November 25th, 2020

City Notebook: Clear as mud with dirt on the way

By COLLIN GALLANT on November 21, 2020.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

New studies prove what you might have suspected, but maybe weren’t sure about.

The longer people have to think about something, and the more information they are given, the less they tend to know about a certain subject. Or at least, they’re less certain about what they know.

It’s a study of how people consume info on the internet: retaining quite a bit early on, then less as time drags on and clicks mount, then eventually their understanding reverses.

This could be the COVID pandemic in a nutshell; the longer it goes on, the more opportunity there is for information overload.

The more people hear about this country in Europe, or that study, quoted by their buddies on Facebook or Bill at the barbershop, the murkier things get, don’t they?

People don’t know what to believe, it seems. And that’s a great recipe for doing nothing. And that’s back dropped by any number of people who will argue that “didn’t you know it’s exactly the opposite that should be done?”

This column used to prevent a semi-regular feature about how the math works in certain tricky situations. So, here’s some math.

Please apply you’re own common sense.

– A projection on Friday that Canada might reach 20,000 new cases a day in January if the current increases aren’t arrested before an expected surge after Christmas. For perspective, Canada’s population is about one-tenth that of the U.S., so multiply our numbers by 10 to compare us to our southern neighbours and come to 200,000.

Cases there each day are currently about 160,000 – a world-worst figure by any measure.

– And don’t feel too confident about Medicine Hat’s relatively low number among Alberta regions. A total of 69 cases here Friday gives us a per-100,000 resident rating of 103. There are another 38 in Cypress County, the major population areas of which can essentially be counted as Medicine Hat, pushes the local population levels near or above cities in Alberta where restrictions are more strict.

As well, total cases in Medicine Hat rose from 34 at the end of last week to 69 on Friday. That’s double, not even considering cases that came off the total as people recover.

– “It’s the flu,” is something you hear a lot, but let’s think about this for a minute. In bad flu years, Alberta records about 90-100 deaths from influenza.

The COVID pandemic death toll in Alberta was 451 as of Thursday. And, that’s only through nine months and with an unprecedented effort to halt the spread, something the flu numbers of past years don’t have benefit from.

– And lastly, the largest group of those most at risk of developing serious complications from the disease are seniors. In Medicine Hat, that number totalled 10,300 in the most recent city census, or one out of six Hatters. There are also 10 ICU beds within 60 miles.

There’s lots to consider and there’s little that’s more complicated or confusing than mountains of medical information pouring in from all sources.

A little simple logic goes a long way however. So does simple hand soap, and some simple guidance to maintain distance, limit your contacts and keep your head.

A look ahead

The city’s public services committee meets on Monday to discuss grant outlays from a special Community Vibrancy fund made up of remaining amounts held over due to COVID cancellations.

The province will hold a mid-year fiscal update on Tuesday and will introduce an appropriation bill later that day.

100 years ago

United Farmers leader Henry Wise Wood held a rally in Medicine Hat, the News reported in late November 1920, following hot on the heels of visits by Prime Minister Arthur Meighen and opposition leader William Lyon Mackenzie King,

Farmers needed a change in tariff policy to give them access to American produced equipment, argued Wise Wood, as well as stable grain pricing system.

A San Francisco man was charged after his neighbour’s cow became drunk and destroyed a garden and fences. A police investigation found the rampage was the result of mash from an illegal still being thrown over the fence.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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