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Letter: Info is power in pandemic battle

The more people that are actively engaged with relevant information for them, the safer we all will be

What is the most important thing for decision makers? Relevant information!

What is the most important thing for individuals, families, schools, organizations, businesses and indeed health care professionals when making decisions about minimizing risk associated with COVID19? Relevant information for them.

Albertans everywhere make decisions about their safety every day.

The Alberta government made the decision early in the pandemic, to be aggressive in the testing of Alberta’s population. That was the right decision.

This was intended to provide a window on the spread of COVID-19, a predictor of health system challenges, and critical information for contact tracing and providing the information on which a host of decisions could be made. The greatest power of this information is when it is used by many decision makers.

The government and health system leaders have failed to put all relevant information in the hands of the people of this province. It is even more critical now for people to have it to use to actively engage in their own contact tracing and risk reduction. To make their decisions to help to keep safe; their loved ones, their organization’s members, their business teams.

To be relevant, the information needs to be local, as close to the decision-makers as possible (at least by postal code), and it needs to be immediate.

The challenge of reducing or stopping the advance of the pandemic must be met by local, individual decision-makers with the people they live or work along side.

Health leaders and politicians cannot do this. They do not have the local knowledge, nor the ability to zero in on the specific areas of risk, or opportunities to take pre-emptive action. The evidence is abundantly clear on this.

What is needed is not more government pronouncements but more locally relevant information so that we all can “do the right thing” along with our families, friends and co-workers.

We need even more testing and immediate reporting. We need the prompt utilization of rapid testing (with family doctors and local centres) to increase the local relevance.

What about the follow through on the antibody testing to add greater relevance.

To get this pandemic under control, we all need to have the relevant information to decide in and around our bubble what is safest for us. Reactionary provincial decisions are dangerously slow. It is critical for the government and system leaders to be aggressively transparent and to be purposefully active to ensure we have all relevant information. Local decisions will be made while anticipating challenges or gaps and to reduce risks proactively. That is what we all need. The more people that are actively engaged with relevant information for them, the safer we all will be.

Dave Price,