Sudbury column: COVID is the death of common sense and discretion

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There are many examples of our government and health officials issuing edicts bereft of of common sense or that allow for any degree of discretion.

In the interest of expediency, let’s focus on just two of those pronouncements as they relate to COVID-19.

With the opening of bars and restaurants, proprietors are required to limit the number of persons seated together to a maximum of four. Sounds reasonable on its face value, and if one looked no farther than that, there would be no reason to question this edict.

If, however, one was to look into this a little further, it would become clear the person who thought it up didn’t bother to take into consideration real-life situations or the consequences of strict adherence to the edict.

Example number one: a mother, father and their three young children go to a restaurant for supper. They all get into the same vehicle and drive to the restaurant, whereupon they are informed they will have to split up and sit at two separate tables to comply with the maximum of four-per-table edict.

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There is no allowance for the restaurateur to exercise common sense or discretion and let them all sit together. They are all in the same family unit, live and travel together, and letting one extra child, or more for that matter, sit together will not put anyone at greater risk, so why not allow it?

However, if the restaurateur doesn’t comply and someone complains, the repercussions to the operator are grossly out of proportion to the degree of non-compliance.

Example number two: a child at school displays any symptom at all and they must go home and all of the occupants of the home — mother father and siblings — must immediately quarantine until a COVID test is conducted and a negative result comes back, or a doctor provides an alternative diagnosis for the symptom.

As we all know, it can take days to arrange for the test and then get the results; in the meantime, two working parents are off work and the kids are all under house arrest.

Now, we have all heard about the rapid tests that have been available for some time and have been used at some airports to screen travellers. As I understand it, our school boards will have access to these rapid test kits, which can return a result in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. In light of the edict that all students with any kind of symptom must be tested, it would make a lot of sense to position these rapid tests at each school and test symptomatic students immediately.

If positive, then the protocols are in place and can be implemented immediately. If negative, then return to class and we have not wasted a lot of time, effort, and money.

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But since COVID has killed off common sense and discretion, our school boards are going to take the rapid tests and go to each school in turn, regardless if there are any students with symptoms, and test everyone in that school on that day, and then move on to another school another day.

Common sense dictates those rapid tests would be far more effectively used by each school to test those that exhibit symptoms immediately and instantly to determine if there is a problem, rather than conducting school-wide random testing on a scheduled basis.

If a student has a positive rapid test, then, by all means, test the whole school, but simply wandering from school to school arbitrarily testing everyone is not the best use of the rapid test kits.

Testing entire schools will, however, give the powers that be some big testing numbers that can be used for media purposes, and that, it seems, is the prime motivating factor as opposed to using resources in the most effective manner possible.

Dan Melanson is a Sudbury businessman and a former mayoral candidate.

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