So a few friends posted and sent around a report from CTV which claimed that 98.8% of all deaths in Canada from Covid 19 have been people who are in Long Term Care (LTC) facilities, and the total number of deaths outside of LTCs was placed at 166. I was asked to respond, and I said I would check around, speak to some people whose opinion I respected and who know more than I do about medicine and numbers and statistics before I spoke.
Before I begin, let me say that I am highly skeptical of reports in the news reports. I've said it before, but I have had the experience, repeatedly, of reading a newspaper, hearing them report on matters about which I know little or nothing, and I took them at face value. Then I flipped the page and ran into a story about which i do happen to know a little, and I found that they were dead wrong, and the 'facts' they cited were true, but in a fun house mirror sort of way: they were removed or twisted from the context that gave them meaning. So I dismissed that article as rubbish, and then turned the page to some matter where, again, I know little, and I took it at face value. After a while I asked myself this: if they were wrong every single time they wrote on a topic of which I had some knowledge, why on earth would I trust them to get it right when I had no knowledge? And with that, I no longer placed any faith in the news.
And I am not alone in this. More and more people are skeptical of news, but every now and then the news tells them something and they run with it. As happened here.
The reaction I am getting from my friends is that the claim of only 166 outside of LTCs is bogus. I had suspected as much. I have read many instances of people not in such institutions dying: a young child, a young man in his 20's, a couple of doctors working ICUs, and so on. For the number of deaths in that range to be a mere 166, that would have to mean that the news outlets covered nearly every single non LTC death. My friends sent me links to other sources of numbers, which place the number of non LTC deaths much higher.
(Note: the overwhelming majority of deaths are still in the LTCs, and that is an abomination that must be addressed.)
The argument is that, with so few deaths outside the LCTs as the CTV report claimed, the new restrictions are not warranted.
But, if I recall correctly, what has been said, consistently from the beginning, is that the restrictions put in place are not about the death rate per se, but about the rate at which people end up in the ICUs and the consequences of our health system being overwhelmed. As one of the people I heard from put it:
It's true that most fatalities are older. If you conflates (sic) LTC with 70+ you might capture close to 90% of fatalities to date. But that still leaves over a thousand younger dead.And if you look at cases requiring ICU hospitalization, there is a big fat middle with men 40-49 and 80+ being the shoulders of the distribution.When ICUs hit capacity, it won't just be old people dying. And the people who do survive are often leaving with long-term sequelae.
I have been told that some of Toronto's ICUs are at or near capacity.
Now, whether or not this merits shutting down everything, again, is another matter, and I will discuss my thoughts on that another time. I'll also get around to discussing our Cardinal deciding to dispense with the public celebration of Mass entirely rather than have Mass celebrate with smaller attendance (2-6, depending on the number of celebrants, lectors, singers, caretakers, sacristans, greeters, etc) later.