Editor's note: We passed this letter on to Dr. Chirico at the Health Unit and asked for his explanation. We received no response.
Thank you to everyone who is hard at work to keep our communities safe and making difficult decisions in difficult times. We all live here and have a keen interest in our communities. That extends to Dr. Chirico and our elected officials as well.
On Friday Dr. Chirico provided evidence for the stay at home order via video message.
"The burden of concern of VOC cases are significantly greater in our health unit district, and increasing. The following data is illustrative." Dr. Chirico then references Toronto's cumulative VOC-to-total case ratio of 0.37% to North Bay Parry Sound(NBPS) at 9.3%. These values clearly show we're 25x worse regarding VOCs here than Toronto.
But wait, there's more: our 3-week ratio of VOC to total cases was quoted as 68%! ("significantly higher than the rest of the province" - Dr. Chirico) Very alarming figures without question, especially when compared to Toronto, a region with known COVID issues from the beginning of the pandemic.
What is going on here? Those values are astounding and we all need to wake up to what is going on.
This is what Dr. Chirico did not mention: this is solely the effect of all the cumulative non-VOC cases in Toronto vs. our very small non-VOC cases locally. We've done a great job keeping the non-VOC cases down, and all 129,000 of the residents of NBPS deserve credit for this. Rather than cumulative VOC-to-total cases, look at the cumulative concentration of VOCs/100,000 people:
- North Bay Parry Sound - 17.72 VOC/100,000 people
- Toronto - 16.22 VOC/100,000 people (5% less than NBPS)
- Peel - 17.31 VOC/100,000 people (2% less)
- York - 27.00 VOC/100,000 people (70% more)
- Simcoe Muskoka - 54.87 VOC/100,000 people (over 3x more)
We're not the provincial outlier we've been portrayed as.
Each of these regions also has fully qualified Medical Officers of Health. Toronto and Peel will remain under the stay-at-home measures, due to their higher overall COVID rates. York will move to the provincial framework (RED) effective today (Monday.) Simcoe-Muskoka was opened to the RED level last Tuesday.
Do you want to know more?
Remember? "The burden of concern of VOC cases are significantly greater in our health unit district, and increasing."
Let's look at recent data; Ontario.ca daily COVID-19 epidemiologic summaries. Find the most recent report (Feb.20th data released Feb.21st) In the week preceding Dr. Chirico's stay at home extension(Feb.12-18th), we had 1 VOC added to our tally. (1 per 129,000 people in our district) How does that compare to the regions mentioned above? (Feb.12-18th VOCs/100,000 people)
- North Bay Parry Sound - 0.77 VOC/100,000 people
- Toronto - 8.01 VOC/100,000 people (10x more than NBPS)
- Peel - 7.85 VOC/100,000 people (10x more)
- York - 12.24 VOC/100,000 people (16x more)
- Simcoe-Muskoka - 8.01 VOC/100,000 people (10x more)
This is alarming.
This is what we need to know Dr. Chirico. For the week leading up to the Feb. 19th stay-at-home decision to extend another two weeks, we've had very low VOC cases and concentration in our communities. We are the outlier, you're right Mr. Chirico, but please tell the residents of our health unit why we're the outlier. We're the outlier in a good way, not in a way that justifies the impact on small businesses and families in our region for another two weeks.
Dr. Chirico, if you have any other evidence that is supporting your decision that can be made public, please share so we can better understand. Increased understanding behind your reasoning will only help to drive compliance with pandemic measures when we need them most.
Regardless of which side of the stay-at-home decision we're on, no one wants this to spread and impact those who are most vulnerable in our communities. We should be provided with open, honest, and rapid communication of outbreaks. If there are hotspots, urgent outbreaks we should know quickly in order to get ahead of this. We have no weekend data being reported by the health unit though we were just told of many new cases Friday (which a large portion have now been reported as negative.)
We need integrity in leadership now more than ever if we're going to get through this. We need to be able to trust our leaders in times of crisis, I'd say we're in a crisis now.