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Province announces certain criteria for re-opening the economy

May 1, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Premier Doug Ford announced the Province’s plan for de-escalating COVID-19-related control measures during a press conference on Monday.

No specific timeline was given, but Ford announced some broad criteria for how the Ontario will approach its decision-making, when reopening the economy.

One of they key indicators comes from the acute and critical care capacity within Ontario’s healthcare system, which includes access to ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment.

“We’re wanting to ensure the healthcare system would be ready if there’s a resurge or another wave of COVID,” said Simcoe Muskoka District Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner.

Another important metric when deciding to loosen the controls comes from analyzing two- to four-week intervals of decreasing cases and the rate at which they’re declining.

Public health’s ability to follow up on identified cases within 24 hours and provide direction for home isolation will be another factor when looking to de-escalate protective measures, Dr. Gardner said.

The ability to test vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, for COVID-19 and quickly identify outbreaks at long-term homes is important as well, he added.

“Those are the considerations they’re going to be looking at as they go forward,” Dr. Gardner noted.

“It is a critically important task for them to be able to figure out just how we can safely de-escalate all these control measures as we truly get control of this present wave of the pandemic.”

Overall, Premier Ford’s message was to stay the course and maintain preventative measures to limit the virus’s spread as the Province works through the pandemic.

“I would suggest we need to acknowledge ourselves for having collectively flattened the curve,” Dr. Gardner said. “By no means are we actively on the downward slope yet, but I’d say we plateaued.”

“We still are getting positive cases each day but there are positive signs,” he added.

New Tecumseth has seen 18 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19, but, of those, 15 have recovered, one person has been hospitalized, and there’s been zero fatalities as of press time.

In Simcoe County as a whole there’s approximately 250 cases and over half of them have recovered, while eight are hospitalized, and 14 have died.

To ensure the gains that have been made during the pandemic are not lost, people need to continue staying inside except when its essential and maintain their six feet of physical distancing, Dr. Gardner stressed.

He also said he echoes Premier Ford’s message that the virus knows no travel bounds, so it’s important for people to stay at their primary residence during the pandemic.

“Don’t go to your cottage because you can add to the burden of illness in those communities that may be less well equipped to handle it,” Dr. Gardner noted.

He said while it may be impossible to give an accurate timeline as to when controls might be relaxed, looking to how other countries are reopening their economies will be beneficial.

“It’s always done in a careful stepwise fashion, not all at once, in an incremental way, starting with what would appear to be safer means or approaches to take as first steps,” explained Dr. Gardner.

“Then you’re continuing to monitor those indicators very closely over weeks to be sure you’re not getting a sudden surge happening again.”

It is expected the virus will come and go in waves, varying in its impact and severity, so it’s important to have triggers for putting controls back into place, Dr. Gardner noted.

“We need to monitor it coming and going, so as it declines…we can relax the controls and the reason that we’d want to is for people’s well being and quality of life, for the economy, and so people can be able to make a living,” he said.

And control measures aren’t being stopped entirely because it would result in a significant surge in cases that could overwhelm Ontario’s healthcare system.

“Despite this having been in circulation in our community and despite all the cases we’ve detected, we fully anticipate the great majority of people are still completely vulnerable to this virus, have no immunity to it, as they have never been infected,” noted Dr. Gardner.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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