Uncertain adjustment factor makes pandemic confusing

Q: I think most of us are somewhat puzzled by everything going on with the coronavirus these days.

With so many opinions, many contradictory, it really is confusing.

To my mind, the most confusing part of it is the proclamation made by so many people that we have, as they say, flattened our curve, that we are on our way to assuming some control over the virus, and while they are saying that, we see at the same time more people suffering from the virus than there were before. Many of them are dying.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on our discrepancies.

A: I am not a health-care analyst so it is difficult for me to discuss the statistical analysis upon which many of our leaders claim to be developing their programs. Like you, I wonder about the inconsistencies, even the discrepancies, that I hear one day to the next, from one significant expert to another.

My guide throughout is in something called the adjustment factor. This is likely the dimension upon which decisions are made but because it is not statistically apparent, it is not recognized in many discussions about coronavirus.

The adjustment factor is the extent to which people make changes to adjust to new and different circumstances disrupting their environments.

Think of the impact a new baby has on the home. Mom and Dad will forever change the way in which they treat each other. They will be different with their grandparents, friends and neighbours, and they will even have a different bill for the federal tax man. With the new baby, it is different around the house, just as it is different around the community as everyone adjusts to the coronavirus.

The problem with the adjustment factor is that it is difficult to measure. How do you measure everyone’s reactions to the virus? How do you measure the extent to which people are staying home, are washing their hands and are practising social distancing restrictions? How do you measure all of those chat lines on home computers? How do you measure all of the hours people put into social media, singing songs to mock the virus and dancing and exercising to defy the boredom?

Yet it is precisely that, the extent to which everyone adjusts to the virus, that ultimately determines when we can assume some level of normality in our lives. The more that we adjust to our difficult moments, the sooner life can resume its drive toward normality.

At the moment our politicians do not know what the adjustment factor is. Some think the adjustment factor is high, some think that it is low, and those who vote for the high bar want to activate stores and hair salons as quickly as possible while those concerned about the tardiness of the adjustment factor would prefer that the re-openings go slow.

This means that you are not likely to find real decisions based on the numbers of those who are not well. The trend is not there.

The trend is in the adjustment factor and the guesswork that goes along with estimates on all of our abilities to make reasonable adjustments to the horrors of the pandemic.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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