New COVID modelling data forecasts around 100 deaths a day if more don’t abide by health measures

Virus beginning to overwhelm healthcare system, becoming province's greatest single cause of death

It appears most of Ontario is following the rules when it comes to curbing COVID-19 spread, but it is just not enough. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is on track to be the single greatest cause of death in the province.

“COVID-19 is now in every region of Ontario. This is no longer a problem of a small group of cities, or one region of the province,” said Dr. Steini Brown of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. “The pandemic will have serious consequences for our health in every region of Ontario.”

New modelling data released by Ontario health officials on Tuesday shows, despite more strict measures put in place, growth in cases has accelerated. Were Ontario to consistently see a daily caseload growth of just five percent day-over-day, the province could see 20,000 cases per day, or double that at seven percent. On worse days, growth has already hit the seven percent mark.

Survey data indicates the majority of Ontarians are helping limit spread by following the current restrictions, at about two-thirds of the population. But more need to get on board if we want to see a decline in cases.

According to the province’s science advisory table, Ontario could see around a hundred lives lost per day by the end of February if we maintain the status quo.

This would put COVID-19 on track to be the single greatest cause of death in Ontario, beating cancer and heart disease, according to Dr. Brown. “It’s already larger than virtually every other cause that we look at. But this will put it into the first position with very little opportunity for challenge.”

Tuesday’s report indicates COVID-19 ICU occupancy is now over 400 beds throughout Ontario. This has led to surgeries being cancelled, while access-to-care deficits will continue to increase, meaning real health consequences. If the growth of COVID in the province continues as-is, the province’s science advisory table predicts ICU occupancy could hit 500 beds by the middle of this month, and over 1,000 by next month.

One-quarter of Ontario’s hospitals have no ICU beds free, while another quarter only have one or two to spare. This limits a hospital’s ability to respond to other healthcare emergencies like heart attacks, car crashes, or violent incidences.

There has been an over 72 percent increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the past four weeks, while ICU occupancy has seen an increase of just over 61 percent.

“As we climb closer to 1000 intensive care beds, about half of our capacity filled with COVID-19 patients in February,” added Dr. Brown. “We will have to confront choices that no doctor ever wants to make and no family ever wants to hear.”

The new data was handed down Tuesday morning, just a few hours ahead of a media briefing scheduled with Premier Doug Ford at which he is expected to announce new measures to bring down the number of COVID cases in the province.

On Tuesday, there were just over 2,900 new cases added, the first time in days that number has been below the 3,000-mark.