COMMENT: There Is Still Much Room For Improvement In COVID Fight

This week, as we face into a second month of lockdown, Gavin argues that any fault for stubbornly high COVID case numbers lies closer to home than we might like to admit.

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It’s a time of angst.

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“The travel restrictions don’t go far enough.”

“The vaccine delivery is too slow.”

“People are travelling beyond their 5km limit. They’re going on holidays.”

“They’re not staying 2m away in shops.”

“Teenagers are hanging around in groups.”

And so on, and so on…

I don’t hear many people saying “I” am not doing enough to fight COVID-19.

This lockdown is not like March and April of last year. More people are out and about. More are on the roads. And, as a result, nearly one month into the current restrictions, case levels are still high (an improvement, yes, but high) and there’s five more weeks of this period to go.

We can blame international travel. We can blame everyone else. But we need to accept that a large element of what is happening at present is because, in many cases, there is more that we can do to suppress the virus.

“Gavin, I’m doing everything.” I hear you say, reader. I’m sure you feel that you are. But for many of us, are we really doing EVERYTHING?

The CSO say that in the week to January 15th, some 42% of people in Clare travelled more than 10km from their homes for some reason. Many of those reasons will be legitimate, and many of those journeys will be necessary. But undeniably, the ‘stay at home’ sense of April 2020 is not as strong now. There aren’t as many Gardaí on the roads – not close. Scenic sites that were locked up then were open now. To be clear, I think that’s a good thing. Closing off areas where people exercise safely, outdoors, seemed baffling even then. But when we hear concern from coastal communities about the number of people converging on small villages, to the extent that locals are going AWAY from the coast to get their own walks in, we have to accept that many of us are not going to the local shop, or going for a locally-based walk.

That same week, a fortnight ago, saw seven deaths in this county linked with COVID-19.  A week later, the number was higher again at 11.  Those are the two highest weekly figures of any stage of the pandemic. Things have never been as bad. And for all the focus on holidaymakers, or international students flying into the country the truth is that it is the activities of Joe Public that’s keeping COVID active in our communities.

It’s no coincidence that public health authorities, the Council and Clare Gardaí have issued appeals urging people to hold tight. It’s because they see the warning signs. They see 40 outbreaks in businesses in the MidWest in January, during this lockdown. They see the activity on the roads. They know that the lack of testing of close contacts means that the falling case numbers, while welcome, are not a true reflection of levels of COVID in the community.

On last Wednesday’s show, Michael McNamara TD hit the nail on the head when he talked about our rush to blame “others” for the woes of this time. The foreign travelers and the house partiers have acted disgracefully, no doubt. They’ve shown no solidarity with everyone else making sacrifices. And as the mantra goes, most people are making sacrifices and are mostly following the rules.

Mostly.

But we have to be honest, and admit that many of us could do better.