As COVID-19 cases and deaths hit new highs, grim new modelling forecasts and possible new lockdown measures are expected Friday.
Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet met for hours Thursday to discuss options, the Star’s Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie reported. It’s still not clear exactly what they’ll do, but they’ll meet again to make a final decision.
The province has been under a stay-at-home order since April 8, although the police have limited ability to enforce it. Some schools in the province moved online last week, while some are moving online after April break.
A senior official said a curfew was unlikely.
But, “all options are on the table,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told reporters at Queen’s Park Thursday.
“Unfortunately, the situation is dire,” associate chief medical officer, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, added at a press conference later in the day.
“Remember what things were like last spring … and what the streets were like?
“They were pretty much empty.
“They’re not empty these days.
“We have to go back to that.”
New modelling from the Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, is expected Friday at 1 p.m., projecting an incredibly high level of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the next few months. Premier Doug will make an announcement on further restrictions at 2:30 p.m.
“There are no good options anymore,” a Science Table source, who declined to share the specific COVID-19 projections, told the Star’s Bruce Arthur on Friday.
“We’re past that point.”
The projections are expected to be between 12,000 cases and 18,000 cases per day by the end of May, if no more restrictions are imposed, and 1,800 patients in the ICU.
This comes as daily cases break records; 4,836 were reported by Ontario’s Public Health Units on Thursday evening, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb, and 27 deaths.
The seven-day average is up to 4,328 cases per day, also a record, and roughly 20 deaths, a third-wave high.
In the last week, there has also been a 36 percent surge in new cases, causing strain on hospitals and intensive care units that never really recovered from the second wave.
The field hospital in Sunnybrook’s parking lot is set to start accepting patients next week, the Star’s Megan Ogilvie, Amy Dempsey and Rachel Mendleson reported.
University Health Network is adding tents, to try to take pressure off busy emergency rooms, as the number of ICU patients reaches crisis levels. These patients, most infected with the new variants, are often more serious, as The Canadian Press’s Holly McKenzie-Sutter found when she visited Humber River Hospital’s ICU with photographer Nathan Denette.
“The patients that are coming in sick with COVID are definitely more acute,” said Raman Rai, who manages the ICU. “They’re sicker and they’re younger, which is hard for the team to see.” Transfers to other hospitals can help, but a lack of trained ICU nurses is a serious problem.
Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout has been marked by confusion and delays. Two clinics run by Scarborough Health Clinic closed this week because of a lack of supply, and University Health Network officials say they will have to close a clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital, and send the one at the MaRS building down to 25 per cent capacity, if they don’t get more doses.
COVID vaccine clinics at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s will be shut for first-dose appointments until at least April 26, according to Unity Health Toronto.
The hospital clinics will be closed as of April 18. Appointments booked will not be cancelled, but may be changed.