Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Audrey Hinchcliffe | Politics, protests, parties, people and COVID-19

Published:Friday | September 18, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Audrey Hinchcliffe
Audrey Hinchcliffe
Dozens of residents gather outside the Greater Portmore Health Centre in St Catherine on Wednesday, August 26, with no observance of social-distancing rules. Jamaica has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, which stood at 4,164 on Wednesday, September 15. Meanw
Dozens of residents gather outside the Greater Portmore Health Centre in St Catherine on Wednesday, August 26, with no observance of social-distancing rules. Jamaica has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases, which stood at 4,164 on Wednesday, September 15. Meanwhile, some 46 people have died from the virus.
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What do the 4Ps (politics, protests, parties and people) have in common? Crowds! Coronavirus loves people, it gets it energy from and romps among them at will. No amount of education, moral suasion and even applying the law seem able to deter the gatherings, among which many ignore the protocols for infection prevention and control.

We love our politics, we take to the streets in the name of justice; and as for partying, who dare to stop us? We now know that COVID-19 will, can, and does stop us. It is no respecter of persons regardless of religion, creed, ethnicity, gender or importance. It has no bias, loyalty or conscience. Yet via the 4Ps, we subject ourselves to its whims and fancy. We have created a dictator who is getting out of control.

POLITICS

The mention of any type of activity seems to instantly generate in party supporters a flow of energy to gather with wild abandon. The coronavirus will not be left out and, as the evidence shows, it does not discriminate as it will dance and prance unseen among the gatherings. The coronavirus is an equal-opportunity force to reckon with. Party colours and symbols which draw out supporters, the virus offers everyone the opportunity to be a spreader, whether you display symptoms or not.

Precautions for control of the spread of the infection is widely disseminated – mask wearing, handwashing/sanitising, social and physical distancing, temperature taking. The related resources are made available, monitors are assigned. It therefore behoves the leaders and supporters to take responsibility for their actions, whether they gather or traverse communities. Only time will tell, after the election, if you were a spreader or a protector.

PROTESTERS

There is always a cause for ‘us’ and ‘dem’. The triggers are wide and varied across planet earth. We see it in our streets and villages, we watch it on television and on social media, we listen to the news on our radio, and even in films – “We want justice”, “Black Lives Matter”, etc. Wherever the occurrence of protests, physical distance is impossible to maintain. The wearing of mask remains controversial, and whether voluntarily or by edict, wearing mask is usually spotty at best. The other control measures get lost whenever two or three are gathered in the name of a cause.

The continuing protests in the USA is being blamed, in part, for the spread of the virus. However, there are arguments for and against the role of protesters outdoors as opposed to indoor gatherings. However, the common thread running through all of this is that the virus loves gatherings – small or large, indoors or outdoors. Hence ‘shelter in place’ – meaning stay at home – wearing face coverings, washing hands and maintaining six-foot distance is ignored when emotions run high, regardless of the cause. We can only rely on good sense and self-discipline to adhere to protocols.

PARTIES

The cause of the spread of the virus is mostly being blamed on the youth. But why are we bashing them? Partying is what young people do. ‘Party’ is now a bad word as the virus has exposed the underbelly of what occurs out of sight. Call it entertaining, having fun, recreation, or by any other name, the effect is the same, as when “the rum (wine) is in, the wit is out.” It means we take leave of our intelligence, throw caution to the wind, and party with wild abandon, ignoring distance, masks and sanitising, and hide if we are unwell.

Party we must, with our partner – the coronavirus. The unfortunate thing is those of us who did not have the fun, later suffers the consequences of the infection. COVID-19 is running wild.

PEOPLE

We populate the world. We see on the news the devastation being caused by the coronavirus on all continents. At the time of writing, election day was upon us. We are in a very active hurricane season, questionable economic recovery, and the virus at the stage of community spread.

It is people who make things happen. It is we, the people, who must take responsibility for containing the spread of the virus. It is we, the people, who have to rigorously comply with protocol to slow down the spread of the virus.

Policymakers can pronounce edicts all they want; enforcing compliance is another matter. I am truly befuddled by election day edicts. Only time will tell of the after-effects on the spread of the virus. I will address this in an upcoming article.

Until then, heaven help us all as a people involved in politics, protest and parties.

Audrey Hinchcliffe is the CEO and founder of Manpower and Maintenance Services Ltd Group. Send feedback to ceo@manpowerja.com or columns@gleanerjm.com.