Friday, April 16, 2021

The Worst Is Here

In Ontario, COVID numbers are staggering. And, Bruce Arthur writes, they're going to get much worse:

Friday the Ontario government is expected to introduce stricter public health restrictions for the third time in three weeks, because Ontario’s panicked, pleading attempts to negotiate with a virus were always doomed. The only question now is how catastrophic it becomes.

“There are no good options anymore,” said a Science Table source, who declined to share the specific COVID-19 projections on hospitalization, cases, and death Friday. “We’re past that point.”

The projections are said to be between 12,000 and 18,000 cases per day by the end of May if nothing is done, and the nightmare of 1,800 patients in the ICU. The best-case scenario is now believed to be 1,000 in the ICU, more than double the second-wave high.

There are no easy solutions:

“Because this keeps seeding from high-risk regions to the low-risk regions, the low-risk regions can never really get their counts down,” says Dr. Kieran Moore, the medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, where patients from Scarborough have been airlifted for weeks. “Restricting travel across Ontario is one means that we can allow all areas to try to recover, and get their counts down so we can get back our economy. I don’t know when that can happen, given that the rate of illness is so high in our high-risk regions right now.

“We’re in big trouble. I look at the Ontario data, and the immunization data, five times a day. We can’t immunize our way out of this: we have to public health measures our way out of it.”

Much stricter measures are required. And the public is sick of the ones that are in place:

The variables now are how far this government goes to limit mobility, and how a populace exhausted by months of restrictions reacts. The stay-at-home order instituted last week may have had an effect, but the traffic didn’t slow: mobility often equals contacts, and contacts spread the virus. The variants are ravaging this province; the seven-day average is a record 4,208 cases per day, and they are incredible undercounts, because the positivity rate on tests is climbing the walls, too.

 The buck stops at Doug Ford's desk:

The government has let this spiral so far out of control. They were warned, but they reopened Ontario to variants anyway.

So people are gasping, and hungry for air, and dying, and more every day: often younger, essential workers, racialized, vulnerable. The hospital system is already crumbling in places we can’t see. There are COVID patients who would usually be in the ICU, but are being cared for on the wards — one hospital executive in the GTA estimates they number in the hundreds.

It's all hit the fan.

Image: Collins Dictionary


Anonymous said...

Schools and workplaces have been hit hard in the pandemic's third wave. Ford closed the schools much too late, with cases reported in a quarter of them and outbreaks common in hard-hit areas like Toronto and Peel.

Workplace outbreaks have also been common in the transportation and warehousing sectors and in meatpacking. These places typically pay around minimum wage without benefits. For months, health experts have asked Ford to mandate paid sick leave so workers don't have to come in sick. After rolling back Wynne's meager three paid days off early in his mandate, Ford has steadfastly refused to follow expert advice on paid leave, even as a temporary measure.

The results are obvious as cases explode. Health experts say we need to go back to where we were last April - the roads empty, workplaces shut and people staying home except to buy groceries. Instead, the roads in and around TO show business as usual. Dr Williams needs to be replaced with someone more competent who is willing to act to the full extent of their mandate regardless of Ford's dithering.


Owen Gray said...

For the Fordians, Cap, the economy has always trumped public health.

ffd said...

I think this situation has outstripped Ford's stunted intellect and he sure has a lack of imagination, but I don't blame him entirely.

One doctor called the so-called lockdown earlier this year a "mockdown" and he was right. Too many people are trying to pretend covid doesn't exist but it refuses to be ignored. People have to take responsibility for their actions whatever Ford's inadequacies.

I have read too much history to ever think we are somehow magically immune to epidemic disease but most people don't read anything longer than a few sentences for years at a time. Nearly half of adult Canadians read very poorly. See item of 17 Jan 2021 CBC radio, on PIACC assessment of adult reading skills, title: Nearly half of adult Canadians struggle with literacy — and that's bad for the economy.

Owen Gray said...

Reading is a survival skill, ffd. Those who can't read find that survival is a real struggle.

The Disaffected Lib said...

The international papers have been full of reports about Covid in India. It seems they're up to 2 Lakh infections daily. That's 200,000. Population 1.36 billion. Canada is a paltry 37 million. We've been logging about 8,000 cases daily. If India had Canada's infection rate they would be getting more than 300,000 new cases daily. Lucky for us Canada isn't an impoverished, backward country.

Owen Gray said...

There are countries that have done much better than us, Mound. And they're not considered "stars."

Anonymous said...

After listening to Ford's newser this afternoon, I have to agree, Owen, the worst is here. Ford has given police the power to stop people at random and demand to know where they live and where they're going. According to the Solicitor General, failure to comply can result in a $700 fine. Whatever happened to our Charter right to silence?

A subsequent interview with a senior physician on the Covid advisory panel revealed that none of this came at their request. He was furious and said the government made up these measures on their own. The advisory panel has been asking for weeks that Ford better protect essential workers in precarious jobs with paid sick leave and better enforcement of labour standards. Instead of doing that, Ford is making things worse for essential workers, who are most likely to be on the street as to they go to and from work and most likely to be from racial communities targeted by police. This is carding coming in through the back door.

In addition, the new ban on outdoor gatherings is actually against medical advice! Doctors say the risk of spread is very low outdoors and is far outweighed by the benefits of exercise and social contact.

The result is a lockdown that's less bearable than it could be, with increased risk for essential workers from police. This is not good at all.


Owen Gray said...

Ford is following his gut, Cap, not his head. There are much brighter heads at the table. But he's obviously not listening to them.

Lulymay said...

Given that police all over North America are suffering what one might call an "image" problem these days, I think I've got a much better idea, Owen.

How about if all those - you know - ahem, 'hard working' Con members of Ontario's provincial legislature volunteer to help their helpless leader by taking to the streets themselves complete with visible IDs tacked to their chests to accost any Ontario folks who are out and about and/or on their way to their minimum wage jobs or purchasing a few groceries for their family dinner tables?

Show the people out there - the voters - how fully they support their leader "Doug" with all his mobile ideas on how to put a halt to this pandemic! Leave the cops to do their cop work, not political work.

Owen Gray said...

These folks are authoritarians at heart, Lulymay. Their prime directive is: Do as I say, not as I do. Ford's second -- and disgraced -- finance minister is Exhibit A.