Which Toronto neighbourhoods have the most cases of Covid-19? The latest numbers are out
The Covid-19 epicentre in Canada has shifted from Montreal to Toronto. Here's why
At the start of June, the epicentre for the Covid-19 crisis in Canada shifted from Montreal to the Greater Toronto Area. Montreal averaged 390 new cases a day in May, with a steady decline throughout the month. In the first three days of June, it averaged just 117 new cases daily. That’s a 70 per cent drop.
By contrast, the GTA has been in a holding pattern, unable to significantly reduce its Covid-19 caseload. In May, the region had 307 cases each day. During the first days of June, that average dropped just slightly, to 277. Toronto, Canada’s Covid-19 epicentre, went from an average of 181 cases per day in May to 159 in June.
The result is frustration for residents, and increased questions being directed at politicians and public health officials. The systems are outdated—the province’s integrated Public Health Information System is 15 years old—clunky and straining under the pressure. A May 29 report from Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, to the city’s Board of Health lays bare some of the problems: “Laboratories’ reports are received all together in one large fax, sometimes containing hundreds of individual lab results, which must be taken apart for further processing. Duplicate reports, sometimes many for a single case and received over several days, are common. These require significant staff time to consolidate. Extensive delays occur in the processing and reporting of laboratory results. Many laboratory reports lack telephone numbers, leading to delays in making contact with the case.”
The result is an unacceptable lag time. “It’s taking two and a half days from when the test is done to when Toronto Public Health receives that result,” Dr. Vinita Dubey, the city’s associate medical officer, told the Toronto Star. Only then can the city begin contact tracing.
In similarly disheartening news, CBC News broke the story that the William Osler Health System didn’t report 485 positive cases to public health officials. Osler incorrectly thought the lab, at Mount Sinai Hospital, would notify the authorities. That error means some of those tested were never informed they had the virus, and, as the cases weren’t reported, public health officials couldn’t do any contact tracing.
All those problems mean that services aren’t always being directed efficiently and on time to hard-hit areas, whose residents continue to experience more and more infections. On May 27, when Tororonto unveiled its maps of Covid-19, broken down to a neighbourhood level, the area of Downsview-Roding had 213 infected residents; a week later, it has 289. Nearby West Humber-Clairville had 170, now it has 300. In contrast, the Beaches had just nine cases on May 27 compared to 13 on the current map.
With the gaping holes in Ontario’s health and data systems now painfully apparent, the province appointed former federal health minister Jane Philpott to lead a team of experts to organize Covid-19-related data. “There are huge amounts of information that have to be brought together in order to understand the pandemic better,” Philpott told the Globe and Mail. The province hopes to launch a new Ontario Health Data Platform in July.
Daily data can spike or plummet, depending on when testing is done, so, to better help see overall shifts, Toronto Life uses a method called a rolling (or moving) average, which includes comparing percentage changes between seven-day averages. This method smooths the lines for each jurisdiction and makes trends more readily apparent.