Premier François Legault compared the COVID-19 death rate in Quebec to that of the United States in a press conference on October 15 — and while the numbers are striking, they don't necessarily tell the whole story.
"Two figures: 28 dead for 8.5 million of population, it's three deaths per million. Yesterday, in the United States, there were 970 deaths, [divided] by 331 million [is] three deaths per million," he said.
The idea that both the U.S. and the province of Quebec saw the same death rate per one million people on October 14 is a powerful one because the U.S. has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases and most deaths in the world, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.
But it's important to note that Legault was not making a direct comparison.
[It comes to] three deaths per million. So we have to take that seriously.
Premier Legault, in a press conference on October 15
Quebec, which has a population of 8,574,571, reported 28 deaths on October 14. While eight of those deaths occurred in 24 hours, the other 20 occurred between October 8 and 13, according to provincial COVID-19 data.
When Legault mentioned that Quebec's death rate per one-million people was three deaths, he included the 20 deaths that occurred in the week of October 8 in this figure, since they were reported on October 14.
However, had Legault used the figure of eight new deaths in one day in the province to compare to daily deaths in the U.S., Quebec's death rate per one-million people would amount to less than one.
That's less than a third of the U.S. death rate per million people on October 14.
Legault's urge to "take that seriously" still rings true when you consider that Quebec has seen the most cases and deaths in Canada.
For more Canadian context, you could compare Quebec's numbers to those in Ontario — population 14.5 million — where there are 421.5 cases per 100,000 people. In Quebec, there are 1,037 cases per 100,000 people.
So, are numbers high in Quebec? Yes.
But, no, they were not as high as in the U.S. on October 14.