COVID-19 indicators suggest lockdown could be imminent in York Region
TORONTO -- The top public health official in York Region says that he does not believe further restrictions are necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 in his community, even though some indicators now point to the region being in worse shape than Toronto was when it was placed under a lockdown last month.
York Region has seen an average of 111 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last week, which is actually higher than Toronto’s weekly incidence rate when it was placed under a lockdown on Nov. 23 (97.9).
The numbers would appear to suggest that York could join Toronto and Peel in a lockdown when Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet meets tomorrow to consider the latest recommendations from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
But York's Medical Officer of Health Karim Kurji says he would not be in support of that.
In an interview with CP24 on Thursday afternoon he said that the additional restrictions that would accompany a formal lockdown designation, such as the outright closure of bars, restaurants, gyms and personal care services, may not have much effect in York.
“We have just done some modelling and that modelling shows that the gain from going into lockdown would be minimal so we are hoping that coupled with mobility data, which shows 20 per cent reduction in mobility since we went to the red zone, will hopefully convince the province to keep us still in the red zone,” he told CP24.
Kurji said that York Region is already in a “red zone plus” of sorts with additional restrictions requiring businesses such as meeting and event spaces, malls, and retail stores to set capacity limits and ensure physical distancing is strictly observed
He said that while he will ultimately “adhere to the province” when it comes to whether York should be placed under a lockdown, his personal belief is that such a move would not be necessary at this time.
“Yes we do have some areas within York Region with higher rates of positivity and we are addressing those both in terms of having more school testing being done and some community intervention strategies that we are just discussing with the ministry. We also have additional testing in areas like Vaughan,” he said.
The province has not yet tipped its hat about what changes, if any, could be made to the tiers that regions are currently placed under but during a briefing on Thursday Williams said that officials generally review the data and speak with each medical officer of health to get a better before making any decisions.
Once a region is moved into a new tier in the framework they are generally kept their for a minimum of 28 days.
“We will have the answers for that as of tomorrow once it has moved through the proper approval processes,” Williams said Thursday.