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Premier Scott Moe Health Minister Paul Merriman on their way to the December 30th news conference. © Provided by Leader Post Premier Scott Moe Health Minister Paul Merriman on their way to the December 30th news conference.

At a Dec. 30 press conference, Premier Scott Moe told us the Omicron wave would see a rise in daily active COVID-19 cases but hospitalizations and ICUs admissions would remain manageable without any additional public health restrictions.

Monday was Groundhog Day — the same message that nothing will change … even as the COVID-19 numbers change in a very bad way.

Not even Moe’s own bout with Omicron appears to have deterred the premier from his message track. If anything, it’s only strengthened his resolve to not do anything more.

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Since Dec. 30, Saskatchewan has gone from 84,446 COVID-19 cases to 110,399 cases. That is an increase of 25,953 cases (as of Monday) — nearly a quarter of all recorded Saskatchewan COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. And that increase is likely a fraction of the reality as Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government has actively encouraged people not to come in for tracked PCR testing and rely on at-home rapid tests.

On Dec. 30, there was a still manageable 565 active cases and 102 hospitalizations. Active cases were at 12,753 on Monday and hospitalizations at 262.

It is the responsibility of a government to do what it can to curb these numbers. At their press conference Monday morning, neither Moe nor Health Minister Paul Merriman offered anything to suggest this is a government priority … or, really, even their responsibility.

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Asked Monday who will bear responsibility if current hospitalizations and deaths continue to trend upward, Moe responded that “Covid is responsible for Covid.”

Again asked if his government, after re-announcing Monday its refusal to impose any added measures to stop the rapid Omicron spread, would bear responsibility for increasingly negative outcomes, the Saskatchewan premier repeated his all-too-familiar message that economic consequences of “lockdowns” are worse and that “lockdowns” aren’t working elsewhere.

About the only difference was Moe’s broadening the definition of “lockdowns”, which now seems to include kids playing hockey being told the same thing NHLers are experiencing … that they might not be allowed to play games for a few weeks.

Of course, there may still be reason to hope that Saskatchewan will get through this fifth wave without as many hospitalizations, ICU admissions or deaths as we saw in the Delta wave in September and October.

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But there’s absolutely no valid reason anyone — let alone someone elected to a position responsible for public policy — should deny that the Omicron wave is beginning to take its toll.

Monday’s numbers saw the continual steady rise in hospitalizations to 262 — 100 more hospitalizations from eight days prior and three times what they were a month ago. ICU admissions have not yet sky-rocketed, but analysts say that more ICU admissions and more deaths are simply inevitable.

And then there is the matter of improperly reported deaths — and thankfully only 20 total COVID-related deaths this month so far.

There are even serious questions as to whether the system can accurately record what some analysts believe is a far-higher rate of COVID-19 deaths, although Moe said Monday the notion of vast numbers of unaccounted-for COVID-19 deaths was “egregious misinformation.”

What we know for sure is Moe and his government are doing their utmost to deny there could be a looming problem.

Moe again told us his own government modelling is inaccurate and no form of added restrictions works. It was precisely the message that much of the right and business community want to hear.

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But it’s also precisely not what chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab (noticeable in his absence from Monday’s press conference) has been saying. But as of Monday, what Shahab says appears to no longer be of any consequence, either.

Numbers no longer matter because Moe and his government are suffering from some collective confirmation bias telling them not to believe what the numbers are saying.

And if somehow the government is eventually proven to be totally wrong, we were told Monday the problem is not being without restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread.

Apparently, the only problem is COVID-19 itself.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.


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Jesse Kline: The case for breaking up the CBC .
For the first time in a long while, there appears to be broad support, on both sides of the political spectrum, for reforming the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In a long-overdue move, the Liberals have pledged to make the broadcaster “less reliant on private advertising.” But they will do it in a decidedly Liberal way: by increasing its funding, as if the scads of public money the CBC already gets isn’t enough. The CBC has strayed so far from its mandate that the only way to truly modernize it is to privatize most of its assets. © Provided by National Post Last year, the CBC received a whopping $1.

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