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EDITORIAL: Misinformation poses greatest danger during COVID-19 pandemic

The discussions surrounding the use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 had reached a boiling point in our community.
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The discussions surrounding the use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 had reached a boiling point in our community.

COVID-19 fatigue is a natural response to the uncertainty we have faced since the virus first arrived in our lives in March.

We have been inundated with difficult news stories, evolving scientific evidence and rumours about the virus and the effect it is having on ourselves, our families and our neighbours.

It has been seven months and, understandably, some people's patience may be wearing thin in regards to the pandemic, but we must not lose sight of ensuring we are all taking steps to help prevent the spread.

One of the most challenging aspects we face is misinformation about the virus being shared through social media.

These links have the potential to do great harm to our community based on the false information that is being shared about the COVID-19 virus.

There is a deeper conversation we need to have on the links, memes and articles we share through social media and the disinformation and misinformation that is being spread online.

These social media platforms are pushing us towards more and more extreme content and are causing us to lose track of what matters most during the pandemic— Keeping our most vulnerable community members safe and healthy.

Our municipal, provincial and federal governments have been forced to make difficult decisions that affect our everyday lives— But these choices are being made for the greater good of our communities based on the most up to date scientific evidence available.

One of the most controversial bylaws to be introduced has been the Cochrane mandatory mask bylaw. The bylaw will take effect if the Town reports more than 10 active cases of COVID-19.

If you have questions about the virus and the decisions being made to help combat the spread remember to do your research— Especially when it comes to face coverings as a way to prevent the spread.

When researching the scientific evidence on the safety of masks, COVID-19 and other hot topics people need to do some digging to ensure the information they receive is coming from a valid source based on scientific facts.

Drill down deeper and ask why information is being shared— Question if there is a political motive, if it is misinformation, or if the story is sensational.

More importantly, people need to keep in mind the public health measures being put in place are to protect our most vulnerable community members.

In Cochrane, all decisions made during the pandemic are based on directions and recommendations from Alberta Health Services. Using the information provided, our Emergency Coordination Centre makes fact-based decisions to apply a reasonable response and approach to dealing with the COVID-19 virus.

As well, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw uses a large team of professionals helping her make decisions on COVID-19 related health recommendations.

For those concerned about the Town’s COVID-19 response they can visit the frequently asked questions website for more information about the virus.

Councillor Marni Fedeyko said the mandatory mask bylaw can be compared to the introduction of lower speed limits in a community where fast driving cars pose a danger to residents. In situations like this Council takes steps to introduce bylaws to lower speed limits to keep community members safe.

“You come up with rules to protect the greater cause. If not then we might as well cancel seatbelts or drunk driving,” Fedeyko said. “It is not a target against you personally, it’s about everyone else.”



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