April 26 to May 2, 2020
Canada has passed a milestone of 50,000 cumulative COVID-19 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began at the beginning of this year. Preventative measures during the month of April saw few changes from the previous month. Everyone is continuing to stay home as much as possible and practicing social distancing when they go out. Wearing cloth masks is the only new initiative. This step was taken as it became apparent that there is a significant number of asymptomatic people infected by the virus who display no symptoms but can transmit the virus to others.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the situation in the state of New York, which now has over 300,000 total cases and 18,000 deaths. This week, I have been looking at the situation in the state of California, where there are more similarities with Canada.
California has a similar population to Canada – 39.5 million as compared to 37.5 million. Both locations recorded their first COVID-19 cases in late January, and the total number of cases at the end of last week was around 45,000. The chart below shows the comparative similarities.
After the WHO declared a world pandemic on March 11, Canada and California appeared to be following parallel paths in the initiation of preventative measures. Within days of eachother they:
- created a portal for an on-line self survey to identify possible symptoms
- closed bars and restaurants
- announced shelter in place orders or told people to stay home
- implemented social distancing guidelines
- closed schools
- partnered with public and private labs to increase testing capacity
- recommended wearing masks
Meanwhile, at the federal level of government, on March 14, the US government imposed a ban on travel from all European countries, in addition to previous travel bans on visitors from China and Iran. On March 21, all non-essential international travel between Canada and the US and Mexico and the US was stopped. On March 25, Canada issued a Federal Emergency Order to impose a 14 day quarantine on most incoming travellers (other than those involved in essential services).
All of us are now looking for that “light at the end of the tunnel” as we enter into a new month. It is important to remember that we are all in this together, and we must continue to respond in a likewise manner. If the restrictions are loosened too soon in one jurisdiction, this may result in an increase in infections across a wider area. In California, for example, some counties opened up their beaches last weekend, while others did not. In Canada, some provinces are proceeding with steps to open busnesses and schools ahead of others, and reducing travel restrictions, which could adversely affect neighboring provinces through the increased movement of people.
Let’s all keep our act together, so that we can all move forward without any big backward steps. And lets keep looking more like California than New York.