From the Editor: Extraordinary measures
By Mari-Len De Guzman
Since news of the alarming spread of COVID-19 infections in China broke in early January – and a global pandemic on the horizon – my family has been glued to the news channels. We watched the number of global infections quickly inch its way up from a few hundred cases to several hundred thousand, getting closer and closer to a million infections worldwide.
It became increasingly evident from the situations that were unfolding in various parts of the world that, if not effectively managed, the outbreak could overrun the health-care system with devastating consequences. China had to build a hospital in 10 days as it struggled to manage the outbreak. Singapore developed a rigorous testing system in a bid to get ahead of the public health crisis. The world watched in desperation and grief as Italy’s population – many of which are seniors – was devastated by the deadly virus.
It was clear that the viability of the health-care system is vital if we are to finally contain the spread of COVID-19 – and keeping our frontline health-care workers safe and healthy is key.
As COVID-19 continues to spread and more people require hospitalization, the risk to health-care workers contracting the disease increases exponentially. Recently, health officials in Canada – and in the U.S. – have been appearing on news programs sounding the alarm of an impending shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE). These protective gears are our health-care workers’ best line of defence against COVID-19 as they fight the frontlines in our battle against this pandemic.
As I heard the appeals for PPE donations, I suddenly remembered I had a bag full of disposable protective hair nets. I called my nurse friend who works at a nearby hospital and asked her if they are in need of such supplies. It’s not much but I figured they might as well be put to good use. She replied, “Oh, god, yes!”
In an editorial I posted earlier I urged cannabis producers to step up and respond to the call for PPE donations. Cannabis producers maintain an inventory of PPE at their facilities – masks, gowns, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizers, wipes. Diverting some of those PPE inventory to hospitals and emergency responders can literally help save lives.
The call from health officials across Canada resonated across industries – including the cannabis industry – and one by one PPE supplies have made their way to hospitals where they are in dire need of them. It was great to see some licensed producers, including Hexo Corp. and Canopy Growth, step up. Winnipeg-based licensed medical cannabis distributor Delta 9 has donated 10,000 units of PPE to the Manitoba government. I hope more would follow suit.
I understand why some LPs would be hesitant to part ways with their PPE inventory, as the industry has been challenged by financial difficulties over the last year. COVID-19 could not have come at a worse moment for the industry. But these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures, and a considerable amount of generosity.
There’s an argument for compassion that is being made to urge for public and the business community’s support in the fight against COVID-19: staying home, practicing social distancing, implementing good hygiene and sanitation protocols, and donating medical supplies and PPE.
But there’s also a business argument to be made.
Our ability to overcome this crisis and get our economy back on track will depend on the ability of our health-care system – and our health-care workers – to function and respond effectively. We are not all health-care workers or first responders, but we all can pledge to do everything we can, in whatever capacity, to help plank the curve.
The more of us working and collaborating toward one main goal of containing this pandemic, the sooner we can restart our economy.
We are all in this together.