'We don't need another surge:' Ontario's top public health official urges residents to be cautious over long weekend
Published Monday, May 17, 2021 10:17AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 17, 2021 6:01PM EDT
Ontario’s top public health official says that the recent decline in case counts has him “optimistic” that the province could be in a much different place by the “middle of June” but he says that he is at least a “bit concerned that some of that progress could be undone this holiday weekend.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment during a briefing on Monday as he urged residents to refrain from gathering with members outside of their household this coming Victoria Day weekend in order to protect the hard-earned progress Ontario has seen in recent weeks.
“We need to continue to stay at home for the time. That means especially in this coming weekend. Our history of course in the past is that long weekends have not been the greatest time for consistency and performance around maintaining public health measures but I find that each time people seem to get a little better at it and now they know the vaccines are coming,” he said. “So be really careful on this long weekend. We don’t need another surge back up again. We don’t need another whole cohort being admitted to our intensive care units.”
Williams told reporters on Monday that Ontario is now making “steady progress” as it comes down from the third wave of the pandemic, which peaked a month ago today when 4,812 new cases were logged in a single 24-hour period.
He said that the decline could eventually allow Ontario to return to some level of “normalcy” later this summer and into the fall so long as residents continue to be cautious for now, especially this coming weekend.
“Enjoy the warm weather, get outdoors. Do what you can with your own household and family, wear your mask when you're out in crowds and keep your distance. You can still enjoy and have a great time out there, as this is our first really solid spring weather, but enjoy it with care and caution,” he said.
The public plea by Williams on Monday came as Ontario reported just under 2,200 new COVID-19 cases and four more virus-related deaths, the lowest daily death toll recorded in almost two months.
Provincial health officials logged 2,170 new COVID-19 infections today, down slightly from the 2,199 cases confirmed on Sunday. Today's tally is a notable drop from the 2,716 cases reported last Monday.
The rolling seven-day average of new infections now stands at 2,352, down from 3,017 last week and 3,917 two weeks ago.
With 24,498 tests processed over the past 24 hours, the province is reporting a test positivity rate of 7.9 per cent, down from 9.1 last Monday.
Four more virus-related deaths were confirmed today, the lowest single-day total since March 22. The average number of virus-related deaths reported each day is down week-over-week. The province says the average daily death toll now stands at 23, down from 30 last week.
There are currently 1,320 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals, up slightly from 1,292 on Sunday but down significantly from 1,632 one week ago.
The province says there are now 779 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, down from 785 on Sunday and 828 seven days ago.
It should be noted that more than 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data to the province today, a common occurrence early in the week, according to the Ministry of Health.
Of the new cases reported today, 566 are in Toronto, 556 are in Peel Region, 215 are in York Region, 120 are in Durham Region and 101 are in Hamilton.
The number of active, lab-confirmed cases in the province is now 25,869, down from 31,991 last Monday.
Last week, the Ford government again extended the provincewide stay-at-home order for another two weeks in an effort to drive down daily case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths. The order is now in effect until at least June 2.
The province also announced today that all adults in Ontario will be eligible to book their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine starting tomorrow.
As of last night, 7,177,145 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.