#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 16 December Update

Main news continues to be with respect ongoing sharp spike in infections in most provinces and countries along with consequentdeath rate increases:

 

 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: California ahead of New York, Sweden ahead of Italy (the Swedish model keeps on looking worse by the week)
 
Deaths per million: USA ahead of Quebec, Prairies ahead of Canada less Quebec
 
 
 
And Sun Media’s Brian Lilley painting a slightly more positive picture of Ontario than warranted (Ontario’s relative position within Canada reflects the upsurge in Western Canada):

If you listened to much of the media and the opposition parties, you’d think that Ontario was handling the COVID-19 crisis worse than anywhere in the country — perhaps worse than much of the world.

Despite all the problems that Ontario has faced, and I have written extensively about those, compared to our neighbours and similar jurisdictions, the province continues to perform well in the face of a horrific virus. This thought was brought to mind as I watched the first vaccines being administered. In Ontario, it was a nurse at the University Health Network giving a shot to a personal support worker from a long-term care centre.

Premier Doug Ford was nowhere to be found.

In neighbouring New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo actually conducted a live video conference with the nurse getting the first shot, inserting himself into the story in a way that only Cuomo can. The New York governor continues to receive praise for his handling of COVID and recently received an Emmy for his press conferences during the pandemic.

The media and the American establishment love Cuomo and his handling of the pandemic; it’s a shame his record is so abysmal. More on that in a moment.

Listening to opposition leaders here, you would think Ontario was in far worse shape than neighbouring New York.

“Today’s exploding COVID cases should be a wake-up call for Mr. Ford,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tweeted.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said that Ford’s priorities this fall were not looking after the people.

“He was focused on helping his buddies and forgot about the rest of us,” Del Duca said Tuesday.

When it comes to critiquing Ford’s handling of the pandemic, I’ll take a back seat to no one. I’ve been critical of his handling of long-term care, the length and style of his lockdowns and the collateral damage they have wrought, but criticism needs to be based in some kind of reality.

Could Ontario have done better in dealing with long-term care in the first wave? Absolutely. The province though made decisions based on the information before them. After watching emergency rooms be overwhelmed in China, Italy, in New York City, the province put scarce resources into hospitals. COVID-19 hit differently here than elsewhere: the general population was ready, a small portion of our long-term care homes were not.

The majority of homes still have not had an outbreak.

Now, back to that comparison.

On Tuesday, Ontario, with a population of 14.7 million reported 2,275 cases. This was the highest ever, due in part to a change in how cases are counted, but let’s take the number at face value. There were also 921 people in hospital and 20 deaths. New York State, with a population of 19.4 million, reported 10,353 new cases, 5,982 people in hospital and 128 deaths on Tuesday.

Deaths from COVID-19 would be the stat that matters most and while Ontario has 27 deaths per 100,000 of population, New York State has 183 per 100,000.

Within Canada, Quebec is the only province the comes close to Ontario in terms of population, international travel, urban density and other factors. With a population of about 8.5 million, Quebec has recorded 89 deaths per 100,000 of population or 3.3 times the rate of Ontario.

Other neighbours with similar populations fare no better.

Ohio is at 84 per 100,000, Pennsylvania at 98, and Michigan at 113.

In fact, were Ontario an American state, we would be the 45th lowest state in terms of COVID deaths per 100,000 and were we an independent country, we would be below most of the industrialized world. Only Japan would be among the G7 nations that would be lower than Ontario.

The province can always do better, and it must.

That requires targeted and constructive criticisms rather than what the opposition is offering up.

Source: LILLEY: Ontario outperforms much of the world in dealing with COVID

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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