MUCH of the focus on battling COVID-19 has fallen on the efforts of the government.
The truth is, however, that the daily battle falls on the shoulders of all of us. The virus transmits from person to person, not from the government.
So it is our actions that drive the spread. When our actions are selfish, that increases the likelihood of spread.
We all hear stories, such as the reports of a large gathering at a bar in Crown Haven. We see the flood of people who departed Grand Bahama right at the moment when infections have been soaring there and ahead of the lockdown. We see the people going to stores not wearing masks. We see the people not keeping their distance.
Some of this is human nature. Some of it is being driven by fear to get away from infection. Some of it is trying to duck out on another lockdown after the frustrations of those we have been through already. But some of it is just selfishness, looking out for number one rather than thinking of those around us.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said immediately after his order for a lockdown on Grand Bahama “there were boats literally lined up at Grand Bahama, especially at the East End that were moving throughout the family of islands and also attempting to move to New Providence”.
There were also excessive numbers of people boarding planes to head to New Providence, leading to some being quarantined at a government facility.
Perhaps it was panic, perhaps it was selfishness, but the point of the order to shut down Grand Bahama was to isolate the infection, not to suddenly risk spreading it all across the nation.
Dr Minnis has called on those who visited Florida or Grand Bahama recently and who do not have a negative test result to self-isolate for 14 days. How many of those who took the brief opportunity to escape the site of an infection regardless of the consequences for others are likely to follow that instruction?
Worse, there are those who it seems are using fraudulent documents to pretend they are no risk – or using tests taken in The Bahamas to pretend they are safe to return from a short visit to the US. This is putting others in danger.
We need to unite as Bahamians looking out for our fellow countrymen and women. We need to act for the good of all, not for the good of ourselves. We need to fight the virus as a nation, but each part of that fight is on the individual level, each of us doing what we can to stop the spread. We should all act as if we might be infected, and behave accordingly to avoid giving it to others.
So follow the guidance. Follow the instructions. And don’t look for a way of bending the rules to suit ourselves. Medical experts are giving this advice for a reason – so follow it.
Pay your BPL bill - for the good of us all
Selflessness also plays a part in the future of BPL. The Tribune has previously reported that 16,000 customers are delinquent in their bills. Now, many of those will have good reason. COVID-19 has hit the nation badly, leaving many suddenly on furlough or out of work and struggling to find the money to pay their bills.
Now, a government bailout may be looming. The key to avoiding that? It’s time to pay up.
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said he “expects Bahamians who can pay, will pay”. Worse, he said the “only way BPL can survive” is if outstanding bills are collected.
Mr Bannister reminded those who cannot afford to pay their bills to contact BPL and explain, and perhaps set up an arrangement if possible. The company doesn’t want to disconnect people – but that’s what it’s come to. It can’t help you if you don’t talk to its workers.
We do not want the nightmare of the financial collapse of our electricity provider on top of dealing with COVID-19 and its consequences. That would be disastrous for the nation, and haven’t we faced enough disasters already?