On March 9 as the Covid mask mandates and other restrictions came to an end, I asked Dr. Janice Fitzgerald a last and final question at the last and final regular media briefing. Premier Andrew Furey had predicted that in the new normal, Covid would resemble the flu and deaths would be reduced to an “influenza-like statistic.” Since the official Newfoundland government statistic is about 20 influenza deaths per year and we were on track for 200+ Covid deaths in 2022, I asked Dr. Fitzgerald if the number 200 is an “influenza-like statistic.”
Her answer in a moment, but first the numbers. In the first two months of 2022, the provincial government reported 47 Covid deaths. Then in March, as the masks came off, the number of reported deaths accelerated. Three months later, another 118 would be dead. As the death toll mounted one thing remained constant. In round numbers, 80 per cent of the people who have died were aged 70+. It is Nan and Pop who are paying the price for letting Covid-19’s constantly evolving variants rip through the province.
At the March 9 briefing Dr. Fitzgerald admonished me not to make “broad statements” and to “interpret with caution” the Provincial government’s official influenza death statistics. She said they only reflected the number of people who died of influenza in hospital and not the scores of people who died of influenza in long term care facilities. The question Dr. Fitzgerald’s response raised is obvious. Are the official NL government Covid death statistics similarly underreporting the real Covid death rate?
Dr. Fitzgerald did not say what an “influenza-like statistic” would be. Neither she or Dr. John Haggie or Dr. Furey have ever acknowledged the number of deaths their modelling predicts will accompany their decision to remove the emergency restrictions. All we have are the official Covid death numbers. Trusting they are more reliable than the official influenza death numbers, we know that since January 1st there have been 165 Covid deaths. At this rate 200 Covid deaths will be in the rear-view mirror by the time we get to Labour Day.
For those who are vaxxed and double boosted their chances of surviving Covid are improved. We all seem to have family members or friends or people we encounter in the course of everyday life who have had Covid, said they had a few crummy days, and then gotten over it. Some of us have friends, especially older friends, who said it was a very crummy experience that lingered. And more and more of us are going to have friends, especially older friends, who are going to die from it.
There was a time early in the pandemic when there would be a pause in the daily media briefing as a death was reported and condolences were extended. In the new normal there are no more regular briefings and no more condolences being extended. So suck it up Nan and Pop. You have to look out for yourselves now.