It seems we've hit the stage of COVID where families and friends mourn COVID victims in silence and the media no longer cares.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
Start by thinking about this for a moment. Go back to a few years ago and you’re told there will be a virus that will sweep the world and kill millions of people, including thousands in Alberta. You’re told vaccinations will be discovered to lessen the chance of people dying from this disease and most people will take two or three doses to try to save their lives. Then you’re told after governments end almost all restrictions brought in to reduce deaths, people will continue to die. Finally, you’re told 10 people a day will die from COVID in Alberta, but for some reason the media won’t think it’s news.
Excuse me? 10 people a day will die and that’s not news?
That seems to be the case. The media has reported the latest numbers, but that’s all. 72-deaths from COVID in the last week in Alberta. That’s about 10 a day. The week before, nine people died every day on average.
While the media has reported the raw numbers, that’s where the story has ended. 72-people dying from COVID last week and it seems like no big deal.
Here’s what the headline should have been in newspapers across Alberta last Thursday:
10 PEOPLE DYING FROM COVID EVERY DAY.
If somebody had that headline, I missed it.
Questions Need Answers
Have we become so used to people dying from this disease that ten deaths a day no longer impacts us? I hope not. I almost feel that people hear about others dying from COVID today and they shrug their shoulders and wonder what’s for dinner.
I’m not blaming the government for this. It reports the numbers every Wednesday. The media is reporting those numbers, but there has to be more doesn’t there?
Here’s an example. The latest stats show that roughly as many people over the age of 80 are dying from COVID in Alberta than all other age groups combined.
Other than the obvious fact that older people die at a greater rate from COVID, why is this happening now? Who are these people? Were they vaccinated? Did they live in old age homes? Have there been outbreaks in seniors’ homes? Are those outbreaks leading to such high fatality numbers among older people?
These are the questions reporters should be asking. If they are asking them I’m not hearing them at the government’s weekly news conferences.
There are other questions too about COVID that no longer seem to have answers. When can older people get their second booster? What’s being done to get more children vaccinated? Alberta has the lowest rate of vaccinations among 5-11 year olds in Canada at less than 50%. Isn’t that a big story?
Reporters are hardly even showing up at COVID news conferences anymore. Health Minister Jason Copping and the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw get two or three questions and that’s it.
Has the media lost interest in COVID?
The Numbers Game
My Twitter colleague Aryn Toombs, who created the website Charting Alberta Covid told me a few weeks ago it’s partially a numbers game. He said, as far as he could tell most of the big media outlets have pulled reporters from the COVID beat and are back to covering other stories.
For two years, some of the better reporters in the province were covering COVID on an almost daily basis. With declining numbers and the general belief that COVID is something we need to live with, reporters are now covering other stories. As a result, rather than reporters digging into the reasons why so many people are dying from the disease, they’re covering other stories. COVID deaths get ignored.
There’s a news vacuum when it comes to COVID stories these days and perhaps some people are happy with that. “It’s time to get back to normal” they say. Tell that to the friends and relatives of the people who died from COVID last week.
Please don't tell me that since half the people dying are in their 80's it doesn't really matter because they would have died soon anyway. Try telling that to their children and grandchildren.
Keep in mind, there are far fewer reporters today than there used to be. I remember when I ran a radio newsroom in Edmonton and we had eight people in our newsroom. Our AM sister station had nine news people for a total of 17. Now there are two or three.
Newspaper and TV newsrooms have done better, but their numbers are down too. Getting reporters to follow up on COVID angles is more difficult to do. I still can’t believe though that ten people a day are dying from COVID and it isn’t being reported with more concern and urgency.
Not that I expect this to continue, but if 10 people a day die from COVID for the rest of the year in Alberta, that would be around 3,500 deaths. Since COVID started, there have been about 4,300 deaths in Alberta. That’s another reason ten deaths a day should be setting off media alarm bells.
But hey, how about them Oilers?