April – The Snow’s Not Over, and Neither is this Pandemic, Drive Safely!

Written by Thomas Piggott, April 19, 2022

When I awoke to surprising late April snow this Tuesday morning, I was thankful I hadn’t gotten around to changing my winter tires yet (and winter bike tires!). Similarly, with the sixth wave of the pandemic in full force in the Peterborough Region and Ontario, I’m thankful I haven’t taken my mask off yet.

Everyone wants the weather to be better, just like everyone wants this pandemic to be over. But no matter much we wish it, we can’t bring out the sun any more than we can wish away this pandemic.

Make no mistake, we are in a far better place than we were two years ago as this pandemic was just starting. We have vaccines that are doing a tremendous job of protecting the vaccinated from severe illness and death. We have anti-viral medicines, increasingly available, that will add protection against severe disease as well. Science has come a long way and we’ve learned so much about this virus with over 300,000 COVID-19 scientific publications and counting.

However, despite this optimism, people are still getting hospitalized and dying at unprecedented rates in our community. On Tuesday Peterborough Regional Health Centre reported a high 34 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Over half of the deaths in our community since the beginning of the pandemic have been in 2022, and most every week we continue to lose lives locally from this virus. Beyond severe disease, we should also be very concerned about the risk of disability from Long COVID-19 with even mild infection (though fortunately this risk is lessened by the vaccine too).

So, we’re in a better place, but the pandemic is still here and may be for years to come in one way or another. Fortunately, there are many things we can do on this road trip of learning to live with COVID-19 that are fairly easy and very effective. Here’s a roadmap for living with this virus:

  1. Some people have different comfort levels driving, just like some people have different risks for severe disease due to COVID-19. People with medical conditions, the immunocompromised, unvaccinated and the elderly are at higher risk. Know your risks and those closest to you before you set out.
  2. Just like checking the forecast before a winter drive, look at the COVID-19 Risk Index before you leave the house. If the risk is very high, just like a stormy winter drive, it may be better to avoid unnecessary outings.
  3. Before you start your engine, get your safety precautions in place. For a car that includes having your driver’s license, your vehicle inspection, and buckling your seatbelt. For COVID-19 your safety precautions should be staying home if you’re sick and testing, and wearing your tightly-fitted mask when indoors around others, especially if the risk is high or very high (KN95/N95 style is the best protection).
  4. Finally, keep the air clean. We care a lot about outdoor air quality, which is why we inspect vehicles for emissions, but we don’t care not nearly enough about indoor air quality yet. For your trip you should know about the indoor air quality anywhere you’re gathering with others, especially if you don’t have your mask on. This can involve testing CO2 levels, upgrading HVAC systems or air filters, opening windows/doors for fresh air or spending more time outside.

With all the progress we’ve make we won’t likely need any more lockdowns in this ongoing pandemic, but some basic safety precautions and adapting to living with the virus, precautions that we take for granted when driving, will be critical for living with this ongoing pandemic.

For more information about Dr. Piggott, his bio is available on this webpage: