COVID-19 Diary – Day 304

Weekly New Infections Charts

Every Monday we take a look at our week to week totals and chart how BC’s fight against COVID-19 is progressing. Because of the reporting schedule used in BC, we use 7-day totals running from Tuesday to Monday. The above chart shows each week of the pandemic as a unique bar.

Despite the significant restrictions that have been in place here in BC for almost 7 weeks now, we are still seeing more new cases reported compared to the last few previous weeks. The good news is that there were only 145 more new cases reported in the previous week compared to the one before it. The current restrictions have now been extended to February 5th, an additional 4 weeks from when they were initially expected to end.

To better understand how the provincial numbers break down, we also look at the individual health authority regions.

In the last 7 days, the Fraser Health region has once again begun to show a decline in reported new cases. It is incredibly encouraging to see this reversal so quickly, but it is also too soon to know if this will become a trend or not.

The Vancouver Coastal Health region, however, has continued reporting more new cases compared to the previous few weeks. This could also be representative of people who previously held off going to get tested over the holidays, now finally going to get tested.

Cases from outside of Canada began being reported during the week of Jul 7-13, and the initial spike of 51 cases reflects the data catching up

The Vancouver Island, Interior, and Northern Health regions have all seen steep increases in reported cases over the last 2 weeks. The people of all 3 of these regions should remain extra cautious during this time, as the need to reduce new case numbers is higher than ever. Additionally, the difference in reported cases between Vancouver Coastal Health and Interior Health regions is becoming slim again, despite Vancouver Coastal Health having almost 70% more people within its region.

Some data points have had to been estimated by averaging values, specifically Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays without specific reporting figures.

Despite the recent significant increases in new cases across the province, there are now 5220 known active cases currently. This is an incredible improvement compared to 4 weeks ago when the number was over 10,000. This is also the lowest number of active cases we’ve seen in our province since November 10th last year. We will need to get our new cases numbers down quickly if we would like to see this number continue to drop, though.

Week-to-Week Growth Rate

This graph tracks the growth rate between 7-day totals and is a good indicator of the overall momentum of new case numbers.

Here we see some potentially positive news. The week-to-week growth rate of new cases appears to be in decline again. We are still seeing a positive growth rate, but there were only 3.9% more cases last week than the week before. This could indicate that the sudden increase in new cases after the holidays may just be a short blip. The next 2-3 weeks will show us if we are seeing the continuation of a downward trend like before Christmas or not.

Testing Rate & Positivity

We can see from the above charts (Courtesy of the BC COVID-19 Dashboard website) that between Christmas and New Years’ the number of COVID-19 tests performed dropped dramatically, from a high of 15,200 on December 15th to a low of just 3,797 on December 26th. Thankfully in the last 6 or 7 days, we have begun to see a return to numbers closer to what we were seeing before Christmas.

The second chart shown above tells us what the test-positive rate was during that same time frame. We can see that during the times with the fewest tests, the test-positivity was also the highest. As the number of tests increases, the test-positivity begins to decline. This could imply that the people with the highest chances of having COVID-19 were still getting tested over the holidays, but we can not make such statements with any confidence with so little information to go on.

If we break the test-positive chart into the 5 BC health regions we can see that the trends are different depending on where you look. Both Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions are showing steady declines in test-positivity, whereas the Vancouver Island and Northern Health regions are remaining much more steady. The Interior Health region is somewhat in the middle between the two groups, as they are seeing a slow decline in test-positivity, but their overall numbers are second only to the Northern Health region.

It is worth pointing out that Fraser Health is the only health region to report fewer new cases in the last 7 days, despite approximately half of the recent COVID-19 tests being from their region. This information combined with the steep decline in their test-positivity rate is very encouraging!

Hospitalizations & Deaths

Our ICU numbers still seem to be slowly trending lower, but unfortunately, it looks like our overall hospitalization numbers are continuing to grow week to week (although slowly).

In the last 7-days, another 64 people in BC have died from COVID-19. This is the 3rd significant drop in week-total deaths in a row, and the lowest total we’ve seen since November. Despite the encouraging trend, 64 deaths in one week is still a very high amount, and our hearts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones during this time.

While there is no way to be certain of this, we may now also be seeing some results from the early vaccinations performed late last year.

Vaccination Roll-Out

Numbers over holidays and weekends have been estimated based on averages between known reported totals.
Individual days may be +/- but the totals per week are accurate.

Since the beginning of our vaccination program on December 15th, there have been a combined 59,902 COVID-19 vaccinations in our province. The focus is currently on health care workers and those deemed to be at the highest risk, primarily in care homes.

Recent articles (that we will not name or share) have lately been representing our vaccination roll-out in ways we consider to be misleading and harmful. One way this is being done is by taking the total number of vaccinations over the total number of days in the program, and implying that the vaccination rate is consistent and slow. If you look at ~60k vaccinations over 28 days, you find an average vaccination rate of ~2140 per day. But this completely ignores the fact that every week more and more people are vaccinated at an increasing rate.

The above chart shows the average number of vaccinations for each 7-day period since the beginning of the vaccination program. As you can see in the last 7 days the province vaccinated almost 9x as many people as in the first week. Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported that as of today we have used up all our stores of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine we have on hand until our next shipment later this week.

That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!

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