Staying the course and staying at home

It felt eerie while driving through the city today. Everything in downtown was closed.  My favorite Starbucks was closed. Chairs and tables were stacked. My favorite Vietnamese restaurant was closed. The only stores open were grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, fast food joints for takeout or delivery, and hardware stores.  That’s the basic extent of what I noticed anyway. 

I finally found toilet paper at a pharmacy today.  Some places have to stay open like essential goods and services but most people are staying home. Here in Canada, we’ve begun to take it very seriously.  I know there are pockets in every city where people are still out and about.  We all need to take social distances and self-isolation more seriously and stay home.

From the start, Asian countries have been taking this pandemic extremely seriously because they lost many lives through SARS.  Today, they are ready and are already taking health precautions more seriously than Europe and North America.  Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore are testing the public with more intensity than we are in North America.

Deserted roads in Inida after Janata Curfew Photo: ANI

Asians say they feel safer in Asia than they do here in Canada. Asian nations take more precautions than we do in America, Canada and Europe. Experts are now saying that Asian nations could see a second wave of the outbreak.

State governors, provincial premiers, city mayors and civic leaders are now sending a stronger message to the public to stay home.  COVID-19 is now spreading amongst the community who have not traveled internationally.  The coronavirus is being spread by and to others who did not travel outside the country.

Today, it sounded like President Trump would like to have restrictions lifted by April. What we can draw from this is that he is concerned the coronavirus will hurt the economy and people’s jobs, savings and assets.

We all know this not the time to even consider lifting restrictions on social distancing. We need to stay the course, otherwise, we could endanger more people.

Hospitals in Italy, Iran, Spain are now in panic mode and bursting from the seams.  So we need to stay healthy and isolate ourselves at home. Don’t go outside.  Otherwise, we will be where Italy is today.  Let’s each do our part.

Facing our fears and considering others

Vancouver man loading up at Costco profits 100k reselling Lysol sanitizer on Amazon.

We worry about running short of food, toilet paper and basic human necessities.  It’s driven by fear and anxiety.  We worry, so we panic.  We panic, so we buy at insane prices. Hustlers know this. Therefore, there’s no need for panic-buying.  Just buy when we need it. And you hustlers stop hustling. 

Hustlers will take advantage of our fear and anxieties. Yes, buying and selling at fair prices is a legitimate source of income.  I’m not against making a profit. Nothing wrong with that; but when people do it to gouge others at a vulnerable time, it’s just plain wrong. 

Many people will face tough times in the near future. People will lose their jobs. Small businesses will shut down and owners do not know if they will reopen. Families will suffer.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, we all had enough toilet paper.  There was sufficient toilet paper in stock in every household, organization, school and business.  No one worried about running out of toilet paper or hand sanitizer.  Now, it’s a different story. My last two trips to the grocery stores, I stopped to look at the toilet paper aisle. Nothing.

If every single person refused to panic-buy, everything would continue as normal.  Each person and family would have sufficient stock at home and go about business as usual–free from shortage and worry. Today, that’s not the case. Panic and fear has driven us into shortage.

If 5 out of 10 people bought up extra stock, the next 5 would have nothing for themselves.  Five people buying just one extra would throw off the next 5 people.  It’s simple math.  If the same 5 didn’t worry about their lack, and just leave it on the shelf for the next person, the next 5 persons would have the toilet paper to purchase for themselves and their family. Simple right?

Logistics experts have this all figured.  They can predict how much each store needs to order for that week.  Logistics’ just-in-time arrival of stock don’t account for extra buying and hoarding.  Perhaps they can start factoring in these upcoming and possible pandemics like COVID-19.

Tennessee man stuck with 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizers stopped by Amazon and EBay.

I was flabbergasted seeing the news video of a man who bought out all the Lysol hand wipes from a Costco in Vancouver.  This couple sold them on Amazon and made Cdn $70,000-100,000.  Buying a pack for $15-18 and reselling it for Cdn$89 is wrong. Another price-gouging incident in the news.  Two brothers from Tennessee going from state to state buying from anywhere they could, bought 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizers. Their plan was to resell it for a profit at US$70 per bottle. Now he’s stuck with all of it in his garage.  Their Amazon, EBay and Costco accounts were shut-down.

I hope they and others like them learn from this. Price gouging at the expense of others during this difficult time is very inconsiderate and is driven by greed. This is selfish behaviour and no excuse can justify this selfish behaviour.

Being considerate of the needs of others is one of the golden rules. Love your neighbor as how you would like to be loved by others. If we all followed this, none of us would be lacking anything.

Pandemic reveals crisis in health care

Medical workers treat patients in the isolated intensive care unit at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown me something about the health care system.  It is not ready to handle a crisis. No one was ready to prepare for what was coming.  China did not warn the world about what they were dealing with.  Yes, they did send the world a print of the coronavirus but they themselves were in panic mode because their health care system was in a huge deficit and totally incapable of handling a pandemic.  The Chinese health care system is not necessarily a universal system but it is sort of a hybrid system. Chinese people do pay something for health care.

On a positive note, there is a bright side to this.  The private sector in the United States has stepped up to manufacture more N95 masks, medical supplies and equipment like ventilators. Scientists and laboratories are in a hurry to create a vaccine for the coronavirus.  Without the private sector and free market system, we would be extremely short on masks and medical supplies and equipment.

This tells us something. We need the private sector in the health care system.  The private sector is the engine that creates a robust health care system.  Ingenuity, passion, education, investment, and competition.  These are factors that propel and create a more robust and dynamic system for health care.

As our population ages, we will increasingly need more medical supplies, equipment, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and anything and everything related to health care. The United States has a robust health care system. Capitalism and the free-market encourage competition.

Despite what Bernie Sanders and his socialists comrades think, the universal health care system is not what they believe it to be.  It is a socialist fantasy that has a huge inherent weakness. Here in Canada, where I live, the universal system is collapsing and bleeding. It cannot sustain itself for much longer. In the next 10-20 years, I predict it will be in ICU mode—critical and near total collapse. Universal health care is not what it’s cracked up to be. It might seem like a benefit to those without medical coverage, but it also has huge weaknesses. It cannot supply health care to all–despite what they might believe.

Wait times for any type of specialists, treatment, or surgery are astoundingly long and are continuing to increase here in Canada.  People who have already been patiently waiting for four to six months for treatment or surgery will have to wait longer, especially now that this pandemic has further delayed their treatment.  There is a huge shortage of family doctors in Canada.  Actually there is a shortage of doctors all across the board.

In the U.S., wait times are much shorter.  Yes, non-essential treatment might be delayed due to our situation, but essential treatment is not necessarily delayed.  However, here in Canada, both non-essential and essential treatment and surgery are delayed. I empathize with those who are in a desperate need for treatment and surgery.  People are suffering here in Canada.  People are diagnosed far too late; and by the time they are diagnosed for cancer or whatever, it’s too late.

I realize there are many people in the United States who do not have health care coverage. It’s very unfortunate.  If they do not work for a company that offers medical benefits, they might be up the creek if a disaster befalls them.  Either they have to sell the farm or house to pay for a life-saving surgery, or they just have to forego medical treatment and wait for the worst.

I realize that there’s no system that’s perfect.  Both the Canadian and American models of health care coverage have their weaknesses.  We need a third way.  There are other countries have different models that work better than the Canadian and American models.  I hope we get there one day.  Once we get past this COVID-19 ordeal, I hope we wake up and come up with another way to deal with the health care crisis.

Love trumps our personal freedoms

I was thinking about who would most be against mandatory social distancing.  Human rights and social liberties advocates.  I don’t think we’ll be hearing much from them for the next few months. Don’t get me wrong. I love my social freedoms and liberties. Freedom and liberties are something we value in the free world.

Spring Break crowds gathered at Eighth Street beach in Miami Beach last weekend. 

The idea of mandatory social distancing would seem to go against the ideals of civil liberties.  One’s personal liberties is something we ought not to abuse. 

Is there a limit to our freedoms?  I would certainly think so. 

Is it a human right to walk around and do anything we want in any or every situation?  I doubt it. 

Freedom is a concept but only a concept when we consider life and death.  To refute the call to social distancing potentially puts many lives at risk by increasing the likelihood of spreading the virus.

If I put my personal freedom ahead of the life of my aging parents or grandparents with weaker immune systems (or yours for that matter) would I then be abusing my personal freedom?  You’d likely say, “Yes”, especially if it were your own grandparents who contracted COVID-19.

This past week during spring break, thousands of young people lined the beaches in Florida.  Later, they were all turned away and told to go home.  Beaches closed.

To me, what these young people did was a flagrant abuse of personal freedoms.  There’s a serious potential of endangering the lives of many people.  Apologies if you were one of these people but I’ve got to say it. Some got around the beach closures by having house parties indoors–away from public eyes–thus, refuting the call for social isolation. Sure you have the freedom to do this, but you could unknowingly pass on the virus to each other and then bring it home to your parents, grandparents or other friends and family members.

If everyone chose to abuse our freedoms and liberties, we would certain become like Italy and surpass their numbers of death. That would be scary.

So is there a limit to personal freedoms?  You bet.

Love for our neighbors is what we need to gauge ourselves by. We need to care for one another by considering the safety of others over our own desires or inconveniences. Love and genuine care and concern for others ought to trump our personal freedoms.

Coronavirus and racism: Where the virus came from

We need to stop the accusations about where the COVID-19 virus came from. The Communist regime of China (CCP) accused President Trump of racism because he called it a “Chinese virus.” That is shocking. They knew full well the virus originated in China. The Chinese people knew this too and were very angry at the CCP.

Seeing and hearing several mainstream media reporters parrot this accusation was disappointing. It becomes more clear each day that they’re trying to agitate the President–trying to eek out a comment to sensationalize their stories. Very disrespectfully to the office of the President IMHO.

During the White House press conference, intelligent reporters were asking good questions, while several reporters preferred to play identity politics. Several media race-baiters were trying to trap Trump by repeatedly asking him the same ignorant question, if he thinks the virus is “Chinese”. It was obvious. It came with an accusational tone. He responded boldly that it comes from China. They wanted to create a response to get a sensationalized story out of it. Very opportunistic. That’s not good reporting. Do these reporters need to educate themselves where the coronavirus originated from? Funny the Chinese people know exactly where it came from–Wuhan.

What we need is confession. Confession brings improvement. The CCP’s delay and deception have costs many thousands of lives.

Many more thousands will die in the coming months. The projected numbers are staggering and vary depending on the modellers. May God have mercy upon the nations of the world including the United States and Europe. Some are projecting this pandemic could persist for up to one year–but no one really knows at this point.

To the mainstream media: If you guys really care about justice, please speak up against China’s CCP. That would really take guts on your part. Some bloggers in China have been silenced and have even disappeared. No one knows where they are. If you are truly concerned about this, please do justice for the Chinese people who were victims of the CCP’s hideous cover-up and deception. I’d like to see more reporting on this. The world needs to know, to remember, and to learn from what went wrong so we don’t allow this to happen again.

Pray for Italy

The number of deaths due to covid-19 in Italy has now surpassed that of China. Hard to believe. This is one of the earliest nations where the Christian church had its origins, including the nations in the Asia Minor region (modern-day Turkey). May we pray for Italy and all the people who live in this vibrant and beautiful country.

Lord our God, we pray for Italy and your people there. Bring them comfort and pour out your peace upon all your holy people. May you lavish your grace and healing upon this nation. As they call out to you, hear their prayers, O God.

How soap kills coronavirus

And just a reminder of how another type of washing (this one without soap).

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:22-23).

May we be continually washed with God’s word and remind ourselves of our baptism in Christ Jesus.