DAVID AND I MIGRATED TO OUR QUADRA ISLAND HOME on March 12, the day after the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before news of the virus, we had decided to do the next edition of Focus from here, our spring and summer grounds. The virus and recommendations around social distancing gave us extra incentive to be here.
It is incredibly beautiful right now with lots of new growth coming, Pacific white-sided dolphins and buffleheads in the bay below our seaside perch, and eagles and ravens in the trees above. This morning we saw red-breasted sapsuckers tapping away at a big old maple tree. And the chorus from the Pacific tree frogs is a joyous sound. David is taking a lot of wildlife photos.
Pacific white-sided dolphins
Though completely off the grid with no road access (we boat across a bay to reach here), our satellite internet allows us unlimited access to the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic. We track how Italy and the US are faring and attempt to project what that means for BC. I check in on social media to see how my friends in Mexico and Spain are faring.
We hope the social distancing will reduce the numbers facing severe symptoms and the pressure on brave healthworkers. David is tracking the virus’ progress here on this website. And we discuss how else Focus can respond—and how it will need to change to survive in this suddenly changed world.
My 91-year-old mother Jade is in Victoria’s James Bay Care Centre. Before we left Victoria, her whole floor was under quarantine due to two influenza A cases. By March 16, the whole building was in quarantine, limited to “essential visitors” only: “Essential visitors are defined as those who have a resident who is palliative or very ill. These visitors must continue to be actively screened when visiting our home,” the Care Centre’s staff inform us. I check in daily with my mom by phone, as do my sisters. She is fine and avoids the TV, for the most part, but reads the daily newspaper and novels, which she reports on. I am ever so grateful to the staff of this well-run facility. They are caring, competent, always cheerful. And always there when needed. My mom, who cannot walk, just has to press a button. It’s a publicly-funded, privately-run facility. I’ve been impressed with the care and management throughout the two years she’s resided there. But still, with the pandemic and careworkers coming and going, it is feasible that the new virus could erupt and wreak havoc with the many elders who live there.
That alone seems a good reason for the rest of us to practice diligent social distancing: to prevent spreading any viruses to careworkers and other health care and essential workers and the folks for whom they provide care.
Everything but grocery stores and pharmacies are closed now—schools, parks, rec centres, playgrounds, galleries, shops, offices, most events and gatherings. And as of today, Quadra Island’s regional rep and its Chamber of Commerce have asked all visitors to stay away. There are limited resources here—especially around health care—so that is a good move, though devastating for the many tourist-dependent businesses. Just like Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet and elsewhere.
Also on the news, another 77 British Columbians have been diagnosed with the virus bringing the total to 348, with 8 deaths. The next two weeks are critical to flatten the curve.
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