The recent dismissal of PHAC modelling by the head of the BCCDC, coupled with some reactions we have seen on Twitter, have led us realize how hard it is for most people to understand exponential growth. Part of the fault lies with most modellers generally assume too much math literacy in others. In particular, we assume that public health officials or relevant policy makers can understand the models. Even though we have seen time and time again that this assumption is very tenuous.
COVID-19 got me thinking about trend lines and the different ways people generate and interpret them. This is a question that’s of course more general than just COVID-19, but let me use this as an example to explain some very basic principles. This post is motivated by discussions I have had with a number of journalists, including Chad Skelton who nerd-sniped me into writing a post on trend lines and a thread discussing trend lines with Roberto Rocha and Tom Cardoso.
The pandemic changed our lives and behaviours. And our perceptions of things. With physical distancing, various degrees of restrictions and people avoiding the 3Cs: crowded places, close-contact settins, confined and enclosed spaces, people have been focusing on spending time outdoors whenever possible. I certainly pay a lot more attention to the weather than I used to, and Vancouver’s fall and winter has felt especially miserable so far. But has the weather actually been worse or is it just my warped perception?
(Joint with HsingChi von Bergmann, health science education researcher, professor at UBC Faculty of Dentistry, previously associate professor and science teacher educator at UofC) Schools across BC are set to resume this coming Monday, January 4th. Meanwhile British Columbia universities have delayed the start of the semester by a week to gauge the fallout from Christmas and New Year celebrations, and other Canadian provinces with similar case rates are delaying their school starts, Ontario by at least a week, Manitoba will keep grades 7 to 12 in remote learning for two weeks while younger children can choose between remote and in-class learning, and Regina is keeping students in remote learning for the first week after the break.
What do we know about COVID-19 testing in BC? That’s a surprisingly tricky question, so I decided to do a quick post on this. Why do we test? The main use of testing is diagnostic and to break transmission chains. If we suspect a person has COVID-19 that person will go into self-isolation and seek a test. If the test confirms the suspicion, we contact trace the COVID-positive person and ask close contacts to self-isolate to break transmission chains.