British Columbia is as transparent as any other jurisdiction in North America when it comes to releasing COVID-19 data.
At least that’s the message from Premier John Horgan.
“We are not hiding anything,” Horgan said during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Horgan’s comments came in response to a question from the media about the lack of geographical information
British Columbia, unlike many other places in North America, does not provide a municipal breakdown of where new COVID-19 cases have been reported.
Instead, health officials in B.C. report new cases by health authority region, which follow some geographical boundaries but encompass numerous communities. Deaths are also reported by health authority region, although officials have at times disclosed where the deceased was living or from.
“We have been as transparent as any jurisdiction in North America on a daily basis for months giving appropriate information to the public,” Horgan said.
But it appears British Columbia appears to lack behind numerous jurisdictions in North America when it comes to the amount of data regarding COVID-19 cases, deaths and other vital information, it provides to the public.
Other provinces generally provide the same basic information that British Columbia provides such as some demographic and geographical data as well as testing rates rate, hospitalizations and deaths.
However, some provinces provide more data than others.
Ontario reports new cases are by region or county – similar to regional districts in British Columbia. Each region or county in Ontario also has its own health authority, which provides even more specific data about where new cases, disclosing cases by municipality, neighbourhood and in some cases race and occupation.
British Columbia doesn’t provide information about COVID-19’s impact on race – something Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer had admitted previously – and Horgan said the province does not want to stigmatize people.
“We do not want to stigmatize individuals,” he said. “We do not want to stigmatize communities or neighbourhoods. We want everyone to understand that we are all at risk regardless of who we are, where we come from, what our economic status is, we are all at risk.”
Quebec discloses information about the number of cases in detention facilities.
Nova Scotia is similar to British Columbia in that it provides a breakdown of where cases are by health authority region. Manitoba also lists where cases are by health authority but also by municipality.
Prince Edward Island, curiously, doesn’t even provide a map of where cases are, though the province has only had 68 total confirmed cases.
In the United States, the majority of states provide highly detailed information on cases, including a breakdown by county, municipality, gender and race among others.
South Carolina, a state similar in population size to British Columbia, provides heatmaps showing where cases are each day. Washington state provides data showing the percentage of licensed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Michigan provides specific information for those of Arab and Hispanic/Latino ethnicities, while California provides a “county risk levels” map showing where people are most at risk of infection by county. The state also provides extensive data on hospitalizations, logistics and lab testing.
However, in British Columbia, COVID-19 is everywhere and people need to realize that, said Horgan.
“COVID is everywhere in British Columbia. It is acute in Fraser Health and the numbers there are unacceptably high and have been for the past two and a half weeks,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Delta, or if you’re in Langely or if you’re in Chilliwack,” he said. “COVID is in the community, so you need to act accordingly.”
Note: CHEK has asked the province and submitted Freedom of Information requests seeking a breakdown of COVID-19 data by municipality, but has been denied repeatedly.