Premier warns of harsher COVID-19 restrictions after data shows Ontario may get 6,500 cases per day
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he "will not hesitate" to move forward to the next stage in the lockdown system and will make a decision on whether to do so by Friday after new COVID-19 modelling showed the province could see 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December.
Ford made the comments during an interview with CP24 on Thursday evening, saying he would receive a briefing from his health team in the morning and will then "make a decision."
"I can assure you I haven't hesitated to make a tough decision and I promise you I will not hesitate for a second if we have to go further," Ford said. "That is what we will do."
"I will not hesitate to move forward to the next stage if we continue seeing this."
Ford said he was "shocked" by the new modelling data released on Thursday afternoon that showed Ontario's COVID-19 case count could exceed several jurisdictions in Europe that are now in some form of lockdown by December.
"We need the cooperation of the people," Ford said, adding that while the province can "throw billions at this problem" it won't make a difference if people don't follow public health guidelines.
"We just have to knuckle down because this is very, very concerning."
The Ontario government released new COVID-19 modelling data on Thursday after the province set another record for the number of new infections in a single day.
The modelling suggests that if COVID-19 cases grow at a rate of three per cent, Ontario will record nearly 3,500 cases per day by Dec. 13.
If cases grow at a five per cent rate, Ontario could see 6,500 cases per day by that period.
COVID-19 cases in Ontario have been growing at a rate on average of 3.895 per cent each day for the past 14 days. Over the last three days, the growth rate has been closer to six per cent.
"If the last few days is a reasonable extrapolation it's fair to say that the five per cent is a current or maybe even a slightly optimistic scenario," Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, told reporters on Thursday.
Brown said that at a growth rate of five per cent, Ontario will have more cases per capita than France, Germany and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks.
He also said the current measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, like closing indoor dining in Toronto, are not enough to curb the current trajectory.
"Based off what we're seeing in the models, if we continue on with the current level of restrictions, I would not expect to see any deviation from the current results. You would continue to see growth," Brown added.
Also under the five per cent growth scenario, Ontario could have more than 400 patients in intensive care within the next six weeks.
This is a major reversal from only a few weeks ago when Ontario COVID-19 modelling showed hospital capacity would only slightly exceed the 150-bed threshold in the worse-case scenario.
According to the provincial government, when there are less than 150 COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care in Ontario hospitals, the province can "maintain non-COVID capacity and all scheduled surgeries."
Once that number rises above 150, it becomes harder to support non-COVID-19 needs, the government said. Once it exceeds 350 people, it becomes "impossible" to handle.
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Ontario have increased by 61 per cent in the past three weeks. In the past six weeks, they have increased 167 per cent.
The new data also shows that the situation in Ontario's long-term care homes is worsening, with resident mortality increasing each week.
According to the government, there have been 196 long-term care residents who have died from COVID-19 since Aug. 1. Of those 196 deaths, 71 of them occurred in the last seven days.