Literature on the spread of pandemics in the twentieth century since the global 1918 Spanish flu catastrophe is sparse. Scientists expect that the current infection will likely proceed in waves, as it runs throughout the population, re-seeking uninfected susceptible victims, perhaps on a two or three month crescendo cycle, if Wuhan China is a guide. During our current initial cycle, citizens have accepted a remarkable and indeed, unprecedented degree of government regulation.
The question posed here is: once the first wave has passed and perhaps 30 – 60 per cent of the population is infected, whether or not some or many people will take heart in the scourge passing and will want as “survivors” to return to a society and economy they have lost. Will there be much less toleration of Big Government, Big Tech, and Big Shutdown?
Ethical and Moral Difficulties:
When the first wave is over, if people are aware of the risks, do we want to stop them from celebrating a wedding or attending a funeral? If they do attend, should they need to confine themselves for fourteen days afterwards? To what extent is the “war” truly over? Who decides my family’s right to define “health risk”? Can we allow some of us to go back to work or school?
As a society, we deal all the time with ethical issues like free will, the right to choose, economic liberty, and privacy. The heart and soul of many of our imminent “first wave, virus-battle-scarred” populace may well be preoccupied with fundamental matters of respecting life, truth, property, democratic values, and the environment.
Here are two different hypothetical alternative scenarios that might represent our situation at the end of wave one:
We Will Need To Stick Together or Be Sick Alone
Give Back My Country, Rights and Liberty
|Social||Continue to practice social distance, involuntary work from home, and suppression of traditional workplace condition guarantees and rules||Those who have been through the virus want to return to work, school and normal lives as they were pre-pandemic|
|Economic||High likelihood of a depression after recession; Government deeper and deeper into printing money||Small and medium size businesses and post-infection workers want option and right to re-open|
|Political||Continuing expansion of power of state to issue emergency edicts; Government teams up with global health establishment and Big Tech||Rise of individualism-based health choice groups, self-help cooperatives, and alternative goods and services delivery systems|
|Technological||Strong, continuing and persistent intrusion by and use of Big Tech to monitor compliance, track and trace individual mobility||Growing insistence on protection of personal privacy; Increased investment in personal communications security systems|
Here are some of the conditions that are likely to face Canadians as the first wave infection and death rate drop, and people begin to ask whether the future will be more of the same (Scenario One) or do we need different government decisions in order for society to be healthy, with more choice and liberty (Scenario Two):
- More people may demand the right go back to work—for reasons of free choice, economic necessity, and the right to re-open a services business or retail store without authoritarian government telling them what to do.
- New COVID immune bracelets could be worn proudly by militant workers testifying that they are virus resistant and deserving of freer movement and a traditional job.
- Many people are traumatized, both short and long term, by isolation, including the unending spectre of deaths, cumulative family stress, higher rates of senior’s depression, and overall long term fear of the future.
- The national government may increasingly appear to have destroyed the value of currency by grossly and ineffectively over-printing money, and making a long term economic depression more likely.
- More public agitation and private family discourse may emerge about the right of parents with children to send them back to public and high school.
- Vocal anti-vacciners could increase unrest by refusing compulsory vaccination and questioning the continuing need to enforce social distancing.
- Possibly higher and even alarming rates of suicide, depression, and drug and alcohol consumption.
- Fines, incarceration, public shaming and other penalties could become a new norm against unrestricted travel advocates and dissatisfied public service corrections and health care workers as anti-social outsiders.
- Social reformers could be emboldened to argue for establishing a guaranteed universal annual income: our right as inheritors of post-World War Two cradle-to-grave planning.
- Crime rates are up, cybercrime especially, and the incidence of prison lockdowns could grow.
- The public begins thinking of and avoiding certain zones of notoriously lethal, incubation and infection areas including penitentiaries, nursing homes, shelters, cruise ships, and retirement homes.
- Increasing use of the police to enforce social distancing measures in public spaces like parks and public housing areas.
- Protests could grow from health care, corrections and public service employees about how their health is being compromised by decisions of public health officials, hospital administrators, and ill-advised governments.
- There could be growing calls by health reformers to find natural low tech immune-strengthening pharmacy solutions like high dose vitamin solutions or existing other purpose drugs to seemingly enhance immunity to the virus.
- Economic nationalists could become more vocal that new manufacturing jobs are continuing to be outsourced offshore to China, Vietnam, India and Mexico.
Moral and Legal Dimensions:
COVID-19 knows no religion, boundaries or laws. The virus attacks epithelial cells, tricking the body into fighting and destroying its own immune system. As high a rate as 75-90 per cent of seniors will die on the current standard of care for severe cases – ventilators. To date, there is no scientifically agreed-upon, accepted treatment or immunity.
Some claim that this virus has a lower mortality rate than the annual flu. An estimated 30-50% of those infected don’t know they’re sick and only 10% of those infected require hospitalization, 90% of whom already have dangerous pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, kidney, lung and heart disease, obesity.
Depending on the country, the death rate from COVID-19 is between 2-10 per cent as compared to perhaps 0.2 per cent for the common flu. COVID-19 can be more readily transmitted pre-symptomatically as well as asymptomatically. World Health Organization officials argue that the numbers of infection rates would be much higher without social distancing.
Social media is already host to Individual WHO critics who argue the organization is dysfunctional and hopelessly pro-China. This is evidenced by that country’s initial and continuing cover up of the initiation and severity of its epidemic. They ask whether Canadian citizens should continue to acquiesce to give up our freedom for a “pandemic” that they believe is less severe in terms of infection than influenza. Their message: Do we want to destroy the economy, Canadian lives and live in a quasi-police state for this?
Canada’s motto is “peace, order and good government.” To the extent that the two scenarios presented here are plausible, the end of the first wave of the virus may well be associated with much more debate, political and economic instability, and public discord.