Transcript: Explaining a Pandemic to a Reluctant Public | Jan 06, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and shirt, and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Explaining a pandemic to a reluctant public. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says TRACKING THE WHO-WHY-WHERE OF DISEASE AND CONTAGION WASN'T ALWAYS A ROCK STAR TYPE PROFESSION, BUT IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, THAT'S WHAT IT'S BECOME. THE FIELD OF EPIDEMIOLOGY AND ITS PRACTITIONERS, EPIDEMIOLOGISTS, ALMOST OVERNIGHT HAD TO STEP UP TO A MAJOR ROLE IN THIS PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS, ANALYZING AND EXPLAINING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 TO A STUNNED PUBLIC. A TALL ORDER THAT'S ONGOING, AND THAT BRINGS TO OUR AIRWAVES TONIGHT: IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL, THERE'S: RAYWAT DEONANDAN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA'S FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES...

Raywat is in his thirties, clean-shaven, with short black hair. He's wearing a white shirt, gray vest and black tie.

Steve continues IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE OF OUR PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: SUSY HOTA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL AND AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AT THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK...

Susy is in her late thirties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing a gray blazer and a green shirt.

Steve continues AND IN EAST YORK: ASHLEIGH TUITE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S DALLA LANA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH...

Ashleigh is in her late thirties, with chin-length curly brown hair. She's wearing a black sweater.

Steve continues I'M SO GRATEFUL TO GET THE THREE OF YOU AWAY FROM YOUR NORMAL JOBS TO DO THIS EXTRA JOB THAT YOU HAVE NOW ALL DISCOVERED YOU HAVE TO DO DURING THE TIME OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC BECAUSE... WELL, LET'S FACE IT, I'M GUESSING THAT PROBABLY A YEAR AGO, 90 percent OF ONTARIANS, NEVER MIND COULDN'T SPELL EPIDEMIOLOGY, THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT AN EPIDEMIOLOGIST DID FOR A LIVING, BUT WE SURE DO NOW. SO LET'S START THERE AND GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THAT. SUSY, TELL US WHAT YOUR DAYS ARE LIKE. WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

The caption changes to "Susy Hota. University Health Network."
Then, it changes again to "Distilling scientific information."

Susy says WELL, MY JOB REALLY ENTAILS TRYING TO PREVENT HEALTH CARE-ASSOCIATED INFECTIONS, TRACKING INFECTIONS, AND IN THE CONTEXT OF A PANDEMIC, REALLY BEING PREPARED TO RESPOND TO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, AN EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASE THAT CAN AFFECT BOTH HOSPITALIZED PATIENTS AS WELL AS THOSE OUT IN THE COMMUNITY. MY DAYS ARE VERY DIVERSE. I HAVE A LOT OF MEETINGS IN WHICH WE'RE DOING PLANNING AND RESPONSE... THERE'S ALWAYS RESPONSE MEASURES WITHIN THE HOSPITAL. I PLAY A ROLE WITHIN THE REGION TO TRY TO COORDINATE EFFORTS WITHIN HOSPITALS IN RESPONDING TO THE PANDEMIC. I REVIEW CASES THAT COME UP WITHIN THE HOSPITAL OF COVID-19 AND EXPOSURES. AND A LOT OF TIME IS SPENT ON OUTBREAK MANAGEMENT WHICH IS NOW BEYOND JUST THE HOSPITAL. WE'RE ALSO NOW HELPING LONG-TERM CARE HOMES THAT ARE IN SIGNIFICANT OUTBREAKS OF COVID-19. IT'S REALLY A RANGE OF THINGS THAT HAPPEN DAY TO DAY.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR MISSION?

The caption changes to "Ashleigh Tuite. Dalla Lana School of Public Health."

Ashleigh says I'M AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST AND A MATHEMATICAL MODELER. BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, I WAS WORKING ON COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND HOW THEY SPREAD AND WHEN COVID CAME, I PIVOTED TO WORK ON COVID BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I'M TRAINED TO DO. I'M A RESEARCHER SO MOST OF WHAT I DO IS AROUND PROJECTIONS AND TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE POPULATION, LOOKING AT THE DATA THAT WE HAVE TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND THE EPIDEMIC TRAJECTORY. TO TRY AND AND THINK ABOUT WHAT INTERVENTIONS SHOULD WE HAVE IN PLACE: WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG? AS THE PANDEMIC HAS PROGRESSED, I'VE HAD ROLES IN TERMS OF SERVING ON COMMITTEES... BOTH PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL LEVELS... THINKING ABOUT THE EPIDEMIOLOGIC DATA AND HOW WE CAN TRY TO USE THAT TO GUIDE THE RESPONSE.

Steve says RAYWAT, WHAT ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Raywat Deonandan. University of Ottawa."

Raywat says I CALL MYSELF A GLOBAL EPIDEMIOLOGIST, SO I LOOK AT A VARIETY OF DATA SOURCES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT INEQUITY IN HEALTH AROUND THE WORLD. I'M NOT AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE MODELER LIKE DR. TUITE OR A CLINICIAN LIKE DR. HOTA, SO THE APPLICATION OF MY SKILLS IS LIMITED IN THIS PANDEMIC. BUT I THINK I'M A GOOD COMMUNICATOR AND EDUCATOR. I'VE BEEN FOCUSING ON ARTICULATING THE SCIENCE TO PEOPLE WHO DO NOT HAVE THAT EXPERTISE. THAT'S MY ROLE IN THIS EMERGENCY, I THINK.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, DOES IT GO WITHOUT SAYING THAT YOU ARE WORKING MORE HOURS AND YOU HAVE MORE INTENSE RESPONSIBILITIES SINCE LAST MARCH 13TH?

The caption changes to "Ashleigh Tuite, @AshTuite."

Ashleigh says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY. I'VE BEEN WORKING ON COVID SINCE JANUARY, AND IT'S BEEN A... IT'S BEEN A BIT OF A WHIRLWIND BECAUSE I AM DOING MY JOB AND ALSO, YOU KNOW, TALKING TO PEOPLE. YOU KNOW, THERE'S THIS HUGE INTEREST IN TERMS OF MEDIA, SO THAT'S SORT OF ON TOP OF THE DAY JOB THAT I'M DOING.

Steve says I'M GOING TO PICK UP ON THAT A LITTLE MORE IN JUST A BIT. BUT SUSY HOTA, MAYBE YOU CAN PICK UP THE STORY THERE. HOW MUCH MORE INTENSE, DIFFICULT, LONG ARE YOUR DAYS NOW COMPARED TO, SAY, A YEAR AGO?

Susy says OH, IT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WORLD. I'D SAY, YOU KNOW, ON AVERAGE, IT'S A 12 TO 14-HOUR DAY OF INTENSE WORK NOW. PICKING UP ON AREAS THAT I HAVEN'T BEEN INVOLVED IN BEFORE, LONG-TERM CARE, REGIONAL COORDINATION, THE MEDIA SIDE OF THINGS, THE COMMUNICATIONS, WHICH IS REALLY ALSO IMPORTANT, AND ALSO ON WEEKENDS... IT'S BEEN VERY INTENSE.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S GO TO THE MEDIA THING. RAYWAT, DO I ASSUME THAT SAY OVER THE LAST NINE MONTHS YOU'VE BEEN DOING A LOT MORE MEDIA INTERVIEWS THAN YOU HAD SAY IN THE PREVIOUS NINE MONTHS?

Raywat says IT'S WELL OVER A THOUSAND INTERVIEWS NOW IN THE PAST NINE MONTHS AND BEFORE THAT MAYBE FIVE OR SIX IN A YEAR, AND I'M ON PARENTAL LEAVE RIGHT NOW, SO ALL THIS INTERRUPTS MY DIAPER CHANGING SCHEDULE. AND SO IT'S A BIT OF CHAOS.

Steve says I'M TRYING TO DO THE MATH ON THIS. LITERALLY, IF YOU'VE DONE A THOUSAND INTERVIEWS OVER THE LAST NINE MONTHS, WE'RE TALKING THREE OR FOUR A DAY.

Raywat says OH, EASILY. I GET ABOUT 20 REQUESTS A DAY. I ACCEPT MAYBE SIX. AND SOME DAYS I FEEL MORE ACTIVE AND I'LL DO MORE.

Steve says SUSY HOTA, YOUR LIFE THE SAME?

The caption changes to "Susy Hota, @HotaSusy."

Susy says YOU KNOW, DURING TIMES WHEN I CAN ACCOMMODATE IT, I WOULD TRY TO DO TWO OR THREE INTERVIEWS A DAY. NOW IT'S GETTING MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT. SO I DO WHAT I CAN. BUT DEFINITELY IT'S A LOT MORE TIME COMMITMENT. BUT WORTH IT.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, HOW ABOUT YOU?

Ashleigh says YEAH, I WOULD SAY SIMILAR. I MEAN, IT WAXES AND WANES, DEPENDING ON WHAT THE HOT TOPIC OF THE DAY IS. BUT, YEAH, I MEAN, I THINK I COULD, YOU KNOW, IF I HAD THE TIME, YOU COULD SPEND YOUR ENTIRE DAY, YOU KNOW, 12-HOUR DAYS, JUST DOING THE COMMUNICATION SIDE OF THINGS. SO IT CAN BE INCREDIBLY OVERWHELMING AND REALLY HARD TO... YOU KNOW, BECAUSE WE DO HAVE DAY JOBS. SO IT CAN BE HARD TO STRIKE THAT BALANCE BETWEEN WANTING TO COMMUNICATE...

Steve says EXACTLY. THAT'S WHAT I WAS GOING TO ASK. DON'T GET ME WRONG, WE'RE THRILLED YOU'RE SPENDING AS MUCH TIME WITH US AS YOU ARE, BUT I MUST SAY, I ALSO FEEL A LITTLE BIT GUILTY TAKING YOU AWAY FROM THE WORK THAT YOU'RE SORT OF TRAINED AND REALLY SUPPOSED TO BE DOING. ASHLEIGH, HOW DO YOU MANAGE THAT BALANCE?

Ashleigh says SOMETIMES BETTER THAN OTHERS. FOR ME, YOU KNOW, TURNING OFF MY EMAIL AND JUST SORT OF NOT CHECKING IT FOR A FEW HOURS IS MY WAY OF GETTING SOME FOCUS AND TRYING TO GET WORK DONE. BUT, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I THINK... I THINK IT DEPENDS ON WHAT'S GOING ON. I THINK SOMETIMES IT'S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT TO BE AVAILABLE AND TO HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE, MORE SO THAN OTHER TIMES. AND SO, YOU KNOW, IF IT'S A TOPIC OR AN ISSUE THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME, I WILL MAKE THE TIME. BUT SOMETIMES I DEFINITELY DO NEED TO SORT OF SCALE BACK AND REALLY FOCUS ON THE WORK THAT I'M TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.

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

Steve says NOW, FOR RAYWAT, I CAN UNDERSTAND THIS, HE'S AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC IS PART OF HIS MISSION. BUT SUSY HOTA, I WOULD NOT HAVE THOUGHT THAT PUBLIC EDUCATION WAS NECESSARILY PART OF YOUR MISSION WHEN YOU FIRST GOT YOUR JOB AT UHN, SO HOW DIFFERENT IS THE JOB TODAY COMPARED TO THEN?

Susy says WELL, THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN A BIT OF AN EXPECTATION THAT THERE WOULD BE SOME COMMUNICATION WHEN YOU DO THE KIND OF WORK I DO. OUTBREAKS OCCUR. YOU HAVE TO BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT WHAT OCCURS WITHIN THOSE OUTBREAKS. IT AFFECTS THE PUBLIC AND HOSPITALS PERFORM AN IMPORTANT SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC. IT IS A BIT OF AN EXPECTATION. THIS DEGREE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, MAYBE NOT. I THINK MOST OF US FEEL IT'S AN IMPORTANT THING THAT WE'RE OBLIGATED TO DO AND WOULD LIKE TO DO TO TRY TO HELP INFORM THE PUBLIC.

Steve says WE KNOW THAT POLITICIANS WHEN THEY DO INTERVIEWS GET MEDIA TRAINING. THAT'S JUST PART OF THE GIG. YOU FOLKS ARE ON TV AND DOING RADIO INTERVIEWS AND NEWSPAPERING AND SO ON FAR MORE THAN PROBABLY 95 percent OF THE POLITICIANS IN THIS COUNTRY RIGHT NOW. MAYBE NOT THE HEALTH MINISTER, MAYBE NOT THE PREMIERS, BUT CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, WAY MORE THAN MOST AVERAGE POLITICIANS. SO I'VE GOT TO ASK. RAYWAT, DID THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA TAKE YOU ASIDE AT ONE POINT AND SAY, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON TV THIS MUCH, LET'S GET YOU SOME TRAINING?

Raywat says NO. HOWEVER, WE DO HAVE THOSE FACILITIES AVAILABLE TO US. I JUST NEVER TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THEM. THE THING ABOUT BEING A PROFESSOR IS YOU LECTURE ALL THE TIME. YOU'RE USED TO ENGAGING WITH PEOPLE WITH QUESTIONS AND TRYING TO MEET THEM AT THEIR LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING. SO THIS SHOULD NOT BE A BIG LEAP FOR PEOPLE WHO ENGAGE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS, TO ENGAGE WITH MEDIA AND THE GENERAL POPULATION.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, HOW ABOUT YOU? AT ANY POINT DID DALLA LANA PULL I ASIDE AND SAY LET'S GET YOU SOME TRAINING IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON TV THIS MUCH?

Ashleigh says NO. TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST, BEFORE THIS YEAR, I HADN'T... I THINK I HAD SPOKEN TO A REPORTER ONCE. YOU KNOW, THIS IS NOT A NATURAL THING FOR ME TO DO, AND IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN A LEARNING CURVE BECAUSE, YEAH, IT'S NOT... I'M MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE SORT OF SITTING AT A COMPUTER AND CRUNCHING NUMBERS, NOT REALLY HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY LIVE CONVERSATIONS. THAT TO ME IS SOMETHING THAT STILL STRIKES A LOT OF FEAR IN MY HEART.

Steve says WELL, WHAT'S THE MOST UNPLEASANT PART ABOUT DOING ALL THESE INTERVIEWS?

Ashleigh says I THINK THE INABILITY TO CORRECT YOURSELF. YOU KNOW, I THINK... AS A SCIENTIST, I LIKE TO BE REALLY PRECISE AND REALLY CLEAR, AND YOU DON'T ALWAYS GET THE MESSAGE RIGHT AND THAT CAN BE CHALLENGING AND SOMETIMES YOU WANT TO REWIND AND SORT OF HAVE A DO-OVER AND YOU CAN'T ALWAYS DO THAT.

Steve says SUSY HOTA, ANY MEDIA TRAINING FOR YOU?

Susy says I THINK WHEN I STARTED THIS JOB, I GOT A SLIDE DECK FROM OUR PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT ON COMMUNICATIONS BUT REALLY, OUTSIDE OF THAT, NO FORMAL TRAINING IN THIS.

Steve says SO YOU THREE ARE JUST NATURALS. WELL, THAT'S GOOD. IT'S GOOD TO BE A NATURAL. NICE TO HEAR. ALL RIGHT. WE DO HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS, THOUGH, BECAUSE THE REALITY IS THAT WHEN YOU TAKE A PROMINENT PUBLIC ROLE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION, AS YOU THREE HAVE, YOU ARE GOING TO RUN INTO PEOPLE WHO DON'T NECESSARILY LIKE THE MESSAGE THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO CONVEY, AND RAYWAT, WHY DON'T WE START WITH YOU. I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH YOU ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR WHAT YOUR EMAIL INBOX LOOKS LIKE AFTER YOU DO YOUR TV HITS, BUT TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE... WELL, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LESS SAVOURY THINGS YOU GET TOLD?

Raywat says RIGHT. YOU GET CALLED A LOT OF NAMES AND SOMETIMES THEY GO FOR THE LOWEST HANGING FRUIT. FOR ME IT'S MY SKIN COLOUR. FOR MY COLLEAGUES, PERHAPS THEIR GENDER. AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE LASHING OUT OUT OF PAIN. THEY'RE NOT LOOKING FOR REASONED DISCOURSE, THEY'RE LOOKING TO HURT YOU, LOOKING FOR CONFLICT. I TEND NOT TO ENGAGE. HAVING SAID THAT, THE VAST MAJORITY OF FEEDBACK IS POSITIVE. SO IT'S EASY TO FOCUS ON THOSE HANDFUL OF NEGATIVE RESPONSES BUT YOU REALLY HAVE TO LOOK AT THE ENTIRETY OF THE ENGAGEMENT AND RECOGNIZE THAT MOST CANADIANS ARE ACTUALLY GRATEFUL FOR THESE ATTEMPTS. BUT TO TALK ABOUT THE NEGATIVE FOR A SECOND. OCCASIONALLY IT DOES DESCEND INTO THREATS OF VIOLENCE, AND THAT MAKES GOING OUTSIDE SOMETIMES A LITTLE SCARY BECAUSE I DO GET RECOGNIZED NOW AND MY SPOUSE GETS VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THOSE INCIDENTS. IS IT GOING TO BE A POSITIVE EVENT OR IS IT GOING TO LEAD TO SOMETHING REQUIRING A CALL TO THE POLICE. IT HASN'T GOTTEN THAT FAR YET. I'M SURE FOR MY COLLEAGUES IT HAS GOTTEN THAT BAD.

Steve says CAN YOU GIVE US A RATIO ON POSITIVE TO NEGATIVE?

Raywat says IT USED TO BE ABOUT 50 TO ONE. IT'S GONE TO ABOUT 100 TO ONE. THE POSITIVE HAS REALLY INCREASED IN THE LAST LITTLE BIT WHICH IS REALLY INSPIRING TO SEE.

Steve says GOOD. SUSY HOTA, HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT ARE YOU GETTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR IN YOUR EMAILS?

Susy says I THINK IT'S A LOT OF THE SAME. THE MAJORITY OF WHAT I GET IS POSITIVE, AND THAT'S REALLY REASSURING AND NICE TO SEE. BUT I HAVE HAD SOME UNUSUAL MESSAGES. I'VE HAD SOME THREATENING MESSAGES AS WELL. YOU KNOW, IT'S DISCONCERTING AND IT DOES MAKE YOU KIND OF SECOND-GUESS SOMETIMES WHETHER WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS RIGHT, AND USUALLY I'M QUICKLY ABLE TO KIND OF RECOGNIZE THAT THAT'S A MINORITY OF PEOPLE WHO RESPOND THAT WAY. AND THEN THERE'S ALSO THAT SORT OF MORE PASSIVE OR DIFFICULT TO SORT OUT BULLYING THAT CAN HAPPEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND THAT TAKES ITS TOLL BECAUSE IT'S MORE SUBTLE BUT IT EATS AWAY AT YOU A LITTLE BIT. SO IT'S NOT ALWAYS EASY DOING THE MEDIA, BUT I TRY TO REMIND MYSELF THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE COMMENTS ARE POSITIVE.

Steve says I WANT TO WALK A TIGHTROPE HERE BECAUSE ON THE ONE HAND I DON'T WANT TO BE OVERLY SENSATIONALISTIC ABOUT THIS BUT ON THE OTHER HAND I IMAGINE THERE ARE PEOPLE WATCHING OR LISTENING SAYING, IT'S PROBABLY NOT THAT BAD. MAYBE LET'S BE SPECIFIC HERE. CAN YOU TELL US THE KIND OF THING THAT YOU MIGHT RECEIVE THAT YOU WOULD FIND DISTURBING?

Susy says WELL, I HAVE RECEIVED ONE MESSAGE THAT TOLD ME, I WISH YOU WOULD BURN. YOU KNOW, COMMENTS LIKE THAT. NOTHING THAT WAS A PERSONAL THREAT, BUT CERTAINLY THREATENING SOUNDING. A LOT OF NAME-CALLING, THINGS LIKE THAT. THOSE ARE THE WORST OF THE MESSAGES. A LOT OF THE OTHER MESSAGES ARE JUST, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE PROBABLY AIRING THEIR FRUSTRATIONS AT THIS POINT IN THE PANDEMIC.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Ashleigh says I'VE HAD SOME UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCES, YOU KNOW, MOST OF IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN TERMS OF, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE QUESTIONING YOUR MOTIVES AND THIS IDEA THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE IN POSITIONS OF PRIVILEGE AND WE'RE SOMEHOW BENEFITING FROM LOCKDOWNS, WHICH, YOU KNOW, IS... YOU KNOW, KIND OF ABSURD. BUT I THINK, AS RAYWAT HAS SAID, A LOT OF THIS IS COMING FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE HURTING AND WHO ARE IN PAIN. I THINK THERE'S A BIT OF A DICHOTOMY. THE ACTUAL TROLLS TOO ARE REALLY THERE JUST TO STIR UP DISSENT. BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT I'VE HAD EMAILS FROM WHO IF YOU ACTUALLY ENGAGE WITH THEM IT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE IN PAIN, THEY'VE SUFFERED THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC, AND THEY DON'T ENTIRELY UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON. AND SO SOME OF THOSE CONVERSATIONS CAN ACTUALLY BE FRUITFUL. BUT AGAIN, YOU KNOW, IT TAKES TIME TO ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE AND IT CAN BE CHALLENGING.

Steve says JUST SO I'M CLEAR, IF YOU DO ENGAGE WITH SOMEONE WHO, YOU KNOW, NEVER MIND THE HATERS OR THE TROLLS, BUT IF YOU DO ENGAGE WITH SOMEONE WHO SEEMS TO BE LASHING OUT BECAUSE THEY GENUINELY DON'T UNDERSTAND OR THEY'RE FEELING PAIN FOR WHATEVER REASON, IF YOU ENGAGE WITH THEM, ARE YOU ABLE TO SORT OF CUT THROUGH AND EVENTUALLY GET TO A BETTER PLACE?

Ashleigh says SOMETIMES. SOMETIMES. I MEAN, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO LEAVE IT, BUT THERE CERTAINLY HAVE BEEN EXAMPLES WHERE I THINK YOU SORT OF EXPLAIN, YOU KNOW, THAT THIS IS NOT... YOU KNOW, THERE ARE NO GOOD OPTIONS DURING THIS PANDEMIC AND WE'RE SORT OF DOING THE BEST THAT WE CAN AND, YOU KNOW, THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK ON, YOU KNOW, TRYING TO RUIN SOMEONE'S LIVELIHOOD.

Steve says OKAY. MOVING ON. I WANT TO READ A QUOTE HERE. THIS IS FROM THE OTTAWA CITIZEN LAST FALL. THE PRESIDENT OF THE NATURAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA, ALEJANDRO ADEM, WHO SAID...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Science literacy for all." The quote reads "As we think about what it means to 'build back better,' one takeaway seems obvious: Let's leverage this mass science lesson to foster a broad-based culture of science literacy. If one legacy of COVID-19 is a nation where people feel better informed and more capable of grasping scientific issues, we'll be in a stronger position to thrive in the post-pandemic world. A scientifically literate society is better positioned to confront far-reaching problems, from global warming to the next pandemic."
Quoted from Alejandro Adem, Ottawa Citizen. September 21, 2020.

Steve says LET'S PICK UP ON THAT. RAYWAT, HOW MUCH OF OUR GENERAL SCIENTIFIC ILLITERACY AS A SOCIETY DO YOU THINK IS AT THE ROOT OF A LOT OF WHAT YOU HAVE TO ENCOUNTER IN YOUR DAY?

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

Raywat says OH, SO MUCH OF IT, ABSOLUTELY. AND THE QUOTE IS CORRECT. WE HAVE A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY HERE WE HAVE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. WHEN I FIRST STARTED WRITING ABOUT THIS PANDEMIC HOPING TO EXPLAIN SOME OF THE SCIENCE, I WAS STUNNED BY HOW LOW THE LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING WAS, SO THE LOWEST HANGING FRUIT, REALLY, I'M GRASPING FOR EXPLAINING WHAT A VIRUS IS, EXPLAINING WHAT TRANSMISSION AND INFECTION ARE. SO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE US REINVEST IN LITERACY ACROSS THE BOARD, NOT JUST SCIENCE LITERACY BUT ALL KINDS OF LITERACY. BUT IN TERMS OF SCIENCE LITERACY, IT'S NOT THE COMPLICATED STUFF THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED, UNDERSTANDING HOW WE HAVE A CONTROL GROUP, WHY A RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIAL IS BETTER THAN EXPERT OPINION. UNDERSTAND THAT SCIENTISTS SPEAK IN EQUIVOCATING TERMS. THAT'S BETTER THAN SOMEONE ON YouTube EXPRESSING CERTAINTY. SO THAT LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF SCIENCE CAN REALLY DO A LOT OF GOOD IN HELPING THE POPULATION NAVIGATE MISINFORMATION FROM TRUE INFORMATION.

Steve says SINCE YOU ARE AN EDUCATOR, I SHOULD ASK YOU THIS FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: DO YOU HAVE A THEORY AS TO WHY AS A SOCIETY WE APPEAR TO BE GENERALLY SPEAKING SO SCIENTIFICALLY ILLITERATE?

The caption changes to "Raywat Deonandan, @deonandan."

Raywat says THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS THAT HAVE SHOWN THEIR FACE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. AMONG THEM A GENERAL CULTURE OF MISTRUST, MISTRUST OF AUTHORITY, OF GOVERNMENT, OF MEDIA, OF THE ELITE, OF WHICH WE ARE MEMBERS, APPARENTLY, AND THERE'S ALSO SOCIAL MEDIA THAT HAS POTENTIATED AND ACCELERATED THESE FRINGE BELIEFS TO THE MAINSTREAM, AND OF COURSE, DISINFORMATION AGENTS THAT HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF PRYING THOSE DIVISIONS FURTHER. THEY ARE NOT THE ENTIRETY OF ALL THE FACTORS. I THINK AS A SOCIETY WE HAVE TAKEN OUR EYE OFF THE BALL OF WHAT IT MEANS TO STRENGTHEN THE RESILIENCE OF A COMMON CITIZEN AND WE DO SO BY EMPOWERING THEM WITH CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS.

Steve says SUSY HOTA, I GUESS THE MORE OPTIMISTIC, POSITIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE TIME IN WHICH WE'RE LIVING IS THAT IT COULD OPEN THE DOOR FOR ALL OF US BEING MORE SCIENTIFICALLY LITERATE. ON YOUR BEST DAYS, I'M SURE YOU HOPE FOR THAT. WHAT ARE YOUR REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THIS?

Susy says I REALLY DO THINK THAT THIS IS GOING TO HELP US IN THE END. I DO A LOT OF EDUCATION AROUND INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL ON A DAILY BASIS WITHIN THE HOSPITAL, AND EVEN THEN, WITH A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IN HEALTH CARE, I HAVE TO REPEAT MESSAGES OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR PEOPLE TO REALLY GET IT AND LET IT SINK IN SOMETIMES. SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT THIS IS ALL PART OF THE PROCESS, AND I'M HOPING THAT AFTER GOING THROUGH THIS FOR SUCH A LONG TIME THE PUBLIC PICKS UP ON THESE THINGS AND RECOGNIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING INFORMED ON THE SCIENCE BEHIND WHAT WE DO AND MAYBE IT WILL EVEN SHIFT THE WAY THAT WE EDUCATE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, IN OUR EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM. SO I THINK A LOT OF POSITIVE THINGS WILL COME OUT OF THIS PANDEMIC WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE.

Steve says YOU KNOW, ASHLEIGH, I'LL MAKE THE COMPARISON TO POLITICS AGAIN. BECAUSE THEY TELL CABINET MINISTERS WHEN THEY'RE MEDIA TRAINING THEM: ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE REPEATED A MESSAGE 500 TIMES AND YOU ARE SO SICK TO DEATH OF HEARING YOUR OWN VOICE SAYING IT YET AGAIN, THAT IS THE MOMENT WHERE IT'S ONLY BEGINNING TO PENETRATE THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF MOST OF YOUR AUDIENCE. HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF IN SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES DURING THIS?

Ashleigh says ABSOLUTELY. AND, YOU KNOW, I FEEL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE SCIENTIFIC LITERACY QUESTION BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN SUCH A HUGE APPETITE FOR THIS. AS YOU KNOW, IT'S REALLY CHALLENGED ME TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO EXPLAIN THESE COMPLEX CONCEPTS IN A WAY THAT IS RELATABLE AND I CERTAINLY HAVE BEEN LEARNING A LOT. BUT IT ACTUALLY BRINGS ME A SENSE OF OPTIMISM BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN THIS AND THEY'RE REALLY INTERESTED IN LEARNING. SOMETIMES IT CAN FEEL FRUSTRATING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN SOMETHING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, BUT AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT GOOD FOR US AS SCIENCE COMMUNICATORS TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND, HOW DO WE GET THESE CONCEPTS ACROSS BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW, I REMEMBER IN 2011 GOING TO WATCH THE MOVIE "CONTAGION." WITH SOME OF MY EPIDEMIOLOGIST FRIENDS AND LAUGHING BECAUSE THERE'S A SCENE WHERE THE EPIDEMIOLOGIST IS EXPLAINING THE CONCEPT OF A BASIC REPRODUCTION NUMBER AND WE LAUGHED BECAUSE IN A PANDEMIC... PEOPLE WOULDN'T BE INTERESTED IN LEARNING THESE SORT OF OBSCURE SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS. AND HERE WE ARE IN 2021 AND PEOPLE ARE REALLY IN TO UNDERSTANDING THE DATA. WE TALKED ABOUT THE REPRODUCTION NUMBER... I TALK ABOUT THAT WITH MY DAD. LIKE, IT'S BECOME SORT OF DAY-TO-DAY LANGUAGE, WHICH I THINK IS REALLY, REALLY GREAT AND I HOPE THAT WE CAN USE THIS MOMENTUM TO MAKE SURE THAT WE IMPROVE SCIENCE LITERACY GOING FORWARD.

Steve says HOW DID YOU LIKE THE FACT THE EPIDEMIOLOGIST PLAYED BY KATE WINSLET WAS ONE OF THE HEROES OF THE MOVIE INSTEAD OF MAYBE PORTRAYED THE OPPOSITE WAY?

Ashleigh says I THINK THAT WAS AWESOME. I HOPE THAT'S WHAT COMES OUT AT THE END OF THIS PANDEMIC AS WELL.

Steve says LET'S GET INTO SOME EXPLORATION HERE ABOUT PANDEMIC PLANNING AND PANDEMIC RESPONSE IS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN, WELL, CERTAINLY IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, A FAIRLY ACADEMIC DISCUSSION ON THIS LEVEL... I MEAN, YES, WE HAD SARS, YES, WE HAD H1N1, YES, WE HAD WEST NILE, BUT NOTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE. SO I'D LIKE TO GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING... SUSY HOTA, WHY DON'T YOU START US OFF ON THIS... OF ALL OF WHAT YOU HAVE BELIEVED AND TAUGHT AND UNDERSTOOD UP UNTIL I GUESS A YEAR AGO THIS TIME VERSUS THE REALITY OF WHAT IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN? HOW DIFFERENT?

The caption changes to "The toll of the long game."

Susy says I THINK A LOT OF THE PRINCIPLES ARE THERE, BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT MOST PANDEMIC PLANS, THEY HAVE MAYBE A PART OF A CHAPTER THAT'S DEDICATED TO WELLNESS AND RESILIENCY AND SUPPORTING PEOPLE THROUGH A PANDEMIC, AND MAYBE PART OF THE CHAPTER THAT'S ON RISK COMMUNICATION AND, YOU KNOW, THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATING. I THINK IF YOU WERE TO REWRITE THESE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE, AT LEAST HALF OF OUR PANDEMIC PLAN DEDICATED TO THESE REALLY IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MANAGING A PANDEMIC BECAUSE I THINK WE ALL UNDERESTIMATED JUST WHAT THE IMPACTS ARE OF GOING THROUGH SUCH A LONG, DRAWN-OUT PROCESS, AND WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT UPS AND DOWNS AND STAGES OF IT AND HOW THAT ACTUALLY TAKES ITS TOLL ON EVERYBODY GOING THROUGH IT.

Steve says RAYWAT, HOW ABOUT YOU, ACADEMIC EXPECTATION VERSUS THE REAL THING?

Raywat says I THINK THERE ARE TWO BIG FLAWS WITH THE PANDEMIC PLANS. FIRST IS THE EXPECTED RATIONAL BEHAVIOUR ON ALL THE ACTORS AND WE HAVE NOT SEEN THAT ACROSS THE BOARD. ON THE COMMUNICATIONS ASPECT OF IT, NOBODY ANTICIPATED THE BURDENS AND BARRIERS TO PROPER COMMUNICATIONS LIKE HAVING TO EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE AND CONVINCE THEM THAT A REAL THING IS A REAL THING AND LIKE HAVING TO BATTLE ACTIVE DISINFORMATION AGENTS ACTIVELY TRYING TO SLOW YOUR PANDEMIC RESPONSE. NOBODY ANTICIPATED THAT BECAUSE WE DIDN'T ANTICIPATED SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE POLITICAL DIVISIONS OF THE DAY. THERE'S GOING TO BE FRANTIC REWRITING OF PANDEMIC PLANNING IN THE COMING MONTHS.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, HOW ABOUT YOU ON THAT?

Ashleigh says I THINK FOR ME ONE OF THE BIGGEST GAPS IS UNDERSTANDING HUMAN BEHAVIOUR AND, YOU KNOW, AND SORT OF THOSE UPS AND DOWNS IN TERMS OF HOW PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO GO ALONG WITH THE THINGS THAT WE'RE ASKING OF THEM. AND SIMILARLY, YOU KNOW, THE LENGTH OF THIS. IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE THAT THIS HAS ONLY BEEN A YEAR. IT FEELS LIKE A LIFETIME. AND SO I THINK A LOT OF THOSE PLANS ARE REALLY FOCUSED ON THAT, YOU KNOW, EARLY DAYS, WHAT DO YOU DO, HOW DO YOU GET SYSTEMS UP AND RUNNING? BUT, YOU KNOW, QUESTIONS AROUND SCHOOLS AND, YOU KNOW, HOW DO WE OPERATE A SCHOOL IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC? I DON'T THINK THOSE SORTS OF QUESTIONS WERE REALLY ADDRESSED TO THE DEGREE THAT WE WOULD HAVE LIKED AND, YOU KNOW, WE'RE LEARNING THAT NOW.

Steve says SUSY, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE LEARNED AND THAT HAS EMERGED OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST WEEK, WEEK AND A HALF OR SO, IS THAT THERE HAVE BEEN MANY... NOT JUST ONE. WE ALL KNOW THE MOST HIGH-PROFILE CASE. BUT THERE HAVE BEEN MANY POLITICIANS ACROSS THIS COUNTRY WHO HAVE SAID ONE THING, URGED US TO DO ONE THING, AND THEN DONE ANOTHER. AND I WONDER FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW HOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT DOES THAT MAKE YOUR JOB IN GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS WHEN POLITICAL LEADERS DON'T REFLECT THE VALUES THAT YOU'RE PREACHING?

Susy says I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ACTUALLY HIGHLIGHT THESE THINGS BECAUSE ROLE MODELLING IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO MANAGE A PANDEMIC, AND WE JUST TALKED ABOUT BEHAVIOUR CHANGE AND HOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAD UNDERESTIMATED THE EFFECTS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR ON HOW A PANDEMIC WOULD ROLL OUT. A LOT OF THAT IS DETERMINED BY WHAT PEOPLE ARE SEEING AND THE ROLE MODELLING THAT'S HAPPENING OUT THERE. SO I DO THINK, YOU KNOW, IT HAS MADE THINGS A LITTLE BIT HARDER, IT CAN UNDERMINE PUBLIC HEALTH MESSAGES WHEN YOU SEE THESE KINDS OF INCIDENTS, AND WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO CONTINUE TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT EVERYBODY'S ACTIONS COUNT.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, CAN I GET YOU ON THAT AS WELL?

Ashleigh says YEAH. I MEAN, IF WE HAVE LEADERS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE, YOU KNOW, HEADING THIS PANDEMIC RESPONSE WHO ARE NOT LISTENING TO THEIR OWN MESSAGING, TALKING ABOUT ISSUES WITH COMMUNICATION... I MEAN, THAT'S THE ULTIMATE. WE CAN'T HAVE PEOPLE SAYING ONE THING AND DOING ANOTHER. YOU KNOW, I AM AMONGST THE PEOPLE WHO FEEL INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED. LIKE, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE TELLING PEOPLE TO MAKE SACRIFICES AND THEN, YOU KNOW, JETTING OFF FOR A VACATION. IT'S FRUSTRATING AND IT'S SORT OF, I THINK, THE HEIGHT OF POOR COMMUNICATION AND POOR LEADERSHIP.

Steve says RAYWAT, YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

Raywat says WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS OF TRUST. THIS IS THE CRUX OF MUCH OF OUR CIVIC ISSUES RIGHT NOW, TO BE HONEST. AND YOU CAN'T COMBAT A PANDEMIC, A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY, WITHOUT BOTH POLITICAL WILL AND PUBLIC BUY-IN, AND PUBLIC BUY-IN IS ONLY POSSIBLE IF THE LEADERS SHOW THAT THEY'RE TRUSTWORTHY. THAT LACK OF TRUST BLEEDS DOWN TO THE SCIENTISTS AND TO THE MEDIA AS WELL. SO IT POLLUTES EVERYTHING THAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. WE CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS IF YOU HAVE PUBLIC TRUST. BUT WE DON'T HAVE IT ANYMORE.

Steve says LET ME RAISE ANOTHER ISSUE WITH THE THREE OF YOU WHICH IS, WHEN YOU LIVE THIS AS MUCH AS YOU DO... I MEAN, EVERYBODY IS LIVING IT, BUT NOT EVERYBODY IS LIVING IT PROFESSIONALLY AS YOU DO. HOW DO YOU GET AWAY FROM IT? SUSY HOTA, CAN YOU EVER GET AWAY FROM THIS WHEN YOU JUST NEED TO CLEAR YOUR HEAD AND GET AWAY?

Susy says SMALL BREAKS. THAT'S REALLY WHAT I DO. I TRY TO PEPPER MY DAY WITH SMALL BREAKS, WHETHER IT'S ACTUALLY MAKING THE DECISION TO NOT BRING MY LUNCH SO THAT I CAN, YOU KNOW, PURCHASE A LUNCH AND TAKE A BREAK FROM MY EMAIL. ALL OF THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT. AND MAKING SURE THAT THERE'S BALANCE IN LIFE. EXERCISING. SPENDING A LITTLE BIT OF TIME FOCUSING ON WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOU GOING.

Steve says RAYWAT, HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Raywat says WELL, YOU TRY TO WATCH THINGS LIKE GOOD SCIENCE FICTION TV, BUT THEN IT CATCHES UP... OH, MY GOD, THEY'RE NOT WEARING MASKS, THEY'RE STANDING TOO CLOSE TOGETHER. IT'S HARD TO PULL YOURSELF OUT OF THAT REALITY. I LIVE WITH A FAMILY DOCTOR WHO IS MY SPOUSE WHICH IS ALL WE TALK ABOUT AS WELL. IT'S OKAY. THIS IS WHAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DO, I FEEL. SO I HAVE TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN ORDER TO BE THINKING ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME AND TO BE REFLECTIVE AND RESPONSIVE INTELLECTUALLY.

Steve says SINCE YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE, ASHLEIGH, WHO ARE YOU MARRIED TO?

Ashleigh says I'M MARRIED TO ANOTHER EPIDEMIOLOGIST SO WE ARE ALSO TALKING ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME.

Steve says RIGHT. HOW DO YOU GET AWAY FROM IT, IF YOU EVER DO?

says I MEAN, AS SUSY SAID, SMALL BREAKS, TURNING OFF THE INTERNET EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE AND FORCING YOURSELF TO READ A BOOK OR WATCH TV OR GET OUTSIDE, WHICH IS CHALLENGING, BUT I THINK IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.

Steve says GOOD. WELL, IN OUR LAST FEW MINUTES HERE, I GUESS I SHOULD PUT THE THREE OF YOU TO WORK DOING WHAT YOU DO BEST, WHICH IS TELLING US HOW WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW. SO LET'S DO A MINUTE, MINUTE AND A HALF TO EACH OF YOU. SUSY HOTA, HOW IS THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO DOING RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "Ontario's progress."

Susy says I USUALLY LIKE TO END INTERVIEWS ON A POSITIVE NOTE, BUT UNFORTUNATELY IT'S NOT SO POSITIVE. WE'RE NOT IN A GOOD PLACE. THE NUMBERS ARE GOING UP OF CASES EVERY DAY, IT SEEMS LIKE, YOU KNOW, WE'RE AT THE POINT OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, YOU KNOW, BEING POTENTIALLY OVERWHELMED. AS OF THIS MORNING WE HAD 374 PATIENTS WITH COVID-RELATED ILLNESS IN ICUs IN ONTARIO. WE'RE AT A REALLY, REALLY DIFFICULT POINT IN THIS PANDEMIC RIGHT NOW, AND THE ONE, I GUESS, SILVER LINING IS, WE'RE IN THE PROCESS OF ROLLING OUT VACCINES TO INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE HIGH PRIORITY, SO I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT TAKING ITS EFFECTS HOPEFULLY IN UPCOMING MONTHS.

Steve says ASHLEIGH, WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO SHARE WITH US ABOUT HOW WE'RE DOING?

Ashleigh says I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING SORT OF MORE POSITIVE TO SAY. I THINK... YOU KNOW, THIS ATTEMPT TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN PROTECTING OUR HEALTH AND KEEPING OUR ECONOMY THRIVING HAS FAILED. YOU KNOW, WE'RE NOT SUCCESSFUL AT EITHER RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, AT A CERTAIN POINT WE NEED TO STOP WITH THE MAGICAL THINKING AND ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, COMMIT TO GETTING TRANSMISSION UNDER CONTROL. AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, HOW OUR ECONOMY WILL RECOVER.

Steve says DO WE NEED A CURFEW TO DO THAT?

Ashleigh says HONESTLY, AT THIS POINT, I THINK WE NEED TO PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS AND IF A CURFEW WOULD HELP, I WOULD SUPPORT THAT.

Steve says HMM. SO IF THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO WERE TO BRING IN A CURFEW, HE WOULDN'T GET ANY CRITICISM FROM YOU?

Ashleigh says NO. NOT RIGHT NOW.

Steve says OKAY. RAYWAT, HOW ABOUT YOU? HOW ARE WE DOING?

Raywat says WELL, LOOK AT ALL THE NUMBERS, RIGHT? SO THE TEST POSITIVITY RATE I THINK IS OVER 5 percent RIGHT NOW, HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE UP, ICU USAGE IS UP, VENTILATOR USAGE. WE HAVE AN OVERCAPACITY MORGUE. WE HAVE FIELD HOSPITALS OPENING IN BURLINGTON SPECIFICALLY FOR COVID. WE HAVE THE WASTEWATER ANALYSIS IN PLACES LIKE OTTAWA WHERE I LIVE. WE HAVE A VARIANT FROM THE U.K. THINGS DO NOT LOOK GOOD. THESE ARE NOT SIGNS OF A SOCIETY THAT HAS RESPONDED TO A PANDEMIC WELL. HOWEVER, AS NOTED, WE DO HAVE THE VACCINE AND IT'S IN OUR POWER TO PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS, TO SLOW TRANSMISSION, BUT ALSO TO ACCELERATE THE VACCINE DISTRIBUTION. THOSE ARE OUR BEST BETS TO GETTING US OUT OF THIS AS SAFELY AND QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

Steve says HOW DO WE ACCELERATE THE VACCINE DISTRIBUTION?

Raywat says YOU GET MORE. NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, YOU STRATEGICALLY DEPLOY IT. SO YOU CAN GET HERD EFFECTS WITHOUT HAVING TO REACH HERD IMMUNITY IF IT'S GIVEN TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. AND RIGHT NOW IT'S A LITTLE MYSTIFYING TO ME WHAT THE LIMITING STEPS ARE TO PROPER VACCINE DISTRIBUTION. IT SEEMS WE'RE GOING TO CENTRALIZE CENTRES, LIKE HOSPITALS, AND RELYING ON THEM TO DISTRIBUTE IT, WHEREAS WE HAVE EXISTING VACCINE DISTRIBUTION PROGRAMS, LIKE PUBLIC HEALTH UNITS THAT KNOW HOW TO DO THIS AS WELL. I DON'T THINK WE'RE LEVERAGING OUR ASSETS AND EXPERTISE AS MUCH AS WE COULD.

Steve says SUSY HOTA, IF WE WANT TO BREAK COMMUNITY SPREAD, COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION, RATHER, WHICH IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM RIGHT NOW, SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING GIVE IT TO THE KIDS BECAUSE THEY'RE THE WORST SPREADERS AS OPPOSED TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN SENIORS RESIDENCES AND SO ON. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

Susy says THESE VACCINES HAVE NOT BEEN STUDIED IN PEDIATRIC POPULATIONS. I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE RIGHT THING FOR US TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW. IT COMES DOWN TO THE SAME MESSAGES WE'VE BEEN SAYING FROM THE START: EVERYONE HAS TO DO THEIR PART IN TERMS OF MASKING, DISTANCING, NOT HAVING CONTACTS RIGHT NOW AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. AND WE LET VACCINE ROLL OUT THROUGH THE POPULATION. IT'S GOING TO TAKE ALL OF THAT TO STOP THIS NOW.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Steve says E-P-I-D-E-M-I-O-L-O-G-I-S-T. I CAN SPELL IT, I KNOW WHAT IT IS, THANKS IN PART TO YOU THREE. WE THANK RAYWAT DEONANDAN, SUSY HOTA, AND ASHLEIGH TUITE COMING ON TVO TONIGHT AS THEY SO OFTEN HAVE APPEARED IN THE MEDIA AND HELPING US OUT WITH THIS. YOU BE SAFE YOU THREE. THANK YOU.

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

Raywat says THANK YOU.

Ashleigh says THANK YOU.

Susy says THANKS.

Watch: Explaining a Pandemic to a Reluctant Public