Written By Megan Kuntz
What prompted Ontario’s most recent lockdown continuation, state of emergency declaration, and stay at home order? The Ontario government listed several compelling reasons during the official emergency measures announcement(a) on Tuesday, January the 12th at Queen’s Park:
- Cases are at an all time high
- Deaths are at an all time high
- Hospitals are overrun
- Predictive modeling shows catastrophic worst-case scenario outcome
- Community spread continues to escalate
- The UK coronavirus variant has been detected in Ontario
Undoubtedly, this report sounds very serious. But remember, context is crucial.
Let’s unpack each of the above reasons, exploring some important contextual points to add balance to the alarmism-heavy narrative.
REASON #1: Cases are at an all time high.
Did you know? Testing is also at an all time high. Let’s explore this point…
The average number of tests completed per day in Ontario from April 28th to May12th was 14,515.5 (1). The average number of tests completed per day in Ontario from December 28th to January 13th was 54,983.8. This is a 278.794% increase in testing. Higher numbers of completed tests will, logically, contribute to higher numbers of cases.
Did you know? The cycle threshold (Ct) for Ontario’s PCR tests is so high that case counts are largely meaningless. Let’s explore this point…
The cycle threshold for PCR tests is up to 40 cycles in Ontario (2). Epidemiologist, Dr Michael Mina, says that he would set the cut off at 30 cycles. He explains that the test’s threshold is so high that it detects people with live virus and those with dead virus fragments from past infection who no longer pose risk.”It’s like finding a hair in a room after a person left it.” (3)
REASON #2: Deaths are at an all time high.
Did you know? This statement was not true at the time of Premier Ford’s announcement. Let’s explore this point…
The average number of COVID-19 deaths per day from Apr 28th to May 12th (during the first wave) was 55.5 (4). The average number of COVID-19 deaths per day from Dec 30th to Jan 13th was 44.8.
According to the CDC, a regular flu season will peak from Dec-Feb. If coronavirus death counts do end up peaking during this second wave, it will not be unusual. But why would Premier Ford announce something as fact before it was true? (Fear Mongering: noun, “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.”)
Did you know? Ontario’s COVID-19 death counts were inflated by 50%. Let’s explore this point…
Public Health Ontario admitted in a May 17th epidemiological report(5), “Reported deaths were inflated to assess the impact of potential under-detection of COVID-19 deaths. An inflation factor of 50% was chosen since, on average, several European countries reported under-detections of 50% in an analysis conducted by the New York Times.” Can we trust numbers that have a history of intentional manipulation?
Did you know? Ontario’s COVID-19 death counts include people who didn’t die from COVID-19. Let’s explore this point…
Individuals who die with COVID-19, but not necessarily from COVID-19, are included in the Ontario COVID-19 death totals. For example, a suicide victim who tested positive for COVID just prior to their death would be counted as a COVID death. The Sun (6) reached out to health units in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto to confirm this point. According to the health units, this skewed reporting process is required by the province, and the number of these wrongly attributed COVID deaths is unknown.
Can we take COVID death totals seriously when not all “COVID deaths” were even caused by COVID?
Did you know? Ontario death counts always spike in January. Let’s explore this point…
Weekly all-cause death tallies in Ontario from 2010 to 2020 show a peak in January in the deaths per week average each year(7). Therefore, it will not be unusual if we do see a spike in deaths this January. It will be congruent with the pattern of the past 10 years.
REASON #3: Hospitals are overrun.
Did you know? This, unfortunately, is not uncommon in Ontario. Let’s explore his point…
In May of 2016 the Globe and Mail (8) did a report on documents obtained by the NDP party. The documents showed that Ontario hospitals are horribly overcrowded and are often forced to run above 100% capacity. Medical expert Dr Neil Rau** acknowledges the fact that Ontario hospitals have been overwhelmed in previous years due to harsh flu seasons and calls for a more balanced approach. “We didn’t close every restaurant and gym and control people’s lives like this. This is really an over-reaction.” (9) Is then our current overwhelmed system truly an acute COVID-19 crisis or a chronic healthcare-system-mismanagement crisis?
Did you know? Lockdowns exacerbate stress on an already strained healthcare system. Let’s explore this point…
An excerpt from an NCBI article (10) explains how the first wave of lockdowns affected the healthcare system: “Tragically, many health systems faced major adverse consequences, not by COVID-19 cases overload, but for very different reasons. Patients with heart attacks avoided hospitals for care, important treatments (e.g. for cancer) were unjustifiably delayed and mental health suffered. With damaged operations, many hospitals started losing personnel, reducing their capacity to face future crises (e.g. a second wave)”
According to The Star (11), as of November 2020, the federal government had spent $350 billion on pursuing lockdowns. Is it possible that these resources should have been poured into healthcare system support instead of general-population lockdowns?
Did you know? Doug Ford helped cause the very healthcare system crisis he is now trying to combat. Let’s explore this point…
According to the Ontario Health Coalition’s most recent reports (12) the Ontario government’s support of its healthcare system is below the provincial average in every way: hospital bed counts, funding, and RN to population ratio (13). The Ford government inherited an already-failing healthcare system. The Premier then responded by further slashing funding, beds, and staff, embarking on what the Ontario Health Coalition called in an August 2019 report “the most aggressive and radical health care restructuring that Ontario has ever seen.” (14) This begs the question: is the system overwhelmed because COVID is virulent or because Ford is negligent?
REASON #4: Predictive modeling shows catastrophic worst-case scenario outcomes
Did you know? Many experts agree that COVID 19 modeling is highly unreliable.
Let’s explore this point…
An article published in NCBI titled “Forecasting for COVID-19 has Failed” (15) explains why: “Epidemic forecasting has a dubious track-record, and its failures became more prominent with COVID-19. Poor data input, wrong modeling assumptions, high sensitivity of estimates, lack of incorporation of epidemiological features, poor past evidence on effects of available interventions, lack of transparency, errors, lack of determinacy, consideration of only one or a few dimensions of the problem at hand, lack of expertise in crucial disciplines, groupthink and bandwagon effects, and selective reporting are some of the causes of these failures.”
Another team of 22 researchers came to similar conclusions regarding failure of COVID-19 modeling in a paper published in Nature Journal, and they caution against the political misuse of these highly uncertain forecasts. “Rather than using models to inform their understanding, political rivals often brandish them to support predetermined agendas.” Could this be what is happening in Ontario?
REASON #5: Community spread continues to escalate
Did you know? Deaths attributed to community transmission remain extremely low across Canada. Let’s explore this point…
The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Jan 3 – Jan 9 weekly epidemiology report (16) counts the deaths attributed to various outbreak settings: community, corrections/shelter/congregate living, food/drink/retail, healthcare, industrial (including agriculture), LTC and retirement residences, personal care, school and childcare center, and “other”.
The deaths linked to community, food/drink/retail, personal care, school and childcare center, and “other” account for just 0.5% of the total outbreak setting deaths.Dr Ari Joffe of Stollery Children’s Hospital addresses the absurdity of sweeping, draconian lockdowns in an interview with The Sun (17). He says we should focus on protecting the most vulnerable, not locking everyone down, “regardless of their individual risk.” Why does Premier Ford insist on wielding a chainsaw in a procedure meant for a scalpel?
REASON #6: The UK coronavirus variant has been detected in Ontario
Did you know? Lockdowns are not supported by strong science and likely won’t solve this problem. Let’s explore this point…
On January 15th, 2021 MPP Roman Baber wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford questioning the repeated implementation of lockdowns rather than focused protection. He was removed from the PC caucus for it.
On January 18th, 2021, Ontario’s former Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Richard Schabas, wrote a letter(18) to Premier Ford in support of MPP Roman Baber’s stance. “Lockdown was never part of our planned pandemic response nor is it supported by strong science. Lockdown has been used by almost every developed country and, in the great majority of cases, the lack of response speaks for itself. Two recent studies on the effectiveness of lockdown show that it has, at most, a small Covid mortality benefit compared to more moderate measures. Both studies warn about the excessive cost of lockdown.” Is Dr Schabas just another “yahoo” or is it possible that effective risk mitigation can come in a less damaging package?
TAKEAWAY: The case for the most recent string of restrictions is only as strong as each reason given to justify it. According to Doug Ford, “the facts are clear.” According to a little research, maybe not as clear as he says.