Dire news about Ontario’s COVID-19 trajectory this fall

Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott speaks with reporters at Queens Park in Toronto, accompanied by Finance Minister Rod Phillips, left, Premier Doug Ford, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, September 28, 2020.. Photo courtesy YouTube/CPAC.

The Ontario government has some grim news about what the COVID-19 pandemic could look like in Ontario over the next couple of weeks.

The province’s second wave modelling suggests Ontario could hit 1,000 new cases a day in the first half of October.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Ontario is currently on “an upward trajectory” similar to what other jurisdictions have experienced, such as Victoria, Australia and Michigan. Provincial health officials said cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days. They added the growth in cases was initially in the 20 to 39 age group but now cases are climbing in all age groups.

“COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat in our communities, and today’s modelling shows the importance of adhering to public health measures,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. “Over the summer we saw how our collective efforts helped slow the transmission of COVID-19, we must not let our guard down now as we head into the cold and flu season. We all need to do our part and continue to follow all public health measures in place to contain and stop the spread of the virus.”

The province said occupancy at intensive care units (ICUs) is currently steady, but it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized. Officials added Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow and they’re urging the public to avoid large gatherings, keep physical distancing, and wear a face covering.

“With the recent rise in cases, we limited private social gatherings and tightened public health measures for businesses and organizations to reduce the transmission in our communities,” said Dr. Williams. “We wanted to release this modelling to be open about the challenges our province faces, and the important work we all need to do to flatten the curve.”

The government of Ontario said it has developed a comprehensive plan called Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 to ensure the health care system is prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall including future surges and waves of COVID-19 and flu season. It added the plan ensures the province is able to quickly respond to any scenario in order to protect all Ontarians and communities.

The province said the chief medical officer of health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise if and when public health restrictions need further adjustment, or if a community-specific or region-specific approach should be taken. Provincial leadership is asking people to stay at home when they’re sick and keep their child away from school if they’re ill, even with mild symptoms to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.