Are People Being Hospitalized With COVID or Because of COVID?

This is an important question, and one we need to process.

Here’s one of the pages I check on a daily basis to try to get a handle on the current situation in Ontario. If you sift through the data on that page you can better understand where we’re at and some of the possible reasons for the actions that are being taken.

Among the numerous other helpful charts there, I’m glad to see that as of today they added the following charts because they bring clarity to the “with COVID or because of COVID?” question.


Counting cases has always been somewhat subjective. There is no way to know the absolute number of cases without everyone being tested. So we’ve relied on harder numbers like hospital and ICU admissions. Now it looks like, with Omicron, hospitalizations are no longer the most trustworthy indicator either.

Almost 50% of people being admitted to the hospital are “incidental COVID positives” – meaning they are admitted for non-COVID reasons but are found to have COVID upon arrival. But let’s not discount that completely – these folks still require extra resources due to their COVID-positive status so that they don’t infect others.

On the second chart, it seems that monitoring ICU admissions is still a reliable metric.


83% of people admitted to Ontario ICUs with COVID were admitted because of COVID. So there is the answer to our question.

What sites and sources do you regularly consult to help make sense of the world as it pertains to COVID? Feel free to discuss in the comments. As always, ask anything, but keep it civil and reasonable.

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COVID Has Made Us Weary, But We Should Still Be Doing Good

If you are in a season that feels barren and fruitless, take heart – over time, if we are persistent in our pursuit of God and obedient to his will and plan, we will bear fruit. Now might be a time when you are being pruned and watered and weathered so that your fruit will be both sweeter and more abundant when the appointed season comes. 

“As for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.”

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Seldom in the world’s history has the entirety of humankind been subjected to such mind-numbing and soul-crushing stress and chaos that has led to such persistent weariness. During this time, on days when I’m feeling down, it’s easy to look for the fruits of my efforts and wonder if I’ve accomplished anything at all. On those weary days, progress seems painfully slow and tangible “results” seem like a barren field on a foggy morning. This is quite opposite of what we desire, isn’t it? 

We would all love for our efforts to result in immediate, visible, tangible fruit, but fruit is a fitting metaphor, and it is no accident that this metaphor is employed frequently in Scripture. As Psalm 1 points out, the blessed person is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season

How the Wicked and the Righteous Grow

In Psalm 92 we see a clear contrast between the wicked and the righteous. In v7 we learn that “though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever,” while in v12 we see that “the righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar” that still bears fruit in old age and is ever full of sap and green (v14). 

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The wicked have their day in the sun, their flash in the pan, their proverbial “15 minutes of fame.” They sprout like grass, which grows rapidly but provides little value and fades away just as quickly as it appeared. Although these people are often among the most prominent in the world and seem to be successful by worldly standards (we might even envy them sometimes), in the end, such people are doomed to destruction.

The righteous, however, are like palm or cedar trees. Palm trees take about five years to grow a trunk and another 15 years to produce coconuts, but they can live for hundreds of years. They represent slow growth and much fruit, just the opposite of grass.

Cedars are evergreen trees that can grow to over 150 ft and live up to 300 years. They are known for their alluring scent and have an ornamental quality because of their beauty. Cedar is also used for guitar tops and is known for its warm tone. Cedar trees represent beauty, warmth, and an inviting aroma. We might think of this aroma as “the fragrance of life” that is mentioned in 2 Cor. 2:16.

The Long Blessings of Slow Growth

In contrast to the wicked, the righteous grow slowly but they live long and fruitful lives. For such people, what often looks like a season of fruitlessness is actually a season of preparation. If we see a tree as only useful when there is ripe fruit to pick, we might see it as useless at all other times. 

But trees are not useless during seasons when the fruit is not visibly emerging. During times of not bearing fruit, a tree is still being prepared to be fruitful: it is being pruned and watered and weathered, all of which will make the fruit sweeter and more abundant. Even the blessed person is not bearing fruit in all seasons but in the appointed season; there is a cyclical pattern to fruit-bearing. 

If you are in a season that feels barren and fruitless, take heart – over time, if we are persistent in our pursuit of God and obedient to his will and plan, we will bear fruit. Now might be a time when you are being pruned and watered and weathered so that your fruit will be both sweeter and more abundant when the appointed season comes. 

So, as for you, do not grow weary in doing good.

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The Deep Lack of Wisdom That COVID Has Revealed

The COVID period has revealed a deep lack of biblical wisdom among those who call themselves Christians. We have not been desperate for God’s wisdom, even while we eagerly consume the many doses of folly that invade our minds via social media. Do not be surprised if you are frustrated and do not know what to think if you have feasted on foolishness while starving yourself of real wisdom. 

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders,

making the best use of the time.”

Colossians 4:5

To walk in wisdom toward outsiders requires us to first seek wisdom from the right source, but too often our words are many while our prayers are few. We crave constant activity and the notoriety that comes along with our publicly visible efforts. We want to be seen and known, and not always with the most virtuous motives.

So we must not apply this command, as I sometimes have, in a way that justifies our burnout-inducing over-busyness. The causes of burnout are many and not all are sinful, but “burning out for Jesus” is not a game plan to be proud of; it is a sin to be repented of. Often the “best use of the time” is to sit and do nothing physically or audibly, to do nothing more than take in God’s word, to ask God questions, and to sit quietly as we wait for answers. He promises to supply wisdom if we ask. 

Ask For Wisdom

In the men’s Bible study I lead on Thursday nights, we always start by having someone read James 1:5-8, which promises the following:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

After this reading, we pray, asking God with all the desperation we can muster to supply us with wisdom and to make us willing to receive it, learn from it, and then to go and live accordingly. Life is filled with constant challenges and we often feel unprepared. God’s promise to supply wisdom is not a promise made in vain. If we are humble enough to admit that we need wisdom and we ask for it, he will give it to us – generously!

Making the Best Use of the Time

The command to “make the best use of the time” frequently interrupts my days and my thoughts. It is easy to misunderstand this statement as a command to constant busyness, but if we understand it this way we will fail to live as Jesus did. We will not take times of solitude to spend with the Father. We will not rest as often as needed. 

We will flit about, feasting on one bit of information that is presented to us, and then another morsel that is diametrically opposed. Instead of gaining wisdom, we reap confusion. And then we distribute our confusion to others, perpetuating a downward spiral of frustration.

The COVID period has revealed a deep lack of biblical wisdom among those who call themselves Christians. We have not been desperate for God’s wisdom, even while we eagerly consume the many doses of folly that invade our minds via social media. Do not be surprised if you are frustrated and do not know what to think if you have feasted on foolishness while starving yourself of real wisdom. 

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George Orwell, COVID-19, and the War Metaphor

As examples of over-enforcement multiply and as we see snitch lines and people’s willingness to use them, we may want to take one giant step back, turn our heads side to side with our eyes open, and observe what seems to be happening around us. As I said in a post last week, “with the penchant for sensationalism on the part of some of the media, and the lust for attention and control on the part of some of our politicians, there may very well be aspects of this crisis that are being overstated. And some may be positioning themselves for greater access to the levers of power once the crisis has abated.” And so, “careful inquiry is always warranted in unusual times when people stand to gain anything, and in the midst of this crisis there are those who see opportunities for improper gain.” Since I wrote that, my optimism about government over-reach has faded significantly. I’ve been thinking a lot about the limits of obedience in the context of Romans 13, which, taken (as it always should be) along with the rest of scripture, does not advocate absolute obedience to the state. This means we should not simply “do what we’re told” in every circumstance. When those in authority attempt to leverage a crisis to expand their control over those under their authority, we should not hesitate to speak up.  

The War Metaphor

And so we should be alarmed when we read words like these from a recent editorial in the Globe and Mail that bluntly states, “Canada is at war. It’s a war that is going to be costly, though how costly is impossible to say. It may also be long.” If we are going to swallow this suggestion whole we should expect some indigestion in the near future. This quote from George Orwell’s novel 1984 seems timely: “[T]he consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.”

Follow Intelligently, Not Blindly

As we continue to discern both the obligations and limits of what we are told in Romans 13, let’s watch and follow intelligently but not blindly. Ultimate authority resides with God’s word and not the words of men – regardless of how much delegated authority they wield. If, under threat of punishment, we fail to speak the truth of God’s word at a time when it is most needed, we and everyone around us will pay a steep price. Let’s continue to obey God in all things, including these words: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3 While blind obedience will not do, neither will the complete lack of respect for our leaders I have seen in so many social media posts. Strive to find the balance between blind obedience and sinful disrespect; one is not better than the other.

COVID-19: The Cost of Overreacting

Several disclaimers before we get started. COVID-19 is real. People are dying because of it and we should do what we can to mitigate its effects. But approaching this with an “even if it saves one life we should do it” mentality is too simplistic. Action and reaction – if by saving one life you put another in danger, what is the right choice?

So I want to draw your attention to a couple of pieces I read yesterday that I would describe as “forcefully responsible” questioning about what is currently happening with the government’s responses to COVID-19.

The Overreaction

The first was by Denny Burk, who asks, “Are policy-makers ‘encouraging mass civil disobedience’?”  Go take a look. I think he has a point. He quotes an article in the Wall Street Journal: “Decrees like those from the Michigan Governor’s office and their capricious enforcement run the risk of encouraging mass civil disobedience that will undermine the point of the orders.”

I’m seeing this here in Ontario, Canada as well. I know of a church that put a lot of thought, planning, and promotion into their drive-in Easter service, only to be given a big thumbs-down by the authorities a few days before the event. Why? If everyone stays in the their family units in their vehicles with the windows up, why can’t we do this? Millions of people are still hitting the McDonalds drive-thru every day. None of the workers I’ve seen in my town are wearing masks. Are they in yours? So if millions of people can interact within six feet of each other without face shields, why can’t a couple of hundred people park in the same place inside their sealed family vehicles?   

We are told not to go to beaches, even though beaches would seem a natural refuge in a time like this – a place with wide walking spaces where we always keep our distance from others anyway. My family was warned about an $800 fine for going to the beach last weekend as we were stepping out of our vehicle about half a kilometre from the beach! We had no intention of walking on the beach, and since there was an OPP officer in a cruiser posted at the entrance, there was no chance we were going to modify our intentions.

People are cooped up and isolated. The mental health impacts will be far reaching and long-term. We can mitigate those effects by reasonably allowing – perhaps even encouraging – people to get outside and enjoy nature. 

Post-Game Analysis?

The second post I read was by Doug Wilson, who always titles his posts so delightfully. This one was called “This Shambling and Shameful and Shambolic Shamdemic.” 

Explaining how all of this might be called a “shamdemid” he explains that:

“What I mean is the vast discrepancy between what has actually happened and what we were assured would happen. That discrepancy is the sham. Draconian actions were taken on the basis of these representations, and that is why the discrepancy is a hot issue. What the computer modeling experts predicted has not come to pass in any way that even remotely resembled their predictions, and which were treated as hard predictions by the politicians and decision-makers. And it cannot even be said that the computer modeling scare made us undertake certain heroic mitigation efforts necessary that would avert the predicted disaster because the models included mitigation efforts.” 

That last sentence is massively important. To be clear, he’s not saying that there aren’t surges in some places. He isn’t saying people aren’t dying or that COVID-19 is imaginary. He’s saying that the earlier apocalyptic predictions, based on models that took mitigation efforts into account, were not even close to accurate.

And on these models decisions were made that are causing chaos in the world economy. And if you care about lives, you need to concern yourself with the economy. I’ve heard many people express the thought that “it’s better to overreact than to under-react.” This is true for some scenarios and false for others. We might all wear masks when we go out in public, and maybe this isn’t absolutely necessary, but there isn’t a lot of downside to doing so. On the other hand, if you overreact when it comes to the economy, things could get dark very quickly. It is well-documented that alcohol consumption and suicide rates increase during times of economic recession. 

There is a cost to overreacting. We need to take that cost into account when shaping our present responses. Some studies have found that for every 1% increase in unemployment there is an equal increase in suicide rates. The unemployment rate in Canada rose 2.2% from February to March of this year. According to the numbers, that’s an extra 800+ deaths by suicide this year in Canada, and the unemployment numbers are going to go up quite dramatically in the coming month.

Call to Action

What’s my call to action here? Don’t follow blindly, follow intelligently. Look at a wide variety of views on the crisis. Discuss and debate. And as you’re doing all of that, don’t succumb to the fear and panic and anxiety that you see around you. Even if all the worst predictions come true,  all of God’s promises will still also be true. We still have hope and faith and love. That should cause us to love our neighbours and to love the truth – all truth. Even the truth about this crisis and our reasonable response.