Letter: Health officials: Show us the data and let us decide for ourselves

Editor:

Truly, we live in the Information Age, with data essential to us making daily choices. Feel like driving to Vancouver in the winter? Let’s check snow conditions before setting out — one would be a fool not to look at the webcams. Feel like shopping for clothes? Well, we can compare prices on the internet, saving time and gas.

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So then, if knowledge is power, how does one account for public health officials preferring to keep us ignorant of the COVID-19 status in Kamloops?

Why are we unable to access up-to-date numbers for daily new cases, as well as their general location (seniors home versus in the community)? I’m sure the facts are there, but keeping the public ignorant seems to be the preferred option of Dr. Bonnie Henry and her (admittedly) hard-working colleagues.

What information that can be laboriously gleaned is often vague, far too general, or hopelessly out of date.

The BC Centre for Disease Control publishes daily stats for the Interior and has some excellent maps showing weekly and year-to-date cases, but the numbers apply to large areas such as the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap, and the Okanagan — hardly pertinent for a Kamloops resident. The local health area data is helpful, but it is seven days out of date.

I think we all have a sense of dread, to some degree, when we leave our homes. We are aware of the invisible menace that is COVID-19, but perhaps not of the damage done to our psyches by the unconscious state of being hyper-alert, which produces a condition of chronic low-level anxiety, very debilitating to one’s health.

I understand that there is some reluctance of government to give us more accurate and timely data, perhaps based on the reasoning that anything too specific would stigmatize victims. I think this is irrational. I’m not asking to know if Joe-Blow down the street is infected, I merely want enough specific information to be able to decide how to conduct my day with the least risk to me.

If I know, for example, that of the new cases in Kamloops yesterday, or the new cases in the last week, 90 per cent are in nursing homes, then I can make an informed decision as to my activity, based on my perception that my exposure in the community is relatively less.

The present patronizing attitude of public health reminds me of the old doctor-patient relationship up to the 1950s, where the patient didn’t want knowledge of their illness and the physician was content to keep them in the dark.

Nobody would want that now in their personal health, so let's not have it in our public care.

Larry Webster
retired family doctor
Kamloops

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