My Province Is Opening Up After COVID-19 Restrictions. Here's Why I'm Staying In.

Like many provinces across Canada and states within our neighbor to the south, Manitoba is beginning its calculated reopening strategy with Phase 1 starting on May 4, 2020, following closures of non-essential services due to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

At the point you read this, it’s likely that the situation has changed so I’m not going to get into too many specifics. However, one thing is for sure: just because my province is opening up, does not mean I am changing my own behavior.

What we know continues to evolve

When I last wrote about COVID-19, it was still known as 2019-nCoV - it was January 24. We know a lot more now than we did then, and we still know nowhere near enough. I likely don’t need to tell you that COVID-19 may pose higher risk to some of us, as we are told may apply to those of us with asthma.1 But it also seems to strike indiscriminately. Some people who were extremely healthy pre-COVID-19 becoming extremely sick, some dying, some recovering, and some who may be affected the rest of their lives by the impacts of this virus.

Our understanding of this novel virus continues to evolve, and it is surely nothing like anyone previously thought. Asthma is (thankfully) “notably absent” from the top risk factors for COVID-19, with state officials in the US epicenter noting a relatively modest 5% of people who died from COVID-19 were also affected by asthma.2 However, given the unpredictable trajectory of each case of the disease, that doesn’t provide a lot of comfort.

We’ve learned that coagulation may play a role in disease severity, including increased risk of stroke.3,4 There is so much more that we have learned over these past 4 months—and there is much more to learn.

The next steps: Lessons to be learned

As North American media discusses disease surveillance, the ethical and practical question of immunity passports, personal protective equipment, the extremely important research into the virus, and the antibody tests and vaccines being done among our reopening plans--I still don't feel that we know nearly enough. My province is doing extremely well, with our current case count still under 300 (a per capita rate of 0.02). We’ve flattened the curve, but is that just “for now”?

With new cases still being diagnosed in Manitoba pre-Phase 1 and recent expansion to test anyone with symptoms, I think it’s still too soon.5 Be it from those previously not being tested or new infections following the incubation period, I predict we will see a spike in the next 2 weeks. But I hope I’m wrong, and I hope we respond appropriately to the data.

The world is a different place now. There are many lessons to be learned still in the days and months ahead.

Staying home... still

I’ve been self-isolating for 48 days. Despite my province’s reopening phases beginning with a small number of services and physical distancing requirements still in place, my day count will continue to increase until our confirmed case count has been 0 for a significant time.

I’m fortunate that I work from home, live with my parents who can do shopping, and that telemedicine in Canada is ramping up for doctors appointments. I can stay home, so I will continue to do so for the long haul--for my own health, and to be one more link in decreasing the risk for those who cannot stay home.

Just because my city and province are beginning to reopen, doesn’t mean I need to be a part of it.

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