The Editor’s Desk: Don’t give COVID-19 a free ride

Haven’t you been warned not to pick up hitchhikers?

I’d like you to take a moment and do something for me, if you’re able.

It’s easy. Just read to the end of this paragraph, then put down the paper or your device, or get up and step away from your computer; it doesn’t matter how or on what you’re reading this. Walk into the next room, wherever you happen to be, then come back and keep reading. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.

Hello again, and congratulations! You’ve just done something wonderful, that’s also amazingly simple; something most of us take so much for granted that we don’t even think about it when we’re doing it. You moved from one place to another and back again under your own speed.

You know what can’t do that? The COVID-19 virus. Even though it’s sometimes described as a “wave” that’s “sweeping” across the globe, it can’t do that on its own. It needs us to help it, because the simple fact is that we can move around freely, but the novel coronavirus can’t.

Now, I realize that there are a good many other things that the virus can’t do. It can’t take out the garbage, feed the cat, send a text message, or (to quote Jason Statham in the movie Spy) take up piano at a late age. But this “can’t even make it from one room to the next by itself” business — a feat most toddlers have mastered while they’re still in diapers — is the big one.

In order to get to someone to infect them, the COVID-19 virus has to travel to that person somehow, and it needs help. Our help, to be specific. So as much as your mom probably taught you that it’s good to be helpful, this is one time (possibly the only time) I’m going to tell you not to listen to your mom. Don’t worry, she won’t be angry. Au contraire; if you don’t help the coronavirus get to her, she’ll be very happy indeed.

It’s Tuesday evening as I write this, and earlier today there was confirmation from Interior Health of a positive case of the COVID-19 virus involving the Subway restaurant in Cache Creek. Anyone who visited the site on March 25, 26, or 27 is being told to self-isolate for 14 days. Do not pass go; do not collect $200.

This matter-of-fact advice has, however, caused a flood of phone calls to the Ashcroft medical clinic. I’m not entirely sure what people are hoping they will be told: that they don’t have to self-isolate? That they probably don’t have the virus? That they can get a test? The clinic has asked that a plea be put out on social media: please don’t call. They’re swamped as it is, just trying to deal with the normal volume of patients that they see on any given day.

Call 8-1-1 if you’re worried, or use the online COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool ( If you’ve been exposed to the COVID-19 virus — and if you were at the Cache Creek Subway on the dates above, then you were — you probably don’t need a test. The trained 8-1-1 health care professionals, who are available 24/7, will let you know if you do.

Some are also asking if the person who tested positive was passing through or is a local resident. Really, does it matter? Two weeks ago I was at a meeting where a health care professional said it was a question of when — not if — the virus got to our area. It’s definitely here now, and probably has been for some time. If people in our community who have tested positive for COVID-19 aren’t shouting it from the rooftops, it’s possibly because they’re worried about the reaction from others. Fear can make people do ugly things.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Be kind. It’s one of our greatest weapons. And don’t give the COVID-19 virus a ride anywhere. Picking up hitchhikers can be dangerous. You listen to me, now. After all, I’m a mom.

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