COVID-19: What you need to know for March 18, 2020

We need to take care of our artists and gig economy workers

Rounding up the latest news, closures, health updates, and busting myths around COVID-19.

The arrival of COVID-19 has delivered a devastating blow to the arts community and gig economy workers. With summer touring plans and festival season effectively cancelled, many of your favourite creators have been left in an extremely difficult position with the majority of their livelihood put on hold.

Our friend Torquil Campbell of Stars outlined the position he and his bandmates, not to mention pretty much every working artist, has been left in due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

“What were we all going to do? As performing artists, we are self-employed (to the extent that we are employed at all),” Campbell wrote. “We don’t qualify for unemployment insurance. And the large majority of artists I know have little or no savings, relying as we do on “the gig,” that magical event that comes into your life when someone pays you a meager fee to do what you’ve trained for, what you live for, what you love. We are lucky that we love it, at least. To venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, the gig economy looks like the future—driving an Uber is more like being an actor than being a member of the blue-collar middle-class—but people in my world knew long ago how unsteady such a life can be.”

A plan to help Canadians through this must include our artists and gig workers. You can help.

Buy music and artwork. Buy merch. Donate to membership platforms such as Patreon and Bandcamp. Call your local MP and demand we take care of everyone.

“Until then, people who survive by entertaining crowds are going to need help,” Campbell says. “In these dark days, spare some change, if you can, for your local performing artist—and urge your elected representatives to remember performing artists and other gig workers in any relief plan they devise. When people once again can meet in public without fear of spreading illness, you’ll want to hear your favorite songs. One day, you’ll need the singer who sang them to you. But today, the singer needs you.”
 

The Good

The border is likely to be closed for non-essential travel

Canada and the United States are reportedly working to reach a deal to close the border to non-essential travel. It’s expected an announcement could come as early as today.

The move would close the border to tourists and shoppers, while leaving it open for trade and Canadians to return home from the US.

Uber Eats is waiving fees for independent restaurants

Here’s some admirable corporate behaviour. Hopefully it’s not coming at a cost to the company’s delivery fleet who are out there braving all this shit.

Distillers step up to offset sanitizer shortages

One of the first items that began rapidly disappearing from store shelves as the coronavirus spread was hand sanitizer. Now, distillers are stepping up to help ensure the nation can keep its hands clean.

Geoff Dillon, the owner of Beamsville’s Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers, has been making sanitizer with alcohol and store-bought aloe to supply local police, hospitals, long-term care homes, and municipalities.

Likewise, Steinhart Distillery in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia is also using its facility to make sanitizer. We lob the term “hero” around too casually sometimes, but it’s people like these booze producers who are really going to help make a difference through these trying times.
 

The Bad

The cost of doing nothing would be catastrophic

Epidemiologists, academics, and health officials around the world have been running simulations to try and predict the impact of COVID-19 could look like under different scenarios.

There is good news: suppression as a mitigation strategy is effective! Failing to observe suggested methods to flatten the curve could result in as many as 4 million deaths in America. That number could ultimately rest in the thousands if the public follows quarantine guidelines, and non-essential stores and services temporarily shut down.


 

The Really?!

Welcome back to reality, Jared Leto

Actor Jared Leto emerged from a 12-day silent meditation on Wednesday to a world that was vastly different than the one he left a couple weeks ago.


 

A song for the times