Whitehorse Daily Star

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NUMBERS TELL THE TALE – The graph shows the number of COVID-19 cases that were found in the Yukon this spring. Inset Dr. Brendon Hanley Graph courtesy GOVERNMENT OF YUKON

Cases could have numbered in the thousands: data

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, has released modelling data to suggest the Yukon could have seen thousands of COVID-19 cases if public health measures hadn’t been enacted.

By Gabrielle Plonka on May 27, 2020

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, has released modelling data to suggest the Yukon could have seen thousands of COVID-19 cases if public health measures hadn’t been enacted.

“The best value is that public health measures matter,” Hanley said of the data on Tuesday afternoon.

“Until we get to a point where we are confident that we have no more risk of COVID introduction into the territory, we have to rely on the package of public health measures,” he told a technical briefing.

The data show three potential scenarios of COVID-19 spread.

In the first scenario, a model explores what would have happened had no public health measures been implemented against COVID-19 over a 66-day period, spanning hypothetically from March to mid-May.

Scenario one shows that each new virus case could have infected 2.4 more people, assuming nobody is physically distancing or self-isolating.

In the scenario where 2.4 more people are infected from each case, the Yukon could have seen 1,946 cases by mid-May. This would have meant the territory would be treating 639 active cases after the same number of days.

Scenario one estimates that 77 COVID-19 cases would have required a hospital bed, while 23 cases would have required intensive care.

“This is clearly enough to be more than what our health system could sustain, even if we were going to downplay those estimates,” Hanley said.

“You can see there would be tremendous pressure on the health care system.”

Scenario two gauges the spread of COVID-19 if public health measures had been implemented two weeks after the first case was discovered.

In scenario two, 2.4 people would be infected per case in the first two weeks. After public health measures were implemented, only 0.62 people would be infected per case.

Scenario two sees a significant drop-off in spread of the virus, with only 67 cases found by mid-May.

In scenario three, public health measures are implemented before the first case is discovered, which is what happened in the Yukon.

In this scenario, only 0.62 people are infected from each case. This would result in approximately 2.5 cases spread within the community.

“That really shows that we would be in a situation in which we are now, the case containment, which is again where we want to stay,” Hanley said.

These modelling data took four to six weeks to develop, with the final numbers only becoming available in the last two weeks, Hanley said.

He clarified that these numbers did not inform his office’s decisions to implement extensive public health restrictions.

“A lot goes into model development and really figuring out how to do it, learning more about COVID transmission,” Hanley said.

“We made the original decision (to implement health measures) based really on expertise, on evidence.”

There is value in looking back at what could have happened, Hanley said, because the numbers show public health measures to be effective.

This information will help the Yukon prepare for the next pandemic or next wave of COVID-19, Hanley said.

Now, the Yukon government is looking to more sophisticated models that can gauge how the future of the pandemic across the country will affect the territory.

“We are really looking for models that are more realistic to what our actual situation is,” Hanley said.

“One of the areas that we’re interested in is being able to more systematically assess the risk of importing new cases from outside the Yukon.”

This will help the territory decide how it should react if there is an outbreak in other parts of the country.

More complex modelling requires development and computing power that will require the assistance of other public health agencies.

“We are looking for more mathematical equations to help us,” Hanley said.

“We are looking at what happens if there’s a resurgence – a second wave.”

See letter.

Comments (27)

Up 1 Down 0

acomfort on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:50 pm

You say:
"* Increased suicides higher than COVID deaths"
That many is a little hard to believe however; whatever the number of suicides is,
it is too many for the media to comment on.
So, this fits a pattern if you think the media is trying
to show that COVID is more dangerous than it is.

Up 15 Down 4

Unfeckingbelievable! on Jun 2, 2020 at 7:39 am

Well done Nicky! It is unfortunate that we have such passive, authoritarian-led, flock voting power interests into parliament. It is absolutely disgraceful what we have become and what we will do sustain the illusions we buy into. Unfeckingbelievable!

There is no democracy in an Idiocracy...

Up 19 Down 4

Juniper Jackson on Jun 2, 2020 at 2:56 am

Dr. Hanley is attempting to justify his heavy handedness regarding Covid. He does not have to justify the beginning. Everyone lied, CDC, Dr. Tam, lied, China lied, WHIO lied, and little ol' Yukon did its best given the information it had.

My problem with the handling of this non pandemic was two fold. One was scare tactics.. some people were, and are so scared they can not leave their homes. The other was when the pandemic description was moved from pandemic virus to 'rare disease' why were we still under the control of emergency measures? Canada was the only country in the world that shut down government and went home. We should be open for business, not contained like rats being let to run this way today, maybe tomorrow some other way. I do not believe these graphs or comments from Silver and Hanley..just BS.

Before Covid, the doctors were moving to phone and telehealth.. They did not want to actually see clients. I read in this paper, doctors are seeing patients. Well..it's easy to get an appointment to talk to a doctor, but hard to see one..I don't like it that the decision to see a doctor is someone elses decision. I can no longer try to make an appointment because i think I need to see a doctor. First you have to talk to the booking person, who asks why you want to see a doctor. So you give this personal information to a stranger who decides if you can even talk to a doctor.. Then you talk to your doctor (maybe)..and the doctor decides if you need to see a doctor. I hate this.

Nicky: you summed up and posted.. you nailed it!!

Up 6 Down 0

Atom on Jun 1, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Holy F**k Nicki.....so it was all lies? GYHAS

Up 13 Down 5

Nicky on Jun 1, 2020 at 4:42 pm

The Yukon can not be closed to Canadians. That is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written to Yukon's Minster of Justice stating that based on the current number of COVID cases in BC and Yukon, they believe the border restrictions to be unlawful. BC has 1 active case per 20,000 residents and Yukon has 0 cases. BC has clearly demonstrated that when outbreaks occur due to community spread they can be contained. Based on the current COVID reality in BC and Yukon how does the Government justify the continued suspension of Charter Rights? Will the Government provide evidence that it's Orders are both "reasonable and demonstrably justified" ?

Up 31 Down 9

Nicky on May 31, 2020 at 6:57 pm

This reminds me of the Y2K fiasco.


"CDC admitted they screwed up COVID19 infection counts and intentionally misled the public and have apologized, clarifying that the amount of people truly infected is much lower than what was originally reported -- an error so egregious it made the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute say “how could the CDC make this mistake? This is a mess."

The American Coronavirus Task Force also admitted to fudging the National COVID19 death count when Dr. Birx said the deaths are people who died “with” COVID19 not “from” COVID19, thus making the real death count much lower than what is currently being reported.
Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted masks won’t help against the virus and mask manufacturers are now including warnings that their products do not deter COVID19.
Fauci also said that continuing to close the country could cause irreparable damage.
CDC backtracked their initial claim that led governors to shutdown their states & clarified that COVID19 does not spread easily on surfaces.

Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo confirmed a recent health study showing that 70% of new infections actually originate at home, thus making stay at home orders one of the most dangerous mandates currently in place.
Trump stopped funding the WHO and threatened to cut off money permanently until they can prove they are no longer corruptly influenced by communist China after they lied to our country about human to human transmission of COVID19 in January.

The curve is flattened, the CDC, WHO, Dr. Fauci, our governors, and many more were completely wrong about the potential threat of this virus.
Even California is opening up sooner than anyone expected because the evidence contradicts the long standing and inaccurate narrative still upheld by the extremely dishonest & corrupt media.

If you are still living in fear, Don’t be. The media, global organizations, the government, and its agencies “mislead” the public.
People called those of us who knew this all along conspiracy theorists, but it turns out we were just following the facts!
Open up your businesses, churches, and homes. Don’t fall for the lies any longer. If you fell for the lies this time, wake up and join the army of truth seekers fighting on the front lines.

The #CDC just confirmed a 0.2% death-rate for #COVID19 ...

For that, we have:
• Added nearly 6 trillion to national debts
• Laid-off or furloughed 50 million workers
• Placed 60 million on welfare
• Gone from 3.5%to 14.7% unemployment
• Crippled the petroleum industry
• Ruined the tourism industry
• Bankrupted the service industry
• Caused an impending meat and protein crisis
• Threatened, fined, and arrested church leaders
• Exacerbated mental health problems
• Shut down schools and colleges
• Given unbridled power to unelected officials
• Increased suicides higher than COVID deaths
• Delayed surgeries and treatments for profound illnesses
• Infringed upon countless important civil liberties
• Placed 330 million North Americans on house arrest

These consequences are largely due to two things:
• The first is our view of government as a god that can control Providence and plagues. In our hubris, we increasingly view the government as a deity who can stop acts of nature.
• The second is our sniveling, 21st-century commitment to safety. Our desire to be “safe” ruined our fiscal, physical, medical, food, energy, and national security.

"Unfortunately there is no vaccine for cultural fragility."

Written by JD Hall
This is unbelievable; some of this damage is irreparable, some small businesses have suffered reputable damage, some families have lost everything they've worked for their whole lives. For the financial destruction alone caused by this and the mental emotional distress, someone needs to pay for this damage of monumental catastrophic impact.

Up 24 Down 8

drum on May 30, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Why did I see a truck with a camper on back with a trailer with Quebec plates coming out of Save on Foods and going into Tags??? I thought the border was closed?

Up 15 Down 23

One One-Lesser-Voice on May 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for the precautionary measures and recent recognition that it's time to move forward.
Yukoners can now go back to work and I hope the opportunity is there for people laid off and for our students. We all deserve a prosperous future. I do hope people in care homes can get outside soon.
Soon we can focus on avoiding all the bad drivers and the drunk ones and those who abuse drugs when driving. When on the trails we should be vigilant for the unlicensed entitled quad and dirt bikers who are noisy, reckless and uninsured and very dangerous.
I wish we could go back to the way it was about 25 years ago but there are way more people here and too many people who are just bad characters.

Up 18 Down 48

Atom on May 29, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Man it's good to see some comments commending the covid measures taken..... those in denial have obviously had a hard time.....but at least they can type their drivel into this publisher and expose their Trumplike ignorance instead of leaving us all clueless.

Up 21 Down 28

Groucho d'North on May 29, 2020 at 11:21 am

I question the value of revisiting these planning models in the wake of knowing how things really turned out. Thankfully, it was not as bad as it could have been. I doubt much of the data originated here in the Yukon, rather the World Health Organization, Health Canada and similar agencies provided data from historic pandemic events and the latest science on the bug in question to the provinces and territories and said, based on what we know about the Covid-19 virus and its virulence, apply this to your present population movements and interactions including tourists and other visitors and determine how you should best sequester the population to minimize contagion.
Without a vaccine, limiting the movement and interaction of people is the only tool available to limit growth of the infection. Sure, thousands of people were put out by having to adapt to new rules for travel and gathering and they did not like it. But they are still alive and able to bitch about this and that because governments acted appropriately to the threat.

Up 45 Down 7

John on May 29, 2020 at 11:13 am

A meteor could have hit the earth! Aliens might have invaded! The earth could have stopped spinning....

Up 46 Down 10

Oya on May 29, 2020 at 9:53 am

Talk about putting a government spin on things. Propaganda in my eyes.

1. information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Up 37 Down 6

Bud McGee on May 29, 2020 at 9:29 am

Janbro, SheepChaser and Edie Rue the "dense people" are those that blindly put their faith in fallible (often under-qualified) government officials. Hanley, by his own admission, states: "We are really looking for models that are more realistic to what our actual situation is ... We are looking for more mathematical equations to help us".
What has been lost in Yukon's whole pandemic response is a thorough cost benefit analysis. We have deferred all public policy decisions to one perspective - the healthcare perspective. Combined federal and provincial deficits this year are approaching $350 billion or 20% of GDP. The debt we rack up results in more interest payments to service our debt. This is lost money that could have been put into further strengthening our healthcare system and addressing gaps in long-term care facilities (which account for 82% of all Canadian COVID deaths).
It's not about trading lives for the stock market - it's about the cost/benefit, because the economy is the single most important determinant of quality of life and longevity. The average life expectancy in Somalia is 57 years and it is 82 years in Canada. The reason why there is this vast difference in life expectancy is not because Canada is better at doing lock downs, it is because Canada has (or at least used to have) a stable and strong economy.

Up 15 Down 34

One One-Lesser-Voice on May 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm

This modeling was spot on and the vulnerable people were afforded protection.
Government workers can reenter he workplace and we can now reopen things while having a prudent approach to shutting things down if the situation goes sideways.

All the bashers can soon go out for a beer and soon tear around on their slow lumbering mini tractors when they have enough money for gas.
All is well and I hope most people get back to their jobs soon.

Up 46 Down 8

real on May 28, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Govy workers should have got laid off. It's terrible that we paid all those wages for them to sit at home and pretend to be working. Yes I do know.

Up 43 Down 16

Donovan on May 28, 2020 at 1:24 pm

"well we put the numbers in the computer and we came out with this scenario....."
Okay Doc....now...let's input the REAL numbers
#of active cases....0
# of deaths.............0
keeping the borders closed, risk assessment .....1
what's this the algorithm has changed it's results!!! We are NOT all going to die....
stupid computers lied.

Up 45 Down 18

Trent Jamieson on May 28, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Janbro, SheepChaser and Edie Rue, please go back to your YTG 'working from home' job with your guaranteed paycheck and a myriad of home improvement projects on the go.

Up 36 Down 42

Janbro on May 28, 2020 at 7:41 am

This is an interesting and for me believable prospective. It is speculative. I'm grateful for all the hard work Dr. Hanley and the Yukon team have done and the regulations have kept us healthy. I'm dismayed to read the nay sayers comments. Follow the program, keep yourself, your family and Yukoners safe.

Up 45 Down 46

SheepChaser on May 28, 2020 at 6:47 am

Shocking to see how folks don't seem to appreciate that it is only because we all took this thing so seriously that we have avoided the worst of it. And they try to use the fact that we've done so well as a way to disprove the necessity of the actions taken? Sure, sure, Sweden blah, blah, blah. You all never seem to mention the countries with corpses in the streets. Cause that's happening too.

Are you really that dense?
Yes, you are. Which is why we need public health officers, laws and enforcement. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's to curate my contact with humanity and to avoid the delusional ones at all costs.

Sorry Joe Blow, I'm not prioritizing the economy over human life just so you can make the payments on your over leveraged rocket collection.

Up 34 Down 59

Edie rue on May 27, 2020 at 7:54 pm

The comments to this story are unbelievable. Dr. Hanley saved so many lives, was always professional and used medical/statistical data for possible outcomes. You are all way out of line.

Up 44 Down 17

Max Mack on May 27, 2020 at 7:32 pm

It pains me to see Hanley trying to justify measures taken via "models". Putting aside the substantive issue of which type of model is being employed, it is well known that such models are very, very, VERY sensitive to initial parameters and assumptions.

Simply put, models only inform us about what might happen in a hypothetical world that only exists in the model. The key word is "hypothetical".
These models cannot account for all of the complexities and subtleties of human behaviour -- even at a macro level.
Models are not evidence. These don't have predictive power. If the real world matched one of Hanley's models, it would be completely by random chance.

We cannot continue to lockdown the Yukon until "there is no more risk of COVID" (there will always be a risk, so is Hanley saying we are on permanent lockdown?).

Up 46 Down 19

Unfeckingbrlievable! on May 27, 2020 at 6:51 pm

Mathematical models are only as capable as the judgment around the variables that are seemingly relevant to individuals who cannot appreciate the complexity of human behaviour.

Time and again we listen to the ‘I’mpericists’ who have no understanding of the human condition who govern through malign ignorance under the pretence of an evidence-based perspective guided by their own biases - You people are unfeckingbelievable!

Up 68 Down 26

Matthew on May 27, 2020 at 5:47 pm

Way too many flawed models.. it's those models that got us all here to begin with! Own up to it! Still haven't surpassed the flu death count yet... was 8511 died in 2018... yet here we are, added $250B+ in debt and countless businesses closed and many more bank accounts drained... well done Hanley and gang..

Up 71 Down 24

Bud McGee on May 27, 2020 at 5:42 pm

I don't buy it. I think Hanley's so-called "model" is just a bad MS Excel spreadsheet with some erroneous assumptions. When he says things like "These modelling data..." it shows that he doesn't know what he's talking about. Data is another terms for a set of actual empirical measurements. Therefore, models, which are theoretical in nature, can never really produce "data" - models produce FORECASTS. For example, the weather forecast is a model to predict the weather and high temperature for a future day, and, the data is the actual measurement of temperature after that day has passed. So, the actual data of COVID-19 in the Yukon shows that there were only 11 cases that were fully resolved by the beginning of May. To put that in terms of dollars, the Yukon has spent $2.4 million per case of COVID-19 - not per death - PER CASE.

Up 69 Down 25

Jc on May 27, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Thousands? Come on Doc. Why still on that U.N. modelling data. They were wrong in the whole planet. How many pneumonia case has the Yukon had in those weeks? How about colds, cancer and other diseases and sickness. If it were thousands, think how many Yukoners would be immune by now.

Up 57 Down 25

Nicky on May 27, 2020 at 4:21 pm

The facts are in.

In mid-March, the United Kingdom and other countries listened to predictions by Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, who predicted as many as 510,000 COVID-19 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the US. These numbers were relied upon by the United Kingdom and governments around the world to justify imposing lockdowns.

It appears that governments in Canada also used Dr. Fergusons methodology when restricting our Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble and practice one’s faith. In Alberta, for example, the government warned that as many as 32,000 Albertans would die of COVID-19. In fact, 132 Albertans have died of COVID-19 as of May 22, 2020, not 32,000.

As of May 22, 2020, US deaths were 97,102 (4 percent of the Ferguson estimate) and UK deaths were 36,393 (7 percent of the Ferguson estimate). COVID-19 deaths in the UK, the US, Italy and globally are within the same range of the annual flu, which kills between 291,000 and 646,000 per year.


Up 68 Down 39

Josey Wales on May 27, 2020 at 3:13 pm

complete bulls**t!

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