Updates from April, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 18:00 on 2020-04-21 Permalink | Reply  

    On reddit, someone observed that Monday was the 207th day with a high temperature under 20°C, table linked here. Although it’s clearly not so unusual, it’s the first such span since 1997.

    CBC radio said this morning we’ve had well below average temperatures. I’ve felt chilly myself, which is unusual, but here are the last few days:

     April 16April 17April 18April 19April 20April 21
    Average high10.9°11.2°11.5°11.8°12.0°12.3°
    High this year 5.4°5.7°9.6°11.6°5.8°
    • Raymond Lutz 18:55 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      it’s cold because the polar vortex is collapsing and arctic air is bleeding over us… YAY! non-covid news!

    • Francesco 00:07 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      @Kate have look at Montreal Weather Records @YUL_weather on Twitter. Fascinating stats and charts daily!

    • Kate 13:28 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      Thanks, Raymond Lutz and Francesco.

  • Kate 10:01 on 2020-04-21 Permalink | Reply  

    Council honoured the mother of Rosemont-PP councillor François Limoges at the start of Monday’s virtual council session. Huguette Limoges died last week of COVID-19.

    City emergency wards are getting crowded again after a drop in patients for a couple of weeks, and hospitals fear that patients have suffered and died because other procedures have been delayed.

    An infected inmate busted out of his residence and got into the metro on Monday. He was rounded up pretty fast and surfaces sanitized.

    • david100 14:20 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      A new study out of LA county has estimates of 4% infected, a 40x multiplier on exposures to tests (for every positive test, there’s 40 more people who are/were positive but untested), and a lethality rate of 0.1% (1/10 of 1%) of all infected or even lower, which puts it right at the level of the seasonal flu.

      There’s another study ongoing at two sites in SF.

      Chinese and Italian studies have found that over 4/5 of those positive for antibodies are asymptomatic.

      So, we’re getting a sense that: (1) this is already far more prevalent than is widely estimated; (2) Covid 19 is far far far less deadly than people generally realize; (3) we’re closer to the start of the spread than even to the midpoint, at least in LA county.

      Broader conclusion: the Swedes were probably right, and we’ve massively massively overreacted. Instead, we should have targeted everything to protecting the most vulnerable, and taken relatively conservative measures, instead of totally nuking the economy.

      We couldn’t have known at the time – there just wasn’t the info available – and there’s a (very small) chance that the immunity conferred by infection is short-lived, so that we’ll be vulnerable until this burns or mutates itself out.

      But it’s very reasonable at this point to start a conversation about re-opening society.

    • dhomas 15:29 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Was Sweden right, though?

    • dhomas 15:31 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      So, I failed at HTML. Maybe this will work?

    • dhomas 15:31 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Last try:


      I’d love a “preview reply” feature on this site. 🙂

    • Jonathan 15:47 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      This isn’t a comment for david100, but more as a response to dhomas… once you start playing around with different metrics, things can look very different. I think it’s safe to say at this point it is unclear what approach was the best approach. And of course we really don’t (and will never really) know what the status quo in Canada would have produced.

      See for instance: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/total-covid-deaths-per-million?tab=chart&year=2020-04-21&country=SWE+NOR+DNK+CAN+FIN+USA+ITA+ESP+DEU

    • david100 16:09 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      But we’ll probably find that Sweden is far further along in the process of infection and antibodies than the countries that have a lower fatality rate.

      The real question is this: what will be the long-running effect of massively blown budgets (at the highest level) or severe cuts (local levels), and all the calamitous effects on businesses that this blunt lockdown created.

      Will suicides rise? Will alcoholism? Will the national wealth decrease? what happens to the culture?

      Sweden taking their 0.1% hit to the population early on could prove to be the right sort of trade-off that other countries regret not taking, in counterfactuals.

      We can’t know, of course.

      The point is that pretty much all the emerging data indicate that it’s reasonable now raise ending this lockdown.

    • david99 16:17 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      .1% hit to the population of infected.

    • Chris 16:19 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      dhomas, Sweden also has ~2x the population of those countries, so it would be more fair to look at cases/deaths per capita.

    • Kate 16:23 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      david99, why are you using this brief summary of news stories to soapbox for your ideas?

      We can’t throw everything open now. We especially can’t open the border to the U.S. because they’re completely nuts down there.

      Also, we don’t know yet whether having had COVID‑19, and having the antibodies, confers protection or, if it does, for how long.

      When all this began, I posted a tweet I saw somewhere saying something like “If our social distancing and other methods work, plenty of people will say we over-reacted.” This is what you’re doing now.

      Or, you know, just go volunteer for a CHSLD, and test your premises.

    • david2020 16:36 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      My point is that some people want to suggest that it’s unreasonable to start talking about reopening, but all the emerging evidence, like 100% of it, suggests that it’s reasonable.

      We’re inflicting the sort of harm on our economy that could take many years to fix. Based on very little evidence. And the good evidence that’s finally emerging is nowhere near as dire as the fears that prompted the lockdown.

      No political axe to grind, aside from being very very pro-growth, as you know. I’m a construction attorney, lol. I’m biased.

      On public health, I’m looking at the evidence.

    • david2020 16:44 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      (and I’m a staunch leftist whose obsession with the impact of political decisions on housing affordability – and, yes, zoning restrictions that create an artificial land shortage are the very definition of a political decision – drives my politics on so many things, to the point that it sometimes looks like I have very right-wing views, when in reality, my overriding concern is to keep housing costs as low as possible, as a pre-cursor to the sort of communities and human flourishing that I believe represent the fundamental and best way of being human.

      Aside from how annoying and masochistic I find the construction shutdown to be, this posture of mine is totally separate from my review of the evidence that finds that, yes, we’ve probably way overreacted. It was fine when we didn’t have the evidence to know how bad this could get, but now that the evidence is emerging, we need to make decisions based on the best data, and not what old data show could be a worst case scenario.)

    • Tee Owe 16:58 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      I tried earlier but something screwed up
      Bottom line – it’s a new virus, we have no immunity and no vaccine – so, do we get our deaths all at once or spread them out? The answer depends on whether the health system can cope with all at once or not. If it can, then go for it = Sweden. If there’s a doubt, then shut down to spread the load. Protecting the vulnerable should always be a priority, something the Swedes may have got wrong. But in the end it’s all about managing the health care system, the virus is inevitable.

    • Raymond Lutz 17:12 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      “Protecting the vulnerable should always be a priority” Even if they’re improductive? Money we are spending for the ederly could be better used elsewhere… housing, better roads, faster and cheaper internet… Que sais-je encore?

    • Raymond Lutz 17:56 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      @david2020 “but now that the evidence is emerging”… What new evidence? The new evidence is reopening too early starts second waves… https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52305055

      “Hokkaido has now had to re-impose the restrictions, though Japan’s version of a Covid-19 “lockdown” is a rather softer than those imposed elsewhere. Most people are still going to work. Schools may be closed, but shops and even bars remain open. Prof Shibuya thinks without tougher measures Japan has little hope of controlling this so called “second wave” of infections now taking place, not just in Hokkaido, but across the country. ”

      Again: on and off _progressive_ de-confinement… massive decentralized anti-bodies testing + PCR + sewage testing… coordonated with health systems capacity (INCLUDING elderly institutions) maybe that’s what you’re thinking of… yes, we can start talking…

    • Kate 18:14 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      dhomas: I looked into comment previews, but they seem to be linked to having formal memberships, and although I could create those and make people have memberships and be signed in to comment, I’ve never wanted to do that.

    • walkerp 18:37 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Looks to me like so far shutting down the economy has been very effective in bringing rents back down and driving airbnb out of our high-density neighbourhoods. The challenge will be to keep it that way when we start to emerge.

    • Tim S. 18:42 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      I would think that a basic pre-condition of re-opening would be getting liquid soap back in stores, never mind surgical masks and hand-sanitizer.
      In the meantime, I’m personally of the opinion that this should be a great exercise in figuring out what life in a de-growth economy would look like. It seems to be coming, one way or another.

    • qatzelok 18:43 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      walkerp, I’m with you that those are good things. But if they come at the price of destroying half the independent restaurants and other small business, along with causing all the psychological traumau… it’s not a good trade off. The extreme measures (WW2) were appropriate for a Death Plague type of virus, not a severe flu bug.

    • david100 19:27 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      I, of course, have been on about airbnb’s pernicious effects on this site for many years (though I like the idea of allowing airbnb in new buildings in Ville Marie for a period of time, to stimulate high rise development). I’m also probably this site’s most consistent (only?) proponent for a total ban on ‘formula retail’ or chain shops, in most neighborhoods. And I’ve advocated for many years for a strong empty storefront tax/fine that gets commercial rents down.

      All of these things have been basically accomplished by the economic armageddon of this lockdown. Airbnb operators – unless bailed out – will be radically thinned out, and tourism won’t recover for some time, so that nobody will be rushing in to take their places – these units will probably go back onto the real rental or sales market. Formula retail isn’t growing in the neighborhoods any time soon, because nothing is. The point of an empty storefront tax is to prompt owners to put commercial spaces on the market at lower prices, and that will happen now because, well, all prices will be lower. Existing places that managed to survive will probably be in a buyer’s market, and able to negotiate for lower rents.

      I should be happy as a clam, but it’s obviously a horrible, horrible thing. Like comrade qatzelok says, what happens when some place you love closes, times 50? I’m still not over Michel, Roi du Plateau doing down. What happens we get 20x that? How many places we love had only a month or two of reserves, and will now exist solely on their ability to get a landlord to play ball, or a scared public to come back out?

      Anyway, now that we’re getting data showing that we way way overestimated the danger – still needs to be confirmed in studies that will be published in waves over the next weeks, of course – we should switch gears completely and try to save what we can. And when that data is released, we need to publicize it as much as possible to try to, again, save what we can.

    • Raymond Lutz 19:33 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      SRAS-CoV-2 is “a severe flu bug”??? Ayoye… qatzelok, are-you a time travelers from decenmber 2019?

      That virus “acts like no microbe humanity has ever seen” and affects not only the lungs but also the kidneys, heart, brain, and the intestines.

    • Kate 19:33 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Again, david100: If our social distancing and other methods work, plenty of people will say we over-reacted. You are doing this.

    • Tim S. 19:36 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Sorry, am I correct in reading this as some people should die, and many others get really sick, so you guys can go to your favourite restaurants? Apologies if that’s not what you actually mean.

      Yes, we don’t want mass unemployment. But maybe this is time for us to think about what parts of our economy is actually essential, what is really make-work a la David Graebner, and what jobs can be shared.

    • david100 19:42 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Kate – that would be true is the lockdown and other measures had an effect on the lethality of the virus, rather than the spread. Clearly, they control the spread. But the lethality, is only a little worse than the flu, according to the best and latest study in North America.


      We’ll have more data fairly shortly. But this doesn’t appear to be a case where we’re glad we overreacted. It’s looking more like a case where, based on good intentions, and gloomy projections based on insufficient data, we just straight up overreacted.

    • Ephraim 20:18 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Someone had a breakdown of the problem with emergency rooms. Apparently, they won’t take them back in a senior’s residence if they have been to the emergency room. They need to test negative for COVID, because they could have been exposed at the hospital. AND they are more likely to wait and avoid going, so they are in worse situations when they get to the emergency rooms. We need a holding place outside of the emergency room.

    • Kevin 20:24 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      It is way too early to talk about infections, R rate, antibodies, etc. The data just isn’t reliable. Testing is nowhere near the state it should be to make such definitive statements.

    • Raymond Lutz 20:29 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Je suppose que vous savez que lethality, mortality and case fatality c’est TROIS choses différentes… mortality = lethality X contagiosity . Pensez-y quand vous comparez la covid-19 avec l’influenza. Aussi, l’influenza n’attaque pas LES REINS, LE FOI, LE CERVEAU, LE SYSTÈME SANGUIN, LE COEUR comme le fait le SARS-CoV-2.

    • Kevin 20:30 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Unvetted studies, not subject to peer review, tests not approved by the FDA or any agency, subjects curated through social media and conducted by an economist.

      That lands squarely in GIGO for me.

    • david1000 21:31 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      Kevin: I mean, how many of these will ever be vetted? https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1375

      Take a careful look at the USC study the LA Times article reports on, if you think that was conducted by an economist, I mean, you’re supposed to be the reporter, right?

      Watch for the UCSF study that’s currently in the field that’ll be out within a week or so.

      Garbage in, garbage out, because . . . we had some idea of something based on a lot less data back when we didn’t even really have good testing . . . something something . . . better data can’t be right.

    • david1000 21:42 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      For a lot of people, I think as better data comes in, they’re going to feel very misled, and embarrassed at the part they played in sounding the alarm and feeling so panicked based on such a low level of information.

      But we all have a part to stay on top of it and correct as soon as possible, so that we can save what we can.

    • Kevin 23:42 on 2020-04-21 Permalink

      All science should be vetted and reviewed by peers and challenged: that is what makes it science.

      I am a science-adjacent journalist. I had planned to go into research until I discovered I disliked lab work, but my wife and most of my friends are scientists and/or MDs. (Aside: my wife once told a Nobel prize winner that the fish she had named after him had died, so he better watch out 😉

      So I get the jargon, the attitudes, the linguistic code switching that scientists and doctors don’t realize they engage in.

      And that is crucial, because this jargon sounds a lot like English, but it isn’t. Words like “airborne” have very specific and different definitions for a virologist than for you and me.
      When doctors talk about asymptomatic cases, and the transmission of viruses, they are talking about hyper-specific timeframes.

      You cannot cherry-pick a one page summary article from 3 weeks ago in the BMJ and assume it’s still relevant. Certainly at a minimum one has to read the Responses to the article-several of which suggest that asymptomatic Covid19 individuals actually presented with other symptoms.

      “ we had some idea of something based on a lot less data back when we didn’t even really have good testing ”

      Our testing is STILL not good. These are not pee onna stick tests looking for hormones. Serology tests looking for antibodies take time, generate false positives and negatives, and this virus is so new nobody knows how long it takes to generate a viable number of antibodies in the average person.

      It is all too easy to read a paper, or an article about research, and completely misunderstand it à la Naomi Wolf.

    • David888 01:46 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      Man, I wrote a long response out, but I’ve done my job if you’re going to carefully follow, review, and report the emerging data, and refocus your healthy skepticism toward people who are basing their decisions on paranoia, old data, or politics.

    • Raymond Lutz 08:40 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      Is this the longest mtlcity weblog thread ever? Kate? (Word counts, not participants). Will this comment close it? What is the sound of one hand clapping?

    • Raymond Lutz 08:57 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      “this virus is so new nobody knows how long it takes to generate a viable number of antibodies in the average person.” clic clic clic googling… Found this:

      “Her laboratory has found that most people with SARS-CoV-2 don’t start producing antibodies—or seroconvert—until at least 11 to 12 days after symptom onset. “So, if we were using these rapid lateral flow assays at the point of care to test recently symptomatic patients,…they are more likely than not going to be negative,” she said.” https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2764954

      For those interested in serologic antibody testing primer this is a good read.

    • Chris 11:38 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      >Sorry, am I correct in reading this as some people should die, and many others get really sick, so you guys can go to your favourite restaurants?

      We all decide similarly for many other things.

      Driving your car generates air pollution that kills people and makes others really sick, all so you can be lazy and not take the bus or bike. Mining precious metals to make your smartphone kills people, in accidents, wars, and pollution, all so you can play games and looks at cats. My hyperbolic language is to match your ‘go to restaurants’ snark. But there are bigger reasons. Some people are unemployed, broke, hungry, without eyeglasses, seen their savings wiped, lonely, depressed, etc. For those individuals, a few others sick/dead may be better by their calculation. That doesn’t make it systemically better overall mind you, but for some individuals it may be.

      The cold reality is that a human life is not priceless. Oftentimes the benefits to millions outweighs the death of a few. (Not saying we are or are not on one side or the other of this equation wrt COVID.) I’m only saying this equation exists, and that we are always choosing on one side or the other for various things.

    • Tim S. 17:07 on 2020-04-22 Permalink

      Agreed, Chris. My point is that there’s a lot about “our economy” that maybe is less important than human life, and this is a good time to have that conversation. I’m willing to put myself at some risk, if necessary, so that everyone can eat, or have access to health care or education. So people can go back to driving their Range Rovers to their yoga class followed by a Starbucks coffee? Or fueling crazy price inflation in real estate? Not so much.

  • Kate 08:10 on 2020-04-21 Permalink | Reply  

    The city ombudsman took more calls in 2019 than in previous years. Pretty much any gripe somebody has with the city, she’s heard it.

    Last fall, Johanne Savard said she was going to retire, but evidently she’s still on the job. Le Devoir says this recent report is meant to be her last – their story gives more detail on the files she’s been concentrating on.

    • Kate 08:02 on 2020-04-21 Permalink | Reply  

      The Maurice Richard arena has been turned into a shelter as part of the city’s efforts to house people who’ve been sheltering in the metro. I heard on CBC radio just now that despite shelters being added in various locations, there are still not enough beds to house the city’s estimated 3000 homeless.

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