Shutdown not off the table for Ontario after 'disturbing' spike in COVID-19 infections
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has warned the province's surging COVID-19 case count is "cause for concern" and that another shutdown is not off the table.
Ford made the comments at Queen's Park on Monday after Ontario saw the largest jump in new COVID-19 cases since early June.
"Today's numbers, they are cause for concern for all of us," Ford said. "Let me be crystal clear, every option is on the table."
"We will take every step necessary, including further shutdowns."
Ford said if Ontario was forced into another shutdown he would look at rolling back parts of the province on a region-by-region basis.
"We have to look at it in regions," Ford said, adding there are currently three or four COVID-19 hotspots in Ontario.
Toronto reported the most new COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday, recording 112 in the previous 24-hour period.
Peel Region reported 71 new cases while Ottawa reported 60. All other public health units recorded fewer than 10 new cases, except for York Region, which reported 14 new infections.
On Monday, there were 15 public health units across the province that reported zero new infections.
Ford said he's begging people across the province to stop attending social gatherings, which have been largely attributed to the spike in cases across the province.
"Social gatherings are the biggest problem," Ford said. "Folks, these have to stop. They just have to stop bottom line and we'll be coming out to discuss that further this week."
"To be very frank, the majority of people are following the protocols," Ford said. "It only takes a small group and then it just starts going like wildfire right across the board."
Health Minister Christine Elliott, who described Monday's spike in cases as disturbing, said she doesn't want to move Ontario back into Stage 2 but will if it's necessary.
"We want to, if possible, to take a more regional approach if we need to do anything, rather than step back the entire province," Elliott said.
Some of the Stage 2 restrictions include tighter limits on social gatherings and no indoor dining.
Second wave plan coming soon
CTV News Toronto learned last week that the government is putting the final touches on their "comprehensive fall preparedness plan" to battle a second wave of COVID-19.
Government sources said the province will unveil a strategy to deal with a surge of COVID-19 cases, the seasonal flu and the backlog of surgeries and expecting to unveil the plan once the details have been finalized.
The strategy would include the largest flu vaccination campaign in Ontario's history, as well as funding for hospital capacity, funding to address the surgery backlog and strengthening the protections around long-term care homes.
Elliott said on Monday that the plan will be released "in short order."
Last week, Ontario announce it is pausing any further steps in its reopening plan due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the "latest trend in numbers have raised some concern, especially as we begin to reopen schools and post-secondary institutions."
Elliott said that based on advice from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the public health measures table, Ontario will take "a pause of four weeks" before the province considers any further loosening of public health measures or further reopening of businesses, facilities or organizations.
"We did not make this decision lightly," Elliott said. "We are really concentrating on getting all of our students back to school safely and having them remain healthy but the reality is that spread in the community will also likely mean spread in the schools, so we need to limit the spread in the community as much as possible."
Elliott said the pausing of restrictions means Ontario won't allow for things like expanded social circles, expanded gathering sizes and greater increases in the number of people allowed to attend sports events.