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Opinion: Leave the expert alone

You're not helping by not doing it.

Leave her alone.

It’s tough enough to try and harness a global pandemic — and then you have to tell people how to use the harness … that’s almost impossible.

Shut down schools. Wash your hands. Open bars, close fitness clubs, continue to hold Judo tournaments. Stay six feet apart.  Answer questions at daily news briefings that run from the tragedy of pandemic death counts to allowing kids dressed as princesses to trick or treat for candy. Wash your hands. Keep the economy going. Keep people alive.

Being the province’s chief medical officer of health is probably not an easy job.

I say ‘probably’, because I’ve never had to do it. I’m sure many out there in social-media land think they could do it.  I’m just not one of them.

The writers of a recently-released Maclean’s magazine opinion piece —a lawyer and biomedical specialist no less, so they must be very smart — also think they know what it takes to be a Chief Medical Officer. And they say that Alberta’s could do more. The opinion piece says Dr. Deena Hinshaw isn’t using all the powers afforded to her office to reduce the virus’ effects. The piece says she isn’t doing as good a job as her counterparts in other provinces.

Leave her alone.

She and other scientists and specialists around the world know all there is to know about this virus. It’s their job to know. In fact, if  it was only  the virus they were fighting, we’d have it licked already (note: just a literary lick, don’t actually lick anything COVID related).

The problem isn’t the scientists and professionals who have made careers of  knowing about these things —  it’s all the who people who think they know better.

The Maclean’s opinion piece hints that Hinshaw may not be doing all she can because it may not go with the directives of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. They say she isn’t telling him everything she should. That’s ironic, because every day, the doctor is telling the public everything she can — and some are still not listening. It’s not about what she isn’t saying … it’s about what people are choosing to hear.

Some believe the virus is dangerous — lethal even. Others say it’s little more than a seasonal flu. Still others accept both versions but differ on whether economies will crumble if the virus continues. Many don’t wash their hands regularly because soap makes them dry — and still others are trying to harness all of those various ideologies and run cities, provinces and countries.

You can’t control what people will do with the information you give them.

Professionals like Hinshaw are doing the best they can with what they know — and giving that information to a population of so many mixed and unique ways of thinking that the message is never heard the same way.

It has become very clear that no matter what some people are told, they won’t change. They might even fight harder in the opposite direction … literally, in the case of grocery story directional arrows.

It’s their right, don’t you know, to be mask-free and to ignore social distancing signs. And in a way, they’re right … because the freedoms of a country like this allow differing opinions — and even encourage it.

You know who else loves those freedoms?


The virus continues to do pretty well the same thing that it has been doing — in the public realm — for about a year because we give it the freedom to. It floats in the air at movie theatres, rides on spittle, sits on stair railings at hockey games, jumps from person to person at house parties, clings to unwashed hands, and falls into the butter on your morning breakfast. It targets and infects the respiratory system, lingers in the body, and in many cases, kills its host.

Experts know all this. They tell us about it every day. They ask us to help them every day.

They are doing what they can. The problem is that many people simply aren’t.

Deena Hinshaw isn’t less of an expert on the pandemic because Alberta now has a nation-high case explosion of the global virus. Leave her alone.

Hinshaw just has the misfortune of trying to explain her expertise to people who won’t be satisfied until they prove to the world they can choose their own fate — or die trying.

Again, irony abounds, as those who may die with them wouldn't have chosen that fate for themselves.