Talk Description to Me

Episode 93 - COVID Graphs, and Police Clash with Protestors in the "Freedom Convoy"

February 26, 2022 Christine Malec and JJ Hunt Season 4 Episode 93
Talk Description to Me
Episode 93 - COVID Graphs, and Police Clash with Protestors in the "Freedom Convoy"
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Charts and graphs can be useful for recognizing patterns and comparing data sets. Today, Christine and JJ explore visualizations of case numbers, deaths, and vaccinations from the COVID era. Then, the pair checks in on the Ottawa "Freedom Convoy".  When police moved in to shut down the occupation, cell phone cameras were rolling! What they captured were disturbing and contentious images of children on the front lines, and mounted officers clashing with protestors. Christine and JJ try to sort through the visuals in this important follow-up episode. 

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JJ Hunt:

Talk description to me with Christine Malec and JJ Hunt.

Christine Malec:

Hi, I'm Christin Malec.

JJ Hunt:

And I'm JJ Hunt. This is talk description to me, where the visuals of current events and the world around us get hashed out in description rich conversations.

Christine Malec:

Today, we're gonna talk about two aspects of the unfolding pandemic and its aftermath. And so they're both things that we've talked about before. One is the data around COVID. And then we're going to talk about the protests in Ottawa and how they how that concluded on the ground last week. So the data is something that we've talked about in previous episodes. And in one episode, we did discuss how data is presented and how ambiguous it can be. And so we refer you back, was it episode nine?

JJ Hunt:

I think it was 9. Way back.

Christine Malec:

Way back. Time is so confusing these days. And so if you want to hear it's very interesting to get some background about how data is used and how it's presented. And so today, we're going to talk just about what the numbers are, because it's been a while since we talked about it. And this data gets aggregated and updated frequently. And it's all a, as we've said before, it's it's almost always done in a visual way. So we thought we would do a revisit of that to talk about what has happened in terms of numbers and case counts and some of that grim data that has been updated. So, JJ, how did you go about looking for the information that you found?

JJ Hunt:

Well, I thought I'd try using only Google maps, charts and stats this time. I mean, with the Google Map stuff, it's easy to find, it's easy to use, it's accessible to everyone, anyone can find it. And so it'll make things a little bit easier for anyone who wants to check sources. If you're using Google Chrome, and you Google COVID, deaths, COVID cases, COVID, statistics, COVID numbers, basically, you google anything with COVID. In it, the first thing that pops up isn't actually a list of search results that you can click on. It's charts and graphs. That's the very first thing that appears on your screen. It's kind of like a dashboard, a Google COVID dashboard. And that has a few charts and a few graphs. And it's based on the area that you're in, or the search term. So if you included like if you if you Googled COVID deaths, national or COVID deaths worldwide, they would take you to a specific, you know, subset of these graphs. But if you just type in COVID deaths, it's going to give you a provincial estate, or even a local breakdown of statistics in your area. And these stats are, at this point in the pandemic, I mean, graphs and charts can be used for a number of different things. But one of the things they're good for is, you know, to spot patterns. And they're great for making comparisons. So I think that's one of the things that we can do at this stage in the pandemic, when I'm looking at these, at these charts at these graphs, I'm looking for comparisons. And I'm looking to spot patterns, because it's been a number of years now so we can really look back. So going on to Google, here's I got my dashboard up below the the the charts and graphs, there's a little warning icon, it says a red triangle around an exclamation point. And it gives local and health warnings and advisories. So if there is something going on in the area, if there's a breakout in the area that will be listed there. And it's only after that that you get the regular search results. So we've got the charts and graphs on my laptop screen on my left, there's an interactive graph. And this, this charts, new cases, deaths or vaccinations, and you can toggle between the three. And then the other toggle is for total or new, worldwide, or by country and then broken down by time. So all time last two weeks last three weeks last two months, up to six months. So the horizontal axis is along the bottom. That's the date. And that ranges from January 24 2020 On the far left to February 21 2022. On the far right, that's all the time that we have had COVID in our lives, and then the numbers cases is on the vertical axis on our left for worldwide, that's broken down into millions. So zero to 1 million, 2 million, 3 million up to 4 million. And this is not cumulative. This is the number of new cases per day, every single day of the pandemic worldwide. So for worldwide new cases, there's a seven day average line that kind of, you know, charts its way across this chart, right? That moves from left to right, it's a line on the map that looks kind of like foothills in a mountain, sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down, the seven day average line is a little bit jagged, it's a dark blue line. And then the space underneath that line is rendered in sky blue. And so for the worldwide, you know, case count, it's there were a few small peaks, but they're relatively low on this scale, there's one bump around the end of 2020, into 2021. There's a bump in spring 2021. And then there's a bump in summer 2021. But all of those are under a million. And remember, this is we're worldwide where the scale is one to 4 million. So all of these are only, like they look relatively small, even though they were talking about numbers in a million, then in January 2022. Right near the end, right near the far right of this graph, there's a huge steep spike in worldwide cases, the line shoots up to a peak of 3.5 million. So it goes almost goes almost four times higher than the other bumps that look like foothills on this graph. And then it falls just as fast. So it looks like the rise and fall at the start of a roller coaster. So we're only halfway down that hill again, we're at about 1.5 to 2 million as of the last date on this on this graph. That's how this goes. So we got bumps of foothills, you know, two, or pardon me three distinct bumps along the way. These are, you know, different waves of COVID. And then at the end, we shoot straight up, boom. And that's where we are right now. We've just peaked, and we're coming back down again. And that's new cases.

Christine Malec:

That's a lot of data that you're sifting through and deciding how to present. Can we talk about it from the perspective of COVID related deaths that are documented?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, so you can switch the same chart from new cases, to deaths, and you got the same timeline along the horizontal axis. So that, you know, the basic format of this chart is the same deaths are along the vertical axis. And they range from zero deaths per day, up to 20,000 deaths per day. And now that line, that seven day average line is now black, and everything under it is filled in gray, the worldwide debts rise to over 6000. So they start at zero, you know, they travel along it more or less zero worldwide debts, very small numbers until about May 2020. And then they rise quite quickly to 6000. Around May 2020. There was no bump in the cases chart, if you compare if you flip back and forth, which is one of the interesting ways to take a look at these charts, you can flip back and forth and see how did this look for case count compared to death count, there was no bump. In the cases chart here. This is just a first surge in deaths, but not a surge in cases. So we got a huge, you know, pretty significant rise to 6000, may 2020. And then for the rest of the chart, the daily deaths line never really drops below the 5000 marker so so instead of the the mountain range where it goes up, you hit a peak and then it goes all back down again, as in the case count with the deaths, they never really dropped below this 5000 Mark or so. So the mountain range never gets down to sea level is another way of thinking about it visually. There are three bumps that do correspond to the bumps in the cases chart the same as before. But what's interesting is that in the new cases chart, the bumps look pretty pretty much the same in terms of maximum height and shape, there's a little bit of difference, but they're more or less the same. Each wave in cases looked quite similar and reach the same heights. But in the deaths chart. The third bump is actually quite a bit smaller. The average line peaks at around 10,000 deaths per day, compared to peaks of up to 15,000 per day in the first bumps. But the big difference is at the end of the graph in 2022. So the January February 22 bump in the deaths chart is modest. The average line peaks at around 10,000 So this clearly illustrates that while cases were going sky high in recent months, the death tolls were not matching the curve. So all of these graphs that we've been talking about they're they're interactive, you can roll your cursor along the average line, you can get specific numbers for each date. And for me, being able to flip back and forth and look at one look at the other really helps illustrate differences, you can see those patterns, you can see how the cases match up to the deaths and vice versa. And that kind of visual information is really helpful at this stage in the pandemic, I think, to get a sense of the road that we've traveled,

Christine Malec:

It really highlights what epidemiologists say to which is that as the virus mutates it chant tends to become less lethal, like the Omicron variant is a little less lethal, I think, than previous ones. And that's a really interesting way to illustrate that. How else did you break down the data? Or what data sets did you look at?

JJ Hunt:

Well, the other offering from Google, it's on the right side of my screen is a map. And if you expand the map, you get a full map of the world that is overlaid with circles of varying sizes, one circle per country. And you've got two sets of options on this map cases or vaccines, and a 14 day or a total, we're gonna stick with total for this conversation. But we are going to switch back and forth between the number of cases and the number of vaccines. So when we're in cases, that the map is rendered in blues, a blue background with translucent blue circles, in vaccines, it's a purple color scheme. So muted purple map, with bright purple translucent circles. The numbers that are being tracked here are totals, so countries with bigger populations, they're going to have bigger circles. And as you flip back and forth between cases, in vaccines, it's really, really interesting. The map has been created such that if things are going relatively well, in a country's COVID fight, then the circle that represents your total case, numbers should be about the same size as the circle that represents your vaccines, meaning you should expect a certain number of total cases based on your population. And you should need to vaccinate a certain number of people based on your population, right. So that just makes sense that the circle should be more or less the same when you flip back and forth. And indeed, when you flip back and forth between these two maps, most of the circles over most of the countries stay about the same on the continent of Africa, the circles are all quite small, and they swell a little bit when switching from cases to vaccines, meaning that reported death totals have been relatively low, and total vaccinations relatively low, but they're in keeping with each other. In most of South and Central America, the circles are a little bit larger. And they shift a little bit when switching between cases in vaccinations, but not in a clear pattern. Sometimes, they swell a little bit when they when vaccinations come up, or sometimes they drop a little bit when vaccinations come up. It's there's not a clear pattern in South and Central America. The exception there is Brazil, the blue circle for cases in Brazil is pretty big. Brazil's got a pretty high population, they had a fair number of cases. So their circle for blue is pretty big. But when you switch over to the vaccination map, the vaccination circle is much smaller, maybe half of the size, meaning they had lots of deaths, and relatively few vaccinations. And that pattern plays out across Europe. So blue circles representing cases, they're fairly large across Europe. And they're all overlapping because European countries are so packed in cook so close together, lots of these overlapping fair sized blue circles representing cases fairly large. But they almost all shrink when you flip to the vaccine map. But there are two big shifts in this map that blow everything else out of the water. Two things were visually, these are the things that that pop out the very first thing you see when you when you flip back and forth between these maps. So starting on the blue cases map, the biggest circle on the globe is over the US. And I mean by a long shot, the number of cases represented by this huge circle is massive. It represents over 78 million cases, over 900,000 deaths. The second biggest blue circle is over India, and it's about half its size. It represents 43 million COVID cases 500,000 deaths. But then when you flip from cases to vaccines, the blue circle that's over the US shrinks to a modest purple circle. It goes from a blue circle that covers the entire country to a purple circle that covers a little bit more than Texas. That's the shape shrink when you go from the number of cases, to the note to the number of vaccines distributed, flipping between maps, that's what dominates on the left side of the, on the left side of my screen. But on the right side of my screen, the exact opposite is happening. And it's even more extreme. There's a tiny blue dot over Mainland China. For the total number of cases, it's tiny, total cases listed 100,000, total deaths under 5000. Switch to the vaccine map, and the blue dot grows into this massive purple circle, that is twice the size of anything else on the map, over 1.2 billion people vaccinated, more than 3 billion doses. So visually, when you flip back and forth, there are these moderate changes in some spots and near the center of the map. But in the east and the west, or at the right and left edges of the screen. There are these major opposite flips, between cases and vaccines.

Christine Malec:

Three episodes ago, we talked about some of the activities going on in Ottawa around protests and occupation. And that situation has had some movements in the last in the last week. So we're going to talk about it one of our listeners, Kim, lives in Ottawa, and she asked for some specific descriptions around the use of horses by the police, specifically. But JJ, this issue has been getting coverage, a lot around the world. So the way it was resolved, or not resolved, but the way you know, the way it has unfolded is important. And so can we just talk about some key images from what happened last weekend?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, I think there are a few specific incidents where people on social media kept throwing these photos up and saying, "Look at this! Look at this behavior. Look at what's happening here!" And so based on that, and based on some specific requests, I think it is a good idea to come back to some of what we were talking about, and break down those specific images related to a few key moments in last weekend's events. So leading up to last weekend, police in Ottawa began to inform protesters that they were going to block off a section of downtown Ottawa, and the area around Parliament Hill, and any vehicles or people inside that space would could be towed or arrested. That was the idea that they gave the police gave warning about this in advance. And then at the beginning of the weekend, the police in Ottawa began arresting protesters. So like I said, during those arrests during the removal of these vehicles, they were moments that were high, high, high tension, and people were snapping pictures and shooting video and throwing them on social media and saying look at this. One of the things was was his issue with with the horse, there was lots of headlines about horse tramples woman at protests. And then there was another set of images that were specifically about kids, people using kids as human shields by protesters. So I think those two things I think, could be broken down a little bit so that we can give a little bit of context. So should we take? Should we take a look at the kids first?

Christine Malec:

Yeah, let's do that. That's a very contentious and difficult thing. And it bears breaking down and some description for

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, for sure. So again, a lot of the statements were that children are being used as human shields by the protesters. So there have been lots of kids at these protests, the protests in Ottawa, and protests at the Ambassador Bridge. So this was kind of a, like another element of this protest movement, the bridge, the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, which is a massive bridge important for trade, it became the spot of a major protest, they blocked the bridge. And on the weekends, the protest numbers would swell. And so these were a lot of families that were coming on the weekends. And so they set up some bouncy castles, they actually brought in toys, and made makeshift play areas, both at the Ambassador Bridge and in Ottawa. And there have been kids who were protesting with their families, and their, you know, people are taking their pictures and posting them online. So I've got a few examples just as Confor context about kids participating in the protests themselves. So in one photo I have here there's a white kid holding a bristol board sign the kid's got a knit gray headband on and the sign basically covers their whole body and the sign reads stop all mandates and it has Some little kid drawings on it. One drawing of a syringe and one drawing of a mask. And both of those have circles around them with lines through them. So no masks, no syringes. Yet another photo here, three kids light skin tone, they are holding bristol board signs and small Canadian flags. One kid has Willie earmuffs one has a brown tuk, the other one has a Batman tuk. And they've got two signs with the group of three. And both of their signs, say thank you truckers. And behind them, there's a smiling white man holding a sign but the sign is blocked. And he's got some Canadian flags. I've got another photo of a white man in a black jacket and a red hoodie and a black baseball cap. And he's standing behind three little kids kind of leaning forward to pose with them because they're, you know, barely over waist high. They're very small kids, I'm guessing like kindergarteners, and each kid has a placard on a stick. The kid on our left has a sign that reads, We are not lab rats. The kid on the right has a sign reading. I'm just here for the snacks. And the kid in the middle has assigned reading. I have bigger balls than the prime minister. And finally, there's a picture of a kid with light skin tone. Kids wearing a parka with the fur trimmed hood pulled up. And this kid who's got gloves or mittens on is holding a big sheet of white bristol board in front of them. And the message written in black looks like black Sharpie. And please pardon my language. The sign reads fuck Trudeau with three exclamation points, my body my choice.

Christine Malec:

How common is it to see kids at protests in general?

JJ Hunt:

You know, I've been to lots of protests where I brought my kids. I have seen kids at lots of different kinds of protests. There are youth protests, student protests. And you know, lots of times where you see families, you know, this is important to all of us, whatever it is that we're thinking about or talking about is important to all of us. And so seeing kids at protests is not super uncommon in general. I think that's, I think that's fair to say.

Christine Malec:

So what happened in Ottawa that was captured in video or still photos that was striking.

JJ Hunt: So at 12:

02pm On Friday, the 18th when police were starting to make their arrests. The Ottawa police released a tweet. And the tweet said, protesters have put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site that children will be brought to a place of safety. And so this fall, what followed this were a ton of comments on this tweet. And a lot of people adding photos and video clips. No photos or video clips were released from the police. The police said protesters have put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site. But they didn't release any photos. Other people started adding their own photos. And so I'm going to describe some of the images that are associated with that thread. But please, again, use your judgment when assessing these pictures. These were not pictures released by the police. These are people jumping into the conversation. So I've got a screen grab from a video. It's a small group of people, they're walking away from us, and they're walking up an outdoor staircase that's covered in snow. There are two adults, each holding the arm or wrist of a little kid who's between them in the little kid between them wearing a pink and black snow suit and kind of being pulled up the stairs. Now there's no evidence of police in this image. There's nothing to pinpoint the location. But underneath it is a caption that reads, quote, a family brought a baby to the frontline and placed the child at the foot of the police and quote, so this photo doesn't show any of that. But it was presented in this thread as photographic evidence of children being brought to the front front line. I've got another photo here. This is an outdoor space beside a large stance sandstone building. And what looks like a small group of protesters is in the foreground at our lower left. And there's a group of officers in green uniforms and Riot helmets and face shields, and they're a little bit further away at our upper right. The two groups, they're facing each other and in the middle. It's a little bit of a chaotic scene. It's not totally clear, but in the middle is what could be a family. An adult holding a little kid in a blue parka, like holding them on their hip. Looks like there's maybe another little kid in a red parka standing in front of the adult. And then there's a kid in a pink parka standing beside them. And the kid in the pink parka that that kid's the biggest in the group stands about chest height and they are facing them These military officers in in the green uniforms, there are no weapons that I can see in these pictures that but there is a group with kids standing between protesters and this group of officers. And then finally the image that's the most damning, but needs the most background information. The biggest caveat is is one photo that got passed around all over the place. I've seen it as a photo, I've seen it as a video clip. It's a line of kids and toddlers in snow suits. So more than a dozen of them. They're all holding hands, they're all facing us. And they're blocking an entire street. There are two adults in the picture that are between us and the kids. They're facing the kids. It looks like they're taking pictures of this line of kids that's blocking a street. In the video version. There's a woman who walks by this scene, and she's wearing an F Trudeau flag as a cape. And this is a mass produced flag that I've seen all over the protests. And it marks it as part of this wave of protests. It's a little bit like holding up a newspaper with a date on it. Because you see this woman wearing this F Trudeau flag, which is a mass produced flag that was made for these protests. You can claim it to be part of this greater protest. The flag by the way, it's a black flag with white block letters, the first word is spelled F and then there's a red maple leaf, followed by C K. F Trudeau. But the key detail in this image is overhead. There's a big Canada highway sign, a green sign with white lettering over the road that reads Bridge to the USA. Now there is no bridge to the USA in Ottawa. It's not on the border. This photo, I'm fairly certain, is from the Ambassador Bridge protest in Windsor, which was a few days before. So that doesn't mean it's not relevant. It doesn't mean that in the middle of the Ottawa protest a few days later, when there was confrontations with the police, that this line of children was set up to separate and that's how this photo was being used. Context for this image is so important.

Christine Malec:

Can we talk about the image of the images around the use of horses?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, so this one is, is again tricky all of the footage of this if this moment is really chaotic. So this was filmed from inside the chaos. There are few overhead images available, but it's very tricky. Essentially, that the headline of this was woman trampled to death by police horse. This was being sent out all over the place. And again, these clips were being shown to support that Mounted Police were called in to separate a group of protesters and a group of police officers. The two groups were stretched across the street. Dozens of protesters on one side wearing parkas hats and gloves. I think these were some of the last holdouts in the protest. On the other side police officers, some in these military green uniforms and Riot helmets, some wearing neon green reflective police parkas and Riot helmets. And the two groups were facing off, literally clashing, and they're groups of about the same size. There had been some shoving in the moments leading up to the horses being brought in, the groups were literally locked against one another pushing against one another that was shoving there was some chopping actions to break people's grips, maybe a few punches again, really chaotic. It's hard to see who does what and when. But it's important to note that this group is crossing an otherwise empty street. When you see the image from above, you can see that there's no pressure from behind either one of these groups. Neither side is boxed in neither side is trapped in any way that I can see. Either group could step back 10 or 15 feet, and they wouldn't bump into anything that's important moving forward. So I believe it's eight mounted police officers approached the scene, and every video that I've seen was taken from inside the protest group. So one of the most complete videos begins with a person holding the camera filming the crowd, and they're filming one woman in particular, she's a stout, middle aged woman, medium skin tone. Her face is quite red and raw from the cold. She's wearing glasses and she's got a hood over her woolly hat is a red parka that she's wearing over top and she's got it she holds one hand over her heart and she stares across at the police and she keeps repeating versions of the phrase "Peace, love and happiness. We are a peaceful protest peace, love and happiness." And then someone I think it might be the person with the camera based on the volume. Someone says "Here come the horses!" quite loudly. And sure enough the horses approach from our left now the videos Taken in vertical mode, so the image is quite narrow. That means things pass in front of the camera very quickly. So that's it's really difficult to see exactly what happens. So the horses approached side by side. But that doesn't really last very long. Once they get into the fray. The idea was to nose their way in and separate the two groups. So the first host horse comes in noses between the protesters and the police. And once the horse the horses are in, the police step back a few feet, as the horse's nose their way and the police step back to make room for the horses. And some of the protesters do the same. Some of the protesters step back to make room for the horses, but it's a pretty tight channel that's opening up and it's slow, it's slow to open up. The horses are actually moving along at a fair speed, it's a little hard to judge how fast they're moving along, I would estimate about the speed of a person jogging. That's how fast these horses are moving through the crowd, splitting it separating it to the right and left. Most people are moving away, but not everyone and it's tight. from some angles and some videos you can see protesters reaching out and pushing the horses shoving, maybe, but even if they're not shoving it, they're clearly close enough to be touching the horses there at arm's length. And one man on the protester side doesn't move away, is a man in a brown coat. And what he does is he turns his back on the horses and then begins actually backing into the lane way that was created by the passing horses. So the second horse There are eight horses altogether. The first horse goes by the second horse grazes this man's shoulder as he backs into this lane way, the third horse bumps him and he bumps him back into the crowd and he stumbles, but he recovers and he keeps backing up into the lane again, he keeps his back to the horses he keeps backing into the lane. The horses have started to slow down a little bit at this point, because they're thicker into the fray. And then the guy in the brown coat backs right up into Horse number six. And at this point, it appears that horse number seven, moves in and rams him after just having rammed the woman in the red parka. The woman who was saying peace, love and happiness, she was just off camera to our left, so she gets pulled in as Horse number seven rams her and rams the man in the black in the brown coat. So this is a critical moment I'm going to try and break it down in traffic terms, just to maybe that'll be a little helpful. So we've got two lanes of a road and protesters standing tight against the shoulder that there's our if this was a traffic scene, that's what it would look like the guy in the brown coat backs into the first lane, and Horse number six has to move shift into the second lane to avoid him. Horse number seven, undertakes Horse number six, traveling on the right of Horse number six. And while traveling in that lane faster than Horse number seven, that horse somehow snags the woman in the red parka. Again, that's off camera I can't see how that happens. And then ploughs down the guy in the brown coat. As the horses move on. The crowd immediately fills in from behind on both sides. And here's where you have to switch to an overhead photo. So overhead photos show a few different things that you can't see in the footage taken from on the ground. It looks from overhead, like the guy in the brown coat is getting stomped on by horse number seven. After he got hit. The horse had to move over him. It looks like in the photo he's being stomped on. I'm not sure there's medical evidence to support that but that's what it looks like from the overhead shot and the woman in the red parka. She has a wheeled mobility Walker with her maybe a scooter and both she and the walker are knocked to the ground. Now there were initial rumors that the woman was killed trampled to death, but she was not. She has been identified as a 49 year old woman who was injured but is very much alive. The police haven't released her name. But they Ottawa police did release a statement saying that she is alive that her death was first reported by a Fox News contributor. And that was a false report.

Christine Malec:

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COVID charts and graphs
Cases vs vaccinations
"Freedom Convoy" check in
Kids at the protest
Mounted police clash with protestors