December 31, 2021

Talk about a perfect storm… a surging variant, a ridiculous cold snap, and this period of time between Christmas and New Year’s when everyone is barely working… and those who bother showing up are basically phoning it in. The reporting arm of the health department in Alberta has actually given up. “Yeah, we think today’s number is around 4,000… use that for now. Ask us next year. See you January 4th”.

Who can blame them; the temperatures are dipping to the levels where it doesn’t matter whether you measure it in Fahrenheit or Celsius because it’s the same number. You know, sort of like the snowfall forecast we got around here two days ago… you can expect 10 (mumble) of snow. Ten what? Centimetres? Inches? Whatever.

Well… not all things are “whatever”.

The staggering number of new cases around the country (and the entire continent… and, while we’re at it, the entire planet) beg some questions that require some answers but, due to all of the above, the simple responses are not so forthcoming.

Trying to consolidate the numbers with respect to new cases and hospitalizations and ICU admissions has been a real exercise, but what’s most important aren’t actually the case counts; at least, not around here. Dr. Henry made a statement which alluded to the fact that there are far more cases out there than we know about. That’s been the case since the start, but it’s far more pronounced in recent weeks. Her guess is 3x to 5x, but that’s what I’d have guessed months ago. These days, we don’t have the proper testing infrastructure to get accurate numbers and, even if we did, that majority of people aren’t going to get tested. Depending who you ask, in fact… people are being told not to go get tested. You’ve got symptoms? Pretend you have it. Isolate, take care of yourself… and don’t bother us unless you need medical attention. And those who actually tried to go get tested found multi-hour waits, or got sent home with a rapid test, or found that the testing site that’d been shut down because of the cold.

A quick note about those rapid antigen tests: they’re nearly useless. I say nearly, but not entirely… only because they probably work just fine if they’re used correctly, and if the test patient has a high-enough viral load to register. Unfortunately, neither of those things seem to overlap enough to get accurate results. A positive result certainly means you have it, but a negative result doesn’t mean anything.

If you’re taking a rapid-antigen test – and I am speaking now from direct experience, having subjected myself to be a guinea pig for a friend who was trying to figure out the validity of these things – you need to scour deeply — approaching your brain — for ten seconds a nostril, complete with long, uncomfortable swirls — to get a valid result. I took a few of these tests; a gingerly tickle of the inside of your nostril does nothing. Even a medium-sized dip into your nose doesn’t do it. Unless that gargantuan Q-tip makes your eyes tear up and cause you to cough, you didn’t do it right. And it was only when I did that *and* was symptomatic that I got a positive result.

Anyway, that aside, getting a positive test these days is somewhat secondary to what it implies. Around here, with our enviable “fully-vaxxed” rate, it’s pretty good. The daily new case numbers (5,000 on paper, closer to 100,000 in my opinion) are not translating to hospitalizations. At least not yet, but for now, that’s really good news. As a general statement, if you have a normal healthy immune system and you’ve been double-vaxxed or better, the overwhelming evidence implies that you’ll suffer some cold-like symptoms at worst, and that’ll be it. It still needs to be taken very seriously because, of course, you might end up passing it along to someone who wouldn’t handle it so well… and none of that has changed. Older, immune-compromised, at risk people… they’ve been taking the necessary steps to stay safe, and we need to do the same for their benefit.

The relative success story (for now) that we’re seeing here seems to be consistent with other places with high vaccination rates. Those with lower rates are being hit hard, but only because the sheer volume of cases at some point is going to translate to an overwhelming amount of more serious cases.

Looking at the graphs below, you’ll see that hospitalization rates have not gone up dramatically in Western Canada. Ontario and Quebec are indeed seeing more hospitalizations, but barely an increase in ICU cases. Manitoba, too… to a lesser extent. But West of that, numbers are actually down.

I’ve added a third row of graphs today. While the top two rows are the cases, hospitalizations, ICUs and deaths since September 1st, the bottom row are the daily new case counts starting at the very beginning of the pandemic. They’re interesting to look at for numerous reasons… like, you can see clearly the different waves… but have a look at Quebec, from day 1. Near the very beginning, in that first little wave, there’s a notable spike. That spike was from early May, 2020… when over a 3-day period, they saw more than 4,000 new cases and over 300 deaths. It’s interesting to note just how insignificant that little spike looks compared to what came after, especially what’s going on now. But, back then… that was honestly the moment were all thinking that we’re totally screwed. That we, here in BC, were two weeks away from a tidal wave of cases and deaths.

We’ve learned a lot since then, and one of the most important is the realization of just how effective these vaccines are. We see today’s skyrocketing case numbers and we’re nowhere near as freaked out.

On that note… I haven’t written about Trump in a while, but it’s worth mentioning this: For as long as this pandemic has been going on, he’s been talking out of both sides of his mouth. He initially played it down, no big deal, it’ll be gone in a few weeks… and it became the rallying cry of his most-extreme base. His fervent supporters were as anti-mask, anti-vaxx and anti-science as he pretended to be… notwithstanding he took great pride in being responsible for funding Operation Warp Drive which indeed had a lot to do with developing these miraculous vaccines. You know, the ones he claimed we didn’t need and don’t do anything anyway because the virus is no big deal BUT I’ve created the greatest vaccine ever to combat the China virus BUT you don’t really need the vaccine BUT yeah, I got the vaccine, as did my entire family… we all got it quietly while nobody was watching, as did every Republican politician in Washington BUT really, you’re fine, forget vaccines and masks BUT yeah, we all got the booster too BUT….

Recently, and this is the eyebrow-raising part, Trump has been announcing to his followers that yeah, he got the booster and, you know what, they should get it too. But rather than listen to their fearless leader, they boo him and disagree with him. He, of course, doesn’t care… but why is that? It’s a 180, and it needs to be understood.

From the people’s point of view, they’re so deeply sunk into that mindset that they can’t, at this point, admit it’s wrong. They’ve already drowned in the Kool Aid. A lot of them can be heard saying they’d rather die of Covid than get the vaccine, and many of them will get that wish granted. Trump doesn’t care; he never did. But he does care about making himself reasonable and relevant for 2022 and beyond, so now he’s pandering to the bigger Republic base… those that aren’t so anti-everything. And that leaves those fringe people completely abandoned, discouraged and betrayed. And, in a bit of trouble if they don’t change their mind because that’s the demographic that makes up the vast majority of pandemic-related deaths. The anti-vaxx crowd.

Our BC fully-vaxxed rate is 90%. The majority of people in hospital for Covid come from that remaining 10%. The math isn’t complicated. And the American fully-vaxxed number isn’t even close to 90%… more like 62%. Unfortunately, for some select demographics, it could get quite ugly.

Last year, at exactly this time, I wrote a relatively optimistic piece about how the worst is over. Vaccines are just around the corner, and once we all get them, this will all have been a bad dream. Well, that was a little naïve, but I’m going to say the same thing again. Given the direction of Omicron and where we are with all of this, by this time next year, Covid won’t be a distant nightmare from the past that’s still haunting us. Rather, it’ll be an endemic annoyance for which we’ll have an armada of weapons: Vaccines, treatments, prevention therapies, whatever. Every day is one step closer to C19 becoming the common cold of the future, but we’re not there yet. Next year…

So… wishing you all a Very Happy, Prosperous and – most of all – *Healthy* 2022. All the best… and Cheers!

June 22, 2021

Summer is only one day old, but it’s certainly making a statement. Glorious warm sunshine… hopefully a continuing sign of things to come, and I don’t just mean the weather. Blue skies, calm seas, smooth sailing… pick your metaphor; they all apply.

I’ve replaced the usual graphs today with others that are pretty cool to look at… and that tell an interesting story. These are vaccination rates since March 1st… for Canada, the U.S., and the usual provinces we’ve been tracking. These graphs show the daily totals (how “tall” each line is) as well as the breakdown between first and second doses… first doses near the bottom, in the lighter colours… and second doses above them, in the darker colours.

I posted one of these graphs for B.C. recently, but here’s all of them… and what do they tell us…?

First of all, with respect to the Canadian ones – the national one and the individual provinces – you’ll notice that the tips of the lines mostly trend upwards or are, at worst, flat. The flatness of some of those lines, for the moment, has more to do with supply limits than demand shortages. You’ll also note the disparity between first and second doses… a pattern that’s mimicked across the country; sometime around June 1st, there began a big push towards second doses… and today, in all provinces, second doses make up the vast majority of vaccinations. Here in B.C., today… close to 80,000 jabs… of which less than 10,000 were first vaccinations.

It’s also interesting to note what the U.S. graph has to say; that they’ve been doing second doses for a long time, and continue to do so… but with diminishing demand. And first doses…? Today’s levels are less than half of what they were seeing in April.

I’ll keep some version of these graphs around from now on, because… unless things really slide backwards, the story is shifting away from new daily cases and hospitalizations and ICU admissions… and now it’s becoming all about how vaccinated we all are, how immune we all are, and how ready to get back to normal we all are.

On this beautiful day… when B.C. crossed the 1,000,000 fully-vaccinated threshold… when the pharmacy where I got my AZ shot two months ago finally got around to calling me for the follow-up.. “Yeah, no, I’m good… thanks anyway…” and when there wasn’t a single C19 death west of Manitoba… yep… it’s Summer… in more ways than one.

May 23, 2021

I hope you got your good dose of sunshine in yesterday, because around here, we’re back to “the usual” for a week. The big Vancouver Weather Wheel (VWW) has only three sections… “It’s about to rain”, “It’s raining” and “It just rained.” A recent spin landed in section 2, and that’s where it’ll sit for a while… and actually, that’s ok. The freshest air on the planet exists when things transition from section 2 to section 3.

The other thing going on these days is the transition from the NHL regular season to the NHL playoffs –lots of rain equals Spring equals NHL playoffs… and there’s an interesting correlation… you can sort of map playoff performance with Covid-19 numbers.

Here in B.C., our numbers have recently tanked, which is very good. The Canucks have also tanked… which is good or bad, depending on whether you like to see a strong finish or a better draft pick. Either way, both our pandemic numbers and our team’s performance have crashed down noticeably. Playoffs? LOL.

One province east of us is Alberta, whose pandemic numbers were riding high. Also riding high were the Edmonton Oilers… who seem to have hit a brick wall when they entered the playoffs. And right around the time the Oilers began their journey to falling down two games to zero to the Jets, so did their C19 numbers. That’s an impressive meltdown, their daily new-case numbers… falling like a rock. Much like the Oilers’ chances of getting much further in the playoffs. They might go down 3 games to 0 to the Winnipeg Jets, who are flying high these days.

Unfortunately, so are the C19 numbers in Winnipeg. Manitoba is the one province that isn’t yet headed in the right direction, though perhaps they’re turning the corner too.

As has happened numerous times in the past, the Leafs and Habs are battling it out; that series is tied, similar to the C19 numbers in those two provinces, as far as things getting better… though I’d have to give the “trending advantage” to Quebec… which, in this warped correlation of mine, is good news for Leafs fans.

Two of those four teams will meet in the next round of the playoffs, and only one will make it to the semi-final round… where they’ll run into an American powerhouse team.

I hope at that point, the team is Las Vegas… and I hope that’s there this correlation breaks down. Las Vegas numbers are looking so good these days, the place is almost back to normal. They’ve already thrown the doors open in most places, and will do so entirely in the next couple of weeks; any Las Vegas hockey game will play to a packed house, and that’d be a great way to watch a game… whether live or on TV. I’ve been to games in Las Vegas; usually it’s the Canucks getting beaten up, but it’s always a memorable experience… one I hope to partake in once again, sooner than later. I don’t see myself in that crowd anytime soon… but watching something that real will be a very good indication we’re in the final stretch.

And, for what it’s worth, it rarely rains in Vegas.

May 17, 2021

Encouraging local numbers today… and if you don’t like analyzing numbers, just look at the pretty pictures… specifically the B.C. one… which, in a nutshell, shows the rise and fall of the 3rd wave. Our numbers these days are exactly where they were at in early March, when things started to go sideways.

And, actually, not sideways… just up… sharply. But as you can see, as quickly as they went up, they’ve come down. That little plateau was in the second week of April, and it’s been downhill (in the good sense) ever since then. What’s going up sharply these days is the temperature… and vaccinations.

Looking across the country, as it turns out, nobody has managed this third wave as well as B.C. Quebec would be a close second though; their worst is over and they’ve slid down to the bottom of their own hill.

Alberta has turned the corner, but has a ways to go. Saskatchewan as well, though slower… but Manitoba is still arguably headed in the wrong direction; really not sure what happened there, but this week will tell a lot.

And Ontario… certainly headed in the right direction… their daily numbers and their average is lower… but it’s still wildly volatile and it always feels like they’re near a tipping point. Aided by warmer weather and lots of upcoming vaccinations, their worst is also likely over.

I don’t want the maritimes and the northern territories to feel left out… all looking good.

Locally, nothing will change before the May long weekend… but, by then, we may be poised to see some significant relaxations. Don’t hold me to it; I don’t make the rules… but given all of the above, given what we’ve learned in a year, given where we are with vaccinations, given what we now know about the colossal difference in risk between indoor and outdoor gatherings, given that we know it’s a tiny number of people who infect lots of others.. not everyone infecting one or two others… given all that, it wouldn’t be difficult to put some rules in place that really open things up in an effective way.

To be honest, they would’ve done it already if they could count on people sticking to the important parts. Like, golf? Out golfing with friends? Risk of transmission on the golf course… near zero. Risk of transmission on the 19th hole, downing a pitcher of beer? Much higher. Can we count on people to play a round of golf, but then not spend three hours in a crowded, poorly-ventilated pub? This is where the give an inch/take a mile issues come into it, and managing that, going forward, will be the bigger challenge.

April 28, 2021

“It is often easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

It was Admiral Grace Hopper, a legend and pioneer in the world of computer science, who said that… though it’s possible she didn’t quite realize the extent to which people would eventually lead their lives by it. It makes sense sometimes to bend the rules, but you have to know where and when to pick your spots. It’s not a free-for-all for reckless decisions.

You think you already know what I’m about to say, so instead of repeating what I’ve been saying for a year, here’s are some different examples.

Perhaps the shortest existence of a professional sports league in the history of the world took place last week. If you don’t follow football (ie soccer) on a global level, there’s a good chance you missed it entirely. Basically, a small group of the biggest teams in the world, spanning multiple leagues, announced they were forming their own super-league. Forget rankings and playoffs… this league of elites is by invitation only, and here’s $5 billion TV deal to go along with it, just for them.

Imagine the uproar you’d hear in Canada if the top 6 NHL teams decided to break away and form their own little league… and now imagine it on a global scale. The backlash from literally millions… of fans, players, coaches, reporters… pretty much everyone… was a tidal wave that, when you think about it, was completely to be expected.

“OK ok we’re sorry… forget the whole thing!! Jeez!!” – said the ringleaders… who no doubt are re-thinking their ridiculous, stupid assumptions that led to it in the first place. And who are now facing significant consequences for their failed mutiny.

Closer to home, the existence of Playland being open lasted just as long. The backlash was swift and expected. What else is going to happen when a few hours after announcing no inter-provincial travel, you announce the opening of one of Canada’s biggest amusement parks? “Sorry sorry yeah you’re right”. Playland will be open one day, just not when anybody from out of town isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

Speaking of Playland, I really like that midway horse racing game… the one where you’re trying to fire the balls into the right hole which makes your little horse-in-lights move along. If I can’t have real horse racing, I’ll take that for now.

And speaking of horse racing, this weekend’s running of the Kentucky Derby notwithstanding, there’s an interesting sort of horse race that’s easier to explain if you visualize it… so, see below.

Replacing all of the tiny vaccination graphs today is one big one; this is what the provincial horse race of vaccinations looks like. This graph is based on vaccination percentages, using 10% as the same starting point for everyone.

What exactly does it tell us? You’d never have known that Manitoba seems to be vaccinating people, per capita, faster than anyone. Conversely, Alberta is the slowest.

At the end of the day, it’s not a big difference. It took Manitoba 23 days to go from 10% to 25%. It took Alberta 31 days. Everyone else is somewhere in between (B.C. is 26 days). By any definition, it’s a tight race. Also, who cares… the idea is we all get to the finish line, and then we all win.

But just to circle back to the premise of this entire piece, we get there not by doing stupid things and begging for forgiveness. Better to ask first… and act responsibly.

March 26, 2021

The good news with numbers is brief. Yesterday, B.C.’s vaccination rate went from nine point something to ten point something percent. Today, so did Alberta and Ontario… all of which allowed me to change the percentage to one decimal place instead of two. That’s one small step for a decimal point; one giant leap for significant figures as it pertains to reaching the end of this thing. I look forward to Manitoba joining the club soon.

And that concludes the numbers-related good news.

Today, B.C. had over 900 new cases… for the first time since November. What’s also bad is that the new-case growth rate was over 1%… not a particularly good direction for the trend to be heading.

Here are the weekly new-case averages per week, starting 6 weeks ago:

433, 441, 480, 559, 537, 560, 699. There was a nice dip a few weeks ago… right around the time Dr. Henry was calling it a turning point; it’s up to us, yadda yadda… so, how’d we do? There you go.

We’re likely to see the new-case numbers crawl over 1,000 in the next few days… so, to be clear, we’re very much in a 3rd wave… the question is, how bad will it get? Nowhere near as bad as it’d be if we didn’t have improving weather and vaccines. But nowhere near as good as it’d be if we didn’t have variants… and if we’d all properly followed those rules we used to be so good at. Half of that we can’t control… but the other half…

Now it’s Spring Break; people are traveling and doing their own thing. This is how we roll, and for the people who’ve simply “had it” with the pandemic, none of this matters. Ask me in two weeks how much it really matters, but as good or bad as it gets, when it comes to reaching the finish line, it’s not that we’re not running towards it as fast as we can… it’s that we keep pushing it our further. It’s a tough race to figure out when the finish line keeps moving, but it’s even more frustrating when we’re the ones moving it.

Stay tuned for Monday’s numbers… and don’t hold your breath for any radical change in restrictions. If anything, we’re presently going the wrong way.

February 14, 2021

Happy SnowyFamilyDayWeekendValentinesDay!

You may have noticed how quiet and peaceful it gets when the ground is blanketed by snow. It’s simply due to the fact that snow actually absorbs sound… and, also, the uneven surface helps to disperse sound waves. The opposite of a polished concrete floor is a snow-covered surface – the fluffier, the better.

Two bits of fluffy vaccine news:

One is that the province of Manitoba has ordered 2 million doses of our own mRNA Canadian-produced vaccine; vaccine that’s made in Alberta by Providence Therapeutics. The only slight problem with it is that the vaccine doesn’t actually exist. Well, it does, but it’s only in a Phase-1 trial. Optimistically, Phases 2 and 3 start after May, and counting on emergency authorization from Health Canada in the fall, perhaps it’ll be getting into Winnepegian and Flin-Flonian arms before the end of the year.

Of course, we’ve been told the majority of us in the rest of Canada would have plenty of Pfizer and Moderna available by then, so what this really means is the government of Manitoba saying to the Federal government… “We don’t believe you.” Hard to argue. One thing is clear… one day, Canada will be flooded with vaccine… from what we ordered and from what we’re making. When exactly will that be? Perhaps around the time Hell starts looking like my front yard. At least we’ll have plenty of vaccines around for when this transitions from pandemic to endemic.

The other is that Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer got her first vaccine dose today. She couldn’t help but crack a joke about it not actually implanting some sort of dad-designed microchip into her brain. It’s funny, but it’s also sad… that enough anti-vax people believe that nonsense to the extent that, as per above, this virus is unlikely to ever go away entirely. At least we’ll have plenty of vaccine supply…

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January 25, 2021

A year ago today, a man who’d recently returned from Wuhan, China, wasn’t feeling well… and wound up at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, where he became Canada’s first test-positive C19 case.

Hearing that this morning made me think back… what was I doing at the time? Thanks to modern technology, it doesn’t take much to scroll back through recent history.

A year ago last night, I was at the Chan Centre watching my talented nephew, acting in a very engaging and entertaining theatre production. It was excellent, and so, appropriately, the venue was jammed.

A year ago today was a Saturday, and, at 10am, we were back at UBC — at TRIUMF this time — for a couple of lectures. One was about earthquakes – the famous impending “big one” that will hit the south coast, sometime between tonight and 500 years from now. The other was about black holes, cosmic collisions and sensing gravitational waves. Takeaway: If a large earthquake shows up off the south coast, don’t be in Tofino. And, I guess, if a black hole shows up off the south coast, don’t be in Tofino either… but you won’t have much too time to worry about it.

These lectures are super-interesting if you’re into this sort of thing, so, accordingly, it was crowded. Sold out in fact. So sold out we couldn’t get tickets online, and just crashed the venue, hoping we could sneak in. The tickets are free, but seating is limited; fortunately, some people didn’t show up and they let us in.

The kids were there too, and perhaps it took a bit of gentle bartering to get one of them there as well, because we wound up going out for dinner that night, to Kobe. Kobe is excellent, and always crowded as well; you end up sharing a table/cooking surface with complete strangers for a couple of hours.

Talk about taking stuff for granted. Three very different things, but all had one thing in common; hanging out in close proximity with strangers… and thinking nothing of it. That’s how it was.

So, what’s happened in that one year… today also marks another milestone; today, the world went over 100,000,000 known C19 cases. There have been over 2,000,000 deaths. There have also been over 72,000,000 recoveries. In Canada, more than 750,000 cases came after that guy.

My prediction was that here in Canada, we’d be seeing the worst of this pandemic… right about now. Now would be the time when the gradual decline would begin, and while it’d take a long time to snuff it out in due course, it’d never get worse than what we’re experiencing now.

This completely-non-professional opinion was based on the confluence of a few things, but primarily, it’s this: any negative effect that would’ve been caused by the holiday season would now be known and we’d be in the midst of handling. Whether they were supposed to or not, people got together over the holidays. Some of them passed on infections, etc… so how bad was it? Well, it definitely caused a spike, but if you look at the graphs and numbers, things are clearly trending favourably. Couple that with the fact that there are no large family-gathering-type holidays any time soon… and given that vaccines are every day making slow but steady progress into bloodstreams… and that the majority of people and businesses are still towing the party line… put it all together and, optimistically, the worst is behind us. That being said, who could’ve predicted newer mutations that are more virulent, and which could possibly lead to more cases. The answer to that question is epidemiologists… and they did.

We’re far from sounding the all-clear, but the numbers and pictures at the moment tell a cautiously-optimistic story; declines everywhere… ranging from steep (Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec) to moderate (B.C) to mild (Ontario, Saskatchewan)… but the entire country is trending in the right direction. For now.

Today’s versions of cool lectures, theatre productions, and restaurants look nothing like what they did a year ago. There are online and socially-distanced versions of all of that, but they’re nothing like the real thing. A year ago we had the real thing… and every indication is that a year from now, we’ll have it again.

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December 10, 2020

Today’s update is just about numbers. Every day I plug in today’s numbers and, magically, almost everything updates automatically. The only things that don’t, and it’s by design, are the Y-axes of all of the graphs below. I keep them on “manual”, because when the data bumps up against the limits, I want to be able to see it. Then I adjust it.

Good examples are both Ontario and Quebec, which have been bumping-up against 2,000 cases per day. Quebec actually exceeded it by a bit last week, but for now, I’ve left it… though it’s almost certainly just a matter of time. It’s depressing to have to change those numbers, because they tell a story… and if you were to go back to graphs of yesterday or last week or last month and beyond, you’ll see how they’ve all changed over the course of time… slowly but consistently creeping upwards.

I’m hoping to never have to adjust Alberta over 2,000. I’m hoping to never have to adjust B.C. over 1,000. The numbers were headed in those directions quite recently, but perhaps they’re tailing off. For now.

For those that look at the pictures, a couple of things to note… one is that I’ve added a 7-day moving average to the graphs indicating deaths. It makes it easier to see the trend… and, might I add, it’s not a great trend. The 35 deaths in Ontario is a record. The 28 deaths in B.C. is a record. Indeed, the national total of 126 is a record.

Number two is that I adjusted the Time To Double lines on all of the 2nd-wave graphs (bottom row). It’s really just me playing with the slopes of those TTD lines, trying to make them relevant with respect to how the data looks, especially recently. It makes it easier to see things like Manitoba, which has really managed to slam on the brakes; it was scary until recently, but perhaps their Premier’s impassioned plea really hit home… at least with enough people to have made a difference. Maybe we need more Premiers with tears in their eyes, telling us how it is.

As we’ve learned, the progression from infection to illness to hospitalization to death is around a month, if it gets that far. With vaccines starting in earnest by spring, and with the effects of the holiday season peaking around the end of January, mid-February may end up being the peak of this whole thing. That would be my guess. How high that peak goes remains to be seen… I just hope it’s not too many more keystrokes from today… to the ultimate highs of those Y-axes.

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By |2020-12-10T17:03:00-08:00December 10th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , , , , , , |1 Comment

November 12, 2020

Today’s update is about numbers, because I’m looking at them… and they’re not great. At all. Dr. Bonnie is not pleased. B.C. has just gone over 20,000 cases. By tomorrow, Manitoba will have gone over 10,000… and Ontario over 90,000… and Quebec over 120,000.

And the U.S… wow. They blew through 10 million cases recently, but every day their growth is increasing sharply. Today’s new-case number of +164,878 is by far their biggest ever.

The pictures reflect all of this better than the words. Those are steep ramps everywhere, and even the logarithmic graphs are slanted upward… the U.S., Canada, everywhere. Around the word, daily, 10,000 people are dying.

Here are two little examples of exponential growth:

Imagine a chessboard… put a grain of salt on the first square. Put 2 on the 2nd square. Put 4 on the 3rd square… and so on. By the end, you’ll probably have a pretty big pile of salt, right? Enough to fill the room? Enough to salt the road from here to Whistler?

Well… after a couple of rows of the chessboard, it’d be about 3lbs of salt. Not a big deal.

At the end of the next row, you’d have enough to coat the floor of a big room. Hmm… perhaps more than you thought. I’ll cut to the chase… by the end, you’d have 18 trillion dollars worth of salt, and you’d need a box a mile long, wide and high to store it all.

Here’s a better one, and a chance to make some money! Imagine a piece of paper… you fold it in half. Fold it in half again… no big deal. How thick would it be if you could fold it 20 times? The answer is… 1km. Crazy, eh? You can’t come even close. Not even halfway close. So here’s a challenge… send me a video of you folding a piece of paper successfully in half 8 times… that’s it, just 8 simple little folds… any piece of paper you want. But it has to be in half every time, because that’s true exponential growth. Do it successfully and I will send you $1,000. Go for it.

That’s the thing with exponential growth… it’s simple and dismissable to begin with, and suddenly, it hits a tipping point, and it’s drastic. The latter half of the chess board is hugely problematic. The last 4 folds you’re about to attempt are a lot more difficult than the first 4. Like, incomparably more difficult.

And that’s exactly where we are now. I’m not sure where we are on the chessboard, nor on which paper-fold we’re at. But it feels like we’re pretty close to jumping from “this isn’t so bad” to… “Oh oh.”

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