have now re-opened, albeit with certain safety measures, that elementary and junior secondary students are being divided into “cohorts” of no more than 60 children and staff, and 30 in the case of students in grades 10, 11 and 12.

It’s therefore puzzling that Health Minister Adrian Dix on Friday trotted out a catchy new government slogan, “Stick to six,” advising British Columbians to limit their social bubble to six people as the number of COVID-19 infections hit a new daily record of 139 cases.

There are two competing forces at work here, simply put, and they are public health versus the need to keep the province’s socio-economic machine running. This dilemma is not unique to B.C. – it’s global.

You’d have to be an insufferable Pollyanna to believe the government hasn’t factored in what it considers to be a predictable sacrifice to COVID-19 as it forges ahead on its path of reopening, phase by phase, despite the increasing numbers of infections.

You may recall a local battle involving government that also was fought at the microscopic level, in 2007, after residents of Surrey and Delta living near busy River Road began sweeping black gunk off of their sundecks and balconies.

A group called Gateway 30, representing a network of 30 community groups south of the Fraser who opposed the massive South Fraser Perimeter Road project, raised an alarm after the government’s own literature indicated cancer rates would rise in Fraser Heights, Royal Heights, North Delta and Ladner – with children and the elderly being the most seriously affected. The culprit? Diesel particulate matter, 2.5 microns and smaller.

The data acknowledged that “close proximity to a major roadway has a higher cancer rate and has higher respiratory disease rates.”

According to Volume 7, page 50 of Gateway’s own reports, the short-term health effects of diesel exhaust inhalation include headaches, eye, nose, throat and bronchial irritation, fatigue, stomach aches, nausea and compromised pulmonary function. “There is growing epidemiological evidence that increased cardiorespiratory mortalities follow increased ambient concentrations of diesel particulate matter,” it noted.

Dark by any standard. But hey, there was some good news – and I’m being facetious here: Vol. 16, p. 39 of an Environmental Assessment Office report stated that “with increased air pollution there can possibly be increased employment (eg. in the health sector) because of the economic activity associated with correcting the results of its impacts.”

Anyway, the road got built.

Meantime, in 2020, while you are out shopping for your necessaries, you are not alone if you sometimes feel like you’re running Hell’s Gate on a pool noodle.

You’re dealing with people who ignore occupancy limits. Octopus people who touch everything, everywhere. Pandemic deniers. And those who invade your personal space like moths drawn to a porch light.

Let’s face it, some people are as thick as a brick. As for the rest of us, let’s use our common sense.

While many people consider the provincial health officer to be their COVID-19 messiah, you must also keep your own counsel where personal safety is concerned.

Be kind, but speak your mind.

Sometimes people need to be told to back off. Too much is at stake.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

CoronavirusSurreyzytaruk column so let it be done

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP on scene of a crash involving a motorized scooter and a car in the intersection of 102 Avenue and City Parkway on Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
Elderly man sent to hospital after scooter crashes with car in Surrey

Surrey RCMP say it happened at about 8:30 a.m. in the intersection of 102 Avenue and City Parkway

Musician Grant Hill grew up in Surrey and now lives in Los Angeles. “Going to parties in Surrey, you could never let your guard down, even if you were the guy singing,” he says. (submitted photo)
With ‘Fly,’ Surrey-raised musician gives debut album wings at age 53

‘It took a little longer than expected… and I think it’s been worth the wait,’ says Grant Hill

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

The Washboard Union in the video for the song “If She Only Knew.”
WATCH: Washboard Union’s new ‘double feature’ videos filmed by Surrey director Barberis

‘Double feature’ release for the award-winning country music trio

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
RCMP investigating conflict between unmasked customer, staff at Burnaby Canadian Tire

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, eight months after the B.C. legislature approved the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 business grant fund still mostly unspent

$300 million pandemic assistance approved almost a year ago

Most Read