While no one could have known the COVID-19 health crisis would go on for so long, a family doctor in Burlington, Ont., has vowed to continue her efforts to keep people informed until the pandemic comes to an end.
Since March 2020 — for more than a year now — Dr. Jennifer Kwan has taken on a massive project, helping people in Ontario understand all of the data surrounding COVID-19, as well as the province’s response to the pandemic.
“While we were having the first cases in Canada, nothing was happening in terms of advice to be careful,” Kwan said. “I felt like I had to start speaking up because I was concerned about everyone’s safety.”
Every day on her Twitter account, Kwan posts a series of graphs synthesizing publicly available COVID-19 data. For many people, her account has become a one-stop-shop to get a quick read on how Ontario is doing in it’s fight against the virus.
As the pandemic has played out, the information Kwan tracks has also evolved.
“I started off reporting just the daily cases, and soon we, unfortunately, began to see deaths so I graphed those as well,” Kwan said. “Then we were able to get data of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.”
She now also tracks testing, pending tests, test positivity and vaccinations.
For her, the daily ritual takes about an hour to complete. She does it in the morning, and it often means she has to stay later at the office. Kwan said she sees this practice as her way of helping others during the pandemic.
“I feel I can present data in an unbiased manner, because I don’t have any political affiliations,” said Kwan. “I don’t have any financial gain from this, I just want to present the data, in a very transparent manner.”
For her, providing clear information is the best way to help others make good choices that could save others.
“When you are asking people to make all of these changes to their lives, to stay at home, you know it’s affecting their livelihoods. I think people deserve to understand why and see the data for themselves,” said Kwan.