Toronto's top doctor hopeful the city will join Ontario's next reopening stage "soon"

Jun 15 2020, 8:57 pm

The City of Toronto is one of three regions in Ontario that cannot enter the next stage of reopening the economy as their COVID-19 numbers, while trending downward, are still not in the safe zone.

On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that on June 19, seven more regions can join the 24 areas that have already entered Stage 2.

Except for Peel, Windsor-Essex, and Toronto.

Health Minister Christine Elliot said that the numbers were not as low as the province would like.

Toronto reported 90 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 13,420 with 11,098 recovered.

“I believe this is reasonable and local businesses will benefit with some time to get ready,” Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said.

She added that as a result of residents’ efforts to reduce virus spread, the city is seeing “significant progress.”

“I am hopeful we will join with other Ontario regions soon,” de Villa said.

The Medical Officer said that multiple factors are evaluated to see if Toronto can enter the next reopening stage.

When looking at Toronto day-over-day coronavirus cases, the numbers have been trending downwards continuously for the last 14 days, which is what some thought was needed to enter the next stage.

However, de Villa corrected this assumption, saying more is needed than just daily case counts to enter the next stage.

On Friday, Toronto Public Health launched a COVID-19 monitoring dashboard that summarizes the progress being made against the virus.

According to de Villa, the dashboard informs the decision to move Toronto into the next stage.

“The dashboard contains more than one single figure as it is a complex situation. It needs to be done carefully and needs to be done right,” she said.

The City still needs to see improvements in hospitalizations and outbreaks. Toronto Public Health wants to ensure that the healthcare system has enough capacity for when there is a coronavirus resurgence, while resuming activities that had to be put on pause due to the pandemic.

De Villa also warned that they will expect to see more cases as the province reopens.

Mayor John Tory also noted that the biggest concern for businesses is if another wave of the virus hits.

“The threat or prospect of going through this again is horrifying,” Tory said. “Focus less on the calendar and more on the numbers.”

The Medical Officer echoed Tory’s sentiments asking that it’s important to not focus on dates, but to focus on the dashboard.

Overall, Toronto continues to remain “yellow” meaning it is demonstrating continued progress. There is also enough healthcare system and public health system capacity for the time being, with “good progress” being made on timely follow-up on cases and their contacts.

To date, 96% of new cases are contacted by Toronto Public Health within 24 hours and 100% of their contacts are contacted within the same timeframe.

Overall, new hospitalizations and outbreaks are improving and continue to trend in the right direction.

Toronto Public Health

According to the dashboard, ICU bed occupancy rate is at 61% and ICU-ventilator occupancy rate is at 26%, with the acute bed rate at 82%.

On a 7 day moving average, there are 98 new cases, with 7 hospitalizations and 45 active outbreaks in institutions.

The main area that still needs more attention is the testing. Only 22% of new COVID-19 tests have a turnaround of 24 hours with 61% having a turnaround of 48 hours.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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