The COVID-19 pandemic is a black swan event unlike anything before in modern times, both in its scope and in its impact upon our everyday lives.
Almost 40% of [Canadian] employees now work from home, up from about 10%. — Investment Executive
Adobe reports that employees are juggling longer hours and struggling with work-life balance.
- My Health & Medical Links.
- Virtual meeting software (downloads, configuration, etiquette).
- Optimize your WiFi network for working at home.
- A COVID-19 crisis management plan for small businesses.
- Security policies for both business and home.
The information on this page focuses on British Columbia information. You should seek guidance from the government and health authorities in your region.
Be aware of province-wide restrictions on gatherings and travel designed to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Renewed COVID Measures
Because of rising infection rates, two new COVID measures were added in B.C. in the fall:
- Masks required in public indoor settings.
- B.C. proof of vaccine card required for entrance to non-essential activities including concerts, sports, arts and cultural events, and restaurants.
Whether you agree with these or not, the increased infection rates following major holidays show we are simply prolong those restrictions.
The emergence of a fourth wave fueled by the Delta variant has exasperated by
- resistance to wearing masks;
- resistance to vaccination; and
- ending mask and distancing mandates too soon.
Failures to immunize has resulted in many patients not getting their surgeries or other treatments yet our hospitals are being overwhelmed with new cases primarily within the unvaccinated. Medical staff are experiencing burnout at alarming rates and there were already shortages.
COVID a Long Term Problem
COVID-19 is likely to be with us for the long term, but by using vaccinations we may be able to turn this from a pandemic into an endemic where COVID becomes more like the common cold — with us continually, but no longer life-threatening.
Covid is not going away. It's going to be endemic. That means the virus will keep circulating in parts of the global population for years, but it'll come down to relatively manageable levels, so it becomes more like the flu than a world-stopping disease. — Vox
Delta may be a blessing to people who are vaccinated because it will make this thing endemic, but to people who are unvaccinated, you are pretty much screwed. — Dr. Zubin Damania
Mandatory masks requirements while indoors was replaced with masks are recommended. Think what would happen if we made stop signs "recommended" rather than mandatory.
B.C. Vaccination Status Indicator
B.C. Public Health retains an immunization record for residents who received a COVID-19 vaccine at a B.C. immunization clinic or pharmacy.
You can access that data for yourself online using the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Indicator.
A B.C. proof of vaccine card will be required for entrance to non-essential activities including concerts, sports, arts and cultural events, and restaurants starting September 13th.
You will need to enter your date of birth and Personal Health Number (PHN) to confirm your immunization record.
What's In the QR Code?
The QR code contains your:
- First and last name
- Date of birth
- Dates of vaccination
- Type of vaccine
- The lot numbers of the doses you received
- The clinic location where you received your doses
In B.C., businesses are required to use the BC Vaccine Card Verifier app to scan the QR code. This app can only read:
- your name
- whether you are fully or partially vaccinated
Businesses are not allowed to keep a copy of any proof without your consent.
Events, businesses and services will ask to see your BC Vaccine Card and a piece of valid government photo ID, for example:
- B.C. driver's licence or BC Services Card
- Photo ID issued by another province or territory
- — B.C. Government
It is important to note that the B.C. Vaccination Status Indicator is not a tracking app. It requires you to provide the information to the vendors of restricted locations to gain entry, but that information is limited to your name and vaccine status.
Many of those opposed to the new proof of vaccine card use Facebook on their cellphones — both of which collect a lot of personal information.
Governments and social media continue to look at ways of using our cellphones to track us — often without any sunset clause that would remove this privacy invasion once the pandemic ends.
That said, it would be difficult to track and monitor COVID infections, let alone provide assurances of vaccinated status without some reliable and verifiable electronic records including apps on our cellphones.
We should demand that this data is set to expire when no longer needed for that purpose.
Protecting the Classroom
Children and teens have returned to the classroom. While some precautions are being taken, not all schools are ready nor are their policies consistent.
- Children under 12 have not yet been vaccinated.
- The vaccination rate for teens is much less than the general population.
- While some schools have begun working to improve ventilation, not all projects were complete when school resumes.
- Large class sizes make distancing more difficult or impossible.
Children often show fewer symptoms, but may spread the disease to their families if exposed to COVID in the classroom.
Just over 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan are in children 12 and under, who are ineligible for a vaccine. — Times-Colonist
Provincial restrictions are designed to keep most people safe, but should be the minimum, not the maximum measures you take personally.
You have the right to protect your own health. Feel free to take any measures you need to protect yourself such as avoiding crowds, indoor shopping or anywhere you feel unsafe.
COVID-19 can have severe adverse affects including requiring critical care (ventilators), often resulting in death. Vulnerable populations, like those with existing diseases, are particularly at risk.
[A] list of conditions that have been designated as risk conditions for COVID-19 by public health agencies: diabetes, heart disease, asthma or chronic obstructive airway disease, chronic kidney disease, disabling neurological disease, liver disease and immunodeficiency or immunosuppression. — Paul M. McKeigue et el
Choose Your Sources Carefully
Don't buy into fake information. Use legitimate sources.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada has provided resources for renal patients: COVID-19: How to protect yourself. These may be useful for others that are more vulnerable.
Physical distancing helps to reduce the transmission of diseases like COVID-19. Where distancing is not possible, mandatory wearing of masks by everyone is required to protect those that are more vulnerable.
Tired of endless waves and lockdowns? Read about the ZeroCOVID initiative. Introduced in May 2021 during the third wave, the principles remain the same.
Wear a Face Mask
Wearing a mask protects others. I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me.
Wearing a face mask, even a less advanced one, can help reduce both the risk and the severity of illness.
While being fully-vaccinated should allow more freedom, you can still be a carrier. Masking while indoors in public settings minimizes the possibility of spreading COVID.
Choosing a Mask
With more contagious coronavirus variants spreading, a simple cloth mask might not be enough.
You could soon start seeing new labels that cover filtration efficiency, fit, and breathability — Consumer Reports
A mask should have 3 layers of cotton, or 2 layers of cotton with a pocket for a polypropylene filter insert. Single layer masks will not provide enough filtration.
The mask should fit snugly around your face. There should be no gaps around the nose bridge, sides of the face or under the chin.
DO NOT buy a mask with a filtration valve. Filtration valves let out air.
If you're finding it difficult to breathe, find a better-fitting mask.
Choosing a Mask
- A scientific look at why masks work (but only if everyone wears them).
- How face masks work and which types offer the best COVID-19 protection.
- New standards will help you choose an effective COVID-19 face mask.
- Masks4Canada has excellent information.
Much like wearing masks, getting vaccinated helps protect others as well as yourself.
Vaccination mandates need to be supported by mask mandates and social distancing until COVID is no longer a threat. Failures in this area has resulted in a fourth wave fueled by the Delta variant.
Those that choose not to be vaccinated should not expect to have the same privileges as those that have had both doses.
You may have the right to refuse to be vaccinated, but should not then expect to participate within society where you can infect others.
Think of it as similar to your right to get drunk or stoned, but which removes your right to get behind the wheel and endanger others.
The cost is high both financially and in the detrimental effects on regular patient care and on our over-stretched health care workers.
Unvaccinated Outcomes Worse
While vaccinated people can infect others, the infectious period is shorter and, if they get COVID, the disease is generally less severe with a greatly reduced requirement for hospitalization.
No Matter How Young or Healthy
Critical treatment is much more severe than opponents to the vaccine would have your believe.
If you get sick with COVID and get really sick, it doesn't matter how young you are or how healthy you are. Once you end up [in the ICU], your chances of surviving are minimal.
— Dr. Sunjay V. Sharma, Medical Director of Critical Care
Expensive to Treat
The average cost of care for each patient hospitalized with COVID-19 in Canada is $23,111, according to a new study released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). These hospitalization costs are four times higher than for influenza ($4959) and three times higher than for a heart attack ($7446). — translated from La Presse
A COVID-19–related hospitalization with ICU admission (ventilator) is estimated to cost over $50,000.
Post-COVID Symptoms Could Last Years
There is also growing evidence of long-term post-COVID symptoms that could last for years with both a personal cost in terms of quality of life and a financial cost for treatment.
Who Should Pay?
The cost of a decision to remain unvaccinated should be borne by those that refuse, not by society. Expecting the taxpayer or your employer to pay for frequent testing when a free vaccine will release that requirement is unreasonable. That cost should be yours to bear.
This is not just about money. Many patients' surgeries have been cancelled so that our hospital system isn't overcome (like in Alberta during the fourth wave), causing much stress. Some will die waiting.
Medical Exemptions Rare
There are some relatively rare cases where previous reactions or other medical reasons to avoid the vaccine. While those needs have to be accommodated, it may result in some losses of freedoms or convenience to protect those that are most vulnerable.
Free for Everyone
The COVID-19 vaccine is free for everyone living in B.C. who is eligible.
When booking your vaccination, only your name and B.C. personal health number (PHN) are required.
The vaccine is distributed according to priorities with the most vulnerable because of age, occupation or chronic illness the main considerations.
Are you on the fence about getting vaccinate? Then watch this Dr. Zubin Damania YouTube video discussing a 37 year old man that waited to vaccinated, then blamed himself when he realized he had infected his parents days before they were to be vaccinated.
Protection for Immunosuppressed Uncertain
This is even more important for those of us that are on immunosuppressants (anti-rejection medications taken by organ transplant patients). As the name implies, these medications not only suppress rejection, but also reduce our ability to resist infection.
The coronavirus vaccines are highly effective in protecting against serious disease, but they are not a guarantee. This is especially the case for a subset of elderly and immunosuppressed people whose immune system did not mount a strong response to the shots.
— New York Times
Immunosuppressed patients were not a part of the pre-release human trials for any of the COVID-19 vaccines. This issue is just starting to be researched and the numbers indicate that many such patients are unable to create the antibodies required to make the vaccine effective.
Among 436 people who'd had liver, heart, kidney, and other organ transplants, just 17% had detectable antibodies.
— Science Magazine
In the study of more than 650 organ recipients -- who take drugs to suppress their immune system so they won't reject their new organs -- 46% had no antibody response after two doses of Pfizer or Moderna.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that a third vaccine dose for solid organ transplant patients greatly increases the antibodies needed to fight off COVID infections.
The prevalence of anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 0%…before the first dose, 4%…before the second dose, 40%…before the third dose, and 68%… 4 weeks after the third dose.
— The New England Journal of Medicine
Even after this third dose, the protection is 80%, less than the protection provided with two doses for the bulk of the population.
This vulnerable population is depending upon everyone else that is eligible to get vaccinated to make it safe enough for them to rejoin many of the activities that are becoming available to the general population as governments allow gradual reopening of social activities.
With 7.3 million eligible Canadians not yet fully vaccinated with two doses and 4.8 million too young to get the vaccine, there are still far too many susceptible people and opportunities for the virus to spread. — Dr. Theresa Tam
- Let's all get immunized without delay.
- Will a vaccine give us our old lives back?
- Relief and worry for immune-suppressed people.
- Three doses of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in solid-organ transplant recipients.
- Caught in a 'pickle,' millions of Americans might not have had an adequate response to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Immunocompromised should receive 3rd COVID-19 mRNA vaccine: immunization panel.
Answers to COVID Questions
- The risks - know them - avoid them.
- André Picard: straight answers to key coronavirus questions.
- How to exercise at home during the Coronavirus.
- Turning COVID into the common cold: A doctor explains.
Privacy in a Pandemic
COVID-19 has affected many areas of our lives, none more so than our privacy.
One significant privacy concern is the issue of COVID tracking.
How do you provide realtime tracking of infections combined with the ability to monitor who they've come into contact with and still maintain privacy?
Using Cellphone Data
The most common solutions so far have been apps installed onto cellphones that continuously monitor who is nearby.
Location information can reveal some of the most intimate details of a person's life — whether you've visited a psychiatrist, whether you went to an A.A. meeting, who you might date. — Senator Ron Wyden
The massive growth of privacy-invading technologies in the last decade are being re-ignited as the demand for control of the COVID-19 pandemic grips our world and proponents of 24-7 universal surveillance are hard at work.
Early on in the pandemic, we thought one of the very few silver linings could be the decline in facial-recognition technologies - but we've absolutely found that it's the opposite.
The pandemic has unfortunately provided cover for companies to push out to what are effectively mass-surveillance infrastructures, under the guise of public health. — Ella Jakubowska, European Digital Rights
When Will It End?
There are many examples. Few of these have limits on the lifespan of the collected information or its uses.
At the very least, there needs to be a sunset clause that ends tracking when the pandemic ends, or we'll simply have a repeat of the 9-11 fiasco.
- They want to use your location data to fight pandemic.
- The value and ethics of using phone data to monitor COVID-19.
- Protecting privacy if cell phone tracking is used.
Trust Needs to Be Earned
Valuable for Marketing and Surveillance
The prospect of even more detailed information on the bulk of the population would be extremely valuable from both a marketing and a police surveillance perspective.
Although poorly understood at the time, one of the biggest long-term impacts of the September 11 attacks was expanded surveillance in the United States and other democracies, by both public and private sectors.
Similarly, one of COVID-19s most important long-term impacts will be the reshaping of digital surveillance across the globe, prompted by the public health need to more closely monitor citizens.
The stakes are high. If democracies fail to turn the future of global surveillance in their favor, digital authoritarian competitors stand ready to offer their own model to the world. — Nicholas Wright
- Democracies must offer an alternative to authoritarian solutions.
- These 30 regimes are using coronavirus to repress their citizens.
Restoring Privacy has tips and tools to help you restore your privacy.
- Protecting civil liberties during a public health crisis.
- COVID-19 and digital rights.
- EFF's Guide to Digital Rights During the Pandemic in PDF, Mobi or ePub format (by donation).