January 11, 2021, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, provided an update on COVID-19 trends in the province and responded to questions from media.
Dr. Yaffe also confirmed that Cabinet met today to consider recommendations made by Ontario’s Public Health Measures Table regarding the implementation of additional measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Media are reporting that Cabinet did not receive recommendations for a curfew.
An announcement on the new measures is expected tomorrow.
This afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the launch of the City’s first COVID-19 immunization clinic to prepare for Phase 2 of the province’s COVID-19 immunization plan and an increased supply of vaccines. The initial “proof-of-concept” immunization clinic will open at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Monday, January 18 and will help test and adjust immunization clinic setup in non-hospital settings. The clinic will not be open to members of the public and will operate with a sample group of healthcare workers.
Over the weekend, the Ontario government announced expanded eligibility for emergency child care in Southern Ontario. The expansion is intended to further support parents of school-aged children who may not be able to support their child’s learning and/or care at home due to a need to report to work in person. A full list of the most recent additions is available here.
Update on COVID-19 Trends in Ontario
This afternoon, Dr. Yaffe provided an update on COVID-19 trends in Ontario. Key points include:
- Ontario reported more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time on January 8th. Each of the following days have seen well over 3,000 new cases.
- Over 50% of cases are concentrated in the regions of Toronto, Peel, and York, although elevated case counts are being reported across the province.
- The number of outbreaks is increasing. In the last seven days, 330 new outbreaks have been reported, more than 50% of which are in a vulnerable sector.
- Percent positivity remains high, with a seven-day average of 7.1%.
- Patients in hospital and intensive care due to COVID-19 are at record levels.
Dr. Yaffe also confirmed that Cabinet met today to consider recommendations to implement additional public health measures put forward by Ontario’s Public Health Measures Table. Stricter measures are expected to be announced tomorrow, alongside the latest provincial COVID-19 modelling.
Questions from Media
Possibility of Curfew
In response to questions about the possibility of Ontario imposing a curfew, Dr. Yaffe noted that a curfew was not among the measures recommended by the Public Health Measures Table due to the potential negative implications and enforcement challenges. She added, however, that other “serious measures” were recommended and are being considered by Cabinet.
Source of Cases
When asked about the source of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases, Dr. Yaffe explained that workplaces, and particularly break rooms, have become a significant source of infection. Other sources include carpooling and social gatherings.
According to Dr. Yaffe, approximately one third of people in Ontario are not following public health guidelines.
Enforcement and Support Measures
In response to questions about enforcement, Dr. Yaffe agreed that enforcement should be increased to ensure compliance.
In tandem with increased enforcement, Dr. Yaffe also suggested the possibility of implementing supportive measures to help Ontarians adhere to public health guidance. She suggested such measures could include paid sick leave, a prohibition on evictions, and providing isolation facilities.
Vaccine Supply and Rollout
When asked about current supply shortages of the COVID-19 vaccine in certain Toronto hospitals, Dr. Yaffe mentioned that the province is considering moving vaccines between sites in order to ensure that the most vulnerable Ontarians are vaccinated first. Dr. Yaffe added that she did not expect supply challenges to persist once the province begins mass immunization.