The month of September brings with it a number of changes — the leaves are falling, classes have begun and the startling rise in COVID-19 cases has resulted in over 100 deaths in a single month in Saskatchewan.
Between Sept. 4 and Oct. 4, 106 people died from COVID-19. The increased number of deaths comes alongside an increase of daily case numbers. At the start of October, there were 1,700 more active cases than the start of September. Saskatoon in particular is an active COVID-19 hotspot.
It’s startling to know that, while Saskatchewan only comprises three per cent of the country’s population, it is contributing to more than 10 per cent of active cases nationally.
Alongside the increased number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19, since the start of September, the amount of hospitalized cases has more than doubled from 138 to 325 as of Oct. 4.
This sudden change has come faster than the leaves have fallen, and the question remains — how did we get here?
Well, the combination of not having a provincially mandated mask order until Sept. 17 and proof-of-vaccination policy until Oct. 1 may be one reason.
Saskatchewan was one of the last provinces to introduce a type of vaccine passport, only implementing its passport four days before Prince Edward Island. In my opinion, by procrastinating the implementation of policies that have been proven to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan has irresponsibly allowed the fourth wave to grow and overwhelm our healthcare system.
It has been proven time and time again that wearing a mask prevents the spread of COVID-19. It has also been proven that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to contract the virus than unvaccinated people. The vaccine also lessens the effects of the virus and decreases the likelihood of needing to be hospitalized.
As of Oct. 4, of the 325 people who were hospitalized because of COVID-19 and eligible to be vaccinated, 76.8 per cent were not fully vaccinated.
The high number of unvaccinated COVID-19 cases is overwhelming hospitals. This means that hospitals may soon have to decide, on the likelihood of survival, which patients get admitted to the ICU.
It is clear to me that the provincial government’s slow action has resulted in people becoming sick and dying of COVID-19.
It is frustrating to have done your part by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated, yet feel punished by the government’s lack of action. Had everyone worn their mask and gotten the vaccination, I believe our hospitals wouldn’t be as overwhelmed as they are now.
However, now that stricter restrictions are in place, is there hope that Saskatchewan’s struggle against COVID-19 will improve?
Yes, but maybe not for several months and only if the current restrictions remain in place.
Yet, if Premier Scott Moe decides to lift the mask order by late October as planned, it may take even longer to regain control of the province’s COVID-19 cases. I think it is also important to consider the potential adverse effects that the upcoming holiday gatherings will have on case numbers.
We know that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated. While the provincial government was slow to implement vaccine passports and masking policies, we will hopefully begin to see its benefits soon.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Amanda is a third-year undergraduate student studying Secondary Education.