As Toronto reports a staggering and alarming increase of COVID-19 cases, mayor John Tory is sounding the alarm, going as far as to suggest that the city needs more restrictions in place if there is any hope to curve the spread of the virus.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is reporting 850 new COVID-19 cases as well as 19 additional deaths, and with Toronto and Peel Region nearing the end of its 28-day lockdown on Monday, Tory is calling for immediate action.
“Today our city faces a grim reality,” the mayor began by saying. “I think anything we do should be done with some notice ahead of the planned expiry of the 28-day lockdown that we’re presently experiencing.”
“I think we need to do more and not less. I think it needs to be regional in nature so that we leave people with fewer options as to places they might go,” Tory added.
From January 25 to October 20, de Villa says Toronto reached 25,000 cases of COVID-19. Toronto Public Health (TPH) says it has taken approximately eight weeks to double the number of cases to more than 50,000.
Tory says that he and leaders from neighbouring regions in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) are discussing using the winter holidays to “lockdown even further.”
Currently, de Villa says the youngest person in hospital with COVID-19 is 23 years old, revealing that a 47-year-old recently died of the virus.
“What is absolutely clear from everything that we are hearing, from our public health professionals and hospital officials right now, is this: going back to the good old days, as much as we might want to, is just not in the cards,” Tory later admitted.
Echoing what provincial health officials and de Villa have said for weeks and months, Tory maintained a sense of urgency, cautioning city residents to stay home for the holidays in an effort to limit community spread.
“Only celebrate in-person with the people that you live with and celebrate virtually with all others,” TPH said in a statement.
The latest data from TPH shows that the virus is spreading predominantly through close contact at 56.5 percent, with the second-highest rate of transmission coming through community spread (27.8 percent).
Toronto’s data also shows that 7.7 percent of COVID-19 infections have been transmitted through health care systems. On Wednesday, the C-E-O of Ontario Health sent a memo to hospitals in lockdown and red zones to ensure they have at least 10 to 15 percent surge capacity for adult COVID-19 patients
According to Ontario’s latest epidemiological report from the last week (Nov. 29 to Dec. 5), Toronto saw an increase of 438 COVID-19 cases, from 3,357 to 3,795.
In early December, de Villa said this time of year regularly brings “traditionally-filled celebrations” but reaffirmed that those typical holiday get-togethers must be completely rethought and reimagined, saying “this year cannot be as usual.”
Toronto and Peel Region both entered lockdown together on Monday, Nov. 23.
“We need to get back to the personal behaviours that Dr. de Villa and I have both said of the spring, as we can see from cell phone data, people did stay home,” Tory said.
“We need people to stay home and to socialize only with the people they live with. That’s what we need more than anything else.”