COVID stats, measures and idiots

I wrote the front page story for Saturday’s edition of the Toronto Sun explaining how we need to put the COVID-19 numbers for the province in context and not panic. Too many people, including too many in the media, simply look at case numbers and not any of the other data that is readily available and released by the government on a daily basis.

Many were worried about the number of new cases hitting 401 on Friday.

On June 7, the last time our case count was this high, the province processed 19,374 tests. And on Aug. 26, the last day we were below 100 cases, the number of tests was21,960. The number of tests being processed now is 63% higher than that day in August and 85% higher than that day in June.

This doesn’t mean case counts are not rising, but even as they rise, other metrics such as the number of people in hospital remain stable. There were 58 people in hospital on Friday, with 20 of those patients in intensive care and 10 of those on a ventilator.

That view stands, we have to look not to new cases, which are mostly people under the age of 40 now but look instead to hospitalizations, how many people are on ICU or a ventilator.

Suddenly, things changed

On Saturday morning, Premier Doug Ford held a news conference where he announced the province was reducing the number of people who could be at a party or other private social gathering to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. Ford made this go across the entire province, a bad move in my view and one that makes be worried about future moves he may make to bring us back into a lockdown situation.

Thankfully, Ford told me during his Saturday news conference that he wasn’t looking at a lockdown.

I asked Ford what he would do if they called for a return to lockdown but the numbers and the science didn’t support it.

“I always rely on the Chief Medical Officer, not the mayors, and I say that respectfully to the mayors, they aren’t experts, I’m not an expert,” Ford said.

Ford said the businesses he’s been in, including restaurants, are being vigilant and following the rules, so he’s not worried about them. I’m glad to hear that and I was happy to hear Ford say these restrictions apply to any informal gatherings – including political protests.

“Everyone has to follow the same rules,” Ford said.

As I said in my column, I’m not a fan of rolling back these measures, especially not province wide. It makes no sense, especially when you look at all the places that have no spike in cases, some that haven’t had cases in some time.

Those idiots in Hamilton aren’t helping

And then the idiots showed up in Hamilton for a party and car show.

Hundreds of them.

They came from Toronto, York, Peel and Hamilton itself, meeting up at the Cineplex out in Ancaster. They were there to flaunt the rules which many of them knew about but said they don’t care about.

Officers who broke up a massive gathering in a Hamilton parking lot hours after the provincial government tried to clamp down on such events won’t hesitate to lay charges in the case, police warned Sunday as they announced an investigation was underway.

Hamilton Police Supt. Will Mason said the hundreds of people that congregated in the Ancaster area on Saturday were blatantly disregarding new provincial rules meant to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Now, I think these people are idiots. Yes, they may be young, yes they may not get that ill from COVID-19 but they will spread the virus. They will see their parents and grandparents, their co-workers and inevitably they will spread the virus to others who are more at risk or live and work with those at risk.

And the actions of these COVIDIOTS, like those who have had big parties in parks, had mass protests for any political reason, will give politicians more reasons and greater licence to impose further restrictions.

Acting for “liberty” may backfire

Regardless of what you think of this virus, and I believe it is a real threat if not dealt with seriously, these actions do no lead to greater liberty. The government has the power to impose restrictions and courts will not stop them.

The actions of these people meeting up in Ancaster will only help in the calls, the push, for a return to a full lockdown.

Ford may say he doesn’t want to go there but poll after poll shows the population of this country, and Ontario in particular, are very comfortable with this idea. If we see a further uptick in cases, if we see a spike in hospitalizations then I have no doubt that we will be back to the position we were in back March, April and May with governments locking us down.

It won’t matter what you think of it, it will happen.

So smarten up, stop being stupid.

Follow basic public health measures for yourself, for your friends and family and for the liberty of the the rest of us.