“We’re not out of the woods yet.”
Premier Doug Ford announced on Thursday afternoon that his government is extending the province-wide Stay-at-Home order until at least June 2, pointing out hospitals remain under immense pressure despite recent progress made.
The extension of the order also applies to Ontario’s schools.
Ford also said that, as of May 31, youth between the ages of 12 and 17 can book an appointment to receive a Pfizer vaccine. Family members who have not yet received their shot will also be eligible to book a vaccine.
Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine in youth aged 12 to 17 on May 5.
“While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford. “We must stay vigilant to ensure our ICU numbers stay down and our hospital capacity is protected. If we stay the course for the next two weeks and continue vaccinating a record number of Ontarians every day, we can begin looking forward to July and August and having the summer that everyone deserves.”
When asked what signs he’s looking for in determining whether to lift the Stay-at-Home order as planned on June 2, Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams says he’s watching the ICUs. “One of our main issues right now is the load on our hospital system. We have just backed off from a high number; I said we just backed off, we haven’t gone down precipitously yet. And so we’re trying to watch and see where that one is going,” he said, adding case count is a huge factor in this decision. “I’m looking at a number well under 1000. And we have to stay there for a number of days because those are delayed metrics for the ICU numbers and hospitalization numbers.”
“At the same time, we want to see what is it going to be the impact of our vaccination on our population writ large,” continued Dr. Williams. “Are we going to see a lot more people who may have mild symptoms but who basically do not need hospitalization? Is that going to impact us? Are we going to see that?”
From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and per cent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two. “While the latest data shows that public health measures are having an impact, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and variants continue to pose a significant risk,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Experience from other jurisdictions shows that driving transmission to very low levels is needed in order to end the third wave. We must stay the course as we continue to quickly vaccinate more Ontarians, including our children and youth.”
On Thursday, Ontario surpassed half a million cases of COVID-19 to date, while the vast majority have recovered.