|New modelling of Ontario’s COVID-19 outlook shows the pandemic is worsening across the province overall, with resident deaths in long-term care homes increasing each week — and case numbers likely exceeding European cities currently in some form of lockdown if case counts grow by five per cent. The province’s seven-day growth average right now is already about four per cent, said Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table. Over the last three days, the growth rate has been about six per cent, he said. A five per cent growth rate is an “optimistic” scenario, Brown said on Thursday.
Asked if restrictions could effectively control the level of growth seen today, Brown said: “I do not believe there’s a way that the cases will change without action.” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, emphasized the importance of individual behaviour. “If everybody did what they were supposed to do, we can bring these numbers down,” Williams said. Projections suggest Ontario will hit approximately 6,500 new cases per day before the end of December at five per cent growth. The updated modelling comes as the province blew through its earlier projection of 1,200 new daily cases by mid-November, with 1,575 new cases of the virus Thursday — its third straight record-high day.
Today’s figures come after a blockbuster news report that the government rejected advice from its own public health agency when it developed the new tiered, colour-coded framework for imposing COVID-19 restrictions. The Toronto Star reported late Wednesday that Public Health Ontario recommended setting several key thresholds for the red “control” tier — the most stringent set of restrictions before a full lockdown — at levels four times lower than those the government ultimately chose. Dr. Shelley Deeks, chief health protection officer at the agency, told the newspaper she only found out about the government’s decision when the framework was unveiled publicly last week. Deeks declined to speak with CBC News today, but a spokesperson for Public Health Ontario said the agency stands behind her comments.