The issue: COVID-19
We say: We can do this together

Matt Colvin, the world’s newest pariah, knew exactly what he was doing when he sent his brother, Noah, to snap up every bottle of hand sanitizer and every box of wet wipes he could find in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Amazon seller had dollar signs in his eyes when he started getting as much as $70 for a bottle of Purell. His excuses that he was trying to put his family in a good financial position and that he thought the shelves would just restock once he left are as paper thin as a used Kleenex.

Now he’s getting death threats, which is regrettable, and he’s being investigated under Tennessee’s consumer protection laws, which was to be expected.

While Yellowknife wasn’t immune to shoppers’ own run on Purell and toilet paper as people stocked up in panic, contrast this case study in corona-narcissism with Yellowknifer Adeel Moghal, who posted on social media that he wants to help those in need during the next few weeks and make deliveries for seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Credit, too, for Yellowknife MLA Rylund Johnson, who is also co-ordinating a grassroots support network for the coming storm, and Yk Gold and Silver proprietor Jake Olson, who messaged Yellowknifer early Tuesday morning looking for a connection on how to get the 2,000 sanitary wipes he has to the people who really need them.

And not to be outdone, the Yk Co-op grocery store is following suit with a number of other major retailers across the country and abroad that are setting the first hour of the day for senior citizens and asking others to refrain from entering the store during this time.

This is a tale not of two cities, but of two types of citizens.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, himself under self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire, tested positive for COVID-19, said getting through this will take a Team Canada response.

A clearly emotional Patti Hadju, the federal health minister, likewise called on us to be good neighbours, to check on our most vulnerable, to deliver groceries if called upon to do so.

“Together, as Canadians, we will get through this.”

Yellowknifers don’t need to be told these things. They were stepping up while the national chief medical officer was talking about how important it is to “flatten the curve” of the infection rate, and well before the transport minister described the “robust and unprecedented” measures being taken at the border.

The COVID-19 response has a massive economic impact, “unique” as the deputy prime minister said Tuesday. 

The $600,000 of the initial $1 billion support package Trudeau announced that the NWT is supposedly getting is comically insufficient, and we look forward to word of a more proportionate response, including how to keep employees and employers afloat while hunkering down to avoid the spread of virus, and ensuring the North can care for the sick when the virus does come.  

In the meantime, it’s not abstract concepts like community spread or infection or mortality rates, not bar or line graphs, that will see us through. Like Hadju said, it’s by relying on each other, and the laudable efforts of those of us with enough to share, that Northerners will get to the other side of this crisis, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Sept. 11, 2001, if not the Second World War.

Keep calm, keep caring, keep Team Canada intact.


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