Saturday, July 18, 2020

A Lethal Combination - Booze and Covid-19

Every day the courts get plenty of business from people who can't hold their booze and people who can't drink responsibly. Fights, traffic accidents, DUIs, petty crimes - everything goes better with booze. So does Covid-19.

Across the country we're seeing Covid-infections flaring up where people gather to drink and party. After witnessing what happened in Florida following Spring Break this outcome should have come as no surprise.

Booze makes people, or at least some people, throw caution to the wind. Ask the locals at Spanish resort towns as hordes of besotted Brits descend on them.  But let's get back to home, Canada.
Ilene Polansky, owner of Montreal restaurant Maestro SVP, said disrespectful clients littered; stumbled into her; did not distance; refused to wash their hands; and stormed off when she declined to group tables together. 
Now Montreal has long lineups for testing, with infections rising and dozens of cases linked to bars, prompting new provincial guidelines.

Alberta faced 41 new cases tied to outbreaks at four restaurants in Edmonton late last month. British Columbia has seen exposure to COVID-19 in bars, nightclubs and strip clubs since reopening. Ontario reopened bars and restaurants in much of the province Friday as it moves into Stage 3.

The post-reopening spikes inevitably raise questions about whether Canada is simply a few weeks behind a neighbour that reopened sooner.
These instances, of course, are anecdotal. The telling metric is the positivity rate, the percentage of people tested who are positive for coronavirus infection.  Here, despite the problems in our bars and outdoor social gatherings, Canada's numbers are mercifully low compared to most American states.
The statistic to watch, according to one U.S. epidemiologist: the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus, and which direction it goes. 
That's a metric Jennifer Nuzzo follows closely as a leading indicator of where case totals are headed. 
If it starts to move down, that's good news; if it moves up, that's a red flag that more cases are being missed, more people are unwittingly spreading the virus, and there's a growing chance it might spiral out of control.
The goal set by the World Health Organization is to keep positive test rates below five per cent. 
By that standard, the U.S. is in brutal shape. A whopping 33 U.S. states had rates higher than the WHO benchmark on Thursday, with several just above or just under 20 per cent. 
In Montreal, even after its latest spike, the positivity rate inched upward, from a low under one per cent to three per cent this week. Quebec overall has a positivity rate of 1.4 per cent; British Columbia and Ontario both sit at about 0.8 per cent positivity; and Alberta hovers around 1.7 per cent.

More than 3.3 million Canadians have been tested for coronavirus since the pandemic began, with a positivity rate of about three per cent.
The Americans, of course, have been 'doing' summer for longer than what we get in Canada. That's why Americans sometimes refer to us as 'snowbirds.' We may have to wait for another month for an accurate picture of whether Canada has allowed Covid-19 to regain a meaningful toehold and what then may lie in store of we're hit by the dreaded "second wave."


Anonymous said...

Alcohol certainly makes people careless, stupid and violent. A shocking portion of the cases we studied in first year Crim involved some combination of booze, testosterone and firearms. So booze will definitely contribute to coronavirus spread.

But the biggest reason to be very cautious in opening bars and restaurants is that people can't eat and drink with a mask on. These places are inherently risky even if they're not licenced. I refuse to set foot in one unless it's to collect takeout, and I don't see that changing in the near future.


The Disaffected Lib said...

Cap, did you ever read the one about the guy arrested after he was found having sex with a deceased young lady in the back of his van? The guy's defence came down to "I didn't know she was dead. I thought she was English."

Booze indeed "makes people careless, stupid and violent." I wonder what costs are incurred by the public health agencies from those who visit pubs or alcohol-fueled outdoor parties. Perhaps we should levy an additional sin tax on pub sales, a couple of bucks a pint sort of thing, to defray these costs.

Lorne said...

While I am very sympathetic to the brutal toll the pandemic has taken on the hospitality industry, Mound, I think, based on other jurisdictions thus far, we pretty much know reopening bars at this point will not end well. So much for the precautionary principle, eh?

Anonymous said...

We have completely failed as a society when we place the demands of licensees and purveyors of alcohol over the needs of children and young adults when it comes to education.

How are we opening bars and restaurants and still can't get our heads around school?

FFS. What a mess. If this is our legacy, we have nothing to show but shame.