November 13, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced an update to the province’s COVID-19 response framework, Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. The update is in response to the new modelling released yesterday and the recent rapid increase in cases of COVID-19. Specifically, the government is lowering the thresholds for each level in the framework, and by doing so, is moving additional public health units into the Yellow – Protect, Orange – Restrict, and Red – Control levels.
Premier Ford and Minister Elliott were joined by Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
Earlier today, the government announced a $350,000 investment from the Ontario Together Fund for the Ayr-based Integrated Packaging Films. This investment will help the company create new jobs and increase its production of PET film by 49 per cent, contributing to the production of nearly four million additional face shields each month.
Updates to Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework
This afternoon, Premier Ford responded to the latest Ontario COVID-19 modelling that was released yesterday. He called the modelling “alarming,” and highlighted that the province is on track to hit 6,500 new cases per day and overwhelm intensive care units (ICUs). Given the latest modelling, Premier Ford said that Ontario needs to be flexible and lower the thresholds for each level in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework, in order to implement preventative measures sooner in areas with rising case numbers.
The criteria for categorizing a public health unit at the Red – Control level (the final level before a lockdown) now includes:
- A weekly incidence rate of greater than or equal to 40 cases for 100,000 population;
- A percent positivity rate of greater than or equal to 2.5% among all COVID-19 tests conducted;
- A reproductive number of greater than or equal to 1.2, meaning that, on average, every COVID-19-positive individual will transmit the virus to 1.2 or more other people.
The criteria for the lower levels of the framework (Orange – Restrict, Yellow – Protect, and Green – Prevent) have also been lowered accordingly.
Based on the updated framework thresholds, the following public health units will be categorized at new levels, effective Monday, November 16th at 12:01 a.m. Assignments to the following levels will last for a minimum of 28 days, or two incubation periods, unless movement to a more restrictive level is required due to worsening trends:
- Red – Control:
- Toronto (effective Saturday, November 14 at 12:01 a.m.)
- Orange – Restrict:
- Eastern Ontario
- Yellow – Protect:
- Huron Perth
- Simcoe Muskoka
Visitor restrictions in long-term care homes will apply to public health units within the Orange – Restrict and Red – Control levels, also effective Monday, November 16 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated Public Health Guidance from Dr. Williams
In addition to the updated thresholds within the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework, Dr. Williams has also issued new public health recommendations to all Ontarians residing in a region at the Red – Control level:
- Limit trips outside of the home except for essential reasons (work, school, groceries, medical appointments, and exercise);
- Work remotely where possible;
- Families should not visit any other households or allow visitors to their homes;
- Avoid social gatherings.
Premier Ford emphasized the severity of recent trends, explaining that Dr. Williams and the Public Health Measures Table may bring new forward new recommendations next week. He added that the government would not hesitate to take further action, including lockdowns, if these steps become necessary.