Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Tuesday that coronavirus affects some groups more than others.
Preliminary research by Toronto Public Health has analyzed small geographic areas of the city, but has not yet collected data at the individual level.
De Villa stressed that the analysis of geographic areas does not provide an in-depth precise analysis that collecting data on a case-by-case basis would do.
But based on information already known about geographic regions that indicate income level or immigration levels, Toronto Public Health makes its own “high level” inferences from the health data on coronaviruses already available.
De Villa pointed out that there were higher levels of coronavirus cases in low-income and immigrant communities, or in areas with higher unemployment rates.
“COVID-19 disproportionately affects these communities,” said de Villa.
In order to better understand how the virus affects these communities, more socio-demographic questions will be asked in the case management process.
“We will ask everyone who is positive about their race, income, household size, Aboriginal identity and First Nation status,” said de Villa.
“It will start in the near future after the database changes have been made.”
De Villa said the information was not made available earlier because they were working in other areas of Toronto with long-term care homes and the shelter community.
Toronto city councilor and chairman Joe Cressy, who advocated collecting race data, has shown support for changes in Toronto’s public health strategy.
“It is crucial that we measure the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has on different groups and communities,” said Cressy.
It is crucial to measure the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has on different groups and communities. that’s why @TOPublicHealth adds socio-demographic questions to tracking cases and contracts, including data on race, income, household size and Aboriginal identity.
– Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) May 5, 2020
He said that ” early analysisBy Toronto Public Health shows that COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are “higher in low-income regions, with high unemployment rates, with higher levels of recent immigrants.”
Cressy was vocal on collecting public health data on different ethno-racial groups to better understand how the virus spreads.
On April 22, Cressy noted that Toronto public health began performing a preliminary ecological analysis linking the home addresses of COVID-19 cases to regional estimates of socio-demographic characteristics as an indirect indicator of individual data.
The objective of the public health unit is to assess whether there are disparities in the incidence of COVID-19 and hospitalizations between socio-demographic groups in Toronto.
Toronto Public Health launched the Coronavirus Rapid Entry System (CORES) to manage case and contact tracking.
“In the coming weeks, we will explore the possibility of improving the data fields in CORES to allow the collection of race-based data,” said Cressy at the time.
To date, there have been 6,448 total cases of coronavirus with 469 deaths reported in Toronto.