Support Canadians: Social Distancing and Buying Local

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Support Canadians: Social Distancing and Buying Local

social distancing

This post is about the need to support Alberta and Canada. This post is about social distancing and the need to buy local.

As defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary, “social distancing” is “the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people or avoiding direct contact with other people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease".  This is done to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.


Now, when it comes to reducing exposure to contagion and mitigating its rate of transmission, social distancing is really important.  This is so because a virus is a non-living piece of code (or information) that is incapable of replicating itself without the assistance of a host body. What this means is that with quick action, including isolation, quarantine and social distancing, it is possible to combat the spread of a virus such as COVID-19.  The lesson, however, is that combatting the spread of viral contagions requires action and due diligence on the part of hosts and potential hosts.

calculating rate of infection

With respect to the spread of contagion, exponential growth means that you will multiply the number of infections by some constant from one-day-to-the-next, with the numbers growing over time.  For instance if you multiply the constant from day one-to-two, you have a number, then you take that number and multiply it by the constant, now resulting in a bigger number, and so on.

With respect to the spread of a virus, it is important to understand that it is the existing cases that cause new cases. Therefore, by quarantining existing cases, it is theoretically possible to stop the creation of new cases. By stopping the creation of new cases, we can curtail or stop the spread.

“Rate of infection” is calculated as the number of cases on a given day, times the number of exposures, times the probability of each exposure becoming an infection (NxExP).  This means that if the number of cases on a given day is big, the number of exposures multiplies, and the number of infections multiplies.  This is an example of exponential growth.

breaking the social contract

From watching the news and speaking to some people my sense is that there are many who inwardly believe that COVID-19 will not be a problem for them. Up until about two-weeks ago, I was one of those people. I am not one of those people now.

One rather outspoken elderly curmudgeon shockingly said to me, “David, social security can’t afford all of us anyway”. Exacerbated I retorted, “well, if you wish to spend your remaining days gasping for the last gulp of air, that’s up to you, but by risking your life, you could place others, who don’t have your same suicidal ideations, at risk”. Suffice it to say, this wasn't a very positive conversation.

The fact that a virus requires a host to continue to spread is precisely why we need to socially distance ourselves from others. As I explained to the curmudgeon, it is important to understand that you may not know you are carrying the virus. It is even possible that there are people whose immune system is so high functioning that they are virtually asymptomatic but nevertheless capable of contributing to the spread. Accordingly,  the risk is not necessarily confined to avoiding the feverish fellow coughing at the pub, it includes persons who outwardly appear healthy as well. 

The spring break revellers who flooded Florida's beaches may have aggravated the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Even if they got lucky and somehow did not, the fact is, this behaviour was far from responsible, duly diligent or considerate of what's happening in the world right now. In the view of this Calgary criminal lawyer, what happened in Florida was a selfish and tragic violation of our basic social contract.  I have serious reservations about the humanity and intelligence of every one of those sun soaked mouth breathers who potentially contributed to the super spread of this dangerous disease. It is not lost on me that Florida is home to many elderly persons, who are at elevated risk of mortality from a coronavirus infection. 

Social Distancing Super Spreaders

I am reminding every Canadian that the Department of Justice in this Country has expressed that it is possible to be prosecuted for spreading the virus. It's hard to imagine that the folks in the photograph above are anything but negligent -- potentially even criminally negligent. 

To everybody who has sacrificed and stayed home, I say thank you.

mechanics of transmission

The coronavirus is especially prolific because of the various ways in which it can be spread and the time its informational structure remains intact while outside of a host.  Science Daily has reported that the virus can remain for up to three-hours in aerosols.  Therefore, it is possible that the virus is hanging invisibly in the air around us.  Equally bad or perhaps worse, the virus can apparently remain intact on cardboard for up to 24 hours and up to 2-3 days on plastic or stainless steel. In other words, it can remain intact on surfaces for a long period of time. This means that we need to disinfect anything brought into our already clean homes. This includes those boxes of emergency Kraft Dinner recently stocked in your pantry, for they could be a temporary home for the coronavirus. 

Fixed with all of this information, the question is, how effective is social distancing at curtailing the spread of this pandemic? Social distancing is certainly one tool, but as the rate of infection grows and extends to people who are seemingly healthy, the likelihood of those seemingly healthy persons contaminating the air around them and/or coming into contact with surfaces or objects that others may interact with is reasonably high. Accordingly though social distancing is an effective tool for mitigating spread, it is not the only tool.

My message is that keeping a “greater than usual physical distance” from others may not be enough to fully combat this issue. 

stay home

Now, I understand that most of us need to keep food in the refrigerator and our medicine cabinet stocked. With that in mind, there are obviously places that we might have no choice but to take the risk of attending.  Outside of these essential zones, are those that are not essential. I include in this category bars, pubs, your neighbour’s home and any other place we voluntarily attend for our own personal pleasure or recreation. These are places that we can avoid. Outside of these places are mandatory zones – or places where there are consequences for non-attendance. Mandatory attendance zones include courthouses, jails and other place where the failure to attend could result in significant personal consequences. I am pleased that the Alberta Courts have taken effective measures to halt all non-urgent matters in courthouses and that Alberta Justice has implemented policy to curtail the number of people involuntarily contained in dangerous cluster-zones, such as prisons. 

I cannot overemphasize the importance of some basic steps to protect ourselves and our neighbour. 

  1. If you aren’t feeling well, self-quarantine and do not leave your home. 
  2. If you are well, stay home unless you have to leave.
  3. If you leave, keep a reasonable distance from others and remember that the virus could be lurking invisibly in the air around you and on the things you touch.
  4. With this in mind, thoroughly wash your hands and do not touch your face. 
  5. Consider sanitizing any new introductions into your home, including that can of Chunky Soup. 

buy local

Once we have dealt with this health pandemic, we will need to come together as a community to repair what I perceive will be extensive damage to our society. The repair  might include supporting people who lost loved ones. It will also require every Albertan to loyally support local businesses.  Kickstarting what could be a decimated economy will require that everybody does their  part. 

To support the short-term economic health of our community, I am one of many Calgary criminal lawyers who is encouraging everybody to buy local.

Every dollar that leaves our community to the benefit of some international, non-Alberta based, non-Canadian business, may never return. Every dollar that leaves our community may contribute to the death of a local business, which will exacerbate unemployment, which will further contribute the death of local businesses. The death of local business means a smaller tax base, which could result in even greater job loss, including at the government level. 

So while I understand that some of us may be stockpiling our wine cabinet and beer fridge, there is really no excuse for buying AnHeuser-Busch when you can support your local brewery.  In the spirit of Alberta’s craft beer industry, I am shouting out to Cochrane’s Half Hitch Brewing Company and Calgary’s, Village Brewery.  If you want good beer, buy their product. If you want to support local industry, buy their product or from any other local business. 

Let's keep our local businesses in business.

Also, support your local wine producer. I for one have temporarily put aside my animus as an Albertan for British Columbia to support Jackson Triggs, Inniskillin and other Canadian wine makers. My money will not be leaving this country.

So we can avoid the potential of exponential economic decline that may permanently hobble Alberta and Canada, I say, let’s all start to work hard to keep our money in the pockets of Albertans and Canadians.  In short, where social distancing is the key to our health, distancing from businesses that are neither local nor Canadian will be very important for our future economic wellbeing.  

We can do the math to calculate rate of viral infection. We can also do math to predict our future economic decline. As Albertans and Canadians we now have a strong duty to each other. Though our immediate duty is to our health, our future duty is to our jobs and our economy. 

Help a local business, give them a shout-out.

Stay healthy my friends. Think in the long term.


David Chow


Calgary Criminal Lawyer  |  Cochrane Criminal Lawyer  |  Full Service Alberta Criminal Lawyer