COVID-19 has resulted in a number of closures and cancellations. (File photo)                                COVID-19 has resulted in a number of closures and cancellations. (File photo)

COVID-19 has resulted in a number of closures and cancellations. (File photo) COVID-19 has resulted in a number of closures and cancellations. (File photo)

COLUMN: COVID-19 statistics are the stories of people

This pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers

It took six months for the world to reach the first 10 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The next 10 million confirmed cases happened just over six weeks later, on Aug. 10.

And since that time, it has taken just one month and one week to add 10 million more confirmed COVID-19 cases. This figure was reached on Sept. 16.

How long will it take to reach the next 10 million cases?

In addition to the number of confirmed cases, another number must also be considered. We are approaching one million deaths from COVID-19.

These are not just numbers. Every person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and every person who has died as a result of this pandemic is, before all else, a person.

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The numbers must still be considered, and the statistical analysis is important. But each of the COVID-19 numbers is about something affecting people.

More than half the total number of COVID-19 cases to date have come from just four countries. The United States, India, Brazil and Russia have more than 17 million cases between them, and while the number of new daily cases has been dropping in the United States, India’s new daily cases have been at disturbing levels for several weeks. The country has been recording more than 90,000 new cases each day for some time.

And in numerous other countries, including Argentina, France, Spain, Colombia, Peru and Mexico, the number of new daily cases is in the thousands.

By comparison, Canada’s numbers have been quite good.

This could be in part because the messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, provincial premiers and federal and provincial health officers has remained consistent.

However, after more than half a year of COVID-19 precautions in Canada, the pandemic is not going away in this country. Instead, the numbers are continuing to increase, with no end in sight.

In the summer, case numbers in British Columbia began to rise. At the time, many hoped the increase would represent a spike in new cases.

But instead, the number of new cases has not shown any significant decrease since mid-July.

While it is easy to focus on the number of cases and the number of deaths from COVID-19, it is important to remember that this pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers.

This disease has affected people around the world. It is not limited on one geographic region or to one socio-economic segment.

By now, a growing number of people know one or more people who have had COVID-19. Some have recovered while others have not. And some of those who no longer have COVID-19 are still dealing with long-term health effects from this disease.

Others around us have underlying health problems, such as heart and lung issues, compromised immune systems or chronic ailments. If they were to contract the virus, the outcome could be much more serious than for an otherwise healthy young person.

And even among those who are in good health, COVID-19 can be fatal.

This is not a disease anyone would wish to contract, and it is not a disease anyone would knowingly pass on to a friend or loved one, particularly someone with other underlying health concerns.

And yet, more than 30 million people around the world have tested positive for this disease, and nearly one million have died as a result.

This pandemic isn’t just about numbers and statistics. It affects people like us.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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