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COVID-19 Infections & Deaths: U.S. Border States vs Canadian Border Provinces

PortandTerminal.com, May 13, 2020

OTTAWA – The shared US and Canadian border has been closed to all but essential traffic since mid-March of this year in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

On April 17 we published an article that compared the COVID-19 infection rates and deaths between U.S. border states and their neighboring Canadian border provinces. Based on what we learned, we drew the conclusion (and headline) that “Canadians would be crazy to open up their border with the United States right now”

This article today looks at how those infection rates have changed over the past month and what, if any, implications we can draw about what that may mean when we discuss opening up our border again.

Background

Thirteen American States share the northern border with eight Canadian provinces including Alaska and the Yukon Territory up in the far north.

The population of the 13 American border states is about twice that of the 8 border provinces – 75 million Americans vs 36 million Canadians. So all things being equal, we would expect COVID-19 infection and death numbers to be about twice as high in the U.S. as they are in Canada.

The following are the highlights of what we found to actually be the case on April 17th.

US Border States vs Canadian Border Provinces (April 16)

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  • 11 times more infection in the US vs Canada (295,507 vs 27,539 infections). 
  • 18 time more deaths in the US vs Canada (17,947 vs 1,004 deaths)
  • The death rate of people who become infected is twice as high in the US vs Canada (6.07% vs 3.65%)

Updated findings (May 12)

May-12-Border-Map-COVID19

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Based upon Johns Hopkins CSSE data from May 12th we compared again the COVID-19 infection and deaths for the US. border states vs the Canadian border provinces.

Remember that we said that based upon their total population levels, we would expect COVID-19 infection and death numbers to be about twice as high in the U.S. as they are in Canada.

The overall conclusion is that Canada, while still in a much better position, is slowly catching up with its US neighbor in terms of infections and deaths. Also, Canadians who do get infected are now dying at the same rate as Americans.

  • Almost 7 1/2 times more infections in the US vs Canada (519,585 vs 70,160 infections). The US used to have 11 times more infections.
  • 7 1/2 times more deaths in the US vs Canada (39,285 vs 5,232 deaths). The US used to have 18 times more deaths.
  • The death rate of people who become infected is now identical in both the US and Canada (7.56% vs 7.46%)

Summary

As you compare specific American states to their neighboring Canadian provinces you can also see some clear watch-outs.

Vermont, for example, has low total COVID-19 infections and deaths (927/54) and should be cautious about any cross border traffic with its northern neighbor Quebec where the infection and death levels are huge — 39,225/3,131. That’s almost 42 times more infections in Quebec and 58 times the number of deaths compared to Vermont.

Similarly, Ontario would be smart to keep its borders shut tightly for now. The five US states that border on Ontario (Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York) have about 4 times the population than it does in total (59.6 million vs 14.4 million) but are far sicker.

The combined infection and death levels in the those five US border states though are over 20 times higher than they are in Ontario.

It should come as no surprise that Canada and the United States appear likely to extend a ban on non-essential travel until June 21 amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, sources in both nations said on Wednesday.

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