Ontario hospitals call for widespread lockdowns as province sees record 2,432 new COVID-19 cases

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Ford’s office says he will be joined by the minister of long-term care.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, is then expected to provide a briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Ontario at 3 p.m. ET.

You can watch both live in this story.

Ontario’s hospitals called for new 28-day lockdowns in all regions currently in the red tier of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework on Thursday, as the Ministry of Health reported a record-high 2,432 new cases.

“Ontario remains firmly caught in the grasp of a major second wave of COVID-19. Daily infection is now above 2,000 new cases per day. Hospitalization is increasing rapidly, as is the occupancy of intensive care units,” the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said in a statement.

It added that the situation has become “extremely serious.” The OHA’s board of directors held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss ongoing challenges to Ontario’s health-care system.

“We are now in the holiday season and if members of the public choose to ignore public health measures and gather outside their households, the consequences risk overwhelming Ontario’s hospitals,” the statement continued.

As a result, the OHA said it must “reluctantly and with deep regret” ask the provincial government to “implement and robustly enforce” four-week lockdowns in all public health units where the weekly incidence rate is 40 per 100,000 or more, a key threshold for the red tier. 

The request comes as hospitalization figures in Ontario all reached second-wave highs this week. The OHA said that its member hospitals are struggling to keep up with current needs while working to catch up on about 150,000 procedures that were postponed during the first of the pandemic in the spring. 

“Evidence is mounting that the hidden toll on human health from this disruption in scheduled services will be heavy. Our communities are tired, and so are those caring for them,” the statement said.

The provincial government should also offer paid sick leave and isolation accommodation to help those who cannot afford to take time off work if they contract the novel coronavirus, the OHA added.

Yesterday, the mayors of two of Ontario’s hardest-hit cities, Toronto and Mississauga in Peel Region, called for strict measures to remain in place throughout the holiday season. This Friday marks four weeks since Toronto and Peel first went into lockdown, while York Region and Windsor-Essex moved into lockdown later. 

Nearly all of the rest of southern Ontario’s largest cities, with the exception of Ottawa, are in the red zone. That includes Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Oakville, Oshawa and Barrie. 

Record day for new COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, Ontario reported another 2,432 cases of COVID-19 this morning, the most on a single day since the pandemic began. 

The additional cases include 737 in Toronto, 434 in Peel Region, 209 in York Region, 190 in Windsor-Essex, 142 in Hamilton and 102 in Halton Region. 

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Waterloo Region: 77
  • Durham Region: 73
  • Ottawa: 70
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 65
  • Middlesex-London: 63
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 47
  • Niagara Region: 45
  • Southwestern: 35
  • Brant County: 26
  • Eastern Ontario: 19
  • Huron Perth: 17
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington: 16
  • Lambton: 11

(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

Combined, the new cases push the seven-day average to 2,026, also a new high.

There are now 17,484 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 throughout Ontario, the most-ever in the province.

While the number of total patients in Ontario hospitals with the illness dropped slightly to 919, down 13 from 932, the number being treated in intensive care units jumped seven to 263. Of those, 172 required the use of a ventilator — 15 more than in yesterday’s report.

At the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, hospitalizations topped out at 1,043, while ICU admissions peaked at 264, according to the Ministry of Health.

Public health officials also reported 20 more deaths of people with COVID-19, bringing Ontario’s official toll to 4,058.

More to come.

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