The province released new COVID-19 modelling data on Thursday that indicated the summer of 2021 could be a lot sunnier than the summer of 2020 so long as well all stay on the right track.
“The data today will show a clear improvement and a clear path forward. But only care and caution will protect the gains that we have right now,” said Dr. Steini Brown of the COVID-10 Science Advisory Table. “If we are very careful, we can imagine a much better summer. And a better summer is the payoff from the stay-at-home order and the vaccinations.”
Brown said the most recent lockdowns had a noticeable effect on the rate of COVID-19 spread across Ontario, but case counts are already rising in some public health unit areas. He noted increased instances of several variants of the virus. “Cases will likely explode if the virus gets into conditions that create super spreader events,” he noted on Thursday. “Traveling across the province from high-risk communities to low-risk communities can ruin the gains in those public health units where the pandemic is already under control.”
“Simply we need to watch our every step. There is no easy path through a minefield just care and caution with each step,” he added, noting that on January 25, health officials noted that around five percent of all cases were of a variant, while by February 22, it was closer to 20 per cent of all cases.
During his Thursday presentation, Dr. Brown noted a recent decline in cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions, and pointed out more optimistic data. “This is a good news story. We have seen a substantial reduction in the daily death rates in long-term care homes, and a substantial reduction in the cases both among residents and staff and long-term care homes,” he commented. “That is substantially better than four weeks ago and even still much better again than two weeks ago. So, a substantial improvement over time.”
“This is not by accident,” continued Brown. “What we can see is that this has been the result of both a reduction in community spread, the stay-at-home orders help reduce the spread in the community, and that actually stops the virus from getting into long-term care homes.”
Dr. Brown was joined by Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer for the province of Ontario, who said officials have reviewed data from the province’s 34 health units and will be making a series of recommendations to cabinet. Earlier this week, Simcoe-Muskoka’s medical officer of health suggested a move into the grey or lockdown tier of COVID response would be prudent given the prevalence of a variant in the community.