When Public Health meets PR
Submitted by BU Contributor
While the GoB should be widely complimented for its initial handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the past 5-6 weeks have unearthed a strategy where priority is being placed on feeling good over firm facts, economics over health and spin over substance.
It is clear to a blind man on a trotting horse that the Government has determined that it and it alone will decide what and how much information we get, when and how. Even if it means reorganising or delaying key details so as not to sound alarmist or to “protect the brand” or maintain an air of control.
Why else would we be given “nice” figures in front the camera only to realise days later that it is worse than thought.
Why else would we be promised regular, consistent statistics, only to have them spread out and again given in different sometimes confusing formats, if at all.
Why else would we have the swift hiring and then hiding of the Ambassador after her fiascos dug too deep and clearly were too rough?
Why else would we have the withdrawal of Walcott who clearly couldn’t handle pressure. “Why should we be bothered about Patient X?” he bellowed.
Why else would we keep getting “I don’t knows” or “I have to look into that” for questions which have obvious answers?
Notwithstanding the kneejerk “tourist payback policy” which was announced before anyone knew and the hurried hazard pay to some persons without considering others. It seems that we have been fed a diet of small statistics with a side of PR sprinkled with cliches and political talking points.
“uh beg ya… wear your masks etc etc.”
Guess what, Barbadians by and large did everything that was asked of them.
“We can’t shut our borders, we need the money”
But yet we are told that the numbers of tourists entering are a negligible amount.
“The vaccine will be taken in the full glare of the public”
Clearly the glare was too bright, I missed it.
“The super spreader event called a ##### bus crawl held by ######….”
I guess the West Coast is too super to be called a spreader or to special to identify
- What about the Psychiatric Hospital cases, were these ever confirmed?
- What about the cases at the QEH hospital that “appeared”?
- What about the samples which withdrawn Walcott said were sent to confirm whether they were the mutated strain or not?
- When do we acknowledge that there is community spread? Is it so vile a phrase?
- What really is the new high tech semi-imported communications team doing?
- Has BAMP suddenly gone silent? No word from them about the rapid testing strategy?
- As countries overseas close or require vaccines, aren’t we still going to take a hit?
Look, we know we are in a tight spot. We know now is not the time for blame. But, at the same time, it is also not the time for spin, propaganda and public relations posturing, no matter how good it sounds or from which aunt or uncle it comes from.
It’s time to level with the Barbadian public.
- How long should we expect to be grappling with cases of 10-20 or more each day? What does our “curve” look like and mean?
- Are these cases still linked to the December 26 – January 2 spike or are we now seeing recent spread and new cases?
- Are our clusters still clustered?
- How widespread geographically are our cases?
- How long does contact tracing really take?
- Should we just accept that Covid spread in Barbados is a new normal and carry on smartly?
- Do business continue to close when they think necessary IF they feel like?
- Will schools continue to remain closed?
- What is the Covid monitoring unit doing and what successes is it having?
These questions aren’t too hard to answer. With facts, come a reality. With reality, comes choices. With choice, come decisions.
The time for talk has long passed. Level with the public for better or for worse and let’s move on together without so much doubt and uncertainty. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.