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Coronavirus: Groundhog Day provides boost during winter pandemic

Click to play video: 'Groundhog Day provides boost during winter pandemic' Groundhog Day provides boost during winter pandemic
WATCH: February 2 is Groundhog Day-- giving rodents centre stage across the country. While the practice isn't founded in science, it can give people a boost. As Aaron Streck reports, experts say that's something that is desperately needed at this time. – Feb 2, 2021

For decades, groundhogs have been predicting when spring will get here, and Tuesday was no different.

While it’s usually a toss up as to when spring will actually start, experts say it can give people hope and it’s something they need now more than ever — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were no large crowds and no Willie in a video made by Wiarton, Ont., for Groundhog Day this year. Instead, a fur hat was tossed with no shadow.

Willie did, however, take to Twitter later to announce that he didn’t see his shadow.

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam emerged from his burrow, calling for an early spring. But other groundhogs like Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows, heralding six more weeks of cold weather.

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“I can’t anticipate it being a short winter right now. Nothing seems short as of yet,” said Luckshman Nathakumar, an Oshawa resident.

Nathakumar was out for a walk with his dog Stella Tuesday morning. Despite the cold, he says it’s something that gets him out of the house as every day feels like the Bill Murray classic, Groundhog Day.

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“It is, I literally wake up, work in my bedroom and drop my kid off at daycare and come back to my bedroom,” said Nathakumar.

And he’s not alone. Beth Simpson is also feeling like every day is a repeat of the last.

“Deja vu. (I) go to work, come home, like I don’t go anywhere,” said Simpson.

Read more: Girls Inc. of Durham helping young mothers during pandemic

“Winter’s normally a fairly isolating time of year, so adding the pandemic into it, this is the perfect time for people to reach out and get some help,” said Alec King with Canadian Mental Health Association Durham.

King says CMHA is seeing more and more people losing their sense of routine, and adds that Groundhog Day can give people that lift they need.

“It’s been a long winter for everyone already and any indication of hope is really a positive sign for people, so by having these forms of traditions and rituals where we see the end of winter coming, it’s a good way for people to possibly start marking a change into a brighter future,” said King.

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King says 40 per cent of Canadians have said their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic and 48 per cent are reporting high levels of anxiety as a result of COVID-19.

Click to play video: 'Groundhog Day 2021: ‘Wiarton Willie’ predicts an early spring' Groundhog Day 2021: ‘Wiarton Willie’ predicts an early spring
Groundhog Day 2021: ‘Wiarton Willie’ predicts an early spring – Feb 2, 2021

Right now, the weather is making it worse.

“Two to six per cent of Canadians suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, and 15 per cent suffer from a much milder version of SAD that still has a dramatic affect on how they’re feeling,” said King.

While it’s too early to tell if Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam’s early spring prognostications will be right, most people are hoping so spring and an end the the pandemic will come sooner rather than later.

“We’re mostly the groundhogs hiding out just waiting for everything to blow over,” said Nathakumar.

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