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EDITORIAL: Cheers & Jeers Feb. 22

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, says people need to understand is that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, being approved through the same rigorous protocols that all vaccines have been approved through. SaltWire Network file photo
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health. — Telegram file photo

Cheers: to good ideas and public support. The push to have the new core science building at Memorial University named after Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has now gained national attention — from a company that specializes in online petitions. Change.org is now pointing out that one of their petitions “calling for the new core science building at Memorial University to be named the ‘J. Fitzgerald Building’ has gained over 23,000 signers.” (It was up over 24,000 by Friday morning.) If Fitzgerald’s quiet professionalism and past reticence to be the centre of attention is any measure, she probably wouldn’t publicly back a plan to name a building after her — heck, she’d probably turn around and suggest that the university should sell the naming rights and give the money to local food banks. In these difficult times, we’re lucky to have her.

Cheers: to picking good references. So, this news release popped into the e-mail inbox earlier this week. “SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX: SNC) has been awarded an engineering services contract for three hydroelectric projects from Rye Development, LLC to add powerhouses to the existing dam and lock facilities at each of the sites, which are owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” The engineering firm says it’s the company’s first hydroelectric engineering services contract in the United States, with all three projects in Pennsylvania. The news release continues: “Previous hydroelectric projects include: John Hart Generating Station Replacement, Waneta Expansion, Jimmie Creek, Site C, Karebbe, Chute a Caron Dam and Muskrat Falls.” Might not want to be boasting about that last one

Jeers: to a difficult numbers game. As we stay at pandemic Alert Level 5 and the numbers of direct contacts and people in isolation as a result of COVID-19 continue to grow, a sticky problem is developing in the world of staffing. Health-care workers potentially exposed to the virus, not at work but in the community, have at times numbered more than 500 across the province, causing problems for filling shifts. But there’s an even more complicated situation in smaller workforces: there is just one firefighter in the St. John’s Regional Fire Department who has tested positive for COVID-19, but there were, on Friday, 51 firefighters in isolation, 27 because of possible exposure to the infected firefighter and the rest due to other potential contacts with COVID-19 cases. And replacing them isn’t just difficult — it’s close to impossible. Trained front-line workers aren’t something you just pick up off the shelf at a moment’s notice — and when a significant number of them have to self-isolate, it’s not for a day or two, either. Right now, the fire department says the shortage isn’t affecting service. But this is a long haul, folks.

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