Editorial: Good news for dreadful times

Last Thursday’s release of COVID-19 case numbers for the Sunshine Coast brought some very good news – only three confirmed cases were reported for the month of October.

It came as a surprise. Two days earlier, the Sunshine Coast COVID Physicians Task Force’s community update had suggested the Coast was in step with other communities in the larger health area that were seeing significant rises in case numbers.

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They had written: “We don’t have local COVID-19 data available for October yet (it should be out within the next week), but we have no reason to believe that our local trends are any different from other communities in the North Shore Coast Garibaldi area, and we suspect that we will see an exponential increase in cases here on the Coast as well.”

Puzzled, we contacted Dr. Daren Spithoff, our main contact on the task force, and asked for an explanation. “Now that we know that we had only three local cases reported in October, and that the task force doctors must have been aware of that, your statement from the latest update seems confusing,” we wrote. “Did something change in the first nine days of November, or were you simply generalizing about possible future cases?”

Dr. Spithoff wrote back: “I agree our tone doesn’t match the promising local numbers on the October [Local Health Area] map, but with numbers rising exponentially across the province over the past two weeks, this is a dynamic situation that may very well change significantly over the next few weeks.

“At this point we are generalizing based on the larger trends we are seeing.”

Those trends, of course, are unsettling. On Tuesday, the province reported a record 717 new cases and 11 deaths during the previous 24 hours. A record 198 people were hospitalized for coronavirus disease, with 63 in intensive care. A record 6,589 people were actively fighting infections and almost 11,000 people were being monitored as a result of exposure to known cases.

At press time, there is speculation that a new set of health orders will be announced Thursday. Premier John Horgan suggested there could be an all-out prohibition on non-essential travel. Things are bad out there and it’s understandable that the task force doctors expect to see an exponential increase on the Coast as the situation provincewide deteriorates. Prepare for it.

Our low numbers, meanwhile, demonstrate that Sunshine Coasters are taking the pandemic seriously. We have done well, and it’s important to say that as we ride this thing through.

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