When oh when will the lockdown end?
It’s a question the people of Ontario — particularly those who live in regions like Toronto and Peel, where harsh COVID-19 restrictions have been in place for nearly half a year — really want to know.
Unfortunately, the people in charge of such things can’t give us a solid answer yet: It all depends on how this third wave plays out, and how far the province sees daily case numbers and ICU admissions fall by the time our current stay-at-home order expires on May 20.
“Although today’s numbers are up compared to the previous two days, we are seeing some early signs of improvement,” said Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“The public health measures are having some effect, as is the continued vaccination rollout.”
But they’re not yet having enough of an effect in Yaffe’s opinion to alleviate the strain on Ontario hospitals in a significant way.
As of Thursday morning, the province was reporting 3,424 new cases of the coronavirus — up from the previous two days, both of which saw numbers fall below the 3,000 mark.
That said, the rolling weekly daily new case average is now trending downward, and provincewide positivity rates have dropped from 7.6 per cent to 6.8 per cent over the past seven days.
A total of 1,964 people were in hospital due to the coronavirus, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health’s latest update. Of those patients, 877 are in the ICU and 600 are on ventilators as a result of contracting COVID-19.
“While we have seen some improvement, it wasn’t very long ago that we were seeing daily numbers in the 4000s and while we are seeing some reduction in the number of people in hospital and ICU, those numbers are still far too high,” said Yaffe on Thursday.
When asked if some public health restrictions would be lifted later this month, Dr. Barbara Yaffe said she would be "surprised" to see a significant reopening in the next few weeks.https://t.co/oOaqlsCX0A pic.twitter.com/kWDC9VYwPh
— CP24 (@CP24) May 6, 2021
When asked during the press conference if we could expect any restrictions to lift in the coming weeks, the top doctor said that “there are active discussions around what to do in terms of what are the thresholds that should be considered for any loosening of restrictions and we don’t know yet.”
“But,” continued Jaffe, “I would say, given that the number of cases is so high still, the number of hospitalizations and ICU overload and so on, I would be surprised if things open up at the end of May.”
“Certainly we don’t want to open up prematurely and end up with a fourth wave. That is the last thing we need.”