Today, the Ontario government began publishing summaries of COVID-19 cases in Long Term Care (LTC) homes in the province, based upon Daily Reports submitted by LTCs to the Ministry of Long Term Care (MoLTC). Sharing this information is a significant step in the right direction – and starts to address some concerns that we’ve raised in the past few weeks. Some concerns remain unaddressed and their importance is even increased by latest releases:
- The Ontario government’s daily updates on the status of COVID-19 cases in the province have improved over time. For several weeks, the daily updates have relied heavily on data retrieved from the province’s integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS). Today, the daily updates began to draw upon another source of information: Daily Reports submitted by LTC homes to the MoLTC. Unfortunately, these two sources of information are out-of-synch (see Table 1) – thwarting many potentially useful analyses.
- More information about COVID-19 cases in LTC homes that are no longer facing an “outbreak” is needed.
- When the number of deaths among residents in a particular LTC home is fewer than 5, the government is reporting “<5” rather than the actual count. The government is wrong in thinking that privacy considerations prevent the release of this information.
- While the Ontario government is to be credited with releasing information specific to LTC homes, it needs to release information specific to at least three other group/institutional care settings, where clients and staff are at increased risk: (i) Retirement Homes, (ii) Shelters, and (iii) Prisons.
|MoLTC Daily Report||Public Health Ontario|
|Outbreaks in LTC Homes||147||167|
|Confirmed Cases for LTC Residents||2,520||2,185|
|Confirmed Cases for LTC Staff||1,161||1,013|
|Total confirmed LTC resident deaths||654||454|
|Total confirmed LTC staff deaths||<5||<5|
We want to close by acknowledging the Ontario government’s responsiveness to these sorts of concerns – and hope to see continued improvement in its sharing of information with the public.