Millroy: The Border Has To Be Tightened

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With the coronavirus Covid-19 creeping in greater numbers into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with the Chippewa County Health Department reporting 131 active cases and another 106 probable as of Thursday of last week, we in the Sault have to be happy that the border between our country and the U.S. remains closed.

After all, in the area covered by Algoma Public Health that is many times larger population-wise than that in Chippewa County, we had, as of this writing, only four active cases among the 47 the health agency reported.

However, I note that total jumped on the weekend, eight new cases being reported, leaving us with 12 active cases among the 55 recorded.

Still, it is a ratio we would like to see protected.

But to do so I believe there are a couple of leaks that still have to be plugged, specifically in regard to those having dual citizenship and those attending educational institutions.

They can freely travel between our two countries.

Yes, I know the rule is that they self-quarantine after each crossing but come on, in regard to students that would mean that the only time they could be out of their room at home would be to travel to and attend school.

We are talking about people in their late teens or early 20s here so it is pretty hard to imagine this happening in all cases.

Being that age once myself, I can see them sneaking into a bar on one side or the other at times to relieve the boredom.

My worry here, of course, is if they are visiting bars across the river where the virus is much more prevalent.

On Nov. 3 the Chippewa County Health Department issued a media release saying that it had identified through contact tracing the Alpha Bar, The Merch and the Savoy Bar as possible exposure sites for Covid-19.

It said anyone who visited any of these sites between the hours of 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the possible exposure date and should immediately quarantine themselves and seek testing if they experience fever, coughing, headache, sore throat, running nose, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell.

I believe the border has to be tightened, that the exceptions to the closure must be cut down, those who have been travelling over it freely now being forced to decide on which side of it they will remain.

There were five Canadian nurses working at War Memorial Hospital in Sault Michigan as well as working at Sault Area Hospital. They were forced to decide by their respective work places as to where they would work. They chose SAH.

This route should have already been closed by the government.

One fellow with dual citizenship who lives in Sault Michigan but works at Algoma Steel won an Ontario arbitration award allowing him to travel back and forth to work.

After consultation with Algoma Public Health as the Covid-19 pandemic came into full bloom, Algoma Steel implemented a policy requiring any employee who travelled over the border to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they were otherwise exempt from the self-isolation requirements under the regulations contained in the federal government’s Quarantine Act.
The man grieved, the union took up his case and arbitrator Norm Jesin sided with the union, ruling that the employer’s restrictions were unreasonable.

He shouldn’t have. They weren’t unreasonable. Algoma was simply protecting its workforce.
The man, who is unmarried but has two children, should have been given the choice of stepping away from Algoma Steel, possibly on a leave of absence considering the unusual circumstances brought about by the virus, or moving to this side of the river until the all-clear at the border is issued.

As it stands, he could be a constant threat to bring the virus here, considering how the virus is virtually being allowed to run rampant in the U.S. His union and his fellow workers may be OK with what is taking place, but I think we should be given assurances that he travels to work and back and only that, no shopping while he is here.

I may sound like a hard-ass on this but when I see the number of positive cases and the number of deaths occurring on a daily basis in the U.S., I think we have to do everything possible to defend our border.

Think about it. According to an NPR story, COVID cases are surging across Michigan at record levels, with 5,700 new coronavirus infections reported Thursday of last week – the highest daily tally since the pandemic hit the state in March.

And in a media release last week, the Health Department said Chippewa County was in “an extreme outbreak” of COVID-19 with seven more confirmed and eight probable cases reported Wednesday.

“Our staff has been overwhelmed with the number of positive cases and contacts associated with each positive case,” the health unit said on Facebook.

All this is happening just across the bridge from us.

The number of positive and probable cases have nearly doubled since late October.

The total number of cases in the U.S. was 10,156,968 with 243,128 deaths as of this writing.

The numbers for Canada were 258,175 cases confirmed including 10,447 deaths.
The population of the United States is 10 times that of Canada.

The number of Covid cases in the United States is 39 times that in Canada; the number of deaths is 23 times what we have.

Is it any wonder we want that border closed as tight as possible for as long as it takes?

 

18 COMMENTS

  1. Who is we? You speak of we? We all don’t agree with you!

    Get real, aids is an ongoing pandemic… border wasn’t closed then or now for that fact.
    sorry to burst your bubble people, get real

    Reply moderated
  2. Everybody is so afraid of dying but in the end it will happen to us all.
    Government solutions are no solutions at all.
    Time to accept the fact it is here and either you will get it or you won’t.

    Reply moderated
  3. I feel for the ones with families on each side of the border and I feel for the students as well. What I don’t agree with in some of these comments is the insinuation that because people are “supposed” to isolate for 14 days, that they “all” actually do. I have my mother in a retirement home here who I haven’t been able to see in person since March for fear that I have been in contact with someone who has selfishly ignored an isolation order so I do understand not being able to be with family. Good for you Kaiti and E for following the rules. I commend you. But there are always people out there who believe they are above us all. Just look at the COVID explosion in Chippewa County and if you are naive enough to believe that none of that will affect us, look at our numbers rising here. We can only hope to have a vaccine sooner than later, but even then there will be the ones who won’t take it. We already have people who won’t protect their own children with vaccines for things like measles so I high doubt they will even take a COVID vaccine. I don’t really know what the correct move is in this situation

  4. You’ve written this ignorant article too late Doug. Students at LSSU have moved to remote learning as of yesterday, November 9th. Therefore students will no longer be crossing back and forth and thats not relevant to the issue anymore. So thats my first point.

    Second of all, you have NO idea of the struggles that cross-border couples have faced because of the pandemic and the border closure. Couples and families have been suffering and struggling for 8 months. We have fought for 8 very very long months to be allowed exemptions to travel to see our loved ones. “Tightening the border” is NOT the answer.

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  5. If I want to visit the U.S.A. I would not go by car and be stopped at the border. I would go by air and follow the rules. So, in reality, the border only stopped those who go by car. My son and his family had no problem visiting us here by plane.

    Reply moderated
    • By air makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
      The intent of border restrictions is to lessen exposure – in a car there is greatly reduced exposure compared to crowded airports, millions of contact surfaces at airports, confined space in an airplane, etc.
      By flying you’re actually creating far more risk and endangering more people & livihoods.
      This is another great example of arbitrary and ineffective controls.

  6. Ridiculous – where is the evidence that opening our border would cause a spike in cases. Open the borders so we can get back to business.

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  7. The border was only ever closed to average everyday Canadians, you know, the kind of people our PM seems to dislike so much.
    There was daily flights people were documenting arriving from international locations including Wuhan China!
    ‘Irregular’ border crossings were left unchecked.
    A sieve has fewer holes than our border did throughout covid.
    Our federal leadership was weak before and poor now.

    Reply moderated
  8. This article is ridiculous and heartless. Anyone who crosses the border has to quarantine for 14 days and I can tell you as someone who has done it multiple times I have quarantined each time so for you to say people don’t is ignorant. Many people have family members, their mothers or fathers, their children, who are on the other side of the border. Are you separated from your family? I highly doubt it. If you don’t like it then stay inside your house where you are safe. People with dual citizenship have every right to cross the border and will continue to do so. What an ignorant article. I hope you are never separated from your family, then you will know what it feels like.

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    • Thank you for commenting this!!! A very very ignorant article thats for sure. I agree with this – the 14 day quarantine is in place for a reason and that should be that.

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  9. Well written Doug. I 100% agree with you. If you work or go to school in the US, then live there or vice versa if you work or go to school in Canada, live here. The only, ONLY people crossing the border should be truck drivers delivering goods, PERIOD! Any truck drivers coming into Canada should have to wear a face mask 100% of the time once they step out of their trucks and they should only get out of their trucks to fuel up, eat (&pee) or at their intended delivery destination. That’s it! Absolutely no shopping or interaction with the general public. The federal and provincial governments need to grow a pair and say NO to all cross border travel except for the goods carrying truck drivers. This includes travel by air, ground or marine.

    • i AGREE Doug!! I am medically at-risk so terrified that I have to depend on other people around me to do the smart thing to protect themselves. Please wear the face mask properly–pinched at top of the nose, over the mouth, under the chin, to seal to your entire face and contain this invisible killer. Quit touching the mask, leave it on, use hand sanitizer on your hands and gloves, and do not socialize with other people you can’t vouch for and distance from everyone. People who are minimizing and rejecting Public Health procedures of protections are complicit in making others sick, with long-term medical problems if they survive, or they could die, so the people-hosts should be charged as accessories. Carelessness is a stark reality to the numbers going up, so I don’t feel safe anywhere. Looking at the USA having the highest COVID-19 rate in the world, why would anyone think that border crossings can be safely contained. I don’t. Live there or live here and do virtual visits and meetings. The world has changed and our survival depends on taking heed.

      Reply moderated

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