Why the U.S.-Canada border isn’t going to open any time soon – or the Atlantic Bubble

Image credit: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data. Click on the map to see more details.

As this map and graph illustrate so clearly, many parts of the world are experiencing a frighteningly potent new wave of coronavirus cases. Different jurisdictions are trying different strategies to try to contain the spread, from tight lockdowns to government dictates that severely limit public and private gatherings to ‘well, maybe you should wear a mask … if you want to”.

Why is it important to work hard to contain community spread, given that the majority of the people who test positive recover without serious or lingering effects and that a vaccine is on the horizon, hopefully just months down the road? Because:

  • The person who doesn’t experience serious symptoms – or any symptoms – can easily spread the disease to people who will experience devastating consequences.
  • The person who doesn’t experience serious or any symptoms can spread the virus to many, many people. It spreads like wildfire!
  • As the hospitals become inundated with COVID patients, their ability to handle any other cases decreases, often to nil. Waiting lists for non-life-threatening operations like hip and shoulder replacements are growing to be years rather than months. In severe situations, even essential treatments and operations are put on hold because of overwhelmed hospitals. This is a huge quality-of-life issue and a huge threat to our healthcare systems. Not to mention to our healthcare workers!

I came across this revealing chart on CTV News online yesterday and thought it was important to share. Typically we see the daily number of COVID cases by country, state, or province, but we don’t have an easy way to compare these figures, since the populations vary so much. For example, if California has 5000 new daily cases, with a population of more than 39 million, that’s quite a different story than if Iowa were to have 5000 new cases, with a population of just over 3 million. It’s bad news for both states, but it’s not the same thing. This site at CTVNews.ca presents this data in a few different ways, but in each case it is presented per 1 million of population. A more telling presentation, a comparison that actually compares apples to apples. The table that follows shows the daily number of cases, averaged over the past 7 days, for each state, province, and territory. It’s ranked according to each jurisdiction’s average daily number of new cases.

Before you look through it, keep in mind that these numbers are updated on this site every day. The ones for the states are already a day old and a tiny bit out of date, but I couldn’t bring myself to update it all! You can check it out for yourself at CTV News online.

Comparing daily COVID-19 cases in all U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories
(Showing 7-day average daily cases/million of population)

#1 in U.S. – North Dakota
1,700.6 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#2 in U.S. – South Dakota
1,438.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#3 in U.S. – Iowa
1,414.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#4 in U.S. – Wisconsin
1,081.1 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#5 in U.S. – Wyoming
1,068.8 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#6 in U.S. – Nebraska
1,037.9 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#7 in U.S. – Illinois
902.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#8 in U.S. – Minnesota
852.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#9 in U.S. – Kansas
833.1 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#10 in U.S. – Montana
817.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#11 in U.S. – Utah
812.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#12 in U.S. – Idaho
704.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#13 in U.S. – Indiana
692.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

 #14 in U.S. – Alaska
677.8 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#15 in U.S. – Missouri
661.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#16 in U.S. – Rhode Island
627.6 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#17 in U.S. – Colorado
614.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#18 in U.S. – New Mexico
598.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#19 in U.S. – Michigan
568.1 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#20 in U.S. – Oklahoma
525.7 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#21 in U.S. – Tennessee
493.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#22 in U.S. – Arkansas
491.6 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

 #23 in U.S. – Kentucky
458.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#24 in U.S. – Ohio
454.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#25 in U.S. – Nevada
432.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#26 in U.S. – Connecticut
375.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#27 – in U.S. – Mississippi
341.7 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#28 in U.S. – West Virginia
335.8 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#29 in U.S. – Alabama
316.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#30 in U.S. – Texas
308.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#31 in U.S. – Massachusetts
295.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#32 in U.S. – New Jersey
293.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#33 in U.S. – Arizona
285.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#34 in U.S. – Pennsylvania
280.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/20

#1 in CanadaManitoba
270.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/2020

#35 in U.S. – Delaware
265.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#36 in U.S. – Florida
245.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#37 in U.S. – North Carolina
241.9 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#38 in U.S. – Maryland
228.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#39 in U.S. – Georgia
225.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#40 in U.S. – South Carolina
225.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

 #41 in U.S. – Oregon
193.8 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#42 in U.S. – New York
184.7 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#43 in U.S. – Virginia
178.6 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#44 in U.S. – New Hampshire
166.9 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#2 in CanadaAlberta
166.9 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#45 in U.S. – California
161.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#46 in U.S. – Washington
160.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#47 in U.S. – District of Columbia
157.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#3 in CanadaQuebec
147.9 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#48 in U.S. – Louisiana
139.5avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#49 in U.S. – Maine
120.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#4 in CanadaSaskatchewan
109.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#5 in CanadaBritish Columbia
106.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#6 in CanadaOntario
86.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#50 in U.S. – Hawaii
75.8 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#51 in U.S. – Vermont
61.4 avg. daily, per million on 11/11/20

#7 in CanadaNunavut
11.0 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#8 in CanadaPrince Edward Island – part of Atlantic Bubble
3.6 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#9 in CanadaYukon
3.5 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#10 in CanadaNorthwest Territories
3.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#11 in CanadaNova Scotia – part of Atlantic Bubble
2.2 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#12 in CanadaNew Brunswick – part of Atlantic Bubble
1.3 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

#13 in CanadaNewfoundland and Labrador – part of Atlantic Bubble
1.1 avg. daily, per million on 11/12/2020

[U.S. data is collected daily from the COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Canadian data is collected by CTV News based on daily provincial reports.]

These rankings are not meant to give Canadians a feeling that things aren’t so bad after all. Not at all. If anything, the message should be a wake-up call of just how quickly things can get badly out of control, which we’re already finding out in many of our own jurisdictions. Keeping our heads down, wearing our masks, keeping our distance, and sharing our Thanksgivings, birthdays, and Christmas with far-flung family through FaceTime and Zoom instead of face to face for a few more months is what’s required. Not just for our own good but for the sake of others.

As you look at the rankings and the map, you will realize why the U.S.-Canada border will stay closed until the virus is far better contained. And you will see why the people who live in the Atlantic Bubble are in no rush to open the border with either our neighbouring state of Maine or our neighbouring province of Quebec! We will be rejoice when opening borders is possible, but one look at that table tells us that it’s going to be awhile.

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25 Responses to Why the U.S.-Canada border isn’t going to open any time soon – or the Atlantic Bubble

  1. Pingback: A COVID kind of year-end | Robby Robin's Journey

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Startling figures. Presumably though the Bubble’s economy is dead in the water? Even Quebec is a paragon compared to most of the American states.

    Here in Jersey (C.I.) we haven’t fared badly but the numbers are creeping up and we await an announcement of further restrictions (though not lockdown, we’re promised) tomorrow.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Actually, our economy is in no worse shape than other places. The tourism industry has a brutal summer season without our usual Quebec and Ontario visitors, but everyone was pretty religious about planning lots of “staycations” and visiting places in each other’s provinces that they hadn’t bothered with before, so it wasn’t a write-off. Restaurants are operating at about 40-50% capacity because of distancing requirements, but people are very good about supporting local business,so they’re holding on. Pretty well everyone is at work and school, either online or in-office. There will be a lot of retirees here this winter who would typically be in Florida, spending their money at home!

  3. Thanks for the data! This is truly astonishing, and yes, I think the border should remain closed for some time, for safety purposes. Re: North and South Dakota, I remember that the huge motorcycle Sturgess gathering took place in August and threatened to be a super-spreader event. Wonder if anyone’s collected data on the number of folks who contracted COVID then, and if this is why the states in the mid west are seeing such high numbers.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I think that motorcycle rally was undoubtedly a spreader, and they came from all over and then went back home with whatever they caught. Not to mention the Trump rallies, which local authorities begged them not to have. Ignoring the safety rules doesn’t seem to work very well! 😥

  4. Jean says:

    So Alberta looks worse than California, since CA has way more folks living there.
    Sad. Anyway here in Canadian media we’re getting alot of news articles to inform people about mask wearing, quality of masks, etc.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, the hope for the recent rises in Canada, is that (most) Canadians are pretty good at following restrictions once the reason is understood. The reason seems pretty clear right now!

      • Jean says:

        I want to believe that. 😦 I was talking to my doctor-sister in Toronto. She is an emergency medicine doctor. Her comment for 1 of the hospitals that is also a covid assessment centre where a friend works there: “People are unbelievably stupid.”

        It floors me at bakery-cafe place in our neighbourhood, I see many people enthusiastically socializing. There are pexiglass dividers for table separation but this restaurant does get busy with other people lining up for pickup food after they choose from glass cases.

        Yes, I’m one of them and then I leave. With winter now, the patio door can no longer be flung open for fresh air circulation.

  5. Paulie says:

    And topping the list? Three states in which the person in charge states different versions of, “In our state we believe in individual freedoms and trust our citizens to make responsible choices.”
    That’s fine except that people all too often don’t make responsible choices (especially after going into a bar and having a few).

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, it’s sad – and irresponsible – beyond measure. You get enough disconcerting behaviour when there are tight restrictions in place; it’s called human nature. That’s why the govt needs to be the “grownup in the room” at times like this. Too many people confuse the notion of freedom. When you live in a society, freedom must come with a responsibility to fellow citizens. 😥

  6. 😦 Yep sorry to say we have it bad in the UK, lookin on the bright side people are accepting the virus is here to stay and are prepared to work and go to school if they can…………… there maybe a lesson there that politicians should take note of! Touch wood I’ve worked the past 5 months and travelled daily by bus if I get it such is life, if it comes to dying by covid-19 make it as painless as possible 🙂

    ………..I’m a big fan of quality masks with a silk filter btw.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Aha, but you’re wearing your mask! Good job. These are such tough calls, so many things to balance. But I do know from fellow UK bloggers that there are increasing numbers of cases in the schools. And dying from COVID, or even being really sick from it, is not quick or pleasant. And the cases are overwhelming the hospitals and staff. So the current UK position is somewhat precarious. But you’re in good company! Stay safe.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      A.S., I just did the calculation for the UK based on today’s daily new cases; you had 397 cases per million. That puts the UK squarely between the 25th and 26th ranked states!

  7. AMWatson207 says:

    I just got back from the grocery store and the push to hoard and the pushback from the stores is back. This next wave coming in conjunction with our government’s problems is making the approaching holidays anything but bright.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      It’s interesting that you can see increases in people hoarding. That’s probably a good sign; it means that people are taking this seriously. There are people in my family living in Ontario who still order their food online and pick it up without getting out of their car. I guess we needed more people to keep that mindset! It will definitely be a quiet holiday season for those who respect the threat. By next year’s holiday seasons things should be looking up!

  8. Yes, yes! Maine isn’t doing too bad, but that’s by the horrible standards of the rest of the country. Quite right to keep the borders closed. We’re in for some rough sledding in the U.S. Hope President Biden is able to ease some of that.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Maine is doing better than several parts of Canada now! It doesn’t take long. But the parts of Canada that are seeing cases increase alarmingly are at least working to tighten things up. Boy, it’s a tough thing to manage, but the laissez-faire approach in many places and/or by too many people is definitely not helping.

  9. bernieLynne says:

    Yes putting it into the per million is apples to apples and it shows exactly why I keep emailing my premier to do more restrictions. I feel we need to do a full on lock down so we don’t end up in the same situation as Manitoba. Yes we built an overflow hospital in a temporary location but who the heck is gonna man it and the overflowing ones already stuffed two to a room in ICU?

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, it’s really scary to witness the reality of how quickly it gets out of control once it gets into the “community”. I hope SK can get a handle on things quickly. Ironically, we were supposed to have a big extended-family gathering in Wakasu in July. In Feb I contacted my niece in Saskatoon to ask if maybe we should cancel before lots of people bought plane tickets. At that time she couldn’t imagine the virus ever being a problem in SK. How things changed – everywhere! The best we can do now is be vigilant ourselves. I find blogging helps! 😏

      • bernieLynne says:

        I know — our numbers in most of the summer were like yours except for the outbreaks on colonies. Then boom late fall and it exploded. Now people aren’t doing what they need to do — not sure why they feel the need to wait for the government to lock us down. Just decrease your contacts and stay home unless it’s essential. I get where she was coming from though – SARS never got out of Toronto and Vancouver and it just seems like we are the middle of nowhere so you think nah can’t happen here but it does.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          Yup. Hopefully we will all be able to get this latest scary wave under control very soon. Surely it is a wake-up call to the general public as to just how contagious this virus is.

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