An interesting discussion has developed on social media about the criteria that were used to determine which communities would move to Phase 2 of COVID opening up. Ryan Imgrund is a biostatistician with Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, as well as department head of science at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket. He says from a statistical standpoint, the number we should be looking at is the Effective reproduction rate or Rt. . It estimates how many infections will be attributed to each infected person. That is, if one person directly infects two others, the Rt is 2.0. To stay out of trouble, we need this value far under 1.0 for as long as possible. Earlier this week Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams said Rt was the most important metric to use when re-opening our economy.
Which brings us to Hamilton and Halton. According to Ryan Imgrund, “Not only is the Rt value of Hamilton and Halton under 1.0, but the number of cases per 100,000 is less than 10. In fact, Hamilton and Halton are both in better shape today than Waterloo is; a region that has been allowed to proceed to stage 2.” He added, “From a statistical perspective, there’s no reason Hamilton, Halton, and Sarnia-Lambton are not allowed to enter stage 2. I think the Provincial Government is overlooking sound metrics and just focusing on geography. But where does that end? By the very nature of how regional public health units are defined, one region is directly attached to at least one other.
For Hamilton and other GTAH communities that are still in Phase One, the next opportunity to move to the next step will be next Monday and each Monday afterward, when the Premier says the Health officials will make a determination of whether further communities can be added to the Phase 2 list.