Manitoba is now the worst hot spot in North America, with its hospitals overwhelmed.
The coronavirus is now spreading faster in Manitoba than in any other province or state in Canada, the United States or Mexico, with Indigenous people and people of color hit disproportionately hard.
Figures released on Wednesday show that over the last two weeks, the prairie province in the middle of Canada reported an average of 35 new cases a day per 100,000 population. Canada as a whole is averaging about 10 a day per 100,000; the United States, 7 per 100,000, and Mexico, 2 per 100,000. The next highest states or provinces are Alberta at 16 and Colorado at 15.
Dr. Marcia Anderson, the public health lead of the Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team, told reporters on Wednesday that from the beginning of the month until May 19, Indigenous people and other nonwhite people accounted for 61 percent of cases in Manitoba, even though they make up 37 percent of the province’s population.
People of Southeast Asian descent are the most disproportionately affected, with a rate of 146 per 1,000 people, 13 times the rate among white people.
The surge in Covid-19 cases has overwhelmed intensive care units in Manitoba’s hospitals, forcing some patients to be evacuated by air to other provinces. Eighteen patients have been flown to neighboring Ontario, including some to Ottawa, about 1,000 miles away. Saskatchewan, the province to the west, was expected to receive an evacuated patient from Manitoba on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a group of doctors called on the province to follow the lead of Ontario and others by introducing a stay-at-home order and closing nonessential businesses. Those steps have allowed other provinces to reign in their most recent waves of infections.
Stores in Manitoba have been limited to 10 percent of capacity, and gyms and hair salons have been closed for several weeks. On Tuesday, the province’s premier, Brian Pallister, extended limits on outdoor gatherings that were put in place for last weekend; they now last until the end of this week.
Mr. Pallister suggested on Tuesday that the worsening situation in the province was being caused not by too few restrictions but rather by people failing to comply with the restrictions that are already in force.
“I don’t have a lot of sympathy left for people who disobey public health orders knowingly and willingly,” he said.