As the storm clouds of pandemic restrictions begin to part thanks to rising vaccination levels across the province, Manitoulin Island stands head and poked shoulders above the crowd when it comes to the number of jabs received. That record speaks volumes about the Island and its people.
Vaccinations are critical to getting the nation’s lives back to some semblance of order and will play a vital role in helping to stave off the kind of fourth wave induced by new and more virulent versions of the COVID-19 virus that is impacting much of the rest of the globe.
It is no coincidence that the number of cases of the pandemic discovered on Manitoulin have remained well in check. In addition to some of the highest vaccination numbers to be found in any district in the province, the population in general, and businesses in particular, have taken to precautionary efforts fueled primarily by concern for the most vulnerable.
Those among us eschewing masks in confined spaces remain few and far between, while hand sanitizer use is near universal at store entrances. Store employees have not only remained vigilant in sanitizing shopping carts, doors and counters between customers, but have generally served as ambassadors of kindness in greeting customers as they enter establishments—often providing one of the few social links for isolated elders.
Masks largely protect others, helping to contain the spread of airborne particles, and their near ubiquitous use speaks volumes for the caring society that is Manitoulin.
The Northeast Town’s recent community picnic approached near-normal, with children laughing and playing under a bright summer sun as an army of masked volunteers and staff provided well-spaced activities across the breadth of Low Island.
But the battle is not over yet. Those same children running across the grass with shouts of glee do not yet qualify for vaccinations and so remain vulnerable, especially given the new variants that are fueling the current fourth wave in the US. While children seem to be less impacted by the virus, there have been several deaths among youth that should fuel caution going forward.
So, while Manitoulin can rightfully feel pride in how the pandemic has been met upon its shores, we do not have to look far to see the results of a premature lowering of our guard.
Most of the precautions that have been put in place across the province have been aimed at preventing the medical system from becoming overwhelmed and those precautions have largely proven to be effective—not only in keeping the pandemic in check, but also in reducing the impact of the annual flu season.
The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel has finally hove into view—but we must continue to use measured caution to ensure that light is a return to the light and not the oncoming locomotive impact of a fourth wave.
Together, caring and vigilant, we will reach a more complacent time—but that time is not yet come. Stay safe, stay sane and keep washing those hands for the sake of the children and those unable to vaccinate. Above all, remain compassionate and be kind.