Letters Aug. 6: Mask mandate now, not later; AC not necessary

We need mask mandate now, not later

Health authorities in B.C. should immediately mandate the use of masks in all public, indoor spaces, including transit, in middle and secondary schools, and in situations where people are in close proximity to each other outdoors.

The time to implement such an order is now — before, not after, a new surge of COVID-19 infections. Observations of behaviour around the province indicate many people are becoming complacent; they seem to believe we’ve beaten the disease. But other jurisdictions, like Melbourne, Australia thought they’d largely eliminated the virus too, and now they’re suffering the economic and social devastation of a second, far more severe lockdown.

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Scientific research released in the last weeks shows that aerosol transmission of the virus — by tiny particles that a person can emit by talking and even just by breathing — is a much more powerful mechanism of infection than previously recognized.

A research team from Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a detailed mathematical analysis of transmission routes on the Diamond Princess cruise ship; they estimate that nearly 60 per cent of infections were a product of transmission through inhalable aerosols (under 10 microns in diameter).

New research suggests, too, that masks protect both the wearer and people near the wearer by interfering with the mobility of aerosol particles, thus reducing the distance these particles can travel and the viral load that people inhale.

Thirty-three American states and nearly all European, Asian, and African countries now have some kind of mask mandate. Evidence from Asia countries suggests that the widespread use of masks can keep COVID-19’s reproduction rate below 1.

A mask mandate will have to be introduced in British Columbia sooner or later. We’ll all be better off, because we’ll be more likely to head off the next COVID-19 wave, if it’s sooner.

Thomas Homer-Dixon
University Research Chair
University of Waterloo
Director, Cascade Institute
Royal Roads University

Give more information on virus locations

When the number of new COVID-19 cases in B.C. is announced, it is given for each of the five health authorities. The Vancouver Island Health Authority includes not only Vancouver Island but also islands and part of the mainland.

A more exact location of new cases can and should be given. This is possible because the health authorities are divided into health service delivery areas which in turn are further subdivided into local health areas.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has three health service delivery areas: South Vancouver Island, Central Vancouver Island and North Vancouver Island. (North Vancouver Island includes part of the mainland.)

Each of these health service delivery areas is further divided, so there are 14 local health areas in the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

When a cluster of cases occur, the location is given as in Kelowna, or when outbreaks occur in care homes the name of the care home is given.

The name of the local health area where new cases occur should also be given.

This would be an encouragement at the local level to continue practising social distancing and washing hands because of its success so far. But it would also be a reminder to residents to be even more vigilant.

There is no reason to withhold the local health area location of new cases from the public. This is important information that will help to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Louise Manga
Victoria

What we need: Courage and political will

Re: “A new ecological civilization: How do we get there?” commentary, Aug. 2.

It is always refreshing to read columns which capture trends that are going to make a profound difference in the future. Trevor Hancock’s column certainly does that.

Hancock raises compelling questions about how we might restructure our economies and communities to prioritize public good rather than private gain, citing a set of economic recovery proposals within a brief submitted to the B.C. government by the Green Technology Education Centre.

Among the recommendations he highlights is a proposal that the B.C. government encourage “a province-wide transition to purpose-driven business,” a vision we share at the United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Social Purpose Institute.

We, too, have submitted a proposal to the B.C. and federal governments encouraging them to invest in measures to accelerate a purpose-led recovery so that our future economy is “powered by the pursuit of long-term well-being for all in which business and regulatory and financial systems foster an equitable, flourishing, resilient future.”

We have the means and the know-how to fashion a purpose-driven restart. All we need now is the courage and political will.

Michael McKnight
President and CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland

It’s not hot enough to use your AC

Despite many Vancouver Islanders taking pride in being more environmentally aware than others, one has to wonder at all the drivers — especially on brilliantly windy days of which we have many — cruising around with all windows rolled up, presumably enjoying their “air-conditioned comfort” in low-20s weather.

Don’t they know that more gas is consumed when the AC is on and that they’re spewing extra carbon unnecessarily? How green is that?

Our weather isn’t tropical, nor is it really hot as in the Interior; have many drivers merely bought the sales pitch or do they simply not want to muss up their hair? An open back window or two would do the trick.

Mary Hogan
Victoria

Elected officials are like ungrateful siblings

Re: “Social media attacks on Victoria’s mayor were unwarranted,” editorial, Aug. 4.

The editorial missed the point as to why people are angry. It is not because she shared good news; it is not because she is a woman; it is not because she is the mayor.

The frustration from many people comes from a different place: A group of elected officials that do not speak about or publicly confront the big problems that all of us can see every day in the streets.

This is like the ungrateful sibling that only shows up for Thanksgiving to celebrate, without showing up for those moments when the family needs support. Don’t expect praises from the people at the table.

Yes, it is regrettable that some people use words that may be hurtful, but it does not makes the criticism bad in itself, even if it is in response to “good news.”

If the solution of our elected officials is to retreat and go silent, then maybe they have to rethink their calling.

Daniel Sanchez
Victoria

Banks should help their customers

My husband went to the bank to withdraw more cash than the limit on his card.

He is 78 and has heart and other health problems. He was 10th in line, waiting for two tellers, and had to wait outside, in the heat, for 40 minutes.

One elderly lady had to leave, as did two or three other people. Why don’t banks provide chairs for elderly and frail customers?

The first sentence on the bank’s telephone message is that “your health and safety is important to us.”

Perhaps that means that they would call an ambulance when he fell down, overcome with heat. I am disabled which is why I sent him to the bank. So much for customer service!

J.E. Martin
Nanaimo

Let councillors run a business

It was no surprise to lear, that tax revenues are down in Victoria, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was surprising to learn of the high return the city earns on parking, and the major losses thus incurred.

So what is the response from the mayor and council to this?

Take away more parking spaces by building more bike lanes.

Take away more parking spaces by building sidewalk cafes into roads.

I really have to wonder how well the mayor and council would fare if they were running private businesses that have a bottom line, unlike the city, where they take their revenue from the “vending machine” of taxpayers .

Mike Spence
Victoria

We can’t afford to expand the bike lanes

It seems easy to blame the pandemic for the city’s budget problems.

With the economy reopening we are already back to frustration of lack of available parking downtown and the city is still losing $950,000 a month in parking revenue.

If it is not the pandemic causing the shortfalls could it be the result of our city council’s need to turn Victoria into a cycling Utopia, taking away much needed parking spaces for bike lanes?

If the annual shortfall from parking is almost as much as the budget for the latest iteration of the proposed bicycle network extension, perhaps that budget item should be seriously reconsidered and dropped.

In addition, council should consider bicycle licensing as an added revenue source.

That would have the added benefit of reducing the police budget needed for tracing stolen bikes.

P.G. (Phil) Leith
Victoria

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