The first time I heard about Covid 19, it was called simply Corona virus and was being likened to the SARS infection of 2003. A friend, who is also a nurse, asked me if we should be concerned. I thought back to that year, how SARS, though it wasn’t ignored, wasn’t really given the attention needed and the severity was downplayed, at least where I worked. And I told her that I didn’t really think it would be too bad and we should just be careful, maybe the public should be encouraged to wash their hands more, that type of thing. Of course I was very, very wrong but hindsight is 20/20.
We all went about our business as usual, socializing, going to our service club meetings, picking up the grandkids from school, shopping, and planning a trip to Florida to get away from the cold weather for a couple of weeks. All was normal. I knew that our province had supposedly strengthened the public health mandate. I didn’t know our pandemic plan had been largely ignored, with dust gathering on the binders until a pandemic was declared. I knew that the current government, in its desire to cut spending, had decided to make large cuts in our public health care. I really hadn’t paid a lot of attention as public health wasn’t in my sphere pre-retirement or since for that matter. I can tell you it sure is now.
My husband and I, the rest of our family and friends went about our daily lives without a care. Shopping, lunch or coffee with friends, still planning a trip south, the same things everyone else was doing. Oh and complaining about the weather, all Canadians complain about the weather and this winter was cold but much less snowy than usual so we really did have something to complain about. Little did we know that was the least of our worries. The hubby and I left for Florida in the second week of February. We wanted to relax and enjoy the warmth, maybe golf a bit, visit friends we made when we spent a couple of winters there. You know, winter is long and we just wanted to get away. So far there were no warnings against travel. There was some heightened concern about the deadly effects of an epidemic in Wuhan, but no real fear of a virus able to spread so quickly and easily.
I feel I should have known, or at least recognized the possibility of a pandemic. I lived and worked through SARS, but that seemed so long ago and I had complete faith that lessons had been learned and Public Health was not politicized and would have our backs so to speak. That trust in the system was obviously misplaced. Plus the news was still downplaying or was not able to get, information about the spread of the disease. Boy what a circle of information. No one really knew who or what to believe.
And so off we went to Florida and we really enjoyed our trip, some heat, some golf, and some visiting. It was nice. We have two adult sons living with us and shortly after our return, one of them went off to Panama for a yearly adventure that he enjoys. didn’t think twice about him going either. Our grandkids were still going to school, March break hockey tournaments and day camps were planned. So many good things were happening.
My mate and I decided one day, around March 7th, to run some errands. One of those included a stop at Costco, the massive warehouse store, mainly a lunch stop as we appreciate the price of the hotdogs. We asked a woman about our age, if we could share her table and of course we had a nice chat over hotdogs and pop. She wondered why most of the customers had at least two of the very large packages of toilet paper. I hadn’t really noticed but she was right. TP, paper towels, cleaning wipes all seemed to be going out the door quickly. Did all these people know something I didn’t? I laughed about so many folks running out of toilet paper at the same time but I still wasn’t too concerned. I had just bought some about a week ago so we were okay for those supplies. All these people going nuts over toilet paper! I figured someone had started a rumour about a paper shortage. I surely didn’t think I was witnessing the beginning of the pandemic hoarding.