FOULDS: Tone-deaf legal eagle soars into COVID-19 conversation

There’s been plenty of tone-deaf responses to this pandemic crisis that has enveloped us all, but it is difficult to find a more blatant example than that provided by the legal counsel for the Catholic Independent Schools Kamloops Diocese, who accused KTW and the media in general of attempting to “profit” off reporting on the greatest health crisis of our time.

After the Diocese sent a letter to parents of students at OLPH and St. Ann’s Academy, notifying them to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms due to potentially being exposed to an infected person at OLPH earlier this month, KTW decided it was important to share the warning with the greater community.

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We, and other media outlets, did precisely the same thing just days earlier, when the Kamloops Curling Centre sent out a letter to bonspiel attendees following a confirmed COVID-19 case at the event.

It is important that organizations notify those they know were potentially exposed, but the media are in a position to reach a far wider audience.

In the aforementioned curling centre incident, media outlets did indeed reach people who otherwise would not have known they may have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case.

It is imperative that such information reach the largest audience possible, yet for some unfathomable reason, there remain entities committed to suppressing such outreach of information for various reasons, none of which are remotely as important as the need to get the word out.

Consider the bizarre missive to KTW from legal counsel for the Catholic Independent Schools Kamloops Diocese after we reported there was a positive COVID-19 case emanating from OLPH.

The letter would seem to indicate the lawyer is more concerned with the reputation of the Catholic Independent Schools Kamloops Diocese than with the health of the greater community.

It is baffling to learn that one would consider alerting the greater public to a positive COVID-case a bad decision.

But there was the ludicrous letter, lambasting KTW for reporting on a public health matter and arguing the possible exposure of countless people should not be cause for greater warning.

“It was not provided to you so that you could professionally profit from the information,” the lawyer wrote to a reporter whose child attends OLPH.

“One of the discouraging things that I have observed in the news recently is a series of stories of those who would seek to profit at the expense of others in this time where we ought to be pulling together.”

Again, how news outlets are profiting from the pandemic remains a mystery — and the dearth of advertising dollars and compounding layoffs in the industry should be enough to counter the lawyer’s contrived conspiracy theory.

(To be clear, OLPH principal Chris Yuen understood why we wrote the story and spoke to us for it, adding: “Our thoughts and prayers are out to the school family member at this point. We wish for everyone to follow the public health authorities’ recommendations and stay safe.”)

There will be more such letters of warning issued as the pandemic persists — and, when warranted, KTW and other media outlets will spread the word in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.

The misguided missive from the legal counsel is not the only detriment to disclosure the media have experienced here in Kamloops and elsewhere in B.C., with simple questions relating to confirmed cases and number of ventilators at hospitals being treated as state secrets by health ministry officials.

More on that madness later.

Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds

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