Ontario’s COVID-19 case count could fall to 500 daily by July under possible reopening plan: model
Published Thursday, May 20, 2021 1:14PM EDT
Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case numbers will fall to 1,000 per day in early June and stay there for a month if reopening begins on June 2, but will fall to just a few hundred by the end of July if reopening is delayed to June 16, new modelling data suggests.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says that with daily vaccinations running at 130,000 per day as they have been over the past two weeks, the province could see daily cases fall to under 500 per day by July if reopening begins on June 16, with further declines likely by the end of July.
If reopening begins immediately after Ontario’s existing emergency stay-at-home order is set to expire on June 2, cases are projected to fall to 1,000 per day and stay that way well into July.
“Our picture today looks different. The direction of the pandemic has turned, and if we're careful and cautious, we can maintain this momentum,” Dr. Adalsteinn Brown said Thursday. “And this momentum is what gets us to a good summer."
Under either scenario, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care will fall from the low 700’s this week to under 400 by June 17.
He said that the vaccine effort is showing fruit, with COVID-19-related hospitalizations significantly down in May among all people 60 and up.
Sources have told CTV News Toronto the Ford government is preparing a reopening plan that would begin in mid June.
Brown commented on the possible routes for reopening, saying they could obviously bring daily case counts above the projections he and his colleagues compiled.
“Reopening on the second of June will lead to a rise in cases that will likely subside later in the summer. Waiting until the middle of June to reopen will likely bring cases down to a very low level, and a consistent downward trend throughout the summer. Opening stores on the second but nothing else takes us somewhere between these two options."
Their definition of partial reopening the Science Table used included what was operational in early March 2021; with all indoor retail services open, patio dining, and allowing all outdoor amenities for use.
Under the provincewide state of emergency enacted on April 8, Ontario has seen an average daily decline in cases of 0.75 per cent per day over past two weeks.
Epidemiologists also evaluated two scenarios where public schools resumed in-person instruction on June 2.
In-person school operations would increase daily case counts by 6 to 11 per cent.
They say the reopening of schools could be “manageable” given the current trajectory of cases and hospital occupancy, putting the ball in Premier Doug Ford’s court.
Both Brown and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams say they want schools to reopen for in-person learning before the end of the year, as early as June.
“I would like it by June – which day, I will have to be in communication with boards of education and the ministry,” Williams said.
Brown said the wrinkle is that large public health units like Toronto and Peel like to perform detailed contact tracing of any infections detected in schools, and could only do so in the context of lower overall community transmission.
“I think the question is whether we’d be able to keep up with all of the public health measures, including case and contact management, if we also reopened schools.”
The Science Table says test positivity rates are falling everywhere in the province except for Porcupine Health Unit in northern Ontario and select rural areas of southwestern and eastern Ontario.
The Table is asking the province to emphasize allowing outdoor activities as much as possible in any reopening plan, and to avoid allowing indoor dining, gym or locker room activity and other public activity in indoor setting for the time being.