At a time when the COVID numbers are hitting record highs the information flow from our government leaders is becoming muddled. Friday we saw what was clearly an open disagreement between Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Eileen de Villa and the Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr.David Williams over what to do about the alarming jump in new COVID cases in Toronto. She wanted a 28-day clampdown that would see no indoor dining at all and that people should only leave their homes for essential needs like groceries, trips to the pharmacy and the like while he was still advocating for continuation of the current policy albeit with fewer people allowed in restaurants. Both doctors cited best evidence to support their views. This is confusing to the public to say the least.
Were also seeing too much fooling around with data. When yesterdays staggering total of 732 new cases was released, Health Minister Christine Elliott said part of the numbers related to a “data review” where they were re-counting some cases and deaths from the early months of the pandemic. So the result was 76 deaths were added to the total. That was a number that jumped off the page; but for some reason the province didn’t tell us how many of the 732 new cases were also part of the data review. It turns out that 73 cases were as a result of the recount, so Friday’s real total of new cases for the province was 659. Still an awful number, but at a time when people are on edge we don’t need these kinds of reporting glitches.
Locally we don’t get daily COVID case counts on the weekend. You have to do to the provincial webpage to get the local numbers. If Hamilton Public Health can report to the Ministry, surely they can issue a news release to the local public as well. Also our hospitals don’t release data the same way. St Joe’s gives the actual number of hospitalizations, HHSC says “less than five.” All of these variations in release of information tend to confuse the public at a time when we need to be crystal clear.