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Alberta reports lower COVID-19 cases, but are they really falling?

Earlier this week, the Alberta government reported new COVID-19 daily cases that were 70% lower than they were at the end of April.

Yesterday, the Alberta government reported 917 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The day before, they announced 714.

These are significantly lower than the record high we saw of 2,392 on 30 April.

Not only are these new numbers much lower than they were less than 3 weeks ago, but the number of daily cases have been consistently trending down during that time.

However, there’s something we need to know about these numbers.

Take a look at this chart of the amount of testing being done.

The last few weeks seem similar to those in the previous chart. On 30 April, Alberta reported 20,486 COVID-19 tests, and they reported only 8,081 yesterday. Two days ago, that number was 6,997. Similar pattern as the number above.

But if we have fewer cases, then it makes sense that the number of tests would go down, too, right? Except, what if the descending new case numbers aren’t driving the descending test numbers? What if it’s the other way around?

What if the fact that we’re conducting fewer tests means we’re going to have fewer reported cases.

Here’s another chart:

This chart displays the province’s positivity rate: how many of the tests we issue that end up positive.

What’s intriguing is that even though the number of new daily cases and tests performed have both been declining over the last few weeks, our positivity rate hasn’t been.

Yesterday, our positivity rate 11.43%. The day before, it was 10.29%. On 30 April, it was 12.12%. Between the second and third waves, our positivity rate was as low as 3.28%.

The average positivity rate over the last 7 days was 10.29%. The average positivity rate for the previous 7 days was 11.32%.

So, what would our numbers look like, given our high positivity rates, if we were testing at the same levels we were 3 weeks ago?

Well, if we had reported 20,486 tests yesterday—the same number as on 30 April—and we had the same positivity rate (11.43%), we would have seen 2,342 new cases reported, not 917.

If we had reported 20,486 tests the day before and had the same positivity rate (10.29%), we would’ve seen 2,108 new cases reported, not 714.

The government’s focus on just the falling daily case numbers is misleading and may be filling the general public with a false sense of hope.

And that’s just case counts.

Our ICU numbers are at their highest level during the pandemic.

The government announced yesterday that we had 187 people in ICU units who have COVID-19. And that number has been rising since the beginning of March. Plus, they’re taking up nearly 80% of the ICU beds in the province.

On the plus side, people aren’t dying at nearly the same rate as they were at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

Also of good news, our vaccinated numbers keep rising.

As of yesterday, 42.8% of the population had received at least one dose and 7.4% were considered fully vaccinated.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

3 replies on “Alberta reports lower COVID-19 cases, but are they really falling?”

Should “the number of testing being done” be changed to “the number of tests being done”?

I agree with you, they are not reporting the true facts but the ones they want you to believe to achieve their agenda 👠

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