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BC Might Be Flattening The Curve

7th April 2020

While it’s still early, it looks like BC might be flattening the curve, for now, but Easter could be an issue.

With nice weather and Easter coming, now is not the time to consider “getting out”.  Doing so could be detrimental, here’s some numbers, and a look at why we’re not out of the woods.

Updated BC Weekly Cases

Last week I noted that we were increasing exponentially in cases and were on track for more than 100,000 cases mid-April if we kept increasing by between 300-400% a week.

As you can see with week 10 we had a great result with a 31% increase in cases from the week before.

Week New Cases Fatality Cumulative Cases Case Increase
1st Week Feb 3rd 1 1 0%
2nd Week Feb 10th 3 4 300%
3rd Week Feb 17th 1 5 25%
4th Week Feb 24th 2 7 40%
5th Week Mar 2nd 1 8 14%
6th Week Mar 9th 24 1 32 300%
7th Week Mar 16th 71 3 103 222%
8th Week Mar 23rd 369 10 472 358%
9th Week Mar 30th 498 5 970 106%
10th Week April 6th 296 20 1266 31%

Flattening The Curve

BC might be flattening the curve, but there will be a number of variables that have contributed to last weeks reduction in new cases, and it’s difficult to say at this point whether we truly are, but the numbers are encouraging.

I indicated last week that a 100% increase in cases each week for three weeks could result in almost 8000 total cases by mid April, which was an optimistic forecast.

With 296 new cases last week compared to 498 the week before, and 369 two weeks earlier that 30% increase in new cases marks an even more optimistic result.  From our worst week to week increase (358%) to one of our best (30%) two weeks later.

While this is only a week to week snapshot, we can see how that 30% increase has influenced the charted curve, with it starting to drop down after just one week with a significant reduction in cases.

Exponential Decrease

Last week I had put together a rough and crude forecast for three different trend levels,  400%, 200%, 100% showing exponential increases week to week and the potential outcomes based on WHO data.  The numbers looked like this.

Week 12 Projections (Original)
% Increase Projected BC Cases Mild or Asymptomatic Severe Infection Critical Infections Requiring Ventilation 2%  Deaths
400 121250 97000 18188 6063 2425
200 26190 20952 3929 1310 523.8
100 7760 6208 1164 388 155.2

There is no guarantee that this 30% increase isn’t a blip, or that we won’t go back to exponential increases of 300-400%, but it could be a game changer.

I’ve put a few forecasts together reflecting last weeks data to give a feel for how it could look.

Looking at the remaining two weeks until week 12, I added in the week 10 30% increase, and also added 3 new forecasts for a weekly increase. I’m additionally and optimistically showing an average of 50%, 30% and 13% increases in cases for the remaining two weeks to contrast the 400%, 200% and 100% initially included.

Revised Forecast

Below you can see the impact that one week at 30% has had on the original forecast numbers last week.

This shows the potential for exponential decrease in cases and final numbers most notably from the 400% increases from 121,250 down to 31,650 cases.  Due to one week of 30% increases.

Again this is very crude and simple forecast, but demonstrates the effect that limiting new cases can have.

Week 12 Projections (Revised With Week 10)
% Increase Projected BC Cases Mild or Asymptomatic Severe Infection Critical Infections Requiring Ventilation 2%  Deaths
400 31650 25320 4748 1583 633
200 11394 9115 1709 570 228
100 5064 4051 760 253 101
50 2849 2279 427 142 57
30 2140 1712 321 107 43
13 1674 1339 251 84 33

You an see that the 30% increase in week 10 had a small effect on the 100% increase forecast, but a significant one on the 400% forecast.  Exponential influences.

One week of only a 30% increase has the potential to significantly reduce the potential cases, even if we had 400% in the final two weeks.  Imagine if we had no new cases.  If BC might be flattening the curve after all.

Good, But Not Good Enough

This is a great improvement, and while there’s no guarantee that it won’t increase again, this is a fantastic result for now.   It indicates our efforts are having an impact.

We need to keep working on keeping the percentage of new cases as low as possible.  Under 100% is great, anything below that is phenomenal.

However even if we had 100% increases the last two weeks that would still provide thousands of new cases and impact our health care facilities.

Quicker Recovery

If we can stick it out another few weeks there is potential for an even more significant reduction on the long term impact the pandemic will have.

A few more weeks of low numbers in new cases will have an incredible impact on our health, medical infrastructure, medical professionals, key services, communities and the economy.

This may allow us to consider slowly reintegrating some areas back into some degree of normal.

Gradual reintegration of social and economic activity  might mean the economic rebound is slow also,  but keeping cases down while doing so may result in a quicker and more sustainable recovery of the economy.

For now, we need many more weeks of continually decreasing new cases to start to build confidence in the possibility of resuming any degree of “normal” economic and social activities.

Managing Safety

Businesses, and organizations should be considering a few things whether it is now as they operate, or upon return to operation:

  • Where and how can they spread the virus?
  • What level of risk exists, and to who?
  • Are controls effectively reducing risk?
  • Consider an exposure control plan if there is high risk of exposure
  • Have they communicated the hazards and controls?
  • Are they monitoring the hazards and controls?
  • Do staff have means to report any concerns?

Safety committees should be getting awareness and training on how to manage these issues at work.  The BC Municipal Safety Association has a number of resources workplaces can review.

Don’t Stop Believing

You may not believe in the Easter Bunny, but don’t stop believing:

  • In the value of isolating and using the safety measures,
  • That you’re having an influence
  • That this isn’t as serious as other provinces or cities, or countries

The measures you are using are making a difference, and it is an incredibly serious health issue regardless of what the numbers say.

It is entirely feasible that if our businesses, individuals, families, and communities stop the efforts we’re putting in now, we go right back into the exponential growth patterns B.C. started to exhibit.

Easter Impact

The key is for businesses, individuals, and families to keep doing what your doing, and resist the temptation to go out at Easter and risk exposing yourselves or others.

The Easter weekend could single handedly erase any gains we’ve had in reducing new cases if we get reckless.   It is critical that we remain isolated, practicing social distancing, and continue good hygiene with hand washing and sanitizing.

There is conflicting data on the value of masks as they can help reduce exposure by screening the virus from your mouth and nose, but if your mask is infected it can transfer the virus to to your face, hands, or surfaces if you’re not careful handling it.

There may be another 4-8 weeks of these measures, however, it’s encouraging to see a positive trend.

In This Together

It looks like BC might be flattening the curve, with a bit of luck, and a great display of solidarity, collective effort, collaboration and cooperation.

We’re all sacrificing on some level.  I’m proud of the positivity I’m seeing, what my  neighbours, friends, family, and the local businesses have done.

Proud of how many people I know are taking this seriously, taking it on the chin, digging in, and making a difference.

It will take all of us, but there’s evidence we can make a difference, and we’re doing it. Early days, and could be a dip before another outbreak, but let’s keep doing it, we really can make a difference, every one of us.

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