Ford says province is not ready to roll back to Stage 2, even as it reports more than 600 new cases of COVID-19
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2020 10:25AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 30, 2020 9:44PM EDT
Ontario is reporting 625 new cases of COVID-19 today with nearly half of them in Toronto.
But despite the sustained increase in infections and modelling predicting a continued rise into October, Ontario Premier Doug Ford says now is not the time to roll some or the entire province back into Stage 2 of its reopening plan.
"We aren't rolling back today, not saying that's never going to happen, but that's not the conversation we are going to have today," Ford said at Queen's Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday's number represents an increase on the 554 cases reported on Tuesday but is still down from the record 700 cases seen on Monday. That number was partly attributed to work that was done to clear a laboratory backlog over the weekend.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at 507 after dipping as low as 85 back in early August.
Of the new cases confirmed on Wednesday, more than three-quarters of them (484) are in the GTA, including 288 in Toronto, 97 in Peel Region, 41 in York Region, 25 in Durham Region and 33 in Halton Region.
The other public health units with more than 10 cases included Ottawa (64), Simcoe Muskoka District (12), Hamilton (11) and Middlesex London (11).
Meanwhile, 11 of Ontario’s 34 public health units reported no new cases at all over the last 24 hours.
The latest numbers come as the province releases new modeling, which suggests that cases are currently doubling every 10 to 12 days and are likely to surpass 1,000 per day in the first half of October.
Public health officials also said on Wednesday that the resurgence is now being felt across all age groups after initially being largely driven by increased cases among those between the ages of 20 and 39.
Of the 625 new cases, less than half (294) involved people between the ages of 20 and 39. People between the ages of 40 and 59 were the next most affected age group, accounting for 169 of the new cases. The elderly continue to see lower levels of transmission with the oldest age demographic tracked by the province (those 80 and above) accounting for just 13 of the new cases.
“The bottom line is as you watch this thing spread and you watch the pattern with which it spreads you want to stop it before it gets back into long-term care, for example, or you want to stop it before we have to close the schools,” Mayor John Tory warned during a press conference on Wednesday morning, prior to the release of the latest numbers. “We must arrest this and we must arrest it in a way that protects all people and all businesses and sometimes you have to take measures that affect people and businesses in a certain way in order to achieve a greater good over time.”
Williams says fall response will be unlike spring peak
In response to a question echoing the Ontario Hospital Association's call for the province to return to Stage 2 of reopening – a move that would end indoor dining, cinema visits and gymnasium and indoor pool use among other things – Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said the measures they will enact in the fall will be unlike what was done in the spring.
"We have looked at different aspects – but we're not planning to close any schools," he said. "We are not emulating those (three) Stages, it is a different time," he said.
Elliott added that the entire health command table does not feel it is time for a broad rollback.
Hospitalizations continue to rise
While the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had dipped as low as 32 back on Aug. 17 it is now nearly five times that.
The latest data suggests that there are currently 150 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 35 in intensive care units.
It is a far cry from the 1,043 people that were hospitalized with COVID-19 at one point in April but nonetheless represents a concerning increase with officials saying on Wednesday that Ontario could eventually see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds if current trends continue.
There also continues to be a slow but steady increase in outbreaks in long-term care homes, which have been the site of nearly two-thirds of the 2,848 deaths attributed to COVID-19 so far.
On Monday the province reported two new outbreaks at long-term care homes, bringing the total number of active outbreaks to 46.
That number had stood at 18 at the beginning of the month after numbering in the hundreds in the spring.
Other highlights from the data:
- The province conducted 35,753 tests. Its testing backlog now stands at 67,126.
- The number of new cases again exceeded the number of new recoveries. There are now 4,955 active cases province-wide.
- There were another four deaths reported on Wednesday. The death toll since March now stands at 2,848.
- Of the four new deaths reported on Wednesday, three involved residents in long-term care facilities. There were also nine new cases involving long-term care residents.
- The hospitalization rate has now dipped below 10 per cent to 9.9 per cent. So far 5,142 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19.