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Opinion: December a COVID-19 disaster in Burnaby. Will January rebound?

Testing has cratered since mid-December

The BC Centre for Disease Control has stepped up its game in doling out COVID-19 data.

We’re now getting access to weekly numbers of new cases for specific communities like Burnaby, as well as monthly totals.

It’s not great because there isn’t a breakdown of such things as deaths in Burnaby or hospitalizations.

But I guess it’s something and certainly better than the limited data issued for cities just a month ago.

So, looking at the numbers, we now know that December was the worst month of 2020 for new COVID-19 cases.

While cases dropped as December went on, Burnaby still had 1,139 new cases, compared with the 1,081 new cases in November. By contrast, Burnaby had just 287 new cases in all of October and 238 cases in September.

So, what does January 2021 have in store for us?

Well, if you go by the numbers from the first part of January, things look better based on new cases.

The latest data from the BCCDC says that from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, Burnaby had 169 new COVID-19 cases.

That’s another steep drop from Dec. 20 to 26, when there were 214 new cases in Burnaby – a drop from the 287 new cases from Dec. 13-19 and 341 cases from Dec. 6-12 – the worst week for the city.

So, good news, right?

Well, not so fast. According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the number of tests conducted at the end of December was down as some people put off getting tested – perhaps to avoid ruining the holiday season.

According to this CBC story by Justin McElroy, the number of tests conducted dropped by a whopping 45% since around Dec. 20.

So if testing returns to normal levels, we could see positive tests skyrocket. We also get to find out if people were naughty at Christmas.

So it’s a bit of a waiting game right now.

One final note for local residents: according to the BCCDC, Burnaby has had 3,077 COVID-19 cases between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.