New provincial COVID-19 modelling data shows second wave slowing but we’re not out of the woods

Province estimates 800 to 1,200 new cases daily "for a while"

New data released by Ontario health officials seems to indicate the province is moving away from a worst-case scenario as it fights back the second wave of COVID-19.

“Compared to the projections that we showed at the beginning of the month, it looks that current projections are much slower growth,” said Dr. Steini Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. “Where we were concerned that we’re close to a worst-case situation, analogous to Victoria in Australia last time, we’re much closer now to the situation in Michigan.”

“We’re estimating sort of a steady-state level of cases for a while of between 800 to 1,200 cases,” he added.

Dr. Brown says while the curve is showing signs of flattening in the near future, he raised concern that there are more cases among older demographics. “What’s important to note is, not just the increase overall in the percent positivity, but actually the increase in the older age groups,” he said. “The average age of the case is now moving up. It’s now 40 in Ontario, which may reflect the effect of some of the interventions, but also creates a bit of a warning signal because it is the in the older age population where we see the biggest Health and Health System consequences.”

While there is concern the province’s healthcare system could continue to be taxed by this pandemic, Dr. Brown points out there has been some improvement on that front. “Growth in hospitalization rates and ICU use has softened,” he indicated. “In the first or second week of October, we talked about 249% growth in hospitalization rates over the last three weeks, updating that figure to the last three weeks from yesterday. It’s now 56%, which is again still growing, still a cause for concern but a much slower rate of growth.”

Even though this new modeling data indicates an improvement in the fight against COVID, Dr. Brown says it could take a turn, depending on how Ontarians conduct themselves. “I think it’s important to emphasize, this disease, particularly because it can spread so quickly with these super spreader events, can dramatically turn and you can have rapid growth quite quickly.” Super spreader events include, but are not limited to, weddings, funerals, large private gatherings, and church gatherings.

We’re seeing a little bit of a flattening of the curve,” Premier Doug Ford told Barrie 360 on Thursday. “That doesn’t mean we let our guard down like last time. We need to keep focused and keep moving forward.”