Rachel Garber

“It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further.”

Thus spoke Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, infectious diseases specialist in Toronto, quoted by Yahoo News last week. As I write, the first case in Sherbrooke was reported, and more than a dozen others in Quebec. Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife Sophie are in self-isolation, awaiting testing results, and so is NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

It is here – Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19.

Dr. Sharkawy was warning about the reality of the new coronavirus disease COVID-19, but even more about the wave of fear that has prompted, in some parts, so much stockpiling of toilet paper and other supplies.

It bears thinking about. He asks: Are we teaching our children rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, or are we teaching them to panic and to be self-interested?

Maybe we’re in denial, and sometimes that can be more adaptive than panicking. But if it causes us to continue behaviours that invite a coronavirus into our lives, that denial is harmful to ourselves and those around us.

A good example of this is Utah basketball player Rudy Gobert. At a press conference last week, he mocked the risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching all the reporters’ microphones and recorders on the table in front of him. Two days later, COVID-19 caught up with him, and the NBA cancelled its season.

A more insidious example: How many times does a person touch their face an hour? On average, 23 times, says Google. It’s a habit that is as constant as it is unconscious. It’s just the best way of inviting the novel coronavirus into your lungs.

Here’s a solution: You know those cones dogs wears after surgery, to keep them from licking their wounds? Try wearing your dog’s “cone” around your neck as a face-shield. “It’s for your own good,” your dog will explain to you. “You have to stop touching your face!” Would it help to just imagine you are wearing such a cone?

How often we touch our face is nothing compared to how often we touch our smartphones. Between 2,500 and 5,000 times a day! On average, that’s 104 times an hour.

Because touching is inevitable, there’s washing. Washing your hands, your smartphone, or other surfaces. Whether you wash with soap and water or with sanitizer, it’s important to wash long. The time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, they say. I haven’t timed “C’est à ton tour de te laisser parler d’amour,” but you could try it out.

And stay far away from each other. I’ve heard one metre is good, two are better. That’s not easy in Quebec! Elbow-bumps could replace handshaking, but then we’re told to sneeze into our elbows. Hmm.


The new year has dealt us quite a blow, with Covid-19 coming on the heels of locusts and droughts, hurricanes and tornados, floods and fires, starvation and suffering in so many parts of the world.

It’s time to take care of each other, and I see signs we are moving in that direction.

Now then, couldn’t we make the same kind of concerted effort to take care of the planet, too?

Healthy Eating – More than Food! That’s the topic of a Health Link presentation today, Wednesday, March 18 in Bury. François Bergeron will speak about Canada’s new food guide, recipe ideas, and more. Bergeron is a registered dietition with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS’ HSF RLS, our health centre. The talk begins at about 12:30, and ends at 2 p.m. It’s at the Armoury Community Centre, 563 Main Street. Info: 819-560-8540 x 9. (Call first to be sure the event is still on.)

The bilingual income tax assistance program in Sawyerville for persons with limited income is closed until further notice, because the Municipality of Cookshire-Eaton has closed the Sawyerville Community Centre, as well as other public venues.
Danielle Paré asks that previous clients of this service call her for more information, and to know how to proceed. Info: Danielle, 819-889-2614.


A Sugar Shack Brunch is planned for Sunday, March 29, at the Saint-Mathias-de-Bonneterre Community Centre, 2019 Route 210. The brunch is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a folk gala in the afternoon. Proceeds to benefit the Saint-Mathias-de-Bonneterre Community Centre. The activity is expected to happen as planned, and disinfectant and gloves will be used by the servers. Info: 819-889-2558.

Better safe than sorry, say a number of event organizers. So far, a few events that have been postponed indefinitely are:
The Miracle Worker, the play at the Centennial Theatre, Bishop’s University.

The Back Porch Haiku book launch by Marjorie Bruhmuller.
For Love of the River: A Rapid-Fire Reading, Ricochet Writing Event to Benefit Action Saint-François, organized by Angela Leuck, celebrating Water Lines, the new book by Townships writers.

Catholic Masses across Quebec, cancelled by the Quebec Catholic Archdiocese.

Anglican. Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. in Bury, and at a bit past 11 a.m. in Cookshire, at the Trinity United Church hall (side door). Call first. Info: 819-887-6802.
United. Sunday services are cancelled for the next two weeks, due to coronavirus precautions. Info: 819-889-2838 (listen to the message).
Baptist. In Sawyerville, the Sunday worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French. Info: 819-239-8818.

Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by March 23 for publication April 1st, or by April 6 for April 15.

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