Immunocompromised Islander feeling 'mixed emotions' about COVID-19 transition plan
New timeline would see most COVID-19 restrictions lifted by April 7
For many Islanders, a new timeline for the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions is good news. But some immunocompromised people are welcoming the transition with more mixed emotions.
On Tuesday, P.E.I. announced a three-step plan which would see the province phase out most COVID-19 restrictions in the next two months.
The final step of the plan would see the P.E.I. Vax Pass discontinued and all mask requirements and gathering limits lifted by April 7.
P.E.I. Lung Association co-ordinator Julia Hartley said she's "pleasantly surprised" by the timeline.
But she said some of the association's members will likely remain on high alert, particularly those dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and similar respiratory conditions.
"They will likely continue to be very careful to limit their chances of getting COVID," Hartley said. "A lot of people do find comfort in wearing [masks]. And I think that they will continue to wear them if they feel the need."
Hartley said she's heard concerns from Islanders with lung disease who are worried an easing of pandemic measures will lead to COVID-era supports such as virtual health-care programs and grocery delivery to end.
It is a scary thing just to go to Walmart or to take my daughter to do her sports,.— Sarah Newman
She said the pandemic has lead to more empathy for immunocompromised people who struggle with things such as leaving their house to get groceries on a daily basis.
"I do think that there there is just generally a heightened sense of awareness about, you know, lung health and the importance of staying healthy," she said.
Sarah Newman has chronic kidney disease and is immunocompromised. Her condition means she's had to take time off work, and her daughter hasn't been able to go to school, even before the winter school break.
She said she felt some "mixed emotions" after hearing the details of the province's plans.
I also recognize that the new normal for some may not be the normal for me.— Sarah Newman
"It is a scary thing just to go to Walmart or to take my daughter to do her sports," Newman said.
"I understand that [the Chief Public Health Office] is working with what works best for the majority, but that doesn't necessarily suit what I need or what immunocompromised people need."
Newman said she hopes people continue wearing masks and practise other precautions even after it's no longer mandatory.
And while she will continue to take personal precautions, Newman said the easing of restrictions is still a good thing.
"I'm super excited to be able to move forward and hopefully live in a new normal and have my daughter be able to go to school and not wear masks and not have to be tested and do all those types of things," she said.
"I do hope that this plan does work and that by April, yes, we can see things going back to a new normal. But I also recognize that the new normal for some may not be the normal for me."
With files from Brittany Spencer