BC COVID-19 Deaths Drop – Economy, Law & Politics

While BC’s data collection to track the COVID-19 pandemic is not widely considered to be completely accurate, there is good news today that the province’s weekly count of COVID-19 deaths has dropped by six to 16.

The county has not reported a lower weekly death count since it began in April with weekly updates rather than new data every weekday. The county used a different method of counting deaths before switching to weekly updates, so it’s not accurate to compare COVID-19 death data before and after early April.

Data for new COVID-19 deaths in BC now includes everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within 30 days and then died — a calculation that could include people who tested positive and then died in car accidents.

While the trend of fewer COVID-19 deaths is good news, county data remains inconsistent.

The government recorded 16 new COVID-19 deaths and increased its total COVID-19 death toll by 30.

County health official Bonnie Henry said in April that her new procedure for counting COVID-19 deaths would be to include all such deaths in the number of new deaths and in the total number of deaths.

She said the province’s Vital Statistics Agency would then determine that some deaths were not due to COVID-19 and remove those deaths from the total death toll. That process would mean the death toll would rise weekly by less than the number of new weekly deaths — the opposite of what’s happening.

Glacier Media tried to ask Henry about this inconsistency at a press conference yesterday, but she didn’t take the question.

Glacier Media has asked the Department of Health why the death toll is consistently rising more than the number of new deaths, but has not been given a satisfactory explanation. The ministry’s most recent response was that the data “may be incomplete,” but there have been no updates on previously announced weekly death tolls.

New data today also means that 367 people with COVID-19 are in hospitals in BC, 62 more than a week ago. A large number, if not most, are people hospitalized for other reasons who simply contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus in hospital, which causes COVID-19.

Of those with COVID-19 in hospitals, 30 are in intensive care units (ICUs), eight more than a week ago.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix yesterday expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen in November, December and January.

They expect that as many as 700 additional COVID-19 patients may require hospital care in the coming months. Their late fall forecasts include a rise in flu cases, including 1,200 people requiring hospital care.

To control the number of beds available in hospitals, the province will seek to have as many as 1,300 patients cared for in communities,

“Patients are now being identified for potential transfer to the community, reducing hospitalization, in case 500 to 800 beds are needed,” Dix said.

He has not ruled out returning to a strategy of canceling non-emergency scheduled surgeries if the flu and COVID-19 illnesses cause enough people to need hospital beds, although that would be a last resort.

“Of course we want to prevent that,” he says.

Other data released today included 635 newly discovered COVID-19 infections in the week to September 24, two fewer than a week earlier.

Given that there were reportedly 15,531 official tests, that equates to a positive test rate of 4.08 percent.

Data on new infections are widely rejected. Even Henry called the data for new cases “not accurate” earlier this year. This is because in December she started telling people who had been vaccinated and had mild symptoms not to get tested and just isolate themselves. She said at the time that this was to increase testing capacity for those with more severe symptoms and those who are more vulnerable.

The province no longer reports how many retirement homes have active outbreaks. •

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