In the northeast corner of Brampton, 19% of the positivity of the COVID-19 test is “shocking” – it’s double the rate in the U.S. – and it is topping the list of 30 neighborhoods in Greater Toronto. as for the virus, new data show.
Peel recorded a positivity of 9.8 percent – the highest in the GTA – while neighborhoods in northwest Toronto, Scarborough and south York report reports sky-high rates, according to a study conducted for the first time. Analysis conducted by the non-profit ICES (formerly the Institute of Evaluative Sciences) in Toronto. The data cover the first week of November, the most recent percentage of positivity rates available, and are broken down by zip code to provide an accurate picture of the local severity of the pandemic.
“It’s amazing,” said Dr Jeff Kwong, a senior ICES scientist, in the Brampton district from east to north of Queen Street and east of Airport Road, because one in five people had a positive virus. “It may not be as high as some countries like Italy, but it’s five times higher than Ontario and doubles the positivity in the US.”
All 30 neighborhoods have a test positive pass rate of over 9%; There are 14 in Toronto, 13 in Peel, two in York and one in Halton.
In the week of November 1, Peel’s positivity rate was 9.8%, almost double that of Toronto’s 5.9 percent, followed by York’s 4.8 percent and Halton’s 4.4 percent. The percentage positivity (percentage of those who tested COVID-19) across Ontario was 3.7 per cent at that time.
Toronto, Peel, York and Halton provinces are in the “control” or red level of the new color-coded COVID-19 framework, the highest category of blocking.
“We wanted to highlight that some sites are very high, so those who live there know,” Kwong said of the ICES analysis, adding that some officials will look at the map and push for more targeted public health measures than the provincial approach.
“I think the measures should be broader,” he said, noting that areas with high positivity rates require specific and community-based interventions.
“However, restrictions on a public health unit can push residents to move to another area. And that’s a problem; then we will see the spread in those areas. ”
Epidemiologist Farah Mawani, of the MAP Center for Urban Health Solutions at Unity Health Toronto, said ICES data highlights how the current pandemic response is failing.
In early October, COVID-19 trials were limited as cases increased and in Toronto, public health downplayed all contact tracing except high-risk settings such as schools, hospitals, and homes for long-term care.
“This combination, while the cases were on the rise, is a recipe for disaster,” Mawani said. “Now we are seeing the catastrophe happening. These are the two key tools to stop the spread. “
ICES data show that in the last month, the test positivity rate is higher in the lower-income neighborhoods than in the higher-income neighborhoods – and that it is increasing more in the lower-income neighborhoods.
“People in precarious working conditions cannot choose to work from home because of the very nature of the work or because they do not have the ability to stay at home,” Mawani said, noting that those in low-income jobs often demand it. to keep in touch with a lot of people.
“And they can’t talk about unsafe conditions because of a lack of power, they are in danger of losing their jobs,” he said. “In addition, they will have to take the right distance on public transportation to get to their jobs on crowded routes.”
The Brampton district with the highest percentage of positivity includes a dozen census tracts or small geographic areas defined by Statistics Canada. Nine of them had infection rates of more than 200 per 100,000 people in the first week of November, according to Peel Public Health data. The infection rate required to go to the red zone or “control” in the province is five times higher.
Census data provide compelling clues as to why positivity rates are rising in these communities, which have a high concentration of visible minorities, especially South Asians. Socio-economic data show that South Asia has had an excessive impact on KOVID in the Peel region, accounting for 45% of cases but only 32% of Peel’s population, according to a public health report in early August.
Part of the census – from the intersection of Countryside Drive and Airport Road to the southeast – Peel has the highest proportion of large homes, 49% of the homes occupied by five or more people. Peel has more occupants per home than cities like Toronto and Ottawa, according to Health Doctor Lawrence Loh. Over the past two weeks, home contacts have accounted for 40 percent of COVID-19 cases. Last week, the federal government announced that it would fund $ 6.5 million in facilities in the Peel region for people who cannot properly insulate their homes.
Census data show that this part of Brampton is full of population density. A community of about 2,360 people – an immigrant-weighted area around Queen Street East and Highway 50 – has the highest proportion of people working in manufacturing at Peel, and has 22% of the population working in the industry.
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In the North, Peel has another census with the highest proportion of retail workers (16%) and the lowest level of education, 60% of the residents who did not attend secondary school. This community of approximately 7,000 people reported 66 COVID-19 cases in the three weeks before November 7th. The latest infection rate was 285 cases per 100,000 people.
“These are neighborhoods with poverty, overcrowded people, key employees who are very low-paid and can’t afford to stay at home,” said Colin Furness, an infectious disease control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, Mawani said. . “They don’t get the luxury of working from home. They have very few agencies. “
Furness added that the government should open isolation centers in these neighborhoods and conduct mobile tests, and if necessary, pay people to do the tests.
“And if it’s positive, we’ll go to a hotel room and stay and feed and take care of you. Create a situation where people really want to show up, “he said.” If you want to deal with that, you do it that way. “
Loh said although more tests could be done, the numbers say “we are seeing a real acceleration of the pandemic” in his community.
On Saturday, Loh took a rare step in enacting the Health Protection and Promotion Act, ordering employers to provide adequate protections for workers and cooperating with $ 5,000 a day in fines.
The order requires businesses that have had someone diagnosed with COVID-19 to ensure that the infected person does not enter the workplace and remain isolated and to cooperate with all public health directives, among others.
Loh said more cases in the community inevitably lead to more hospitalizations, a view that worries him, especially considering the region has about 3,000 active cases, with between 300 and 400 new cases a day.
“If we need 10 per cent hospitalization in the next two weeks, that’s very worrying,” he said. “Infection prevention and control procedures, just isolation protocols, are basically a very serious situation.”
ICES data also show that almost all of those who tested positive in long-term care homes in Ontario between October 26 and November 8 – 98.7 per cent or 628 people – live in urban facilities rather than in a rural home. Also, 41 percent live with diabetes, 81% with dementia and 79% with medical conditions that contribute to weakness.
Mawani of Unity Health said the “worrying” data is another indicator that the effects of the pandemic are being unfairly distributed if politicians (both local and provincial) can act quickly on the advice of experts they know best. their communities.
“Why are we here again with such serious outbreaks in long-term care homes, some of them in Scarborough?” he said.
“As an epidemiologist, seeing that disaster was happening, knowing that it could be prevented, there is nothing worse. We need to focus on what is needed to improve things for the most affected. It is critical. It’s a matter of life and death. “