Although we have been warned that news about COVID-19 might become increasingly frightening over the coming weeks, not many Montrealers are prepared for what has been unfolding every day.
More than anything else, the massive increase in the number of confirmed cases and the fatalities that quickly turned Montreal into the epicenter of the outbreak in Canada was enough to convince us of COVID-19’s contagiousness and its unpredictability.
Stunned, we grapple with the fact that in less than a month, close to 5000 were infected and the numbers continue grow as officials point towards a peak and the eventual flattening of the curve somewhere in the future.
But for now COVID-19 is running rampant, striking down Montrealers of all ages, creed and class but especially brutal on those who are between 20 and 59 years old. They account for close to 67 per cent of the afflicted.
However, has proven to be more lethal on people 70 and over; they make up more than half of those who have died from the virus, so far.
Unlike anything in recent memory, this coronavirus and the health crisis that it has triggered have brought Montreal to its knees, crippling all facets of life from business to education to social interactions.
So here we are, the city is at a standstill for the foreseeable future with the vast majority of its 1.8 million residents ordered to stay at home and refrain from gathering or socializing outside of the family unit.
And it has grounded to a halt the engine of the Quebec’s economy and one of the world’s most thriving metropolises that is a hub of commerce, finance, industry, technology and culture with an impressive GDP of about $120 billion.
The numbers show that unemployment in Montreal has increased dramatically, carrying the bulk of the 8.5 per cent of those who are without jobs in Quebec. Before COVID-19 the unemployment rate was south of 5 per cent.
But what is even more difficult is the unimaginably stifling impact the virus is going to heap on summer in this city, which normally goes into celebration mode from May to September with its weekend-to-weekend listings of event.
This year nothing. Everything from the festivals to sporting events, tourist destinations, water spots and outdoor gatherings, including the Fete Nationale celebrations on June 24 and the July 1 Canada Day festivities as well as massive crowd magnets such as Just For Laughs, Grand Prix and The Jazz Festival.
What it means is that the downtown sector with its lavish restaurants and bars and clubs where the beautiful people and the laa-dee-dahs roam is out of bounds for 2020.
No word yet on Parc Jean Drapeau on Ile Notre Dame and its Weekends du Monde festivities but that too can be assumed to part of the shutdown of summer 2020.
All in the name of social distancing.
The impact on our community will be just as daunting: no days in the park, no picnics, no parades, no festivals, no BBQs in the parks and certainly no parties.
With so much change in so little time COVID-19 is ushering in a brand new Montreal right under eyes as we stare at our city from the insides of homes.