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September 28, 2020 September 28, 2020

Keep calm, but take action on COVID-19, economy

Posted on March 17, 2020 by Sunny South News

The saying is “keep calm and carry on,” and we’d all do well to heed that message going forward.

It’s not a license to be passive or nonchalant in response to danger, such as the rapidly evolving health crisis caused by the spread and seriousness of the novel coronavirus, or the economic pain that will accompany it.

Rather, the workman-like message was developed by the British government in the early days of the Second World War.

Not widely released at the time, the message was a call to arms to the public in case of full-scale Nazi invasion of the British Isles. It was also a reassurance: By avoiding the temptation to panic and by doing your duty, acting practically and with purpose, we will prevail. It’s been trivialized more recently, printed on posters and coffee cups. But it’s core message is useful today.

The disease, also known as COVID-19, is only months-old and the impacts on global travel, trade and national economies and general health are evolving rapidly. It’s realized that people can feel helpless, isolated and confused during global health scare, or by the monolithic concept of the global economy.

Confusion and panic, fueled by the social media landscape, has now manifested itself as run on toilet paper in North America.

Rather than join in that absurdity, however, it is ultimately more useful to be alert and rigorous in the practical and effectual suggestions of health authorities. Few things sound more do-little than washing your hands, but it works. Being aware of one’s own health and others’is crucial.

But it’s hard not to feel exposed, or let imagination run wild with conspiratorial thinking.

Long-debunked theories about vaccinations and flouridated water persist despite pleading of health authorities which are as challenged as any of our public institutions these days.

There are serious issues for people facing time off work, and for businesses who face lost productivity and fewer customers through the doors.

Employers must do the right thing and support workers, and it’s the job of workers, government and customers to support business.

That sort of cumulative reciprocal effort would do wonders for the general economy as well.

Specific to Alberta the economic situation is compounded by the spiralling world oil prices when slow growth towards an eventual economic recovery was predicted.

That has obviously been derailed thanks to prices now nearing those seen in late 2018 when the extraordinary step of curtailing production was invoked.

This province has faced ample opportunity to get leaner in hard times, so much so that fatigue could be excused, except that excuses are not acceptable. Albertans big and small face hard times and this province can choose to make gains on diversifying the economy, putting practical, ingenuity to work and come out on a better footing. Or we can forego that with more grumbling, more pity, more isolation, more anger, and wind up with more of the same.

Likewise, we can panic in the face of COVID-19 and make things worse.

Or we can tackle it united, each doing our part, each an active participant, and avoid what certainly could be a worst-case scenario.

This editorial originated in the Medicine Hat News.

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