As the number of new COVID-19 cases in Quebec continues to climb, the provincial government has presented a plan to gradually reopen schools and some businesses over the course of May. Premier Legault cited a "plateau" in the number of deaths in the general population as one of the factors that have allowed officials to move forward with those plans. To demonstrate his point, he presented a graph comparing the number of deaths per day in Quebec's long-term care facilities, including CHSLDs, to those everywhere else in the province.

The graph is the most striking and sobering illustration yet of his claim that the pandemic has split Quebec into "two worlds."

On one hand, the graph shows general population deaths not exceeding 10 per day since April 15 — a sign of "stability," Legault further explained in a Twitter post.

Deaths in long-term care residences, meanwhile, topped 60 per day between April 12 and April 25, reaching 80 on April 21.

"We are currently living in Quebec as if there were two worlds. On the one hand, we have the very difficult situation in the CHSLDs, and on the other hand, well, the situation is relatively stable, especially when we look outside the Island of Montreal and the Island of Laval," the Premier first explained on April 22.

He returned to this point repeatedly in the approach to the public release of the first plans for reopening.

He has also put the situation into context, saying on April 24 that it's not unique to Quebec.

In "a lot of places in the world," he said, "there's a large percentage of deaths that come from seniors' residences."

"That does not excuse the situation in which we find ourselves in long-term care centres, but I just want to tell you, I think it is everywhere in the world that we have realized [...] that when this virus enters a seniors' residence, it's a bit like setting fire to the hay, where everything burns quickly, or at least, a good number of people in long-term care centres become infected, and it [gets] easily out of control."

"So that's a small consolation."

The graph presented on April 28 nevertheless points to the enormous challenges ahead.

Preserving the workforce in CHSLDs has been one of the defining efforts of the pandemic.

At one point, Legault said, thousands of employees were missing, either self-isolating at home or staying away out of fear for their safety.

The government later requested the assistance of the Canadian army to staff CHSLDs.

Legault even made an appeal for volunteers from the general population.

But "it's not enough to talk about the staff," he said on April 24

The Premier also suggested that shortcomings in facility designs have exacerbated the situation.

"There absolutely must be more space. There needs to be more space to separate people, more space for the staff."

He made a request for relevant authorities to "really speed things up so that we could put in all the necessary staff, but also to have, as quickly as possible, places that would prevent us from going through what we are going through right now in Quebec."

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