We’ve seen this before. As reported here in June, the intense media focus on pandemic politics in the U.S. presidential campaign may leave the impression that things are a lot worse there than they are in Canada. Now, in the wake of Trump’s claim that the U.S. has “turned the corner” on COVID being routinely ridiculed, we observe that last month case numbers in Canada rose significantly faster – 47.7 per cent in Canada versus 26.7 per cent in the States. So much for feeling superior.

The media have lately cottoned onto the fact that things are not going well in the fight against COVID. As the Globe and Mail headlined this week over a story by health reporter Andre Picard, “Canada has become careless about the virus.” Indeed, But the fact is that, outside of the Atlantic Bubble, the heedlessness has been going on for many weeks now, as our attention has been directed elsewhere.

As the table shows, October was the second month in a row that cases rose faster in Canada than in the U.S.

Aug 31 Sep 30 Sep ^ Oct 31 Oct ^ 2-month ^
Canada cases 128,939 158,725 23.1% 234,571 47.7% 81.9%
U.S. cases 6,226,203 7,441,979 19.5% 9,490,487 27.5% 52.4%

Source: Worldometer

The reason for these numbers is straightforward. In the U.S., most of the larger population states – New York, California and Florida – saw increases in October of less than 15 per cent. The big jumps were in States with small populations – places like Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

Meanwhile, in the Canada, the Atlantic bubble remained resilient, while the every Province west of the New Brunswick-Quebec border – led spectacularly by Manitoba – experienced large increases in cases.

Province Aug 31 Sep 30 Sep ^ Oct 31 Oct ^ 2-mo. ^
B.C. 5,790 9,138 57.8% 14,381   57.4% 148.4%
Alta 13,902 18,062 29.9% 27,664   53.2%   99.0%
Sask 1,619    1,913 18.2% 3,144   64.3%   94.2%
Man 1,214    1,993 64.2% 5,723 187.2% 371.4%
Ont 42,309 51,710 22.2% 75,730  46.5%   79.0%
Que 62,492 74,288 18.9% 106,016  42.7%   69.6%
Atlantic 1,589 1,621   2.0%      1,807  12.0%    13.7%

Source: health-infobase.canada.ca

So far, the surge in cases in Canada has not been matched by an increase in deaths. Between July 31 and Oct. 31 reported deaths from COVID-19 in Canada increased by 13.7 percent, from 8,933 to 10,161. Over the same period, deaths in the U.S. went up 51.4 percent to more than 236,000. That was due to big increases in the U.S. in August and September, months when the virus looked under control in Canada. However, Canada’s October increase in deaths of 9.1 per cent nearly matched the 11.7 per cent increase in the U.S. for that month. And the first four days of November saw another 170 deaths reported.

It’s likely to get worse. Long-term care homes, where some 80 per cent of deaths occurred during the peak of the pandemic, are again dealing with serious outbreaks. Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and several homes in Quebec have been hit with the virus. And the Ontario Health Coalition released a detailed report this week showing nearly 100 long-term care outbreaks in that province from mid-September, with more than 1,800 residents, patients and staff infected. Death toll so far, To Be Announced.