When information cannot be removed from public view, New Brunswick officials endeavour to remove interest from public minds.
For over a year, the province has been overtly nudging the public toward accepting mass infection and disregarding increasing debility and death. They do this by leveraging the public's belief in the myth of government protection.
The government and the office of Public Health claim legitimacy and authority through propagating the idea that they protect people from illness and death, that they improve and prolong life.
This is a myth.
The public believes this myth.
They believe, if things were bad, government would inform them. But if government doesn't inform them in time, government would intervene. But if government doesn't intervene in time, the systems created by government will heal them. We see all around us, day after day, that this mythological safety net does not exist, and perhaps never did.
Blind public trust is a potent tool and it has been used effectively in New Brunswick to convince good people to not protect themselves, their families, or their communities from a crippling pathogen.
But blind public trust does not come naturally. It requires cultivation.
To do this, every statement from Public Health has a consciously authoritative frame that surrounds the statement and provides context in which the public interprets the statement.
There is ► the statement.
There is ► the implication.
And there is ► the truth.
Statement ► The New Brunswick Covid-19 situation is “very stable.”
Most recently we see the CMOH Jennifer Russell state again that the New Brunswick covid situation is "very stable"... a bold statement considering it was made at a time when New Brunswick had the highest covid positivity rate in the country.
The implication ► Evoking the concept of stability leads people to feel that our risk is not increasing, pandemic management is working/has worked, and by extension that the deranged PH policy recommendations are defensible.
The truth ► Highlighting the fact metrics are not appreciably changing obscures the harsh reality that infections and their outcomes (death, long covid) are continuously prevalent at high volumes, and that the period since PH abandonment has been the deadliest of the pandemic.
The outcome ► A false sense of security develops out of the implication of stability. No perceptible change in hazard leads to no change in public precaution. Lack of situational awareness is ensured and no exterior pressure is placed on PH to act.
As we will see, this framing mechanism is pervasive in Public Health comms since they lost the plot in December 2021.
Statement ► Omicron is “mild.”
As omicron took hold across the world, we heard the statement that this variant was "mild."
The implication ► Omicron is less severe, and therefore we can relax. People can "safely" contract this variant with less risk of serious outcomes.
We can temper our vigilance.
The truth ► Omicron is incredibly transmissible, which, regardless of severity, translates to orders of magnitude more cases and subsequently massive increases in hospitalization and death. Focus was placed on the severity because transmissibility implications were alarming.
The outcome ► A false sense of security develops out of the implication of mildness. An inferred reduction in hazard leads to a demonstrable reduction in public precaution. Lack of situational awareness is ensured and no exterior pressure is placed on PH to act.
Statement ► Severe outcomes are limited to “at-risk” individuals
At the same time, we were provided with the rhetorical statements that severe outcomes from covid infection were limited to those with preexisting conditions.
The implication ► covid is only a risk to the unhealthy, disabled, or infirm; categories to which the vast majority of people would not knowingly assign themselves.
If covid is only unsafe to the unhealthy, if you are healthy you are safe.
The truth ► People are poorly informed of what constitutes a covid comorbidity and they are poor judges of their own health. 44% of Canadian adults have one or more chronic illnesses which can increase their risk. Additionally, Covid-19 infection has been shown to increase the risk of developing or worsening chronic illnesses.
The outcome ► A false sense of security develops underpinned by innate ableism. A necessary belief in physiological wholeness leads to an othering of those afflicted by severe outcomes. Lack of situational awareness is ensured and no exterior pressure is placed on PH to act.
Statement ► Vaccination is the only tool we need
Overt proclamations regarding "mild" omicron and "at-risk" individuals were only the beginning frameworks to be employed in the effort to nudge the public toward apathy. We see the doubt-inducing framework also being implemented in a passive manner with the statement that vaccines are the only tool we need.
The implication ► Vaccination is so effective at reducing the risk of severe outcomes of infection as to render the contribution of all other mitigations negligible. We no longer have need for masks, isolation, ventilation or even communal care.
The truth ► Vaccines do not currently eliminate transmission. Unmitigated transmission presents a risk of more rapid evolution of the virus, with outcomes that may include increased transmissibility, increased immune escape, or greater pathogenicity.
Additionally, this disease does not simply stop at one vaccinated individual. It moves on to their friends and family... and on to strangers... and on again from them. And it finds the individuals for whom a Covid-19 infection is not something to simply endure.
“Vax and relax” complacency serves only to increase the hazard to those who can not count on surviving an infection. Even minimizers admit the disease is problematic for the latter but do not seem to see how coddling individuals directly causes downstream harm.
The outcome ► A false sense of security develops serving to foster a carelessness which increases risk to others. Interest in complacency is indulged, serving no purpose other than to justify the inaction of the individual and ensure no exterior pressure is placed on PH to act.
Statement ► Covid and other respiratory illnesses…
During the record setting influenza and RSV season which began in 2022, we saw Covid-19 quietly grouped with “other respiratory illnesses.” The seemingly innocuous shorthand serves to evoke public experience with influenza and further minimize the severity of virus that has killed 1 in every 1000 New Brunswickers.
The implication ► Covid-19 is now considered equivalent to the common flu, a virus which is only a serious concern for the extremely elderly or frail. No exceptional measures are taken to address the ubiquitous flu, so by extension none are needed to address Covid-19.
The truth ► Covid-19 is not the flu. The prevalence and severity of Covid-19 has resulted in one-year mortality equivalent to over a decade of influenza. To say nothing of the fact that 1 in 7 of all Covid-19 infections result in long term illness.
The outcome ► A false sense of security develops based on the idea that Covid-19 is now a common seasonal inconvenience. The public come to expect magnitude of intervention similar to that for influenza and no exterior pressure is placed on PH to act.
Statement ► PCR testing will end April 1
On March 20, New Brunswick Public Health released a memo citing “very low demand” for Covid-19 testing as rationale for a planned end to publicly accessible PCR tests. Testing can still be obtained in cases where the outcome would directly inform treatment options, but only through referral from a doctor.
The implication ► Covid-19 is either so rare or so inconsequential that the public no longer require any clinical test for its presence. In fact infectiousness is only of interest in extreme cases where medical intervention under supervision is required.
The truth ► Demand for PCR testing has waned as a direct result of the manufactured complacency flowing from the narrative discussed above. The public have been nudged into believing Covid is a mild disease affecting the frail and elderly, not consequential enough at a community level to warrant any intervention from Public Health.
Contrary to the implication of low demand, New Brunswick’s positivity rate is the highest in the country, demonstrating that the current levels of testing are wildly insufficient.
PCR testing is the only source of tracking variants and is the only source of data reported to the public or supplied to federal agencies. When it is removed, so too is a large portion of relevant information on the status of the pandemic in New Brunswick. Yet another layer of obfuscation of the already insufficient provincial metrics carries the narrative of “the pandemic is over” further into the public consciousness.
The business of politics continues only in the presence of a complacent public. Their presence in a place of granted authority is only possible by persistent and widespread belief in the myth that they act for the people. Every public facing act they commit is in service of cultivating that belief.
When they speak, listen. Consider what is being said, and evaluate the weight of its implication. Hear too what is being omitted, for their statements are intended to turn public attention away from one concern as often as they are intended to turn them toward another.
The pandemic is not over. Covid is not mild nor is it comparable to influenza. The New Brunswick Covid-19 landscape is stable only in its unceasing level of death and debility. Those outcomes are not limited to the elderly or at-risk. And the ever increasing laxity of the public is not a result of the absence of hazard, it is designed, pursued, and cultivated.
If Covid-19 was fire, our government would be arsonists and our province would be burning to the ground. We deserve prevention, education, and the means to extinguish this inferno of disease, disability, and death.
The truth ► They’ve taken the battery out of the smoke alarm.
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