The latest round of provincial COVID modelling data indicates while Ontario’s case count continues to grow, it appears the percent positivity rate is flattening.
Public health officials released new data on Thursday showing Ontario remains in a “precarious” situation. “Cases continue to grow. Present positivity, in contrast, appears to be flattening. This is, I guess, a small bit of good news,” said Dr. Steini Brown. “So that indicates that we may be seeing some impact from the current restrictions. It’s important to emphasize though, that the impact of the pandemic still varies widely across and within public health units.”
Forecasting indicates the province could continue to see upwards of 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day if viral growth remains at current levels, but could grow to about 3,000 new cases per day should there be a 3 percent growth of the disease. Dr. Brown adds we could be subject to 25 COVID-related deaths per day for the foreseeable future. “Twenty-five deaths may seem like a small number a day, but it is significant enough to put it among the most important causes of death in the province on a daily basis,” he commented.
According to the modelling data released Thursday, the province will continue to see ICU occupancy surpass the 200 bed-mark for the next month. “It could go significantly higher if public health interventions are relaxed, which would lead to an increase in the number of patients entering our intensive care units.” Dr. Brown, adding 150 beds is the threshold at which surgeries would have to start being cancelled. “Particularly in specific hospitals, this is leading to problems or increasing problems with access to care. Under number scenarios, we might actually get up above another threshold of 300 ICU beds.”
Brown says it appears the second wave lockdowns enforced in Toronto and Peel Region have been less effective in curbing caseload growth than the first go around. “The current set of restrictions that really started on September 19, have not had as much impact on mobility, and likely in contacts as the very dramatic restrictions that we had in the spring,” he said. “However, a relaxation of public health interventions at this point, particularly with the widening prevention gap, that we see, will likely lead to an even higher case growth.”
“The pandemic continues to impact communities very differently,” continued Brown. “For Ontarians who have access to suitable housing, for those who don’t live in multi-generational households, or for those whose employment is largely outside of essential services, rates are growing slowly or more slowly than they are in those communities where there is not as good access to suitable housing where there is a large amount of employment or a high proportion of employment.”