Ontario premier warns 'more extreme measures' will be needed to curb rapid spread of COVID-19
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford delivered a grim warning Friday as COVID-19 cases in Ontario surge to unprecedented levels.
He said that if basic public health measures “continue to be ignored” in the province, the consequences “will be dire.”
“The shutdown won’t end at the end of January, and we will have to look at more extreme measures,” he said.
“This is the most serious situation we’ve ever been in since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The premier made the comments while saying that new COVID-19 modelling would be released on Monday or Tuesday of next week and that the data would be so shocking, residents will “fall off their chair” upon its release.
“Everything is on the table right now. There will be further measures, because this is getting out of control and we have to do whatever it takes,” Ford said.
"We are in a crisis. It it is scary. And we need to work together."
Ontario shattered its COVID-19 record Friday as more than 4,200 cases were logged, citing a data backlog that accounts for about 450 of the new infections. However, even if those 450 cases were removed from Friday’s total there would still be a record 3,799 new infections logged.
Ford stopped short of saying which public health restrictions his government is considering, but has said that a curfew, similar to the one imposed in Quebec earlier this week, is an option.
Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that the current spread of COVID-19 in the province has forced health officials to consider the more stringent measures and that such restrictions could resemble those seen in the spring.
"Today's numbers, to be frank, are scary," she said, while underscoring that hospitals across the province are struggling to provide care for both COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients.
"The hospitals are starting to have to cut back on elective surgeries and other very important procedures that require ICU care."
In a memo obtained by CTV News Toronto on Thursday, Ontario Health’s President and CEO Matthew Anderson told hospitals to prepare to accept COVID-19 patients from across the province as space in intensive care reaches capacity.
Ontario 'quickly running out' of COVID-19 vaccines
Meanwhile, Ford addressed the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario and said that the supply coming into the province is drying up.
“Every single day, we’re getting more and more needles into people’s arms and protecting more and more of our front-line health-care workers, long-term care residents and most vulnerable,” he said.
“But, we’re quickly running out.”
More than 87,500 doses have been administered since inoculations began last month, the most in the country, Ford said.
“Dr. Kevin Smith, at UHN [University Health Network], has said he’ll exhaust his supply today. Southlake [Regional Health Centre ] in York Region, the Ottawa Hospital and others told us they will do the same by the end of the week.”
At the current rate, Ford believes that all of Ontario will be out of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next week.
Ford explained that he is hopeful that the federal government will procure more vaccines for the province in the coming days, otherwise hospitals will have to begin cancelling appointments to administer the shots.
“All the progress we’ve made, getting out daily vaccine numbers up, will be lost as clinics standby waiting for vaccines from the feds.”
Earlier this week, Retired Gen. Rick Hillier announced that all long-term care residents, workers and essential caregivers in COVID-19 hot spots would be vaccinated by Jan. 21.
In fact, Hillier doubled down on that deadline while speaking to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday, saying that those 161 high-risk long-term care homes would get the shots ahead of schedule
It’s unclear if that timeline has changed given Ford’s comments today.