To the residents of Fort Erie:
Let me start by thanking everyone who has steadfastly adhered to Provincial health guidelines and provincial orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank those essential workers – no matter what field you are in – for continuing to serve the public during these very difficult times. I want to thank those who have been doing their best to support our local businesses or to help those in need in our community. Finally, I want to encourage everyone to be patient, compassionate and considerate of others.
Over the past 2 weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit patients have ballooned. As a result of this “third wave”, the Premier initially announced a 28-day “stay at home” order on April 6th, which has now been extended by a further 2 weeks to May 20, 2021. The accompanying measures are draconian by any standard. The order closes all but essential businesses, except for take-out or curbside service. The schools are being closed to in-school learning. Playing fields are closed. The reality is that the health care system in Ontario will be overwhelmed if extraordinary actions are not taken and enforced.
Most of us are familiar with the stories of large family gatherings during the Easter weekend, those returning from outside the country and evading quarantine, a continuation of short-term rentals for recreational purposes, unnecessary travel and gatherings of individuals contrary to the Provincial orders and without adherence to public health guidelines. What is behind the thinking of those who engage in these activities is more than a mystery.
As of today, Fort Erie has recorded well over 500 cases of COVID-19. The Niagara Region has recorded more than 12,000 cases. Those may seem like small numbers, but they are assuredly devastating to the families in Fort Erie or elsewhere in Niagara who have lost loved ones to this pandemic – 383 loved ones. Anyone who has been paying attention will know that health care workers, including doctors and nurses, are being stretched to the limit. ICU’s in Toronto, Peel, York and other places in Ontario are at capacity. Patients are being transported to ICU’s in other areas of the Province for care.
I am having difficulty understanding those who think that there is no need for them to abide by rules established to keep everyone in the community safe. Who do they expect to care for them should they become infected by their thoughtless and inconsiderate conduct? The very nurses, doctors and health care workers they have recklessly exposed to risk or that their conduct is running ragged? The hospitals that may not be able to accommodate them?
I understand that months of restrictions on our lives is very difficult and challenging for all of us, more so for some than others. But we all have the ability to be selfless and considerate of others. We all should take advantage of opportunities to get some fresh air and exercise – always maintaining appropriate distance form others. I urge everyone to comply with the Provincial orders and public health guidelines. We have 5 miles to go in a 26.2 mile marathon – let’s not give in to the temptation to quit now.
The number of cases in those under 39 years of age is increasing alarmingly. Now, almost one-half of all cases of COVID-19 in Niagara have been experienced by those 39 years and younger, and the percentage keeps rising. The variants are more virulent, although this virus has never discriminated as to age, sex, economic status, race or personal beliefs. Some of these individuals are essential workers and have no choice but to be exposed to contamination. Others have a choice.
We all have rights in a democratic society. But those rights are also attended by responsibilities. We are governed by rules – without them there would be anarchy. Whether you agree with some or any of the rules is a luxury that we enjoy in a democracy. There are ways to protest and dispute the actions of government. But let me be clear – the rights of individuals end at the point where they begin to encroach upon the rights of other individuals. No one has the democratic right to infect another with a contagious disease, particularly one as virulent as COVID-19. No one has the democratic right to put those around them at risk. No one has the democratic right to do whatever they want without regard to rules designed to protect those around them. It is time for everyone to show respect to others and to accept the responsibilities that accompany our rights. We need everyone to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Now more than ever.
– Mayor Wayne Redekop