It’s amazing what people can get used to.
For the first time in months, we reported last week on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 numbers.
What we found, via the province’s own data, was that COVID is now killing about half as many Saskatchewan residents per day compared with the worst three-month stretches of the pandemic.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? Since the last of our COVID-related public health orders were lifted at the end of February, the pandemic has still killed nearly two of us on average — 1.92 through Oct. 8 to be precise — every single day.
Over a full year that prorates to 701 lives lost. For context that total is greater than the number of Saskatchewan residents who died due to impaired driving from 2009-18 combined, and also higher than the number of Canadians who were murdered nationwide in any year from 2016-20. (Numbers sourced from SGI and Statistics Canada respectively.)
And yet, while you hear nary a whimper about laws punishing murderers and impaired drivers, we are now watching a far deadlier threat continue to run rampant through our province with a collective shrug of the shoulders.
Case in point: Premier Scott Moe’s comments from Jan. 12 announcing the pending removal of said public health orders.
“It’s now clear … that lockdown policies can cause harm in our communities, often with little or virtually no benefit,” Moe said.
He continued on to say the public health orders that saved the lives of thousands of Saskatchewanians over the previous two years also caused harm “by taking away jobs and removing family livelihoods” and by infringing on “the rights and freedoms that we have come to enjoy as Canadians.”
It’s far from a political line in the sand though. Even many of the strongest proponents for what Moe termed “lockdown policies” have since resumed their daily routines as though we’ve vanquished a deadly — and at least somewhat preventable — disease that still very much walks among us.
It’s also a stark about-face for a province that led the charge decades ago on universal health care and whose residents once prided themselves not on what their province could do for them but what they could do for their province.
How we got here is the 1,600-or-so life question (also known as an approximation of the total number of COVID casualties since the disease first arrived here in March 2020).
Maybe it’s as simple as most of us opting to follow prisoner Andy Dufresne’s advice from The Shawshank Redemption — when he said “get busy living or get busy dying” — and coming to the conclusion that living under restrictive public health orders isn’t really living at all, regardless of your age or occupation.
Or maybe, we’ll all look back a generation from now and wonder what in the world got into all of us in the first place.