Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released new numbers on Friday that paint a bleak outlook on the pandemic should further steps not be taken.
“Our progress is both frustrating and frightening,” the Advisory Table’s Dr. Steini Brown said during a Friday afternoon media briefing, claiming the province could see 18,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day if we remain under current restrictions.
Brown says the only way to flatten Ontario’s curve at this point would be to impose a six-week stay-at-home order and maintain a rate of at least 100,000 vaccines administered per day. The province has exceeded the 100,000-dose mark in seven of the last ten days. A best-case scenario calls for upwards of 300,000 doses administered per day.
He added that, if the province hadn’t introduced a lockdown and stay-at-home order, Ontario’s daily caseload increase could have hit an “unbelievable” 30,000 cases per day.
“The numbers are still rising. But the biggest problem we now face may be that we’re just too tired to notice. So, I’m begging you as part of the team to notice,” said Brown. “Notice that our hospitals can no longer function. Normally, they’re bursting at the seams. We’re setting up field hospitals, and we’re separating critically ill patients from their families by helicoptering them across the province for care, or children’s hospitals are now admitting adults as patients. And this has never happened in Ontario before. It’s never happened in Canada before.”
One of the factors driving this third wave is the mobility of Ontarians. Using cellphone GPS data, Brown says the province can see there has been a reduction in the amount of time people spend outside the home, but not enough to curb the spread of community transmission. This includes being at the workplace, in retail or recreation settings, and on transit.
This comes as the province reported a record-breaking 4,812 new cases on Friday. Brown says almost all health units have seen increases in caseload since mid-March. That includes the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. In the last two weeks, the number of people hospitalized across Ontario has grown by 67 per cent, while the number of people in ICU has risen by 51 per cent.
Test positivity rates are rising across the province, while the number of tests run remains consistent. This means the increase is a result of more cases, not more tests being run.
“I know some of us are frustrated, some us are frightened, and some of us are just fatigued, and many I know are all three. After more than a year of fighting this together, we are now entering the hardest stage,” continued Brown. “Cases have risen, hospitals have filled up, and across Ontario, it is very clear we are very much in the third wave of COVID-19.”