We must all do the best we can

Editorial

We must all do the best we can

Monday, May 11, 2020

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We note the suggestion in a story written by Jamaica Observer Editor-at-Large Mr HG Helps that a late April funeral in Annotto Bay, which had a huge crowd at the graveside, may have contributed to the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in that rural town.

One Annotto Bay resident is reported as saying, “There were thousands of people who came to this funeral. Not a lot of them go into the church roun' the lane, but is a whole heap inna the motorcade to the cemetery, and a massive amount gather up at the graveside without masks and jus' a brush up pon dem one another so.”

Alarmingly, we are told that while the funeral was a matter of great interest to the security forces, and that police personnel were present, no action was taken, proactively or otherwise, to ensure adherence to the various COVID-19 restrictions.

Here is a case in which indiscipline and disorderliness were apparently allowed to prevail.
It seems to us there is cause here for the authorities, not least the police high command, to conduct a probe as to what went wrong.

Of course, as we have said before in this space, for a great many Jamaicans social/physical distancing is not, and will not be a priority because of their desperate economic circumstances.

Hence, the huge crowds gathering over recent days in town centres throughout Jamaica — reminiscent of scenes on shopping days during the recent lockdown of St Catherine — as people try to collect Government's COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme grants.

As everyone knows, a big challenge posed by COVID-19 is that none of us has ever had to deal with anything like this before. It's clichéd to death but it still holds true: We are in uncharted waters.

In these circumstances, it seems to us, every step by the authorities in relation to bringing relief, for example, must be taken with the Jamaican reality in mind, such as that, for the most part, very poor people do not have the wherewithal to do business or access help online.

It's a clear failure of the system if adequate contingencies are not in place in acknowledgement of this.

That said, many poor Jamaicans are assertively seeking to help themselves.

We empathise with those on the seasonal farm work programme who are taking off to work on farms in North America during the summer months despite the risk posed by COVID-19.
We are told that 125 Jamaicans left the island for the USA on Saturday and another 170 were scheduled to leave yesterday for Canada.

“Mi 'fraid yes, but a mi main source of living so mi have to do it and be careful,” Mr Raphael Henry, who has been going on the overseas employment programme for the past 17/18 years, told the Sunday Observer.

The tens of thousands of deaths in the United States and Canada as a result of COVID-19 tell us that the risk is very real.

But all any of us can do as we strive to support family and self is the best we can. We wish these brave farm workers well as they strive to do the best they can in the months ahead.


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