I’ve been stewing for a bit about Covid contact tracing and the release of helpful facts about the spread. This plague has had us shut down since mid-March of this year, so by this time, I would think it would be possible to have a little more information about where this virus is lurking and how to avoid it properly.
We know to wear masks, wash our hands and sanitize them ’til they are raw, and to stay at least 6 feet apart. In Ontario – where we live for example, we were feeling kinda proud that this thing was getting more and more under control. After peaking in late April with about 640 new daily cases in the province, and then dropping steadily down to a low of about 70 new daily cases just back on August 8th or so, we were feeling pretty good, staying below the 200 mark until Sept. 10th. And then suddenly we were over 400 by Sept 18, and then in the 500-700 daily range this past week.
So I don’t feel like we are all that smart afterall………
Specifically, our largest Covid numbers are in the populated areas of Toronto (2178 active cases) Peel (992 active), York (429 active) and Ottawa (861 active), with minimal cases in the MANY other counties or regions of Ontario. Toronto, Peel and York are considered part of the Greater Toronto Area, and Ottawa is our Nation’s capital. So of 5380 active cases in Ontario reported – roughly 83% are in those 4 regions.
Now we are hearing that we are in a second wave and the second wave looks bigger than the first? Then we hear that the Toronto Public Health will suspend contact tracing because it’s overloaded currently? Does that seem like a good idea?
From the beginning, most of us have been following instructions. Staying home, wearing masks, distancing. It has been lovely since July being able to buy groceries and things again, but we are still limiting our ventures into the public. Now we are hearing that we are taking a step back in our isolation and that’s that.
I know that there is an apps and maps which can tell us locations where Covid is high – my region is thankfully low. What I would really like to know is, where I should be worried about catching it? I would like real information about why these cases are increasing now please.
Young people these days………
In the news, we have been getting alot of fingerwagging about young people congregating in large groups and going to bars and parties. Then there is the implication that young people are increasingly getting the virus, so that must be it. I know I’m an old person, and it would be easy to say “those darn young whippersnappers these days, with their highfalutin parties are causing this darn plague”. The media gives us facts like 67% of new cases are in people under 40.
What I do know from observing my young people is that they may be bored, but they are staying home. EXCEPT that my 4 young people in the 20-29 age group are not attending parties, and they are attending University online (and they are OK with that), BUT they all have jobs, and are more likely to be those essential workers that we say thank you to (grocery store workers and so on) while paying them minimum wage (a whole other rant), – so no wonder they are exposed more often to this virus.
So this is my complaint. Where specifically are we spreading the virus? At work, at school, at bars and restaurants? Sometimes we hear a story in the news about a bar or restaurant with a Covid case or outbreak. These are fun stories for the media, but how about a list of exactly where these cases are? None of us really feel sorry for the Strip Club patrons or the late night bars, but really – why not tell us the whole story? In the same way that flights and seniors homes with cases are published, we should see a consolidated list of businesses, schools, Universities, gyms with cases.
I can see the fluffy public health statistics for Toronto, for Ontario and for my own region – but where are the cases really coming from? How can we stop the spread?
I thought I would put together my own numbers, because I love numbers – forgive me if everything isn’t exactly right and doesn’t add up exactly. I am just cutting and pasting and googling around the internet and making assumptions and then adding in my shoesize for good measure (well not really, but like that).
So looking at the 5380 active cases in Ontario……
- There have been 411 school related cases in the last 2 weeks – 483 including cases reported more than 2 weeks ago. What if – of the 483 cases – they have spread to 2 other members of their families – that would be 1449 cases.
- There were 83 Covid cases reported in licensed child care centres in a 2 week period and 156 in total, including before that time frame.
- What about colleges and Universities? The London Middlesex Health Unit did an excellent and USEFUL graphic of the spread of Covid among Western University students, showing how 28 students were infected while travelling from house to gym to bar to bar. If university is all on-line, why is this happening? There are roughly 45 colleges and universities in Ontario. It would be nice to know whether students moving to residence and off-campus housing are the cause of the spread, but we don’t know that because it’s not published. I was able to glean a little bit of information from googling the different universities that I am familiar with, so this is just a quick sampling: – McMaster University – reported 4 cases – 3 students + 1 staff that visited campus; – Guelph University has very helpfully posted a page with covid cases for anyone who has visited campus – Thanks Guelph! – 3 cases; – York University is also helpfully posting cases – 2 cases; – Laurier University from the news – 5 cases
- It’s great that some Universities are publishing cases – but these tend to be only people that have attended campus buildings, so not the full story is it?
- Queen’s University in Kingston is clearly not having an outbreak, even though 14 of its cases are linked to the University, with 7 of those cases individuals living in residences.
- Just adding up Western (28), Queen’s (14) and the other 13 cases that I found, without checking all 45 institutions – that’s 55.
“Ontario is taking a hands-off approach to dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19 at the province’s colleges and universities, with the minister responsible for post-secondary education saying Monday that institutions should continue to encourage peer-to-peer monitoring and warn against large gatherings of students at off-campus events.” I read that the Minister of Training, Colleges of Universities is considering releasing information about outbreaks at Universities – but that was a while ago – and now we have a spread? Hello??
- Travel? We can view the number of cases in a 14 day window on domestic flights and international flights. Looking at the 28 domestic flights with a reported Covid cases (On the date that I checked it – it changes daily!) – I can see that 9 flew into Ontario cities and 14 departed Ontario. Of the 26 International flights reporting Covid cases, I can see that 13 arrived in Toronto, and 4 departed Toronto. So we can attribute 9+13 arrivals in Ontario – 22 from flights. If we consider that people don’t always travel by themselves these days – because the report doesn’t give the number of cases per plane – just the number of flights – I think that we could multiply by 2 – and come up with 44 cases in the last 2 weeks from flights. That’s just from people who get tested – individuals only have to isolate for 2 weeks currently – they don’t have to test do they? So extrapolating further, since these 44 people may have sat next to another person on their flights (the airlines are now trying to fill those middle seats), and that person may infect one other person – could we say 88 people with Covid due to travel in Ontario in 2 weeks?
I’m just speculating with those numbers, but WHOA – the Toronto Public Health department posted that: Between Aug 2 and Sept 13, 13.4% of cases in Toronto were linked to travel. That’s an interesting an informative number – could we take that and apply it to the 5380 active Ontario cases? Who knows – but that’s exactly my point.
- Weddings, Religious and Social Events? A few weeks ago we heard about a few weddings that had led to Covid outbreaks. This was useful information. WE heard that people that attended wedding celebrations in 4 locations on Aug 28-29 resulted in 11 cases. 15 people who attended religious services on Aug 16 tested positive. On Sept 30, we heard that a wedding held in Oshawa on Sept 19th with 50 guests resulted in 8 positive cases (so far).
- Retail, Gyms and Restaurants? Occasionally we hear in the news about restaurant and gym outbreaks. Helpful, but coming from the businesses and social media and news – not public health. Thank goodness then that some large chains have now begun posting Covid incidences on their websites. I had no idea that Loblaw now has statistics posted. It reported 25 individual cases at Shoppers Drug Marts and assorted grocery stores as well as multiple cases at a No Frills on Yonge St. Toronto. Competing chain Metro also reported 11 individual cases while Sobeys reported 8 in September and October. I found it interesting that these were mostly individual cases in separate stores. I’m not sure what this means……
- Goodlife Fitness reported on Sept 3 five gyms (7 cases) in Toronto and the surrounding area have tested positive for coronavirus over the past month. 3 cases were reported at an F45 gym in Waterloo. These are just sporadic news reports though.
So if there isn’t going to be contact tracing, why don’t we just publish a list of places of work, restaurants, gyms, stores, post secondary schools, etc. – like we do for schools, long term care institutions and travel methods. What’s the secrecy for? I know that we don’t want businesses to be singled out as Covid sources, but if all restaurants and gyms end up being closed down anyway – won’t the effect on business be worse if we head back to complete lockdown?
Now just as I am wondering if travel and back to school are causing the Covid surge our government announces that international students can now fly in to Canada as well as even more relatives from overseas? At the same time we are hearing that we should only go out for essential needs? Really? Where is the science and math in this?
My made up math is this – I know it’s not accurate at all – but somebody has to tell us what is really happening in Ontario. The time periods are varying, the people may overlap, my extrapolation is entirely guesstimated but here goes:
Ontario Active Cases: 5380
Cases linked to schools 483
Cases linked to daycare 156
Cases linked to Universities (that I found in the news – by no means complete!) 55
Cases published by grocery store chains 44
News reports of gyms 10
Weddings and religious gatherings 34
Domestic and international flights 22 flights x 2 passengers estimate each = 44
So if I add all that up – I get 826 cases. Then if we assume that each one infects 2 family members, we get 2478. Each one of these people infects 1.17 community contact and we have almost 5380 people……… Now I made all of the extrapolation up on my own – but if we had more factual reporting and contact tracing, I think we could make better decisions, instead of just looking at the activities that we disapprove of.
So while the implication is that we are all partying and entertaining large groups and we feel guilty when we see our Public Health Beurocrats wagging their fingers at us – please remember that our fingers are scarred by too much hand sanitizer, and we may be a little stir crazy, and my big social event recently was trying to get a covid test (first attempt 3.5 hour wait), second day turned away – no room.
We are mostly all doing our part, well except for that crazy guy at the supermarket that won’t wear a mask, or the 19 year olds that moved off to University, because they have common sense – Everyone knows that the reason first year University students want to live in residence is because the Wifi isn’t good enough at home. It’s nothing to do with being away from mom and dad and attending parties.
What I am asking is for more specific information. Is our second wave of this pandemic, which has mysteriously appeared at the same time as our kids are back to school, and colleges and universities are re-opening and travel is increasing – is it caused by this? Please tell us the truth and the whole truth.
We are all doing our best and we are not sheep – so please bureaucrats use some common sense and give us the facts. Just the Covid facts ma’am.