New provincial COVID-19 modelling indicates we could be turning a corner but remain in a “precarious situation”

Pandemic forecast

Ontario health officials released some new modeling data on Thursday, about two weeks following an update that indicated we could see 6,500 cases a day by the end of December. That seems to remain the case, but it could be worse.

“While it’s positive to see that these indicators like cases are starting to flatten, it is best described as a fragile or precarious situation where we need to make sure that cases continue to flatten and decline before we can say that we’re making strong progress,” said Dr. Steini Brown of Ontario’s COVID-19 Advisory Table. “Long term care resident mortality continues to increase, although cases are now flattening and starting to decline.”

Dr. Brown said ICU occupancy in Ontario continues to grow. It will hit 200 beds in December regardless of the steps taken ahead of time. It was previously reported that an occupancy rate of 150 beds was the threshold required to begin cancelling surgical procedures in the province. “Remember, even with cases flattening hospitalizations are going to continue to grow for a while, because of the progression of the disease and the time it takes to come go from infection to symptoms to the requirement of hospitalization, and ICU use will lag even further behind that,” commented Dr. Brown.

While the data presented in Thursday’s media briefing could be reason for cautious optimism, Dr. Brown points out its too late the change the trajectory of the pandemic as presented in his last briefing on November 12 when upwards of 6,500 cases a day was forecasted. “If we are able to maintain the current level and not see further growth, you’re likely to see about the same number of cases a day by the end of December,” said Brown. “If, however, it goes in a very bad direction, and we see from today on that type of growth that we were seeing a two weeks ago, you’ll see a north of 9000 cases.”

“This is a moment of great sort of precariousness where continued adherence to public health measures will hopefully bring case counts down,” he concluded.

On Thursday, the province reported 1,478 new cases of COVID-19.