Blessed Easter and Easter season greetings to one and all.
For good or ill, the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly shaping our lives.
First, it influenced our Lenten passage. It compelled all of us to deepen the appreciation of our faith – from the cessation of faith services and access to the sacraments, to the closing of churches entirely, and finally to the interruption of all public assemblies including faith-based gatherings.
Fortunately for the Quebec Life Coalition, our biannual 40 day prayer vigil for the end of abortion was in line with the government March 24, 2020, decree on restrictions as it reaches out to a vulnerable group - i.e., prenatal and postnatal women.
We at QLC believe that prayer outside an abortion facility is a vital service. We persevered in this observance, being present daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We welcomed over a hundred different people over the span of the forty days, totaling over 450 separate visits of volunteers to pray and bring the pro-life message at the corner of St. Catherine and Berri Streets.
The pandemic will also shape our Easter passage.
In Quebec, our civic and religious authorities have imposed bans on public gatherings until the day after Easter, Sunday, April 12, 2020. And, earlier in the week, I learned that the ban has been extended for three additional weeks.
Faithful to these constraints, the faithful are persevering in their walk with Our Lord. For instance, I received three separate invitations to pray. First, a friend invited me to participate in a Jericho – a seven day prayer vigil wherein a certain prayer is recited daily, except the last day when it said seven times. Next, I was reminded of the Divine Mercy novena set to begin on Good Friday, April 10, 2020. Lastly, yet another a friend has asked me to recite the year-long Fifteen Prayers of Saint Bridget of Sweden.
Is the Isolation restriction necessary?
I raise the question for two reasons. First, a media news service, l’Agence Science-Presse (ASP), has ranked the severity of the coronavirus between that of the seasonal common cold and the Spanish flu of 1918.
Citing a South Korean study, the press release states that of the 140,000 Koreans tested for COVID-19, 6088 were confirmed carrying the virus and 6048 had recovered. Number crunching these figures shows a 99.4% recovery rate (or a 0.6 % morbidity rate).
The ASP then observes that the death rate from the common cold annually experienced by Americans is about 0.1%.
The same figures for the Spanish Flu (aka the 1918 flu pandemic) varied greatly from country to country with certain countries like Ireland experiencing a rate of 10%.
How severe the virus is in Quebec remains unknown for lack of figures. We do not know the number of people tested for the virus; the number infected; and the number who have died "from" the virus (versus having died "with" the virus).
Secondly, there is the advice of Dr. Dave Price, medical doctor at the Weill-Cornell Hospital in Manhattan. This 1400 bed hospital has turned its entire attention over these past weeks over to caring for people infected with COVID-19.
According to Dr. Price, respecting the following four rules will protect 99 % of the people from contracting the virus:
- Be aware of where you place your hands and use hand sanitizers liberally;
- Avoid hand to face contact;
- Medical masks are useful only if it helps in accomplishing the rule 3; and
- Distant yourselves from one another.
Interesting, Dr. Price does not advocate social isolation as our local leaders do.
Why is that? Should we not favour the experience of a doctor who works daily on the front lines or our leaders, the same leaders who have advocate a redefinition of marriage, who classify abortion as an essential service, who are increasing the criteria permitting our fellow citizens to end their lives through Medical Aid in Dying?
We pray that Our Lord, the chief advocates of a culture of life, awaken our leaders to a change of heart about the importance of life.