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Ford reveals one thing he would change about Ontario's response to COVID-19 crisis
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he hasn’t been thinking about himself as he deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, but rather he is focusing his efforts on supporting the front-line, essential workers risking their health to serve their community.
In a one-on-one interview with CTV News Toronto, the premier spoke with a hint of optimism—a stark contrast to his statement about “dark days ahead” a few hours earlier. He said his family was “doing very well” at home and that his thoughts are with the people going to work every day amid the pandemic.
“I think about the front-line workers, the nurses and doctors that are coming in day after day. I think about the cash register clerks that come in day after day. The people at the banks … I probably left out hundreds of other professions that are essential services. I want to thank them,” Ford said speaking outside Queen’s Park.
“I just want to reassure them. They have an army behind them and that army is the 14 and a half million people in Ontario supporting them and cheering them on.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Ontario surpassed 2,000. While there have been 37 deaths linked to the virus confirmed by Ontario health officials, the province’s 34 local public health units have reported 68 deaths.
When asked about discrepancies between death tolls related to COVID-19, as well as the accuracy of the case count in the province, Ford said that he “would have to look into it.”
He added that his government has been meeting with health officials numerous times a day to share information and he believes he is getting “pretty accurate” data from the chief medical officer of health.
Ford has been increasingly focused on ensuring medical facilities have enough supplies in order to provide care to patients suffering from the sometimes-deadly virus. Earlier in the day he announced his government would be launching a $50 million fund to help businesses adapt their operations to produce medical equipment and personal protective equipment.
“We are really focusing on making sure we have companies that can produce items here in Ontario instead of relying on folks around the world facing the same crisis as we are,” Ford said. “We are fortunate. We are opening the manufacturing might of Ontario companies and they are stepping up.”
The premier added that if he had a crystal ball three months ago he would have stocked up on protection gear.
“But no one had that crystal ball to see how far this was going.”
While Ford said that he believes the majority of Ontarians are taking care to physically distance themselves from each other, his office is still getting reports of people gathering at parks and beaches. With Easter weekend approaching, he is asking people to only get together with immediate family.
“People want to gather with extended family members, we are just asking you not to,” he said.
“We will get through this and there is going to be a few bumps in the road over the next few weeks but if we all stick together, if we follow the protocols from the chief medical officer, we will get through it a lot quicker.”