Transcript: Will COVID Fatigue Get the Better of Us? | Nov 27, 2020

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer over a black shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Will COVID fatigue get the better of us? Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says THE LAST THING ANY ONE OF US WANTED THIS WEEK WAS LOCKDOWN, TAKE 2. AND IN THE MOST DENSELY POPULATED PARTS OF THE PROVINCE, THAT BECAME A REALITY AND TOOK MILLIONS BACK TO SOME OF THE STRICTEST MEASURES OF LAST SPRING. NOT EVERYONE IS TAKING IT ALL IN STRIDE, WITH SOME PUSHING BACK AT THIS NEW ROUND OF RESTRICTIONS. WITH US NOW FROM ONTARIO'S CAPITAL, ON COVID FATIGUE AND THE WEEK'S DEVELOPMENTS: DR. ANNA BANERJI, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO...

Anna is in her forties, with long wavy chestnut hair. She's wearing glasses, a gray blazer and a striped blouse.

Nam continues AND JENNIFER PAGLIARO, CITY HALL REPORTER FOR THE TORONTO STAR...

Jennifer is in her thirties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing a black blouse.

Nam continues I WAS JOKING WITH YOU BOTH BEFORE WE STARTED TAPING, THIS WEEK HAS FELT LIKE A VERY LONG MONTH, SO WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE YOU HERE TO BREAK DOWN SOME OF THE WEEK'S DEVELOPMENTS. I'M GOING TO START WITH A POLL FROM IPSOS. IT'S A NEW IPSOS POLL FOR GLOBAL NEWS AND IT FINDS THAT...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "COVID-19 fatigue setting in?"

Nam reads data from the slate and says
HALF OF CANADIANS, 48 PERCENT, SAY THAT THEY'RE GETTING TIRED OF FOLLOWING PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS AND RULES REGARDING COVID-19, INCLUDING 15 percent WHO STRONGLY AGREE AND 32 percent WHO SOMEWHAT AGREE, FATIGUE IS MOST PRONOUNCED AMONG GENERATION ZED, 57 percent, AND MILLENNIALS AT 15 percent OF CANADIANS. DR. BANERJI, I WOULD LIKE TO START WITH YOU. YOU KNOW, AS WE GRAPPLE WITH A SECOND WAVE, I THINK WE KNEW THE SECOND WAVE WAS COMING... I KNOW WE'VE BEEN COVERING IT FROM MARCH. AS WE GRAPPLE WITH THE SECOND WAVE OF THIS PANDEMIC, WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE TO THIS FATIGUE?

The caption changes to "Anna Banerji. University of Toronto."
The caption changes to "Pandemic malaise."

Anna says WELL, COVID HAS IMPACTED EVERYONE. PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS OR MODIFIED THEIR WAY OF LIVING. PEOPLE HAVE LOST INCOME. THEY'RE STAYING AT HOME. THEY'RE STRESSED. SO A LOT OF ANXIETY. WE'RE TOLD WEAR A MASK, PHYSICAL DISTANCE, WASH YOUR HANDS, AND EVERYONE DID THAT. EVERYONE STAYED AT HOME WHEN THEY FIRST TOLD US TO. WE'VE MADE A LOT OF SACRIFICES. BUT WHEN YOU MAKE SACRIFICES, YOU EXPECT A REWARD, AND SO FAR THERE'S NO REWARD. I THINK PEOPLE ARE REALLY TIRED. WE THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO GET BETTER IN THE SUMMER, WE ALL DID... YOU KNOW, WE WERE ALL IN IT TOGETHER. AND THEN THE NUMBERS ARE GOING UP AGAIN. IT'S BEEN NINE MONTHS. AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, AND WE'RE TOLD THAT PROBABLY IT WILL GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS WHY PEOPLE ARE TIRED.

Nam says AND PEOPLE HAVE HAD TO MAKE... SOMETIMES WHEN I DO HEAR THE TERM COVID FATIGUE, IT SOUNDS AS IF PEOPLE ARE JUST OVER IT, WHEN IN FACT THE POINTS THAT YOU MENTION, PEOPLE LOSING THEIR JOBS, PEOPLE NOT ABLE TO SEE THEIR FAMILIES... YOU KNOW, HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THE SITUATION NOW IS JUST AS SEVERE IF NOT WORSE COMPARED TO WHAT WE ENDURED IN THE SPRING WITHOUT CONTRIBUTING TO FURTHER COVID FATIGUE, DR. BANERJI?

The caption changes to "Anna Banerji, @AnnaBanerji."

Anna says I THINK ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WE'RE SEEING IS THERE'S INCONSISTENCY AS FAR AS FEDERAL, PROVINCIAL, LOCAL MESSAGING AND I THINK STICKING TO THE FACTS, GOING BACK TO SIMPLE PRINCIPLES. YOU KNOW, WE KNOW COVID IS SPREAD WHEN PEOPLE GET TOGETHER. THIS IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO. I THINK ALSO LOOKING AT, YOU KNOW, THAT THERE IS A LIGHT, YOU KNOW, AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, THAT WE CAN DO THESE MEASURES, HAVE IT BASED IN SCIENCE, AND THAT EVENTUALLY THIS WILL END. AND I THINK THAT THAT WAY, WE CAN TRY TO GET PEOPLE TO CONTINUE TO DO THE THINGS THEY NEED TO DO. I MEAN, I THINK IT WILL BE A DIFFICULT WINTER, BUT THEN AT THE END OF IT, I THINK THAT THINGS WILL GET BETTER.

Nam says JENNIFER, DR. BANERJI MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, AT THE BEGINNING, WE HAD A SENSE OF, WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. WE HAD THE POSTERS IN THE WINDOW. AND NOW WE HAVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POSTERS SAYING END THE LOCKDOWN. HOW MUCH OF A ROLE HAS THIS FATIGUE PLAYED IN THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION AND DISINFORMATION AROUND COVID, JENNIFER?

Jennifer says I THINK THE THINGS THAT DR. BANERJI SAID IS SO IMPORTANT, AND YOU SEE NOW HOW THAT BEING TIRED WITH THIS PANDEMIC AND, AS SHE SAID, NOT JUST BEING TIRED BUT LOSING INCOME, LOSING WORK, LOSING ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT THINGS FOR OUR FAMILIES HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE SPREADING MISINFORMATION ABOUT HOW SEVERE THIS VIRUS IS, ABOUT THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE TESTS AND THE VIRUS ITSELF, AND THAT'S REALLY CONTRIBUTING TO A LOT OF DISCONTENT THAT WE'RE CURRENTLY SEEING OUT ON THE STREETS. YOUR VIEWERS HAVE MAYBE SEEN THE PROTESTS AT QUEEN'S PARK FOR PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO WEAR MASKS AND OTHER ASPECTS OF THIS VIRUS THAT HAVE FRUSTRATED THEM, GOING ALL THE WAY UP TO SORT OF GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY. AND SO THAT'S REALLY CHALLENGING FOR PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS WHO ARE ASKING US TO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THESE MEASURES AND THESE RULES.

Nam says THIS IS THE FIRST PANDEMIC OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA ERA. WE SEE A LOT OF POSTS GOING VIRAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALGORITHMS. WHAT ROLE DOES THAT PLAY IN AMPLIFYING COVID FATIGUE, JENNIFER?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Pagliaro. Toronto Star."

Jennifer says YEAH, I THINK IT'S REALLY CHALLENGING. YOU KNOW, WE'VE SEEN ALL KINDS OF THINGS AND THE AMERICAN ELECTION, WE TALK ABOUT RUSSIAN BOTS AND TWITTER TROLLS, AND I CAN TELL YOU THAT IT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS A FULL MECHANISM ON TWITTER RIGHT NOW THAT IS AFFECTING CANADIANS, THAT DOES COME THROUGH TO CANADIAN LISTENERS AND VIEWERS AND THOSE ON SOCIAL MEDIA THAT IS TELLING THEM THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS VIRUS IS A HOAX, THAT THIS LOCKDOWN IS UNNECESSARY, AND IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO COUNTER THAT INFORMATION, BUT IT'S VERY DIFFICULT WHEN IT'S COMING AT PEOPLE FROM ALL ANGLES LIKE THAT AND THAT MAY BE MISTRUSTFUL OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA, PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO TRY TO PROVIDE SOLID SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION AND REASONING FOR LOCKDOWN MEASURES. SO I THINK IT REALLY DOES AFFECT PEOPLE. I HAVE HEARD JUST IN MY OWN LIFE, YOU KNOW, REGULAR PEOPLE SAY TO ME, YOU KNOW, IS THE PANDEMIC THAT BAD? AND I THINK ASKING THE QUESTION IS IMPORTANT. AND WHAT'S EQUALLY IMPORTANT IS WHO THEY'RE ASKING THE QUESTION TO, AND IF THEY'RE LOOKING TO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE ANSWER, I THINK THAT'S A REALLY BIG PROBLEM.

Nam says I MEAN, I WAS JOKING ABOUT THIS WEEK HAS FELT LIKE A MONTH, BUT FOR YOU, THIS WEEK YOU'VE HAD A REALLY BUSY WEEK, AND I SAW SOME OF THE INTERACTIONS YOU HAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU'RE IN THE FIELD. YOU'RE DOING YOUR JOB. AND THE FRUSTRATION IS BEING DIRECTED TO YOU AS A MEMBER OF THE MEDIA. SO HOW DO YOU CONTEND WITH FED-UP PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA LASHING OUT AT YOU WHEN ALL YOU'RE TRYING TO DO IS YOUR JOB?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Pagliaro, @jpags."
Then, it changes again to "Misinformation and social media."

Jennifer says YEAH. THANKS FOR MENTIONING THAT. I APPRECIATE IT. AND IT IS DIFFICULT, OBVIOUSLY, WHEN PEOPLE CHALLENGE YOU IN THAT WAY, IN A DISRESPECTFUL WAY, JUST FOR DOING YOUR JOB. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE, LIKE I SAID, WHO DON'T TRUST WHAT WE CALL MAINSTREAM MEDIA. FIRST OF ALL, THESE PEOPLE GET BLOCKED AND REPORTED AND I HAVE A VERY SUPPORTIVE NEWSROOM THAT HELPS ME WITH THAT. AND FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ASKING LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS WHO REALLY ARE CHALLENGING, I TRY TO SEND THEM THE BEST INFORMATION THAT I HAVE ABOUT THE REASONS FOR THE LOCKDOWN, AND WHEN PEOPLE SAY, WELL, WHAT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE, THEN I TRY TO SEND IT TO THEM BECAUSE THE HOPE IS, IF THEY'RE ASKING THE QUESTION, THEY MAYBE ARE WILLING TO REALLY HEAR THE ANSWER. BUT AS FAR AS TWITTER TROLLS, MY ADVICE TO EVERYONE IN MY POSITION OR WHO MIGHT, YOU KNOW, TRY TO FIGHT WITH SOMEONE WHO THEY SEE MESSAGING SOMEONE LIKE ME OR SOMEONE THEY KNOW IS MOSTLY JUST TO IGNORE THEM.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says YOU KNOW, DR. BANERJI, WHEN WE DO TALK ABOUT THE MESSAGING, WE'VE DONE A FEW SHOWS ON THE CONFUSING MESSAGES FROM PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS. WE'RE LIVING IN A SOCIAL MEDIA ERA WHERE DISINFORMATION IS SO AVAILABLE. DO YOU THINK THAT PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS MAYBE NEED TO PIVOT AND TRY DIFFERENT SOCIAL MARKETING TECHNIQUES TO TRY TO CUT THROUGH SOME OF THIS NOISE AND FATIGUE?

Anna says YEAH, I THINK SO. I THINK WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS PROBLEMS WITH THE SYSTEM. AS I SAID WE'RE SEEING DIFFERENT MESSAGING COMING FROM FEDERAL LEVELS, PROVINCIAL, AND MUNICIPAL LEVELS, AND SOMETIMES THE MESSAGING IS CONTRADICTORY. AND PEOPLE ARE SEEING INCONSISTENCIES. YOU CAN HAVE PHYSICAL DISTANCING BUT BARS CAN BE OPEN IN SOME PLACES. NO MASKS, TWO LAYER MASKS, THREE LAYER MASKS. WE'RE IN LOCKDOWN, BUT IN QUEBEC, YOU CAN HAVE PARTIES WITH TEN PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, AT DIFFERENT HOUSEHOLDS. SO I REALLY BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING, BUT THEY'RE DISCOURAGED BECAUSE THE INFORMATION IS INCONSISTENT AND CONTRADICTORY AND THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE. SO I THINK WHAT HAPPENS IS THAT SOCIAL MEDIA FILLS THAT VOID. SOMEONE PUTS OUT AN OPINION AND IT MAY BE A CONSPIRACY THEORY OR ANOTHER THEORY WHERE IT'S NOT BASED ON ANY EVIDENCE OR FACT, AND THEN IT GETS AMPLIFIED, AND PEOPLE THINK THAT IT'S FACT, THAT THERE'S SOME BASIS TO IT, WHEN IT'S REALLY SOMEONE'S OPINION. YOU KNOW, MAYBE THE PEOPLE WHO, YOU KNOW, PHYSICIANS, EPIDEMIOLOGISTS, PEOPLE THAT KNOW THE SCIENCE SHOULD GET OUT TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND SHOW THE EVIDENCE. I THINK THAT PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHY THEY'RE DOING WHAT THEY'RE DOING, AND THAT IT'S BASED IN SUGGEST THAT'S REALLY GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THIS PANDEMIC.

Nam says AND IT SPEAKS TO THAT THERE'S MAYBE... WE SHOULD BE HAVING A CONVERSATION ALSO ABOUT TRUST, AND, JENNIFER, WORKING IN MEDIA, DO YOU THINK THAT'S PART OF THE MISSING PIECE RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Trust issues."

Jennifer says I THINK THAT'S HUGE. I THINK THAT'S SO CRUCIAL RIGHT NOW, AND IT'S REALLY INCUMBENT UPON JOURNALISTS LIKE ME TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PUBLIC CLEARLY UNDERSTANDS WHAT PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE ASKING THEM TO DO, AND LIKE I SAID, ALSO UNDERSTAND THE REASONING BEHIND THAT. AND ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS IN THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN THAT AS JOURNALISTS OURSELVES, WE HAVEN'T ALWAYS HAD THAT EVIDENCE BECAUSE IT HASN'T ALWAYS BEEN PROVIDED TO US, AND I THINK THAT IS THE FAULT OF PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BECAUSE IF THEY WANT PEOPLE TO BUY IN, THEY NEED TO SHOW WHAT THEY KNOW TO PEOPLE LIKE ME SO THAT I CAN BREAK IT DOWN, I CAN CALL EXPERTS LIKE DR. BANERJI, AND CLEARLY EXPLAIN WHAT THE MEASURES ARE FOR AND WHY THEY'RE BEING IMPLEMENTED. YOU KNOW, TO EXPLAIN THINGS, LIKE DR. BANERJI SAID, PEOPLE WERE IN LOCKDOWN EARLIER. IT GOT BETTER IN THE SUMMER. AND PEOPLE ARE SAYING, WELL, WHY ARE WE IN LOCKDOWN AGAIN? AND PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THAT WE SHOULD EXPECT THIS VIRUS TO COME IN WAVES. IT'S NOT NECESSARILY GOING TO BE A ONE-OFF THING UNTIL WE GET A VACCINE. AND TO BE ABLE TO CLEARLY EXPLAIN, YOU KNOW, THE LIFE CYCLE OF A VIRUS AND HOW THAT WORKS, AND I THINK WE... I THINK WE ALL NEED TO BE DOING BETTER BECAUSE CLEARLY PEOPLE ARE DISSATISFIED AND WE SEE PEOPLE NOW UNWILLING TO FOLLOW THE RULES, EVEN THOUGH I AGREE WITH DR. BANERJI THAT MOST PEOPLE WANT TO DO THEIR BEST AND ARE MAYBE STRUGGLING WITH THE COMMUNICATION.

Nam says DR. BANERJI, I SEE YOU NODDING.

Anna says YEAH. I JUST THINK THAT WE NEED TO KEEP THE MESSAGE SIMPLE. IT IS VERY CONFUSING. TEN PEOPLE INSIDE YOUR BUBBLE, TEN PEOPLE OUTSIDE YOUR BUBBLE, IT'S VERY CONFUSING. I THINK YOU NEED TO KEEP THE MESSAGING SIMPLE, CONSISTENT, AND BASED ON EVIDENCE, AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE EVIDENCE SHOULD GO OUT THERE AND TRY TO AMPLIFY THE EVIDENCE WITH THEIR VOICES AND HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHY WE ARE ASKING THEM TO DO WHAT THEY'RE ASKED TO DO, THAT IT'S BASED ON SOMETHING THAT MAKES SENSE.

Nam says WELL, THIS PAST WEEK, BONNIE LYSYK, AUDITOR GENERAL OF ONTARIO, RELEASED A SCATHING REPORT. I'D LIKE TO READ A QUOTE THAT ROB FERGUSON WROTE FOR THE TORONTO STAR...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Auditor General's scathing report." The quote reads "Lysyk found the province's reaction to the pandemic was slowed down by a 'cumbersome' command structure that sidelines public health experts -including a chief medical officer who has not 'fully exercised' his powers.
'The chief medical officer of health must also be given powers to use his or her expertise, free from political interference, to give direction and make decisions that protect the public where its health is at risk,' Lysyk wrote."
Quoted from Rob Ferguson, Toronto Star. November 25, 2020.

Nam says DR. BANERJI, HOW DO WE FIGHT COVID FATIGUE WITH A PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE EMPOWERED?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Anna says WELL, I THINK THAT THERE'S A COUPLE OF COMMENTS I HAVE ABOUT THE REPORT. I THINK THAT, IN GENERAL, NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, YOU KNOW, WE DO OUR BEST, THE VIRUS IS SPREADING, AND THE VIRUS IS SPREADING AROUND THE WORLD. AND SOME PLACES ARE DOING BETTER, AND SOME PLACES ARE DOING WORSE. YOU KNOW, THE AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT, THERE WAS SOME CRITICISM THERE, AND I'LL TALK ABOUT SOME OF MY CONCERNS, BUT SOME OF THE ISSUES ARE LONGSTANDING. HOWEVER, I DO FEEL THAT THE FORD GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN DEAF TO A LOT OF ISSUES, AND MYSELF, I HAVE ACTUALLY, ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, REACHED OUT TO THEM. I'VE ALSO TALKED TO DR. TAM AND THE MUNICIPAL PUBLIC HEALTH TO SAY THAT THESE ARE CONCERNS, AND I'LL TELL YOU SOME OF THEM. LIKE EARLY IN THE PANDEMIC, IT WAS VERY CLEAR TO ME THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT HAD FALSE NEGATIVE TESTS. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAD CLASSICAL SYMPTOMS OF COVID. THEY HAD MAYBE A PARTNER WHO IS IN THE HOSPITAL WITH COVID. CLEARLY THERE'S NOTHING ELSE THEY COULD HAVE HAD. SO THESE ARE FALSE NEGATIVES. IF YOU LOOK IN THE LITERATURE, ABOUT 30 percent OF THE PEOPLE WITH COVID ACTUALLY HAVE A NEGATIVE TEST AND THEY DO HAVE COVID. NOW, THAT HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR CONTACT TRACING AND BASICALLY TRYING TO CONTROL THE OUTBREAK. IF YOU'RE ONLY FOLLOWING THE 70 percent OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE POSITIVE TESTS, THEN YOU'RE MISSING THE 30 percent. AND I EXPLAINED THIS SEVERAL TIMES TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, AND THEY JUST... AGAIN, CONTINUING: IF YOUR TEST IS NEGATIVE, YOU DON'T HAVE COVID, YOU DON'T NEED TO DO ANYTHING, YOU DON'T NEED TO DO CONTACT TRACING. I THINK THAT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF WHERE THIS GOVERNMENT WASN'T LISTENING. THE OTHER EXAMPLE THAT I'VE EXPERIENCED PERSONALLY, WHICH IS THE SCHOOL SITUATION. THE PHYSICAL DISTANCING. YOU KNOW, ALL THE REST OF US ARE SUPPOSED TO BE PHYSICAL DISTANCING, BUT THEN YOU HAVE A ROOM WITH 30 KIDS AND THEY'RE NOT PHYSICALLY DISTANCING DESPITE ALL THE INPUT FROM THE EXPERTS IN THE FIELD, PHYSICIANS, EPIDEMIOLOGISTS, AND THEN THEY HAVE RULES WHERE, IF A CHILD HAS A VIRAL ILLNESS, THEY GO HOME FOR A DAY, WITH A RUNNY NOSE AND SORE THROAT, AND THEN THEY CAN GO BACK TO SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY. WE KNOW THAT CHILDREN SPREAD COVID. WE KNOW THAT IN A LARGE STUDY DONE IN INDIA. WE KNOW THAT CHILDREN OFTEN HAVE MILD SYMPTOMS OF COVID, SO JUST A RUNNY NOSE AND SORE THROAT. NOW THE MAIN CIRCULATING VIRUS IS COVID. AND MOST OF THESE KIDS ARE NOT GETTING TESTED. SO WHEN PREMIER FORD SAYS SCHOOLS ARE SAFE AND WE HAVE LOW NUMBERS, WE'RE NOT TESTING A LOT OF KIDS AND WE HAVE FALSE NEGATIVES. SO I THINK THAT THERE'S A LOT OF INCONSISTENCIES THERE.

Nam says I SHOULD JUST ADD THAT THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, I BELIEVE IT WAS YESTERDAY, ANNOUNCED THAT KIDS IN SCHOOL WILL BE TESTED. 30 percent IS A HIGH NUMBER. HOW DOES IT HAPPEN AND WHY IS IT STILL SO HIGH?

Anna says WELL, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF REASONS WHY YOU HAVE THESE FALSE NEGATIVES. PART OF IT IS, YOU KNOW, INHERENTLY THE TEST IS NOT PERFECT, AND THERE HAVE BEEN STUDIES, YOU KNOW, IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD THAT ACTUALLY CONFIRM THAT THERE ARE... THERE ARE FALSE NEGATIVES AND THERE WAS A STUDY IN THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE THAT BASICALLY SAID, IF SOMEONE HAS RISK FACTORS, EXPOSURE, SYMPTOMS, YOU KNOW, SO THEY HAVE A RISK FOR COVID, IGNORE THE TEST IF IT'S NEGATIVE AND JUST ASSUME THAT THEY HAVE COVID. AND SO IT CAN HAPPEN BECAUSE THE TEST, YOU KNOW, MAY NOT... IS NOT A PERFECT TEST, BUT ALSO IT DEPENDS ON THE VIRAL LOAD. SO IF SOMEONE IS EXPOSED AND JUST STARTS HAVING SYMPTOMS, OFTEN YOU DON'T PICK IT UP ON THE FIRST DAY, THEN THE VIRAL LOAD INCREASES DURING THE COURSE OF THE ILLNESS AND IT PEAKS AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS AND THEN IT GOES DOWN. SO YOU CAN STILL BE INFECTIOUS AND HAVE COVID BUT HAVE A NEGATIVE TEST. ALSO IT MIGHT DEPEND ON HOW SOMEONE DOES THE TEST. YOU KNOW, IT COULD BE, YOU KNOW, ISSUES IN THE LAB. SO THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU HAVE A THIRD OF THE PEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY DO HAVE COVID BUT THEIR TESTS ARE NEGATIVE, THOSE ARE PEOPLE THAT... AND THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY'RE BEING TOLD, FIRST OF ALL, THAT THEY DON'T HAVE COVID. SO THESE PEOPLE HAVE SYMPTOMS, THEY FEEL HORRIBLE, THEY WONDER WHY THEY'RE FEELING SO SICK, AND PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND, WELL, YOU TESTED NEGATIVE. YOU SHOULD BE BACK AT WORK. SO THAT'S ONE THING, YOU KNOW, FOR PEOPLE COPING. BUT ALSO FOR INFECTION SPREAD. BASICALLY, ANYONE WHO HAS SYMPTOMS THAT COULD BE CONSISTENT WITH COVID NEEDS TO ACT LIKE THEY HAVE COVID, KNOWING THAT THE TEST IS NOT PERFECT. AND SO... AND I'VE BEEN TRYING TO SAY THAT TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT, SAYING WE SHOULD, YOU KNOW, ANYONE WITH SYMPTOMS, EVEN IF THEY HAVE A NEGATIVE TEST, SHOULD ACT AS IF THEY HAVE COVID BECAUSE THERE'S JUST SO MUCH COVID OUT THERE, IT'S THE MAIN CIRCULATING VIRUS RIGHT NOW. IF WE'RE TRYING TO CONTROL THIS INFECTION, ONLY DEALING WITH THE POSITIVES MEANS THAT THERE'S ALL THESE PEOPLE HERE THAT HAVE COVID THAT WE'RE DOING NOTHING FOR. AND I THINK THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT BUT THAT MESSAGE HASN'T SEEMED TO GO THROUGH.

Nam says I'M ASSUMING WE HAVE THIS TEST THAT WE HAVE SO WHAT'S THE SOLUTION. WILL THE SOLUTION BE TO HAVE MORE THEN TO HAVE MULTIPLE TESTS, MAYBE HAVE THREE TESTS TO RULE SOMEONE OUT FROM BEING NEGATIVE.

Anna says YOU COULD HAVE MORE TESTS BUT AGAIN WE HAVE LIMITED CAPACITY FOR TESTING AND YOU KNOW DO WE TEST EVERY SINGLE PERSON SEVERAL TIMES MAYBE DIFFERENT KINDS OF TEST DONE AT THE SAME TIME MIGHT HELP BUT I THINK WHAT THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO REALLY TO CONTROL THIS VIRUS AND SO IF SOMEONE THE CLASSICAL SYMPTOMS OF COVID COVID PRESENT US WITH ANYTHING AND IT HAS PRESENTED AS IT COULD BE EVEN CHEST PAIN OR NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOMS OR RASHES IT'S ALL KIND OF THINGS, BUT YOU KNOW THERE PRETTY CLASSICAL SYMPTOMS, YOU HAVE FEVER OR CHILLS BUT THE BODY ACHES THE JOINT PAIN THE FATIGUE THE LOSE OF SMELL EVEN WITH A NEGATIVE TEST, IF YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE THAT THIS TIME YOU ASSUME YOU HAVE COVID, NO MATTER WHAT THE TEST SHOWS AND YOU STAY AT HOME AND YOU KEEP YOUR FAMILY YOU KNOW RECOGNIZES THEY HAVE COVID AND THEY SHOULD TRY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO SELF ISOLATE EVEN WITH A NEGATIVE TEST OR EVEN IF YOU DON'T GET A TEST JUST THE THING, TRY TO CONTROL THIS VIRUS WE NEED TO GET ANYONE WHO IS SICK TO STAY OUT OF CIRCULATION AND THAT IS ONE OF THE WAYS TO REDUCE THE INCREASE OF COVID. IT'S GOING TO SPREAD ANYWAY BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE ASYMPTOMATIC AND SPREADING IT OR MILDLY SYMPTOMATIC BUT I THINK ANYONE MILDLY SYMPTOMATIC SHOULD NOTE THAT IN THE TIME OF COVID THEY THEY SHOULD STAY AT HOME. AND WE HAVE TO ENABLE TO DO THAT

Nam says WITH SICKDAYS?

Anna says SICKDAYS. YA. ENABLE PEOPLE TO STAY AT HOME WITH SICKDAYS. PAID SICKDAYS.

Nam says JENNIFER, AS SOMEONE WHO WORKS IN THE MEDIA, YOUR JOB IS TO DISSEMINATE THE INFORMATION TO PEOPLE AS TO WHY THEY SHOULD LISTEN TO THE ADVICE... IT'S LIKE HAVING TWO PARENTS AND THEY'RE NOT ON THE SAME PAGE BUT THE CHILD BEING ASKED TO DO THE RIGHT THING. HOW DO YOU THEN... YOU KNOW, DO YOU THINK THAT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM WHY THERE IS A FATIGUE AND MAYBE WHY PEOPLE ARE DECIDING TO TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS?

Jennifer says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY, I DO. AND I THINK THAT THIS IS A HUGE PART OF THIS QUESTION YOU ASKED ABOUT PUBLIC TRUST AND, YOU KNOW, OUR COLLEAGUE EARLIER, KATE ALLEN AND JENNIFER YANG UNCOVERED THAT THE FORD GOVERNMENT HAD NOT BEEN FOLLOWING PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE WHEN HE PUT IN THE INITIAL THRESHOLDS OF THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES THAT PUT US IN LOCKDOWN OR IN A RED ZONE OR IN A GREEN ZONE, WHICH IS WHERE WE WANT TO BE. AND THAT'S REALLY CHALLENGING BECAUSE, AGAIN, I, AS A JOURNALIST, AM TRYING TO SHOW THAT THERE IS PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE TO FOLLOW THESE MEASURES, BUT WHEN GOVERNMENTS PUT IN MEASURES THAT AREN'T BASED ON PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT, IT'S INCUMBENT UPON US AS JOURNALISTS, TO REPORT THAT OUT AS MUCH AS WE CAN AND TO HOLD OUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO ACCOUNT SO THAT THEY DO BASE THESE MEASURES ON PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE SO THAT THE PUBLIC CAN BE CONFIDENT IN FOLLOWING THEM, THAT IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. BUT I DO THINK THAT GOVERNMENTS REALLY ERODE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN THEY STEP AWAY FROM PUBLIC HEALTH ADVICE AND IMPLEMENT MEASURES FOR OTHER REASONS, BE IT, YOU KNOW, FOR THE SAKE OF BUSINESSES OR OTHERWISE. AND I THINK AS JOURNALISTS WE HAVE THAT DUAL ROLE, THAT WE HAVE TO TELL YOU WHAT PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE SAYING, BECAUSE IT'S BASED ON SOUND MEDICAL AND SCIENTIFIC ADVICE, BUT IF GOVERNMENT IS ASKING A CITIZEN TO DO SOMETHING, IT'S UP TO US TO ENSURE THAT THEY ARE ASKING THEM TO DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.

Nam says DR. BANERJI, JUST TO FOLLOW UP ON MY PREVIOUS QUESTION FOLLOWING THE AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT, AS A PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE NOT EMPOWERED TO DO THE BEST JOB THAT YOU CAN DURING THIS PANDEMIC?

Anna says I MEAN, I THINK THAT A LOT OF THE POLICIES IN PLACE ARE NOT THE BEST POLICIES FOR CONTROLLING COVID, AND I THINK THAT WHEN YOU GIVE THAT ADVICE... NOT THAT MY ADVICE IS THE ADVICE, THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE THAT HAVE... YOU KNOW, WHEN THE GOVERNMENT, THE PEOPLE ADMINISTRATING THIS ARE NOT LISTENING AT ALL TO THE ADVICE, THEN IT ALLOWS THE INFECTION TO SPREAD. AND SO THAT'S FRUSTRATING, IN A WAY, BECAUSE I THINK THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says I GUESS IT WOULD BE SAFE TO SAY THAT YOU'RE ALSO KIND OF EXPERIENCING YOUR OWN COVID FATIGUE?

Anna says I AM. I'M TIRED. I THINK WE'RE ALL TIRED. I MEAN, EVERYTHING I DO NORMALLY HAS CHANGED. BUT I'M DOING OKAY.

Nam says JENNIFER, WE'VE SEEN EXAMPLES OF NON-COMPLIANCE. YOU DID COVER THIS STORY OF A RESTAURANT IN ETOBICOKE THAT DECIDED TO REOPEN. DO YOU THINK THIS IS A RESULT OF A LACK OF PLANNING FROM OFFICIALS, OR IS THIS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOPING THAT THE PUBLIC DOES THE RIGHT THING?

Jennifer says I THINK IT'S BOTH. I THINK A LOT OF THE ENFORCEMENT MEASURES IN PLACE AT THE CITY LEVEL ARE SORT OF RELYING ON A MAJORITY OF, YOU KNOW, RESIDENTS TO JUST DO THE RIGHT THING WITHOUT HAVING TO BE SUBJECT TO ENFORCEMENT. THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS LIKE, YOU KNOW, NOT HAVING FIVE PEOPLE OVER TO YOUR HOME RIGHT NOW. IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR ANY OFFICIAL TO ENFORCE THAT. IT WOULD BE VERY HARD FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT I'M DOING THAT. SO WE'RE RELYING ON PEOPLE TO JUST NOT DO THAT AND TO KNOW THAT THAT IS NOT A SAFE THING TO DO RIGHT NOW. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THIS RESTAURANT OPENING IN ETOBICOKE, YOU KNOW, THEY WERE VERY PUBLIC ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY WOULD BE OPENING. THEY POSTED THAT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, ALONG WITH SOME OTHER UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS ABOUT THE PANDEMIC, AND THAT HAS DRAWN QUITE A LARGE CROWD OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS, AND THAT IS BECAUSE EACH DAY THIS RESTAURANT OWNER HAS VOWED TO OPEN AND HAS BEEN SERVING PEOPLE FOOD INDOORS, WHICH IS CURRENTLY NOT ALLOWED IN TORONTO UNDER THE LOCKDOWN, AND IT WAS SURPRISING TO ME WHEN I SHOWED UP THE FIRST DAY OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT AND THAT PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS WEREN'T ALREADY ON SCENE, YOU KNOW, AHEAD OF OPENING, WHEN THEY KNEW THAT THE RESTAURANT WOULD BE CLOSED AT 11:00... SORRY, THAT THE RESTAURANT WOULD BE OPEN AT 11:00. AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE STILL FIGURING OUT HOW TO DEAL WITH, YOU KNOW, BRAZEN NON-COMPLIANCE LIKE THIS, AND I THINK IT'S BEEN A STRUGGLE FOR THEM.

Nam says DR. BANERJI, WE'VE HEARD ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THE STRUGGLES THAT PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE EXPERIENCING, NURSES, DOCTORS IN HOSPITALS, TRYING TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE. WHEN YOU SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENING AND YOU SEE ALL THOSE PEOPLE... YOU KNOW, HE COULD HAVE OPENED THE RESTAURANT AND NO ONE SHOWED UP BUT PEOPLE DID SHOW UP, AND I UNDERSTAND OUT OF A CITY OF MANY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, THAT WAS A SMALL NUMBER, BUT THEY ARE GOING TO GO BACK INTO THEIR COMMUNITIES. AS SOMEONE TRYING TO KEEP EVERYBODY SAFE AND YOU SEE THIS, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD?

Anna says WELL, IT'S REALLY DISAPPOINTING, AND I THINK THAT... I RECOGNIZE THAT PEOPLE ARE TIRED. I RECOGNIZE THAT PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR LIVELIHOODS AND THEY'RE FRUSTRATED. AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, BUT THEN AGAIN, PEOPLE ARE ENDING UP IN THE ICU AND THEY'RE NOT MAKING THAT CONNECTION THAT THEIR BEHAVIOUR DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY IMPACTS PEOPLE ENDING UP IN THE HOSPITAL, HAVING CHRONIC SYMPTOMS DUE TO COVID, OR LONG-HAULERS, OR ENDING UP HAVING SEVERE SYMPTOMS, DAMAGING THEIR LUNGS MAYBE FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE, OR DYING. AND SO, YOU KNOW, YOU UNDERSTAND IT, BUT WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO COMBAT THAT WITH PROPER INFORMATION AND REBUILDING TRUST.

Nam says IT'S THE HOLIDAY SEASON. I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY EVERYBODY LOOKS FORWARD TO THE CHRISTMAS SEASON, THE ONE TIME OF THE YEAR EVERYBODY CAN SEE EVERYBODY. DR. BANERJI, WHEN YOU SEE THAT THE CHRISTMAS SEASON IS COMING UP, THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS COMING UP, HOW MUCH WORSE IS THIS GOING TO GET IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?

The caption changes to "Hope on the horizon?"

Anna says I THINK WE NEED TO BUCKLE UP. I THINK IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE IN THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS. I THINK THIS MIGHT BE A VERY, VERY DIFFICULT WINTER. I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE HARD FOR MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE TOLD YOU NEED TO JUST BASICALLY STAY WHERE YOU'RE AT AND THAT STUDENTS REALLY SHOULDN'T BE TRAVELLING. SO IT'S A VERY DIFFERENT TIME OF YEAR. BUT I DO THINK THAT THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, AND IF WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS NEXT, YOU KNOW, DIFFICULT PERIOD, I REALLY DO BELIEVE IT WILL GET BETTER. AND I THINK WITH A VACCINE ON THE HORIZON, WE KNOW THERE'S SOME AMBIGUITY AS TO WHEN IT MIGHT HAPPEN. BUT THE FACT THAT THERE IS A VACCINE FOR THIS. WITH SOME VIRUSES, WE DON'T HAVE VACCINES FOR, BUT THERE IS A VACCINE. IT SEEMS TO SHOW PROMISING IMPACT AS FAR AS REDUCING COVID. IT WORKS TO SOME DEGREE. I THINK THAT'S VERY POSITIVE.

Nam says YOU HAVE THE EARS OF ONTARIANS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ONTARIANS WHO ARE WATCHING THIS PROGRAM AND LISTENING ABOUT HOW TO MANAGE THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?

Anna says I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THAT COVID FATIGUE IS REAL, WE'RE ALL REALLY TIRED, AND I THINK THE ANXIETY, THE STRESS THAT PEOPLE ARE FEELING, YOU KNOW, IT'S REAL, AND I UNDERSTAND. IT'S PROBABLY JUSTIFIED. IT'S BEEN DIFFICULT. A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL HOPELESS. I THINK I WANT TO REITERATE, THIS IS GOING TO END AND I BELIEVE IT'S GOING TO END IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS TO THE DEGREE... WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE WHERE WE'RE AT IN MARCH OR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. WE JUST NEED TO GET THROUGH IT. I THINK THERE ARE THINGS THAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO TRY TO HELP. I KNOW IT'S... I DON'T WANT TO MINIMIZE ANYONE'S SUFFERING. BUT I THINK FOR ME PERSONALLY, WHAT I DO IS TAKE STOCK OF WHAT I HAVE. EVERY DAY I THINK ABOUT GRATITUDE. AND I TRY TO... I THINK THAT ALL OF US CAN TRY TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES, RESTAURANTS, I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, IF THEY CAN TRY TO KEEP THE BUSINESSES OPEN FOR THE NEXT LITTLE WHILE, SUPPORT THEM... NOT KEEP THEM OPEN BUT KEEP THEM FLOATING FOR THE NEXT LITTLE WHILE. IF WE CAN SUPPORT PEOPLE TO STAY AT HOME WHEN THEY'RE SICK, THAT REDUCES THE SPREAD. I THINK ALSO, THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY THAT WE MAY NOT HAVE AGAIN UNTIL WE RETIRE. WE ACTUALLY HAVE SOME FREE TIME. MAYBE SOME PEOPLE DON'T BECAUSE THEY'RE WORKING AND THEY HAVE THEIR KIDS. BUT FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, THEY HAVE FREE TIME. MAYBE TAKE THAT COURSE THAT YOU WANTED TO, THAT PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE. START WRITING. GO OUTSIDE. GO FOR A WALK. GET BUNDLED UP. GO FOR WALKS. GO TO YOUR ADDRESS BOOK AND FIND FRIENDS THAT YOU HAVEN'T CALLED IN A LONG TIME AND KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THEM. OR HAVE ZOOM CALLS. REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER. I THINK JOURNALING IS A GOOD IDEA. THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN DO THAT CAN HELP US GET THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT TIME.

Nam says I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US TO KNOW THAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH THIS DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT WAYS, BUT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY IF WE'RE NOT ALL ON THE SAME PAGE. JENNIFER, DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROMISE... YOU KNOW, DR. BANERJI MENTIONED A VACCINE. DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROMISE OF A VACCINE LOOMING ON A HORIZON MIGHT RELIEVE SOME OF THIS ANXIOUSNESS THAT PEOPLE ARE FEELING RIGHT NOW?

Jennifer says I DO THINK IT HELPS PEOPLE FEEL A LITTLE MORE HOPEFUL. YOU KNOW, I'VE HAD THESE CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. BUT I THINK THAT WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IT WITH EACH OTHER AND WHEN MEDIA IS TALKING ABOUT IT, WE NEED TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT IT'S ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP BEING VIGILANT AS WE GO THROUGH THE WINTER. IT'S NOT THE TIME TO KIND OF GIVE UP AND GET SLOPPY JUST BECAUSE THE VACCINE IS ON THE WAY. THAT WOULD BE A REAL SHAME IF THINGS GOT REALLY OUT OF CONTROL BEFORE THE VACCINE ARRIVES. BUT IT IS A REASON TO KIND OF HOLD ON AND HAVE HOPE, AND I AGREE WITH DR. BANERJI THAT, YOU KNOW, I'M SAYING THIS AS A WHITE PERSON WITH A LOT OF PRIVILEGE AND THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS CITY WHO ARE REALLY STRUGGLING WHO HAVE TO GO TO WORK AT AN ESSENTIAL JOB OUT IN THE WORLD EVERY DAY, BUT TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CAN PRACTICE SOME FORM OF MINDFULNESS AT HOME, WHETHER THAT'S GOING FOR A RUN, DOING SOMETHING, YOU KNOW, LOW BARRIER, LOW COST, HOME EXERCISES, HOME MEDITATION, AND CHECKING OUT FROM THE NEWS CYCLE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE AND I KNOW THAT'S WEIRD COMING FROM A JOURNALIST, BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO TURN OFF AND SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY OR IF YOU CAN CALL SOMEONE IF YOU LIVE ALONE AND MAYBE GO FOR JUST A WALK OUT IN NATURE, LIKE DR. BANERJI SUGGESTED, AND JUST TO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE ADVICE UNTIL WE GET THROUGH THIS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Preeti Bhuyan, @PreetiBhuyan."

Nam says DR. BANERJI, LIKE YOU SAID, WITH GRATITUDE, I ALWAYS TRY TO FIND SOMETHING ABOUT SILVER LININGS EVERY DAY HAVING A SILVER LINING. WE REALLY DO APPRECIATE YOUR TIME AND ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THE WORK BOTH OF YOU ARE DOING, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHTS, AND TAKE GOOD CARE. THANK YOU.

Anna says THANK YOU.

Jennifer says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Watch: Will COVID Fatigue Get the Better of Us?