It made me think about what we've gone through with COVID in Alberta and I've divided the last 24-months into seven distinct phases.
The "We're All in This Together" Phase
This phase started when the pandemic did two years ago this month and lasted for several months. We stayed home for the most part, washed our hands and became familiar with Dr. Deena Hinshaw doing news conferences. Her daily updates brought us information and she became a folk hero. Her calm and reassuring manner was badly needed to help us through the initial shock of the virus. Her face was on T-shirts and coffee mugs.
We all pulled together. Why not? We could handle this. It’ll only last for a couple of months right?
The "We're Starting to Get Pissed Off" Phase
Fast forward to November 2020 and we’re being hit with another wave. Just when we thought we had this thing beat, the virus came back stronger than ever and we were forced to change our Christmas plans and not see our friends and family over the holidays. Well, most of us did. There were some Kenney government politicians who enjoyed Hawaii and Mexico.
A new round of restrictions was brought in by the government, which seemed reasonable, but for the first time, we started seeing a clear split in attitudes. Most felt restrictions were necessary to keep numbers and deaths down, but many others felt the government was being heavy handed and taking away freedoms. That "freedom" word would be used a lot in subsequent phases.
The "We Don't Think it's Over, But if You Say it is, We're Good With it" Phase
This came in the summer of 2021 and turned out to be much shorter that we had hoped. Premier Kenney announced his “Open For Summer” plan in June to the media with the Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton in the background, and on July 1st, we no longer had to wear masks.
While the plan was announced by Kenney and then Health Minister Tyler Shandro and supported by Dr. Hinshaw, many people didn’t think COVID was done with us and continued to wear masks when out in public. For others though, if the government was saying it was over, then who were we to argue?
Onto the Stampede.
The "How Could You Be This Stupid?" Phase
This phase started in late August 2021 when COVID numbers were rising like Shopify stock the year before, Kenney was nowhere to be found and the government seemed paralyzed in his absence. By the fall, hospitals and ICU units were packed. The only good news in ICU’s was that so many people were dying from the disease that room was being made for new patients all the time. A continual churn.
Kenney’s Open For Summer plan will go down as one of the worse public health blunders in Canadian history.
The "Where the Hell Did This Come From?" Phase
This was also known as the Omicron phase. Things in the fall of 2021 were pretty good. By November, it looked like we could have a real Christmas again and plans were being made for people to return to work early in the new year. We heard about this Omicron variant, but it couldn’t spread that quickly could it?
Yes it could and it did.
Some Christmas plans had to be cancelled. The World Junior Hockey Tournament in Edmonton and Red Deer was scrapped and it looked like another long, dark, cold, COVID winter was upon us.
The "Trucker Convoy" Phase
Before we could make it through winter, what had been sporadic protests from anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers took a much more serious turn with a blockade at the Coutts border crossing and the occupation of much of downtown Ottawa for three weeks.
Police in Ottawa seemed to do little more than show truckers where they could park and set up their bouncy castles and hot tubs. Eventually the federal government brought the hammer down with legislation and police officers from across Canada arrived to help police in Ottawa. Within a couple of days law and order was restored.
Apparently, the protests were about COVID rules, but we’re still not sure.
The "Let's Try This Again" Phase
In March 2022, virtually all restrictions have been lifted in Alberta and we’re going to give this no mask and “getting together in public like the old days thing” another go.
Let’s hope it works this time because I don’t want to keep adding to this list.
Photo credit: CBC