After reading today's leaked summary on Nova Scotia's phased re-opening plan, I found myself becoming more frustrated, and quite frankly, appalled as I read through each step. It all culminated when I read the final phase, and how it could take years to accomplish since it is based on a vaccine being available. I'm truly dumbfounded. As someone who is passionate about facts and data, it defies all logic that neither have been used when crafting this bastardization Dr. Strang and Premier McNeil call a plan. Every single resident and business in Nova Scotia is heavily impacted by this overall situation, and it's quite clear the ONLY focus is on reducing the number of COVID-19 cases, with little care for the social and economic consequences. Does the reality support this? We require a nuanced, multi-faceted approach that reduces risk to a reasonable level (not eliminate it because that's not reasonable) whilst ensuring we can get back to normal (not a new normal!) as soon as absolutely possible.
Here is a summary of the phased plan announced today - Source CBC Article
Phase 1 - About 3 weeks from now
- Non-essential businesses to open.
- Daycare and schools to operate.
- Additional outdoor activities to resume.
- Non-urgent health-care services to resume.
- Small essential cultural gatherings (e.g. funerals).
- Permissible gatherings to increase from five to 10 people.
Phase 2 - 28 days later
- Allow larger gatherings.
- Allow more businesses defined as "low risk" to operate.
Phase 3 - 28 days later
- Increase gathering size again.
- Allow 'moderate risk' businesses/workplaces to operate.
Phase 4 - 28 days later
Includes the "highest risk settings and another increase in gathering sizes."
Phase 5 - No timeline
Dependent on the creation and distribution of a vaccine. That's when the province estimates "all business [will] reopen." Some experts say it could take 12-18 months before a vaccine is ready for the general public, while others have projected longer timelines until everyone has access to a vaccine.
So let's talk some facts to put the situation in perspective, and then put that into context with the phased plan just outlined.
- As of today, 1007 Nova Scotians have been officially impacted by COVID-19 (infected). This is 0.1% of the population. That means 99.9% of people have not been officially impacted (we all know it's much higher than that but Governments deal in official data only so let's roll with it).
- 44 people have died. Yes, every death is tragic (as is every death by traffic accident, cancer etc... But let's get beyond emotions). No matter what way you slice it, 44 deaths is not a crisis, and simply not a large number.
- 8800/1M population die annually in Canada from all causes. In short, that's approximately 24 people that die everyday in NS from all causes. It's been exactly one month since the first death in NS, and in that month, if we assume all 44 COVID-19 deaths are genuinely over and above what would have occurred anyway, it amounts to less that 2 extra days of deaths.
- 100% of deaths were elderly people generally with underlying health conditions. This isn't meant to devalue the life of the elderly, but this fact is very important for context. Remember, a nuanced approach is important.
- 95% (all but 2) of deaths occured in LTC facilities.
- The survival rate within Northwood resident cases as of today is over 83%. As unfortunate as the situation at Northwood is, the fact is that this is an environment where the absolute most vulnerable people exist. 100% of residents are elderly and 100% are in poor enough health that they can no longer support themselves independently. Even in this worst case scenario, to date 83% of those that caught the virus are still alive.
- 100% of staff have survived, as they are generally not elderly.
- 99.7% of all cases outside LTC, survived to date. This includes people of all ages with varying states of health
- 100% of people under 80 have survived outside LTC. The 2 deaths that occured outside LTC were in their 80s and 90s.
Beyond these absolute facts, we don't know what underlying conditions the elderly who have died had. How many of them truly died FROM COVID-19 as opposed to simply dying WITH COVID-19. That question will never be answered, but given what is known about COVID-19 death reporting, I would wager a bet that more than 0 deaths would have occurred anyway (at the same time) whether they had a COVID-19 diagnosis or not. Anyway, enough speculation.
When you read through the list of basic facts I presented here, does it seem at all logical or reasonable to you to that we must remain in some state of fear, emergency and lack of normalcy for an indeterminate period (years) until the magical vaccine is produced?
Does it make sense that we will still have to wait months before many businesses can open or we can get together with various friends and family?
Does it make sense that life can't return to normal until everyone gets a vaccine for a virus that hasn't infected 99.9% of the population and that 100% of everyone under 80 outside LTC survived?
Based on what we know clearly, does it make sense that we are going to force many more local businesses to close and many other people will be unable to find work and provide for their families?
If you presented this data to Governments and experts prior to the pandemic occuring, do you think any of them would recommend the current course of action to deal with the situation? My guess is they would all resoundingly laugh at the idea that the entire world would need to shut down then be vaccinated to manage the situation. Yet essentially every Government and expert we hear about is taking the exact opposite approach aka the approaches actually being taken. When things go against all logic, you have to wonder how it can be? It feels like they need to stay the course based in their previous actions and decisions. It also feels a little like a fashionable, progressive approach and you can even see that line between Governments that are more Liberal vs more Conservative.
Beyond all this, is the topic of the vaccine itself. That probably deserves its own post which I may tackle at some point but consider this - Pharmaceutical companies have SIGNIFICANT lobbying power over Governments all over the world and have SIGNIFICANT power over the health of all human beings, these are just basic facts. They stand to profit hundreds of Billions if not Trillions of dollars from billions of people getting a COVID-19 vaccine. You always have to be very cautious when there is that kind of money involved. Corruption can be rife and motivations run a foul. Just consider this, why are we told at every turn that we all must get this vaccine when it's available, yet all the data shows the risk to those under 60 (80 even) is very low. The guidelines for the flu vaccine as per Health Canada is as follows:
adults and children with chronic heart and lung disease
persons residing in nursing homes or retirement facilities
persons over the age of 65 years
persons with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, immune system dysfunction
persons with HIV
children and adolescents on long term ASA (acetylsalicylic acid)
healthcare workers and household contacts of any of the above
These all seem quite sensible for COVID-19 as well, perhaps some minor variations. Anyway, I digress. Ultimately, I am highly concerned which then causes great suspicion when the science, facts and data seem to clearly paint one picture but then the actions of those who yield so much control over our way of life contradicts this logic at evey turn. I would love to see these questions posed to Dr Strang, Premier McNeil and others all over Canada and beyond and have them justify their course of action reconciled with the actual data.
The curve is flat, the time for staying the blazes home is over. We need not fear, hide away, snitch on one another and stay away from our fellow human beings. Rather than people like me having to prove these things with data, should it not be the other way around? To control every aspect of our lives should require absolute clear empirical evidence that any other course of action would have disastrous consequences to a measurable portion of the population. Yet the evidence is clear as day, readily available and simply does not justify the actions being taken all over the world. Please ask yourself why these counterintuitive approaches are pervasive everywhere. Ask questions and demand answers based on hard evidence, not vague political doublespeak about who can be more virtuous.
Our way of life is literally at stake.