I feel compelled to point out a very concerning situation in Ontario that could inevitably spread across the nation. As many of you may be aware, Ontario Premier Doug Ford just announced that restrictions on gathering limits have been tightened.
Up until now, gathering limits were capped at 50 people inside and 100 outside. That has been reduced to 10 people inside and 25 people outside for at least the next 28 days.
This is very concerning because it would appear that no studies have been taken into account that prove explicitly that strict lock downs have not curbed the spread of the virus anywhere. More concerning, is how even a rudimentary interpretation of the statistics should lead any rational person in a different direction.
Take a look at the following visuals I just pulled from Ontario Public Health. The first one plots their total daily tests vs the positive test rate. This is very important, because it would appear THE ONLY piece of information being used to determine public policy in Ontario (let's be honest, everywhere it seems) is the number of cases. This is highly problematic for 2 reasons:
- Obviously an increase in testing will find more cases;
- If the cases aren't leading to deaths, then that needs to be a significant consideration as we shouldn't be looking to explicitly reduce cases, we should be aiming to reduce deaths. How do you do that? Keep the virus out of LTC facilities
As the visual shows, testing volume has literally doubled since the beginning of June, but the percentage of positive tests is actually way down (though up ever so slightly the last couple weeks). Why is this important? Because if testing was being done at the same level as June, there would actually be far less daily cases and the situation would be deemed to be in great shape and no tightening of restrictions would happen. Let me spell it out with an example using estimates:
June 1 - 20000 tests, 1.5% positive rate = 300 cases
Sept 18 - 40000 tests, 1% positive rate = 400 cases
Sept 18 (If using June testing levels) - 20000 tests, 1% positive rate = 200 cases
Ontario is seeing more daily new cases than they have seen in months, yet they are processing double the number of tests as they were 3.5 months ago and the positive test rate is far lower, as are daily deaths.
The 2nd visual shows the number of daily deaths in Ontario since March. Ontario has a population of over 14M people and hasn't had a day with more than 5 deaths in over 2 months and over 10 deaths in more than 3.5 months. Their death curve has been flattened for 3 months and shows no current signs of resurgence, yet restrictions are tightening.
It's worth noting, that the entire country of Canada (37.5M people) hasn't had more than 10 daily deaths in a month, and in that time frame has averaged just 5.42 daily deaths. For perspective, over 900 people die each day in Canada from all causes.
The moral of this story is quite simple, how is it possible that politicians entrusted with running our societies and the experts with whom they collaborate, are making life altering decisions that are not only not based on science, but the opposite of what science and studies have told us to date? How are they concluding that restrictions need to be enhanced when I just did a 10 minute rudimentary, high level analysis that would show you there is absolutely nothing in the current trajectory that is a cause for concern? More testing = more cases, it's not rocket science. People aren't dying because the virus is no longer circulating in care homes like it was in April and May across the country. The vulnerable population is quite clearly defined and it shouldn't be that difficult to put some basic measures in place to protect them as much as possible. In fact, I dare say we have done a pretty good job of that given for the 52 day period up to June 5 Canada averaged 131 daily COVID-19 deaths. In the 107 days since, that average has plummeted to under 15, and in the last 14 days that average is just 5.
Actually, the ONLY measure I can see that would point to a worsening of conditions is to look at daily new cases, blindly without any context. Either Ontario (at this point but I think we will see this in other areas as well) leadership is willfully ignorant and unable to analyze basic data to make decisions that impact millions of people, or there is something else at play here. I'll leave that for you to ponder. All I know is that the data and trends in both Ontario, and nationwide are crystal clear and entirely positive from where I sit.