Turns out the B.C. government is keeping detailed COVID-19 data from the public. Shocking (not), I know.
According to documents obtained last Friday by the Vancouver Sun, a recent internal report shows the distribution of coronavirus cases broken down to more localized B.C. neighbourhoods than what has been released since the pandemic began early in 2020.
Currently, officials release weekly case counts segmented by Local Health Service areas, which can include groupings of populations of cities the size of Surrey (over 500,000).
The internal report doesn’t show broken down data for rural regions.
Other regions in Canada have been providing data per neighbourhood, such as Toronto.
When it comes to releasing data in B.C. regarding COVID-19, the province seems to consider the information as kin to nuclear secrets, rather than helpful health information of a pandemic that has killed more than three million globally. By comparison to Alberta, B.C. is stuck in the stone ages.
Since last spring, Alberta has released daily per community, how many active cases of COVID-19, how many people have recovered and how many have died.
Only since last November has B.C. released weekly data per community and only on new weekly cases. Its been hard to pinpoint how many people have died from COVID-19 in Revelstoke (there’s been at least one) or even how many active cases the community has had at one time.
By comparison, its been interesting watching COVID-19 coverage in India, as their healthcare system collapses from lack of hospital beds, oxygen as infections surge. Interestingly, in the last week I’ve seen more imagery of what an ICU looks like in India, then in Canada.
I have no idea what the inside of a COVID-19 wing looks like just down the road in the Okanagan.
While the India imagery is graphic, traumatic and enters the realm of poverty porn – which is defined as any type of media which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers, increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause – it effectively portrays the horrors of COVID-19.
Of course, such imagery would never happen in Canada, due to concerns of privacy, and perhaps for good reason.
However, images of trauma are extremely powerful for forcing change. For example, the image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying dead on the beach made global headlines after he downed in the Mediterranean Sea along with his mother and father. The family was fleeing Syria and heading for Canada.
That photo caused a dramatic upturn in international concern over the refugee crisis and made an immediate impact on Canadian politics, ultimately resulting in the Liberal government allowing more Syrian refugees into the country.
While I do not wish to see more traumatic and graphic imagery of COVID-19, if the public saw the inside of a Canadian ICU and what someone looks like dying from the disease, it could push more people to get vaccinated and perhaps even be supportive of lockdowns, instead of attending anti-mask protests or calling the virus a hoax.
It’s hard reporting on a crisis when we cannot see the devastation it’s causing.
Perhaps the provincial government should follow the age old advice of “show, don’t tell.”
At least when it comes to providing more data.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: