On Saturday, Ontario will go back into lockdown -- because Bruce Arthur writes, the Ford government can't do what is required:
Half-measures are how we got here. Ontario has taken the approach of poorly explained restrictions that exhaust the finite patience and trust of the public, but which only slow the pace of growth rather than actually stop the spread. This government has not understood that the best route to a healthy economy is public health, and that the longer you wait for decisive, sweeping action, the bigger the mess at the end.
And now the bill is coming due. Wednesday morning Ontario hit a new high for COVID-19 ICU patients, at 421, with case counts still rising at more than 2,000 per day. That number will continue to rise, because there is a two- to three-week lag between infection and the ICU, so a rise in cases is already baked in, and escalating ICU admissions are baked in behind that, which is one reason playing to hospital capacity — which this government was still doing early this week, boasting of field hospitals and ICU beds that may or may not have qualified staff — doesn’t work.
Four weeks would buy some time for the province’s shambolic vaccination program to deliver on increased supply. But over four weeks cases, and ICU admissions, will almost certainly keep growing for two of those weeks.
“A three-week circuit breaker could bring the cases back below 2,000, and it could result perhaps in a maximum in ICU at around 800, if we do it really well,” said Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of the province’s independent volunteer science table. “But we would need to go really hard. It's a combination of being smart and really stringent with the measures, distinguishing clearly between essential and non-essential, making sure workplaces are safe, at the same time being really smart about vaccinations. There's a lot within reach if we do it properly.”
But we continue to not do things properly:
“The answer is an answer that nobody wants to hear, which is you limit all non-essential activity,” says Dr. Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist and modeller at the University of Toronto. “And we know it works. The thing is, it works while it’s in place, and once you relax it, cases are going to go up again. And that’s why the more structural changes, like paid sick leave, are so important, and why we keep finding ourselves back in the position that we are.
The bottom line for Ford is that it costs too much to do the right thing. He's not alone in that conviction.