While the legacy media continues to breathlessly report rising COVID-19 case counts, they remain pretty quiet on the fact hospitalizations are not rising to reflect those counts. Fear sells and the statistics dribbling out of our health care system just aren’t frightening enough for media to focus on.
The question we need to be asking is how many people who have been counted as hospitalized COVID-19 cases happened to come in with COVID-19 or because of it. This is a huge distinction between the cases and we can’t keep ignoring it.
Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kieran Moore admitted as many as 50% of the people counted as COVID-19 cases in Ontario hospitals actually entered the hospitals for reasons other than COVID-19. Giving credit where due, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has been outspoken on this and he is hardly what one would consider a pandemic denier or such. He just wants to see the real numbers. It’s too bad so few other politicians seem concerned with this.
Dr. Moore said the hospitalization numbers would be updated to reflect this reality soon. As far as I can tell, they haven’t done so yet.
Let’s imagine you slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke your arm. You go into the local emergency room and get your bone set of course. Hospital policy calls for all admissions to be tested for COVID-19. Now let’s imagine you happened to test positive despite showing no COVID-19 symptoms. That’s pretty common now with the Omicron variant going around. Well, congratulations, you’re now statistically considered one of the COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Hospitalization numbers have been a favorite statistic used by those who want to keep us terrified of COVID-19. The Omicron variant has, thankfully, turned out to come with some pretty minor symptoms for most people. It does, however, spread more easily and rapidly than previous variants. With infected but asymptomatic people wandering around, infections have spread like wildfire and case counts have skyrocketed. As far as can be seen, though, it’s not putting much more of a burden upon hospitals.
The sudden rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations looks frightening at a glance. When those numbers are cut in half in order to correct for the actual reasons for hospitalization, though, they look little worse than a bad flu season. Something to be concerned with, but not something worth locking down society in a vain attempt to curb infections.
The exaggeration of COVID-19 impacts on hospital numbers is starting to be exposed in other jurisdictions, but still doesn’t gain mainstream traction. Counties in Florida and California are reporting nearly 60% of their COVID-19 positive admissions were actually hospitalized for non-pandemic-related causes. In South Africa where the omicron variant first appeared, the trend is the same at 62%.
In Alberta, our pandemic updates have been woefully sporadic. Yesterday, though, Dr. Deena Hinshaw gave a report and she was candid about what they know. Apparently, Alberta Health Services doesn’t know the number of people who are in hospital with COVID-19 vs. those of COVID-19, though I am not sure why this is so difficult to determine. They’re also having a hard time distinguishing between cases of the relatively benign Omicron variant and the more dangerous Delta variant. These are important things for both the public and our policymakers to know.
Alberta has a population of nearly 4.4 million people. Of them, right now there are 61 in ICUs due to COVID-19 and ostensibly 436 in hospital. The real hospitalization number is clearly much lower than that. If Alberta’s following the same trend as other jurisdictions, the local hospitalization number due to COVID-19 is likely around 200 or so. This is despite weeks of case counts flying through the roof and predictions of doom and gloom.
Despite those strikingly positive numbers, the Alberta government and the local media are predicting Armageddon. Restrictions have been increasing while students have had their in-class educations interrupted yet again.
We’re nearly two years into this pandemic nightmare. Have we learned anything yet?
Lockdowns appear to have a negligible effect on the spread of the virus, but have a terrible effect upon the psyches and wallets of citizens. Restrictions should only be imposed as an absolute last resort, yet we’re seeing curfews implemented in Quebec and gyms locked down in Ontario as panic reigns.
Why is cautious optimism so impossible for public figures to embrace? We should be celebrating these tiny hospitalization numbers while cases rise. It may very well herald the end of this pandemic.
Instead, policymakers won’t even correct the bloody numbers, much less speak of them in a positive way.
We will never return to normalcy if we refuse to recognize positive developments in the pandemic. We need to be demanding the real figures on hospitalizations and screaming it from the rooftops instead of meekly enduring one crushing pandemic restriction after another.
Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard