Sameera Hussain By: Sameera Hussain
Senior Policy Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada
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01 Sep 2020 : Six months of COVID

Were it not for my Twitter feed, I wouldn't have realized that my city has been living with COVID for 6 months. What a different world it is now. On top of mind for me today is risk--both in terms of Communications as well as risk perception in relation to public trust.

My local public health authority, (Ottawa Public Health) is employing just the right amount of gravity and yet appealing to the public's sense of empathy, humour, and wit--see social media for examples). Yet first and foremost on my mind, as children return to schools, is the issue of risk--how people perceive it, how it is assessed by public health agencies, and how it is managed. I learned today that there is an inverse relationship between high levels of trust in government and risk-taking behaviour.

I can't help but think this might apply to Canadian parents: the coming weeks are cause for uncertainty, anxiety, and desperation. Children need to learn and socialise (distantly) with their peers, parents need to work (if they still have jobs) with fewer competing priorities, and women, well--the data on childcare and balancing work speaks for itself, doesn't it?

As a public health expert, solo parent, and precariously employed woman of colour, #COVIDfatigue is starting to set in. Living COVID professionally and personally bearing the burden of the unintended consequences of public health measures, sending the children back to in-person school is not a choice for me, but a necessity. The provincial government deems it safe for children to return to school. Risky or not, mine are going. 

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