Watching the COVID Deniers in Disbelief

Is there something in the water (or more, probably, in the air) in Alberta? What causes people in Calgary, specifically, to stand outside in the hundreds, some actually holding small children in their arms, to protest the various restrictions put in place to protect them and their families from COVID-19? No masks, no self-distancing, just protest signs and claims their rights are freedoms are being threatened.

Calgary anti-mask protest, Nov. 28

Calgary anti-mask protest, Nov. 28. (Photo via CTV News)

Is it at all possible that they, intelligent adults one presumes, who see the number of cases, and more importantly, the number of deaths in their own province and across the country, are convinced the whole pandemic is somehow a big hoax? Are they perhaps under the influence of their neighbors to the south who have feasted on the “fake news” concept so completely they refuse to accept the (scary) facts eminent health practitioners have attested to since the pandemic began?

While the majority of Canadians seem to adhere to the basic rules for remaining COVID-free — wearing masks, self-distancing, washing hands frequently and staying home as much as possible — we stare in disbelief at our TV screens as others proudly flout the rules, seemingly convinced that they and theirs will never contract the disease.

Unfortunately, as we have seen in our own province to a much lesser degree, even fairly exorbitant fines have failed to impress some, but it was definitely an eye-opener to see so many younger people, those in the 18-35 demographic that was still gathering in bars or homes, come out to stand in line for hours to be tested. One presumes they got the message that you can be infected without knowing it and bring it home to your family and friends.


That protesters like those described above in Calgary are actually taking to the streets, ignoring the arrival of the second wave, has Dr. Peter Goldberg, head of critical care at the McGill University Health Centre, more than a little concerned.

Goldberg told Postmedia’s Sharon Kirkey that we must describe to “pandemic deniers” the reality of what is happening right now around the country and particularly in his home province of Quebec, When the first wave broke in the spring, Goldberg said it was “like a forest fire and all I had was hose.” Now, with the second wave a reality, his descriptions of deaths from COVID amid predictions that daily cases could “cross the threshold of 20,000 to 60,000 by the end of December,” has Goldberg cautioning that medical personnel are having discussions with “hospital ethicists” much as they did at the height of the first wave, “about how to ration care.”

Walk for Freedom, anti-mask protest, Calgary, posterSo how to explain the actions of those who, despite all evidence to the contrary, have been convinced that their “rights and freedoms” are being trampled for what they view as some elaborate hoax perpetrated by governments and medical authorities. It reminds me of one of our nephews who, when questioned or admonished for something he had done would respond, “I would call you stupid but that wouldn’t be nice.” So I won’t use that term either.

The most striking thing about pandemic deniers is that they must have seen the same, horrible hospital scenes we all have: patients being rolled onto their stomachs to allow them to breathe not merely better, but at all; hospital workers facing the deaths of patients they had calculated had a good chance of survival; people unable to see or talk to dying parents, brothers or sisters, victims of a disease for which there is no known cure.

Will the same deniers refuse a vaccine when one does become available? Will it take the death of one of their own to shake their belief that they are being fed a line by those in authority and that a vaccine will be only an additional part of the hoax? I hope they read what Dr. Goldberg has to say about what lies ahead but I won’t hold my breath. Instead, I’ll hope those of us fully aware of what we’re facing will continue to follow the rules, helping ourselves and others to remain COVID-free.

Featured image: Walk for Freedom protest, Canmore, Alberta. (Source: Facebook)


Dolores Campbell, a lifelong resident of Sydney, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Cape Breton Highlander, the Nova Scotian, Cape Breton Magazine, Catholic New Times and The Cape Breton Post.