LISTEN: My date with self-isolation amid the Covid 19 scare – J’Lyn Nye Interview
I was happy to join J’Lyn Nye today on 630 CHED to discuss this. Here is a link to the interview.
It’s funny how these things go. I don’t buy lottery tickets so it’s only fitting that I would be one of the 4.5 million Albertans who may have come into contact with one of Alberta’s now 14 confirmed cases of Covid 19 (Coronavirus Disease). You can do the math if you’re an oddsmaker, but the odds are improving that you too will come into contact with this virus.
It started with a phone call late yesterday afternoon (March 9th) from a nurse in the contagious disease unit at AHS. She informed me that a person who had tested positive for the virus had been at a place of business in Leduc at the same time I had been there for an appointment.
After asking a number of questions about how I was feeling, she told me that they’d like me to “self-isolate” for 14 days. During that time, I should take my temperature twice a day and if I develop any symptoms, to call and they’d arrange for a test. There really is no treatment at this point as a vaccine is yet to be developed and will likely be another 12-18 months away from widespread use.
So here I sit. Do I self-isolate? Do I go about my business? I’m a healthy guy. I’ve only had the flu once in my lifetime that I can remember, so what are the chances that I might test positive for this? Again, I’m not an oddsmaker, and certainly not a doctor. In fact, it’s not like the flu at all so that’s a useless comparison. The chances are probably slim. So I look at my calendar. Reality is that I’m lucky. I operate a digital media platform and literally 100% of my work can be done online if needed. I work from home 80% of the time, leaving the house for various business appointments and social events. Luckily my calendar is light with nothing that can’t be moved or dealt with online.
There is one niggly thing though. A recording session this coming Sunday with a band I sometimes play guitar with in Central Alberta. By Sunday, I should be virtually good to go, that being day 12 after my potential contact. It took a lot of schedule bashing to pull everyone together to do this session. Maybe I should just risk it and not tell anyone. And then I think about that … none of my bandmates are getting any younger, in fact, if I’m facing reality, we’re probably all in that age sweet spot where we’re most-susceptible.
Ok, decision made. Postpone the session. Schedule is now clear except for a couple of sundry tasks that can be accomplished with limited help from some friends.
But … then I think about if I worked at a job where I don’t get paid unless I show up to work. Maybe I’m a contractor. Maybe I have a family and am the sole income earner, or I’m a single parent working two part time jobs. I’m not sure I would make the same decision. I mean, seriously, I feel fine. Not even a sniffle. Would I stay home? Or go make some money to pay my monthend bills? I’m happy I don’t have to make that decision.
“… Another thing I’ve thought quite a bit about is toilet paper…”
I’ve now had 18 hours to process all of this and think it through. I must admit, I’ve never really thought that much about how a disease spreads, other than notionally knowing it happens through various forms of contact, and I think is more prone to spread in certain environments; heavily populated, warm, humid conditions, etc. A scientist I am not.
My date with self-isolation has given me a very real opportunity to reflect on my own travels and interactions since having potentially being exposed to the virus eight days ago. With this newfound time in my schedule, I’ve had a chance to think this through. Since yesterday afternoon, I’ve taken myself out of circulation. I have eliminated my risk to others. With luck I won’t test positive, and everyone in my circle will be spared from self-isolation. I will pull out a guitar and work on the material for the session we postponed. Overall, I’m starting to feel pretty good about my decision.
“…I wonder, can our system possibly get on top of this? It feels like a hopeless task, yet we have to try, right?…”
But what if, just what if, I become Positive Confirmation #8 in the province? Suddenly, everyone I’ve been around since March 3rd becomes of interest. Is Arnie at risk? I attended the Power of Success show last Thursday in Edmonton with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Friends. Lucky for them I couldn’t afford the Platinum ticket that would have given me the opportunity shake Arnie’s hand and get my picture taken with the man himself. I’d certainly have been within 2 meters, and I know we would have had a proper and firm handshake.
“…There will no doubt be businesses that close as a result of this- some for good…”
Oh. Something else … the long-term care home I where I visited my Dad and his wife this past Sunday? That could get messy, considering I also spent time with his doctor, one of the few in the area.
Or the auto repair shop I limped my sick car to yesterday morning after taking out both rims on the right side Sunday when I tangled with one of the ridiculously large and dangerous potholes at 110 kph on Highway 43. (That’s a whole other rant!)
The list goes on. As I think of the permutations and potential for chaos, it’s sobering. How quickly this can spread here is yet to be seen. It doesn’t spread through the air like measles, but it does spread through contact, or droplets generated by a sneeze or cough, and can live on surfaces we touch. Washing hands and cleaning surfaces is critical to helping stop the spread, and that’s just basic common sense anyway.
“However, it can spread person to person by larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze, or by touching contaminated objects, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth,” says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
I wonder, can our system possibly get on top of this? It feels like a hopeless task, yet we have to try, right? Maybe geting on top of it isn’t possible. But can we slow the spread with a precaution like I’m being asked to take? Yes we can. But what else has to happen if we’re to make the mitigation effort as effective as possible?
There will no doubt be businesses that close as a result of this- some for good. Think about it. If I go for a coffee everyday at my favourite coffee shop, but because my employer has asked us all to work from home, that coffee shop owner is going to miss out on my $3 bucks a day. And let’s say that happens for 2 weeks. That’s ten cups of coffee, or $30 dollars. I’m not going to go in on the first day back and buy ten cups of coffee. No, I’ll buy one. That money is lost. Multiply that by 100 customers a day and the numbers can add up to a point where many small businesses can’t survive.
There needs to be programs to help them recover. Maybe there are already. What about for the wage earner who has to take time off work to self isolate and make the community safer for everyone else. Is there a program to help them reover their lost wages? How long will that take to put money back in their wallets should they make the sacrifice for the safety of the community? If we’re serious about mitigation, we will need to really think about how to deal with the downstream consequences.
This isn’t survival of the fittest. We need those employers and their employees to get through this and be there when this passes, or we’ll be in even worse shape.
Another thing I’ve thought quite a bit about is toilet paper.
Although this is a new virus and research is only starting to be evaluated, it appears to affect respiratory function more so than gastronomic function, though again, it’s pretty early to know for sure. But best I can tell, there is no way that I need to have a year’s supply of toilet paper on hand. I can see having more than normal, just in case things get out of hand. But to be hoarding it for some weird survivalistic reason, especially against a backdrop of short-term supply shortages exacerbated by recent rail blockages seems … well, just completely irrational to me. Settle down, there’s more coming! And hey, if you’re sick enough to go through that much toilet paper, there may be even more wrong with you and you’ll probably be in a hospital. Show a little kindness for the butts of your neighbours. Like that old joke “…Dick’s a hoarder. Don’t be a Dick…”
Seriously, take a moment and give this a bit of thought. This can change pretty fast, like it did for me. A phone call. And then you don’t go out again for up to 14 days. So think in terms of a 3 week supply of things you’ll need. If you’re alone and have nobody to help you, then you’ll need to be even more diligent in planning.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully I’ll see you in a couple of weeks!
Here is a link with helpful tips that will help you make an appropriate plan.
From the Government of Canada:
If COVID-19 becomes common in your community, you will want to have thought about how to change your behaviours and routines to reduce the risk of infection.
Your plan should include how you can change your regular habits to reduce your exposure to crowded places. For example, you may:
- do your grocery shopping at off-peak hours
- commute by public transit outside of the busy rush hour
- opt to exercise outdoors instead of in an indoor fitness class
Your plan should also include what you will do if you become sick. If you are a caregiver of children or other dependents, you will want to have thought ahead to engage backup caregivers.
You should also think about what you will do if a member of your family becomes sick and needs care. Talk to your employer about working from home if you are needed to care for a family member at home. If you, yourself, become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Employers should not require a sick leave note as that will put added pressure on limited health care services.
Your plan should include shopping for supplies that you should have on hand at all times. This will ensure you do not need to leave your home while you are sick or busy caring for an ill family member.
Your plan should build on the kits you have prepared for other potential emergencies. For more information on how to prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency, please visit getprepared.ca.
Read more on Todayville Edmonton.
This article was originally published on March 10, 2020.
Saskatchewan entrepreneur says government thwarted his ag-plastics recycling business
Dallon Leger thought he was part of the solution.
The entrepreneur from Yorkton, Sask., about 190 kilometres northeast of Regina, says he collected more than 1.8 million kilograms of used grain bags over the past few years, helping his neighbours deal with their mounting plastic problem.
Leger’s business, EcoGenX, transported the grain bags to a company in the United States that would recycle them. The company would turn the bags into various agricultural plastic products, including new grain bags. EcoGenX would then sell the recycled product in Saskatchewan.
But he says the Saskatchewan government has stifled his business through rules he believes are unfair.
The province recently took Leger to court and won, fining him for not following the province’s grain bag regulations. It effectively forced him to close his business.
“I’m not perfect, no entrepreneur is, but my government was my biggest hurdle,” said Leger, a farm worker, in an interview earlier this month. “That should never have happened, not when climate change and environment as a whole is the hot topic right now.”
Leger pleaded guilty in late April for failing to comply with the government’s Agricultural Packaging Waste Stewardship Regulations, therefore violating a section of Saskatchewan’s Environment and Management Protection Act.
Court determined he did not operate a product stewardship program that was approved by the environment minister. He was fined $580 and must pay $10,604 to Cleanfarms, a regulated non-profit that also collects grain bags in the province.
Leger explained his lawyer advised him to plead guilty because it wouldn’t have been a winning fight.
However, he said the province’s position is still not right.
“How can you charge me under the environmental act, find me guilty of anything, when I did no harm to the environment? That says a lot,” he said. “I felt I did something good.”
The Saskatchewan government regulates the industry, requiring grain bag sellers to participate in an approved product stewardship program.
EcoGenX didn’t operate under an approved program.
Environment Minister Dana Skoropad said the legislation is meant to ensure agricultural plastics recycling is sustainable in Saskatchewan.
“The community of sellers of these products is quite small in Saskatchewan, so it’s certainly important that all first sellers be compliant with the regulations and a level playing field be existent,” Skoropad said. “And that ensures the financial stability and sustainability of the program.”
Cleanfarms is the only approved product stewardship program in Saskatchewan, which means grain bag sellers must work with Cleanfarms or get their own program rubber-stamped if they want to participate.
Under the Cleanfarms program, farmers can deliver bags to more than 40 collection points set up by the organization.
Sellers collect an environment handling fee when they sell the bags. The sellers then remit those fees to Cleanfarms so the organization can operate its collection sites.
Leger didn’t remit environmental handling fees to Cleanfarms when he sold bags, arguing he didn’t need to because his company did all the work in partnership with the American recycler.
“I would travel anywhere in the province, roll up their bags. I would do all the work,” he said. “I had the best answer for this fairly large problem — like it’s a significant amount of plastic.”
The $10,604 Leger is required to pay to Cleanfarms represents the environmental handling fees he was supposed to pay to the organization.
Skoropad said he’s open to working with anyone who would meet the requirements in the legislation.
He said Leger did not submit a proposal.
However, Leger said he tried to work with the provincial government but was told the province was not interested in another operator.
“I’m told, ‘We have to focus on the sustainability of the current approved program,'” he said. “Well, I’m sorry I’m a threat to this non-profit organization. That’s kind of what a business is meant to do, is grow and succeed.”
Leger accused the government of siding with Cleanfarms, pointing to past lobbying by CropLife Canada, a sister organization of Cleanfarms.
In 2016, CropLife representatives lobbied Saskatchewan ministers about “promoting the benefits of industry stewardship programs.” It noted Cleanfarms had been active in the province.
CropLife, which is based in Ontario, lobbied former environment minister Scott Moe, who’s now premier, and former agriculture minister Lyle Stewart. Ted Menzies, CropLife’s former president, was among those lobbying. Menzies had previously served as a Conservative MP and cabinet minister before moving to CropLife.
In 2018, the province’s Agricultural Packaging Waste Stewardship Regulations came into effect.
“I believe this created a monopoly and gives an out-of-province organization 100 per cent of the money that Saskatchewan farmers pay,” Leger said.
Skorpopad denied the accusations.
“Cleanfarms submitted an application to be a product stewardship operator and that would be the extent of my knowledge of that,” he said. “As I said before, we’re open to working with anyone who would meet the requirements of the regulations on this program.”
Skoropad said he doesn’t know if there have been previous applications to become an operator. He said there are 14 regulated grain bag sellers in Saskatchewan.
Leger said he has plans to continue fighting his case.
“I was demonized, so to me that’s worth continuing to fight for and why I didn’t give up.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2023.
Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press
Drying conditions return in Alberta, crews see more intense fire activity
A burnt metal sign hangs from a tree, damaged by recent wildfires, in Drayton Valley Alta., on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. As more wildfire evacuees are being allowed to return home in Alberta, provincial officials warn that warm, dry conditions are returning this weekend in some areas.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
As more wildfire evacuees are being allowed to return home in Alberta, provincial officials warn that warm, dry conditions are returning this weekend in some areas.
Melissa Story with Alberta Wildfire says the elevated fire conditions were anticipated and that crews on the ground are seeing more intense fire activity on the perimeters of wildfires.
But she says most fires haven’t grown substantially and she doesn’t believe any have jumped their containment lines.
The number of evacuees as of Saturday afternoon stood at 5,257, down from over 7,200 on Wednesday, following cooler and wetter conditions in the last week.
Nearly 50 wildfires in Alberta’s forest protection area are burning, with 14 of those listed as out-of-control.
Cyndee Evans, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, says the situation remains serious despite recent positive news.
“While we can take heart that more Albertans are starting to return home, we cannot afford to drop our guard. Now is not the time for complacency. Please continue to do your part and help prevent the spread of wildfires and further damage from occurring,” Evans told a news conference Saturday.
Story noted that showers were forecast for some parts of Alberta later Saturday, reducing fire danger, but also cautioned they bring the risk of lightning.
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said in a tweet Saturday that an extension for the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to assist in firefighting efforts has been approved.
Story said firefighters from New Zealand were welcomed to the province Friday and that nearly 200 firefighters and support staff from Australia would be arriving this weekend.
Alberta remains under a provincewide state of emergency, although some bans on fires, ATVs and off-highway vehicles have been relaxed in recent days.
Parkland County west of Edmonton lifted a state of local emergency on Friday that had been in place since April 29, and downgraded a fire ban to a fire restriction. It said that meant “safe fires in approved fire pits with a screen are allowed and do not require a permit.”
Fires without screens still required permits, however, and open fires in the county are still banned.
The High Level Forest Area wildfire update noted the Pasqua fire located in the community of Fox Lake saw an increase in fire activity after warm and dry weather on Friday, and that temperatures and fire behaviour was expected to pick up on Saturday.
Fox Lake remains evacuated, but residents are being permitted to sign up for tours of the community on Monday to view damage. A statement from the Little Red River Cree Nation said priority will be given to people who have lost their homes.
“Tours will be visual only, as it is still not safe for members to walk around the community or house sites due to hot spots as well as possible toxins and hazards in the areas that have been burned,” said a statement posted online by the First Nation on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2023.
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