Toronto Public Health shifts COVID-19 case reporting strategy as it focuses on preparing for possible second wave
Published Monday, July 6, 2020 6:54PM EDT
Starting this week, the city will be providing updates on Toronto’s new COVID-19 cases three times a week instead of every day as the city pivots to prepare for a possible second wave.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Toronto Public Health is making the change because the city is at a point in the pandemic where “it is more valuable to focus on the general trends and patterns” than the daily count of new cases.
“Our new reporting schedule will allow our data team to dig deeper into these trends to better inform our actions to further reduce virus spread in our city,” de Villa said. “If our local situation changes, we will certainly go back to the daily reporting frequency.”
Toronto reported 67 new COVID-19 infections Monday, bringing the total case count to date to 14,678. That includes 1,105 deaths and 12,844 recoveries.
While the city plans to report its new case count less often, De Villa told reporters that there is no change in the agency’s commitment to transparency.
“We have strongly believed all the way through the COVID-19 response that it was important that we put data out there and that we maintain that transparency and accountability and this is exactly what we’ve done from the beginning,” de Villa said.
She said TPH will continue to provide daily case count numbers to the province. However the agency’s data team will be able to make better use of their resources by compiling public numbers less frequently.
“What we’re looking for is ensuring that our data team actually has that time to provide those deeper dives into the data that we have so that we can prepare for future activity, in particular a potential second wave,” de Villa said.
She said the data team has also faced a heavier workload as they make more information publicly available online.
De Villa said Monday that the city will begin this week to release individual-level information about those who have contracted the virus. She stressed that the data would be non-identifiable, but would help provide a better picture of who is being affected by COVID-19 in the city.
The data will include information on age range, gender, hospitalization, the date of an individual’s illness, and what neighbourhood they live in.
“This information, which will be published on the city’s open data public platform, will help demonstrate how this virus has impacted our city,” de Villa said.
De Villa said her team expects to have a “fulsome report” ready toward the end of the month that will detail how various communities in the city have been affected by the virus.