1) Three weeks into November, Quebec has so far declared 534 #COVID19 deaths for the month, greater than the total number of such fatalities in September and October combined. In this thread, I will comment on the risks in trying to spin #pandemic numbers in a positive light.
2) Looking on the positive side, one could focus on active #COVID19 cases in Quebec, which have dropped from 12,053 Tuesday to 11,348 Saturday. But those numbers are somewhat suspect, as the province has been struggling to clear a daily backlog of 4,000 #COVID19 tests.
3) Given that some Montreal workers who are told to get tested are not doing so and that the government is not screening asymptomatic individuals, authorities still don’t have the clearest possible picture of the #COVID19 contagion in Quebec despite increased testing.
4) Although case numbers are relevant, the more reliable indicators on the severity of the #pandemic are hospitalizations and deaths. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, the number of #COVID19 hospitalizations jumped from 499 to 646. ICU stays rose from 81 to 99.
5) Another indicator to follow closely are #COVID19 outbreaks. Quebec started making public provincial figures on Nov. 5, so a full month is not yet available for scrutiny. The best alternative is to review the undeniable surge in workplace outbreaks in Montreal.
6) The number of #COVID19 workplace clusters in the metropolis stood at 58 (infecting 196 employees) on Oct. 27. By Thursday, that number jumped to 104 (infecting 363 workers). More than one-third of those outbreaks (32) are occurring in the retail sector.
7) Another important indicator is data from schools. On Oct. 30, the Education Ministry reported that it shuttered 956 classrooms amid 2,472 active #COVID19 cases among students and staff. By Friday, those numbers climbed to 1,242 classrooms and 3,569 cases.
8) One might be tempted to focus on how the #pandemic is far worse in some European countries and the U.S. It's tempting to note Ontario’s 146 ICU patients. One might want to highlight Quebec’s 112,734 #COVID19 recoveries. But doing so risks lulling us into a false complacency.
9) Meanwhile, Montreal is on track to cross the cumulative threshold of 50,000 #COVID19 cases by the end of next week. On Saturday, the city posted 256 cases. Toronto has been recording nearly double that number in recent days, one reason why it’s now in a near-total lockdown.
10) Finally, Montreal added another three #COVID19 fatalities to a death toll that’s reached 3,591. For the sake of comparison, the city of Boston (one-third Montreal’s population) has counted 892 deaths in the #pandemic. End of thread. Stay safe, everyone.
Addendum: in Tweet 6, I should have written that nearly one-third of workplace outbreaks in Montreal are in the retail sector, not more than one-third. My apologies.

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More from @Aaron_Derfel

21 Nov
1) Quebec declared six more #COVID19 outbreaks in the workplace Friday and five more in schools as the #pandemic continued to spread into more settings across the province. In this thread, I will evaluate the latest provincial and federal projections.
2) The government reported a total of 1,259 #COVID19 clusters Friday. Among the new outbreaks is one at the detention centre in New Carlisle infecting 44 out of 55 inmates, as well as five guards. And at a Quebec City convent, the #coronavirus has infected 39 nuns and 43 workers.
3) Although most outbreaks have erupted in eldercare centres, the workplace, schools and daycares, the flare-ups at the Quebec City convent and the prison in the outlying Gaspésie region suggest that the second wave has yet to crest. Federal projections reinforce this view.
Read 10 tweets
20 Nov
1) Workplace #COVID19 outbreaks have doubled in Montreal in the past week and are occurring in nearly every industry. The hardest-hit is retail, according to the latest report by the city’s public health department Thursday. In this thread, I will try to explain who's at risk.
2) School outbreaks have justifiably received much attention. But #COVID19 clusters are also a growing problem in the metropolis. On Nov. 10, authorities reported a total of 49 active outbreaks affecting 168 workers. On Thursday, those numbers jumped to 104 and 363, respectively. Image
3) Since the government closed bars, restaurants and gyms on Oct. 1 in Montreal, the sector that is now reporting the lion’s share of outbreaks is shops, including boutiques, big-box stores, grocers and pharmacies. The number doubled to 32 Thursday from 16 on Nov. 10.
Read 10 tweets
19 Nov
1) New York City announced it will close its schools again Thursday after its #COVID positivity rate rose to 3%. By comparison, Montreal’s schools are staying open even though the public health department disclosed Wednesday the city’s positivity rate climbed to 6.02% from 5.26%.
2) Boston shut its schools on Oct. 21 after that city’s #COVID19 positivity rate jumped to 5.7% from 4.5%. Four Boston public schools reopened on Monday. In this thread, I will once again draw attention to the need for more measures to protect students and teachers in Quebec.
3) Toronto’s #COVID19 positivity rate has inched up higher than Montreal’s, to 6.2% from 5.9% a week ago. Like Montreal, Toronto will not close its schools. But unlike Montreal, Toronto has implemented more public safety measures during the #pandemic’s second wave for schools.
Read 10 tweets
17 Nov
1) Quebec on Tuesday posted its biggest one-day surge of #COVID19 hospitalizations during the #pandemic's second wave, as well as a record daily hike in cases in schools. Yet the Premier described the situation as "stable." In this thread, I will explain why it's far from stable.
2) “The situation in staying under control in the hospitals,” François Legault said, noting incorrectly that the number of hospitalizations is below 600. That was the case on Monday, but on Tuesday the government counted a total of 638 hospitalizations, up by 47 since Monday.
3) That compares with 529 #COVID19 hospitalizations in Ontario, up by 29; and 240 in Manitoba, up by six. What’s also noteworthy is the number of Quebec patients receiving intensive care rose by 13 to 100, matching the previous high in the second wave on Oct. 19.
Read 10 tweets
17 Nov
1) Quebec Premier François Legault on Monday appeared to take comfort in the fact that #COVID19 hospitalizations in the province are not soaring as they have in the U.S. and Europe. In this thread, I will try to explain why the premier’s sanguine view is far from justified.
2) “The good news is about hospitalizations — we’re still under 600,” Legault said, even as Quebec set a record of 591 (up by four) during the second wave. Legault added the figure is “a lot less when we compare ourselves with other states like the United States and Europe.”
3) Legault’s reassuring message is at odds with the assessment by Canada’s chief public health officer. Dr. Theresa Tam warned Saturday that although Quebec has reported lower increases in hospitalizations than some provinces, it continues to treat a very high number of patients. Image
Read 10 tweets
15 Nov
1) Outbreaks were increasing in all sectors across Quebec on Sunday, including in health-care institutions, daycares, schools and the workplace, suggesting the second wave is entering a potentially dangerous new phase. In this thread, I will assess what this could mean.
2) Quebec added four #COVID19 hospitalizations Sunday to a cumulative total of 587, the highest so far in the second wave. Intensive-care unit stays were up by seven to 89. The latter is not a record, as Quebec reported 101 ICU stays on Oct. 22, but the trend is still worrisome.
3) #COVID19 clusters rose by six to 211 Sunday in health-care institutions that include long-term care. Outbreaks inched up by two to 82 in daycares. The workplace declared a total of 753 active outbreaks, up by nine since Saturday. Outbreaks rose by four to 449 in schools.
Read 9 tweets

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