September 30, 2020, Premier Doug Ford held a media availability following the release of new COVID-19 modelling data for Ontario’s second wave of the pandemic. The modelling indicates that the province is experiencing a second surge in cases, similar to what has been seen in other jurisdictions around the world, and reinforces the importance of adhering to public health measures in order to once again flatten the curve of the virus.
Premier Ford was joined for his appearance this afternoon by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliot, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. Following the Premier’s remarks, he responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to the pandemic.
The government also released the full text of its fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.
Earlier today, the government unveiled plans to modernize Ontario’s social assistance system to support Ontarians in getting back to work and to spur economic recovery from COVID-19. The initial focus of the modernization will be on improved access to employment and training services, developing new digital tools and service options, and quickened processing of financial assistance.
COVID-19 Modelling for Ontario’s Second Wave
This morning, Ontario released updated modelling for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating a steady growth in the number of cases in the province throughout the month of September.
Key findings from the new modelling include:
- Cases are doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days.
- While initial second wave cases were primarily within the 20-39 age group, case numbers are now growing across all age groups.
- Forecasting suggests that Ontario could see around 1,000 new cases per day in early October.
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady, but admissions are predicted to rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.
- If cases continue to grow, Ontario may see between 200 and 300 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds per day.
- With greater than 150 COVID-19 patients in ICU, it becomes increasingly difficult to support non-COVID care needs. Supporting non-COVID care becomes impossible with 350 COVID-19 patients in ICU.
- The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU will have a direct impact on Ontario’s ability to continue to perform surgeries and other backlogged procedures throughout the second wave.
Modelling released today does not yet demonstrate the effects of actions taken by Ontario on September 19th and 25th regarding gathering sizes and tightened restrictions for food and drink establishments. Ontario public health experts will continue to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19, and will advise if and when public health restrictions require further adjustment.
Premier Ford called the trends observed in the new modelling “deeply concerning” and urged Ontarians to continue to adhere to public health guidelines. Dr. Williams added that those who became complacent about these guidelines over the summer need to again show discipline in order to flatten Ontario’s second wave curve.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Additional Tightening of Public Health Measures
When asked whether the province would further tighten public health measures, beyond the steps taken on September 19th and 25th to limit private gatherings and to re-introduce restrictions to food and drink establishments, Premier Ford reiterated that all options remain on the table. He added that the government and health officials understand both the economic and mental health impacts of a possible return to stage two, and suggested that the government’s approach to implementing further restrictions will be “surgical” and regional in nature, focusing on problem areas and sectors.
Toronto City Council Supports New COVID Measures
This afternoon, Toronto City Council approved enhanced measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 within bars and restaurants. The new measures will require restaurants and bars to lower capacity from 100 to 75 patrons at a time and only allow a maximum of six people per table. Restaurants and bars will also be required to collect contact information from each patron, not just one person from a table. In conjunction with the new measures, Council approved a motion supporting Regulation 719, which allows for takeout liquor sales.
Members of Toronto City Council took further action on COVID-19 mitigation by extending physical distancing in public spaces, and mask and face covering by-laws.
Members of Toronto City Council also passed a number of motions that call on the province to take greater action against COVID-19. These requests include:
- Targeted restrictions and requirements for commercial settings at higher potential risk for transmission;
- Additional restrictions on social gatherings in private and commercial settings;
- Methods to enhance the use or uptake of personal protective measures;
- Screening for signs and symptoms at more public locations where people gather;
- Additional dedicated resources for targeted outreach, inspection and education; and,
- Additional measures in gyms and fitness studios, including safe distancing and requiring masks or face coverings be worn at all times including while actively engaging in an athletic or fitness activity.
Mayor John Tory also moved a series of motions that were supported by Council to ask the province to pause commercial evictions and to support business facing increases to their insurance policies and premiums.