Politics vs personal responsibility

Welcome to the social media scroll of my mind

Welcome to At the End Of the Day. I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter for a people-first perspective on the news.

Ok, I’ll be honest, I spent all my allotted newsletter-writing time glued to the news, just scrolling like I was playing a slot machine of emotions.

So in today’s newsletter, I’m stringing together a series of tweets. It’s about what I have the capacity to do but also reflective of how I’ve spent the last 48 hours.

I know we’ve been in pandemic mode for a year but this third wave feels different. That initial burst of problem-solving adrenaline is long gone. Seasonal changes are hammering home how long we’ve been in this. And anxiety always ramps up in a time of transition.

In Toronto, we’re deep in the third wave, my family is back in the “will we or won’t we” phase of sending our kids to school, and I’ve spent a lot of time frozen, reading a constant stream of updates.

I try to counterbalance high-stress headlines with a few small pleasures.

In a sunny moment, I went for a walk during which I called three (!) separate friends out of the blue. It was a gorgeous hour well-spent.

Overall, though, I’ve got the same deep exhaustion many of us are feeling right now. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s announcement of new measures this week was confusing.

As journalist Elizabeth Renzetti put it, “I have no idea what lockdown means anymore.”

Overall, current measures defy logic. Despite the bluster, in Ontario, weddings, funerals and religious services are allowed at up to 15% capacity (never mind that these are literally the superspreader events we’ve known about from the start of this pandemic). 12

The Ford government is calling latest measures an “emergency brake.” But nothing, besides branding, has really changed.

For clarity, journalist Andre Picard, national treasure:

Applying an emergency brake means screeching to a halt, stopping dead in your tracks. At least it should. There may be a lot of screeching in Ontario, but there’s not much stopping. What the province is doing, at best, is coasting.

I’ve also started to really hate the word “patios.”

Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro on Twitter:

Ford, whose government sets rules for restaurants being open, referenced patios being "packed" as reason for virus spread (I don't have data to say whether patios have been major contributing factor). Again, they are responsible for patios being open.

Of course, the main problem isn’t patios. The main problem is the ongoing doublespeak and lack of leadership. Wouldn’t it be nice if the government didn’t blame the people they are meant to serve?

By opening a restaurant patio (again, just a small example), without protecting the workers in the cramped, indoor kitchen, the government is saying, “Go for it.” Risk the lives of others so you can have nachos and a margarita. It’s allowed!

Then as cases rise, as we all were warned by doctors and experts they would, the blame falls on people who were following rules and working to survive.

Yes, it’s crazy-making. But it’s also why I’m on Twitter. For the pithy summations.

I follow a small army of doctors on Twitter, who speak out and create content for the public, on top of doing their actual doctor-ing jobs. All this to push back on bad takes and policy from the government.

It shouldn’t feel like a full-time job to simply *understand* what’s going on. Constantly cobbling it together from many different sources.

One thing that’s clear is that it won’t help us to blindly follow the whims of openings and lockdowns according to a government that isn’t listening to reason.3

In frustration, I mused aloud on Twitter. I watched in horror as it was quickly retweeted over and over, embarrassed that my ignorance was being amplified. But if everyone is also wondering, maybe this question isn’t so dumb after all.

Why aren’t vaccines coming to workplaces?

I got lots of replies, including people who reminded me of the specific storage temperatures for vaccines, while acknowledging that mobile vaccination isn’t impossible. Farm workers in California, people in the prison system, seniors in high-rises — these are all examples of people who have had vaccines brought to them.

Responses to my Tweet reminded me that beyond all the doctors and journalists I follow on Twitter, people of all stripes are so invested. Obviously. Regular people care. (Are people on Twitter “regular?” Jokes.)

Seriously, we all know who is disproportionately getting affected by COVID-19, in our cities and around the world, and it isn’t the folks who have the time and luxury and space to be scrolling social media all day, like me.

We *all* need to do what we can to beat this virus back.

We know how COVID-19 is connected to our societal fault lines. Which is why, I believe, people remain fired up even as we are depleted by the reality of our ongoing day-to-day.

Look at those numbers from epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite, above.

There are vast swathes of people for whom none of this is real except that their vacation got canceled.

And as we live through massive policy failures in Ontario, as journalists and doctors do their best to go above and beyond, fraying at the edges, we need personal stories to be reminded of the destructive toll of this virus.

If governments, like ours in Ontario, are going to play a blame game, downloading responsibility to individual people, first of all stay angry because that’s not good leadership.

But secondly, maybe we can up our own sense of personal responsibility. For those of us who are safe, isolated and not being taken down by COVID-19, with whatever power you have to help someone else stay distanced, use it.

Turning down an invite to socialize indoors, for example, sends a clear message.

I don’t want us to lose relationships in this pandemic but there really are other ways.

Like when I went for a walk and called my friends. One of them happened to be heading into a meeting so we only had three minutes but they were glorious.

Another friend had juicy gossip, which I loved. We laughed and I gesticulated wildly for all the squirrels in the park, I was just so excited for this rare, precious catch-up.

Who needs to have tea in person?

For those with the luxury of distance, we need to double-down on getting through this final stretch without putting ourselves and others at risk.

Because the decisions at the top don’t always make sense and it isn’t over yet.

Stay safe this holiday weekend.


✨✨✨ At The End Of the Day is edited by the effervescent Ishani Nath ✨✨✨

Further Reading:

How companies are helping vaccination efforts in Ontario’s drive for the jab, Toronto Star. Love this story. Where you at, Amazon?

Is Criticizing Immigration Racist? This is a talk I’ll be moderating next Friday, April 9, with Pier 21 and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and a stellar panel. Sign up!


‘We are imploring you to act now’: 153 ICU doctors sign letter to province calling for urgent action to curb COVID-19 deaths, Toronto Star

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If you didn’t win, you can still use ATEOD2021 for 10% off anything at Cheekbone Beauty until midnight tonight (Friday, April 2). More on why I love this company here.

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