The decision to order those in the three biggest cities to mask up was not an easy one.
Full marks to Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab for making it.
Notwithstanding the delay in making this call that likely could have come sooner, both deserve credit for making the tough call to implement 28-day mask-wearing order in public spaces in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert that went into effect on Friday. Further credit should go to both of them for strongly encouraging mask use everywhere in the province, while refraining from making this a province-wide order. Also, it was wise to reduce household gatherings to 10 people from 15.
Total COVID-19 cases hit 4,087 Monday, with 1,289 active cases. Yes, 2,769 have recovered, but 28 have died from a virus for which there is no vaccine. How soon a vaccine will be developed or whether one will be developed at all remains the question.
The problem that Moe and Shahab have in issuing such an order is really two-fold.
The first is somewhat of Moe’s own political making in that he did frame additional and more stringent measures imposed by government as going backwards — something that Moe insisted he would not do.
“We will not have to have an economy-wide shutdown. We understand the virus much better,” Moe near the end of last month’s general election campaign.
Some clearly interpret the mask order as a step backwards. It isn’t. Really, it enhances an economic recovery.
Because many nationwide retailers have a national or international policy on mask use in their premises, it’s required in a lot of stores. What last week’s announcement really does is level the playing field for all retailers, including smaller ones who simply wanted to do the right thing by doing their part to stop the virus spread.
And let us make no mistake that masks do stop the virus spread.
The second big problem for Moe and Shahab implementing anything related to masks is all the misinformation on mask-use wrapped in a lot of politics.
It is rather easy to wander the Internet or YouTube and find some bizarre source of pseudoscience or ones that are deliberately false preaching that masks are even ineffective or even contributing to the spread.
Please, talk to a doctor instead. Any family doctor you entrust with your health will tell you differently.
Sadly, far too many are more eager to listen to rhetoric generated from south of the border. Some of them eagerly tie it to the federal Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, which is truly bizarre.
There are umpteen legitimate reasons for you to be peeved at Trudeau and the federal Liberals. This isn’t one of them.
We need to instead focus on is where we are headed in this fight because the growth in COVID-19 cases suggests we are not in a good place.
Perhaps we don’t have the problems of our neighbours in Manitoba that saw total cases quadruple in Manitoba during October or in Alberta, which has nine times as many cases despite only four times the population.
But our numbers show we have our own problems with rapidly rising cases in this second wave.
It took us until May 6 (54 days) to hit 500 cases, until July 22 (67 more days) to hit 1,000 cases, until Aug. 12 (21 more days) to hit 1,500 cases and until Oct. 8 (56 more days) to hit 2,000 cases. However it then took only 14 more days to 2,500 (Oct 22), and eight more days to hit 3,000 (Oct. 30).
This is not where we need to be.
Mask up — not just when you are in the cities but whenever you go out.