LILLEY: Texas scores home run against COVID

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A container of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a Shopper's Drug Mart in Toronto on March 12, 2021.


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On a warm and sunny Monday afternoon, more than 40,000 people in Arlington, TX sat down in their seats to watch the Texas Rangers take on the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

More than 2,300 kilometers northeast of Toronto, we are not allowed to watch baseball games in person, and if some prominent local doctors in the province are successful, we will be back under order to stay. at home.

Texas is wide open, despite COVID-19, as Ontario continues to go through the last of a rotation of endless lockdowns.

Many Canadians will scoff at what Texas does, commenting on irresponsible Republican governors who are pushing the United States back. They shouldn’t be chuckling – not if you compare the situation in Texas to that in Ontario.

Gov. Greg Abbott declared his state open on March 2, lifting a mask warrant and telling businesses that opening or closing was their choice. The move has been denounced as irresponsible and a surefire way to see COVID cases and deaths soar.

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But instead, the opposite happened.

From a seven-day average of 7,249 new cases per day in early March to 2,943 Sunday, COVID cases in Texas have been declining steadily since the reopening. The same is true for hospitalizations and deaths.

Meanwhile, here in Ontario, we are in a province-wide “shutdown” after Premier Doug Ford pulled “the emergency brake” and forced a series of businesses to shut down again. In Toronto, where we have been locked up since November 23, cases continue to increase.

Over the past few days, Ontario’s new daily case count has hovered across the 3,000 mark – roughly equal to Texas, which has twice our population. To put the respective case numbers in comparable terms, Ontario has recorded 121 cases per 100,000 in the past 7 days, compared to Texas, which has 67.

Throughout the pandemic, Texas has done much worse on the most important statistic – deaths. At 164 deaths per 100,000, Texas is more than triple the rate of 50 per 100,000 in Ontario.

That said, their handling of COVID lately is far superior to that of Ontario. What’s the secret? Was it just that there were more vaccinations?

Texas administered at least one vaccine vaccine to 28% of its population, while Ontario administered the same first dose to 14% of residents. In Texas, 15% of the population is fully vaccinated compared to 2% in Ontario.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist working at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital, says there are two main issues for Ontario compared to Texas: the variants and the vaccines.

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Texas doesn’t have creepy variants like Ontario, but they do have a lot of vaccines.

“What has happened is that Ontario has been hit hard by this B1 variant and over the past seven days our performance has been worse,” says Jha.

“Immunization coverage in the United States as a whole has been far superior to that of Canada as a whole.”

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Jha notes that our neighboring states, particularly Michigan, have been hit hard by the variants – the UK in particular. This has not happened in Texas at this point; they do not deal with variants that spread quickly and are highly contagious.

“We’re hit because of the variants, and we’re too slow on vaccines,” Jha says.

The end result: More calls for ever tighter lockdowns in Ontario while in Texas 40,000 people exercised their agency and participated in a ball game.

Some wore masks, others weren’t. Some socially distanced, others not.

In Texas, people have choices. In Ontario, we have an evolving set of rules and lockdowns.

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