Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tam, is concerned that “fake news” is eroding public trust and hurting the efforts to fight Covid-19.
Dr. Tam is right.
There is indeed a pattern of misinformation and it does cause #LostTrust.
Let’s look at examples of misinformation generated by Public Health and disseminated by Mainstream Media.
Disclaimer: “Data as of October 20, 2020 – Ontario Health keep changing the numbers on their website so when you look at it you may see different numbers”.
1. Inflated case-numbers for Ontario:
On October 9, many news organization reported “a record” of 939 new cases, in Ontario:
However, the latest data, on October 21, is that the real number was 729 (see image below.).
Public Health Ontario and the media over-stated the number of new cases by 210 cases or 28.8%.
This false-reporting led the Premier of Ontario to push Toronto and Peel and Ottawa Regions back into Stage 2 with further restrictions, eroding the public’s trust in Public Health.
2. Inflated case-numbers for York Region
On October 15, 2020, Public Health officials informed the Premier that York Region had 127 new cases.
The next day, the Premier announced that York Region will go back to stage 2.
But Public Health data shows that, on October 15, 2020, the number of new cases for York Region was 50. Public Health Ontario over-stated the number of new cases by 77 cases or 154%.
Premier Ford’s decision to put York Region into “modified Stage 2”, was based on incorrect data provided by Public Health.
In conclusion, it appears that Public Health Ontario is feeding the Premier and the public with inflated, inaccurate numbers. This misinformation makes it hard for the Premier and other elected officials to reach informed decisions about the necessity of emergency measures.
False predictions and misguided outrage
On May 24, 2020, many gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park, in Toronto. Politicians and media raged that people were not social-distancing while outdoors. Premier Ford said: “It will spread like wildfire”. The predictions that people gathering outdoors will cause a sharp rise in Covid19 cases proved wrong. In the two weeks that followed the gathering, there was a sharp decline in the number of new cases in Toronto.