Tuesday, January 12th 2021, 2:56 pm - Province reported another 2,903 cases of COVID-19 and 41 more deaths Tuesday
The Ontario government has announced a provincial stay-at-home order and new restrictions, as new COVID-19 modelling revealed Tuesday shows the health-care system is on the verge of being overwhelmed.
The province says it is issuing the stay-at-home order effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m., which will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, like going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
"Our province is in crisis," Premier Doug Ford said.
"The system is on the brink of collapse. It's on the brink of being overwhelmed."
The province says it is enacting the following measures, which will come into effect between today and Thursday:
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions.
- People are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m.
- The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
"Community transmission is widespread. It's in our hospitals, it's in our long-term care homes, and it's in our workplaces," Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday.
Today, I issued a Stay-at-Home Order for Ontario, effective Thursday January 14 at 12:01 a.m.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 12, 2021
Under this order, everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips, to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments.
Learn more: https://t.co/P3rChGjuU1 pic.twitter.com/49FELTh9KW
The province also announced Tuesday that schools in these public health units will not return to in-person instruction until Feb. 10:
- Peel Region
"Schools in hotspots may not resume," Elliott said.
You can find more information about Ontario's new restrictions here.
NEW MODELLING REVEALS ONTARIO IS AT A 'DANGEROUS POINT'
Ford was asked Tuesday if government inaction has anything to do with the current state of the pandemic in Ontario, to which the premier responded the province is doing everything in its power to slow the spread of the virus.
"We work as a team. And any mishaps, I'm wearing it," Ford said.
New modelling released Tuesday shows if Ontarians don't significantly reduce their contact with others during the pandemic, the province's health system will become overwhelmed and deaths will exceed first-wave totals before a vaccine has time to take effect.
"We're at a dangerous point," said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, at a morning briefing.
There are now cases of COVID-19 in every region of Ontario, Brown said, and the province's hospitals are facing a potentially deadly influx of patients.
"The growth of the pandemic is particularly acute right now," he added, noting that increases in new daily cases is above seven per cent "on our worst days," well into worst-case scenario territory for the outlook of the illness in the province.
WATCH BELOW: THE BEST WAYS TO GET VITAMIN D WHILE WE SPEND MORE TIME INDOORS
The revised modelling suggests that despite restrictions put in place last month, mobility and contacts between people have not decreased in Ontario. Survey data shows a majority of people are trying to limit the spread of the virus by following health advice, but case numbers will not go down until more people follow that example, Brown said.
And despite repeated assertions from provincial officials and the premier alike that Ontario was building an "iron ring" around its long-term care homes to protect seniors, the figures released Tuesday also show that almost 40 per cent of the province's long-term care homes now have active outbreaks of COVID-19.
Elliott claimed Tuesday that the province is "building that iron ring around the long-term care homes by the vaccinations that we're doing" — but Ontario officials have promised an "iron ring" around those homes long before vaccines were ever approved by Health Canada.
The province's forecasts now suggest there will actually be more deaths in long-term care in the pandemic's second wave compared to the first. Since Jan. 1, 2021, 198 long-term care residents and two staffers have died.
DON'T MISS: You can read through the entire provincial modelling document at the bottom of this story
Modellers also warned that patients with COVID-19 now occupy more than 400 ICU beds in Ontario, leading to surgeries and other procedures to be delayed or cancelled, which will lead to "real consequences for health."
Brown said that currently, about one quarter of Ontario's hospitals have no ICU capacity left, while another quarter have only one or two beds available at any given time. The hospitals with no or very limited ICU capacity are spread out throughout the province, he added.
"This is no longer an issue of one or two regions," Brown continued.'