Sunset on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
We spent the winter in Nova Scotia instead of, as usual, Florida because of the pandemic. We left Florida on the third week of June 2020 to make our usual trek for summer in Canada. We are a mixed couple. One American and one Canadian. Equal time in retirement. When it was time to return to Florida, the pandemic was raging there. So we stayed in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia is a Canadian province of around 1,000,000 people and our home county in Florida has half that. But it is the public behavior in Florida that left much to be desired this time around. The people of North Florida are very similar to the people of Nova Scotia as our ancestors mostly came over from Europe at the same time. Some headed North and some headed South.
We live on Cape Breton which lies less than a mile off the northeast tip of the mainland of Nova Scotia. The heritage of the folks are mostly Scottish and French Acadians, and of course the original "settlers" the Micmac Indians. Except for the lack of a southern drawl, besides mine, it could be the outskirts of Lafayette, Louisiana. When people look at me funny I just tell 'em I am from South Cape Breton.
The Pandemic Headcount
True, I am an American through and through. But I find myself stressed at times by the antisocial antics on display throughout America these past few years. And living in Nova Scotia part-time, the comparison during this pandemic is stark to say the least.. Since the beginning of the pandemic Florida has had 2,523,510 known infections and 38,670 known deaths as of today, July 27, 2021. Nova Scotia on the other hand has had 5,585 known infections and 93 known deaths. Let's just say there is no need for fancy statistics to compare the stark reality of the the two.
I use the terns 'known infections' and 'known deaths' for a reason. Many Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic or cause mild symptoms and go unreported. Some estimates are 4 to 5 times the unknown cases as known cases. Deaths on the other hand are more closely accounted for in some countries, while in others like India the unknown are thought to be 10 times the known.
The University of Washington did a study some months back to make a firm estimate of actual deaths in the US. At this time their estimate is 1,000,000+. Or put another way 1,000,000 people have died of Covid-19. Put an other way. One in every 250 adults have acutely died of Covid. I Repeat 1,000,000+. The Johns Hopkins count is 611, 225 for known cases. Presumably they are known as they were actually tested for Covid.
True, some people would have died from other causes anyway. But some people also died indirectly because of Covid. Many including myself avoided proper timely medical care for months due to fear of infection. Many died because of it. Myself not included obviously. How tragic is this. For comparison. In the US 675,000 died in the 1918 flu pandemic. 620,000 died in the US Civil War. A total of 520,000 died in World War I and II and about 150,000 died in all other wars. And on September 11, 2001 2996 people died at the hands of terrorism yet we moved heaven and earth and turned our country upside down and sideways. Tragic simply tragic and still not over as the Delta variant and its cousins target the unvaccinated. We are coming very close to equaling the total death tole of all Americans killed in wars since its inception.
Why Public Behavior Matters
Just to refresh you, Nova Scotia on the other hand has had 5,585 known infections and 93 known deaths. Today there are 9 active cases in Nova Scotia and no hospitalizations and no community spread that is known. Yet when I go in a store everyone and I mean EVERYONE is wearing a mask. Go figure.
I traveled to Florida and back in June 2021. The one thing that was very obvious, and at the same time disconcerting and disturbing, was that virtually no one and I mean NO ONE was wearing a mask. I went to Costco to buy a battery. I didn't go in as the auto center is in a room up front by itself. But looking inside, it looked like the Tampa Bay Rays baseball game had just let out it was so crowded. And nearly no one and I mean NO ONE was wearing a mask.
Floridians are currently contracting around 10,000+ known infections per day. I say around as the state is currently not making the Covid statistics easily available. It was the the same when some of Florida's waters and beaches on the west coast were deemed to be the most polluted in North America. Republican leadership chose to no longer take samples or at least not report them as the obvious solution to that problem.
Why Leadership Matters
No one has the right or freedom to abuse others
Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada -- which includes the additional provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island , and Newfoundland and Labrador -- are one of the safest places on earth. What has been consistent is that the premiers have listened to their public health officials and crafted a consistent public policy to keep their constituents safe and healthy. They have been open and honest with the people and the people have responded with respect for their governments and each other. I will say this though. Canada has universal healthcare. There is a built in incentive for public policy to be cost effective up front.
Canada, for the most part, has been more successful in dealing with the pandemic than the US. That's not saying much in comparison as the US leads the world in bad behavior and it shows in their pandemic statistics. Yet Canada has obviously learned as it went along and that is something truly disturbingly lacking for much of my beloved country the US.
I have given a lot of thought to the reasons why the US has preformed so poorly. And the best I can come up relates to an early lesson in my military training, "Don't shit in your mess kit". As a young military officer trainee, I was taught to teach it to those in my care as well.
It is not as if many leaders in the US didn't at least inherently understand this principle. They just didn't care. And an ole' sayin' says it best. "And the fish stinks from the head first."
Going Forward Post Pandemic
I give President Biden a lot of credit so far. Not that I am not critical. But I heard a commentator say the other day that Biden is having to fix a lot of the problems he was in the middle of causing while senator during the Clinton years. That is not an entirely false accusation and I for one don't want to go there with him. But what Biden does show is a willingness to correct those things which shows that he has learned from those failed policies. It is one thing to fail miserably and quite another to dust one's self off with a new found frame of reference. Unfortunately, not learning from mistakes or admitting to one's self when wrong when new information is presented is an all too common fault among humans.
What is painfully clear is that the republican party has self-destructed at the altar of Trump, a man that a friend has defined quite adequately as "Not a nice person". Make no mistake, our democracy needs at least 2 parties and one "conservative' and one "liberal". But both must have the good of the people and the good of the country in their heart. We don't have it now and must regain it. For we are in a proverbial pickle being both too sick and too healthy to solve the mammoth problems we face going forward.
It is as simple as this. Anyone who votes for a republican in 2022 is sticking a shiv in America's kidneys while it's in the democratic prison exercise yard taking a break.
About the Author
Robert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.
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