By Horatio Kemeny|2021-09-10T20:00:35-07:00September 10th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Follower Favourites, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, History|Tags: Vaccine, Canada, Ontario, Science, Research, News, Pandemic, Vancouver, Masks, Trump, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Numbers, Coronavirus, USA, Graphs, Statistics, COVID19, C19, BritishColumbia|9 Comments
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.
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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Here’s an interesting fact that means nothing but is an interesting coincidence… the vast majority (ie. 49 out of 50) U.S. states are mostly south of us. South of what? The 49th parallel. Forty-nine states are south of the forty-ninth parallel. Yes, I’d never realized that. Yes, Puerto Rico would like a word with me. Yes, it’s spelled forty, not fourty… even north of the forty-ninth.
Comparisons to our neighbours (not neighbors) to the south get made all the time, and this pandemic is no exception. “At least it’s better here than in the states” is often heard, and it’s true… but that’s not a great comparison, because nobody on the planet is doing worse than the U.S.
But apples-to-apples, exactly how do we compare? Where would we fit in?
If you look at the daily new cases per million (DNCpM) of population for each particular state or province, here’s how it looks…
First of all, similar to how difficult it is for Canadian musicians to establish themselves in the American market, pandemically-speaking, we haven’t cracked the Top-40… not even close. If Quebec, our worst-performing province, were a U.S. state, it’d barely make the Top-50… being out-performed only by Washington, Oregon, Vermont & Hawaii.
The worst three states have DNCpMs that look like this:
North of the 49th, it’s this:
For comparison, B.C. is 58
So… 50 states plus 10 provinces plus 3 territories… bundle them all together and what do you get? With the exception of a little bit of overlap in the 48 to 52 range, the U.S. occupies the entire top of the chart, and Canada, the bottom. You can literally draw a thick line through spot 49 and it would cleanly separate the two countries. Another interesting yet meaningless coincidence.
Except it’s not so meaningless… especially because while these numbers are an interesting snapshot today, they will soon change, possibly rather drastically as news arrives that the far-more contagious U.K. variant is here. We’re not exactly sure when it flew into town, though likely Dec. 15th… but it’s arrived, and undoubtedly the Boxing Day crowds (including the one-hour-plus lineups to get into the airport’s shopping mall) aren’t going to help things.
The numbers are expected to go up anyway, but this 70%-more-contagious curve-ball will likely affect the models. By how much…? Good question. We’ve talked about how it takes just one person… it was one person who flew in from the U.K. that brought it into B.C. It was one person who flew in from the U.K. and did not follow the quarantine protocol in Ontario and then gave it to a couple there. That’s all it takes, and now it spreads like wildfire.
Everyone is tired of hearing it… but, unfortunately, it’s true. Not following the simple rules has far-reaching consequences. This soon-to-be rapid spread… the one that that will unfortunately push Ontario and B.C. up the charts… is more than just coincidence.
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