Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown provided a COVID-19 update on March 11, the National Day of Observance on COVID-19, emphasizing the importance of the coming weeks and months in the fight against the virus.
Williams compared and contrasted the province's modelling data from the outset of the pandemic with current numbers, shining a positive light on the numbers, while cautioning that there is still plenty of work ahead.
Early modelling indicated that by this point of the pandemic, Ontario would be approaching three million cases; that number is closer to 300,000 currently and Williams says it's due to the efforts of Ontarians.
"When we entered the pandemic we had anticipated what might be coming down the road; when we saw the numbers rapidly increasing in Europe...and the struggles and issues they were dealing with and we knew that was coming our way," said Williams.
The province is slightly ahead of the curve, according to Williams, with vaccines rolling out earlier than first anticipated.
"We have had over 300,000 cases, and we were expecting at this time to have close to three million cases," said Williams. "That's what we were facing and that's what the data showed."
Williams indicated that vaccines were projected to arrive within a year and a half and that projections were that the pandemic would last at least 18 months. Now in month 14 of the pandemic, the next four months are of critical importance.
"We're still facing new issues, we're still facing variants of concern," said Williams.
"While we're well into a year of the pandemic, 14 months, we expected to have 18 months of pandemic, we still have another four to five months of clear hard work ahead of us to keep our numbers down while we do the vaccination and get caught up."
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science table, provided some of the latest modelling data, charting Ontario's path forward and noting that the coming weeks and months will determine what kind of summer the province has.
"I hope that the day of observance today gives us all a chance to lend each other strength in the way that each of us needs. I hope that as we move toward what is hopefully the last stage of the pandemic, that we're able to move through it together as one province," said Brown.
Some of the key findings outlined by Brown include:
- Vaccination in long-term care has paid off
- Progress otherwise has stalled. Declines in community cases and test positivity have levelled off. Cases are increasing in most public health units
- Variants of concern continue to spread across Ontario. Our ability to control the rate of spread will determine whether we return to normal or face a third wave of infection
- Our behaviour of the next few weeks is critical in determining the quality of our summer
"We have seen one death (in long-term care homes) in the last six days which is a profoundly different statistic than we saw at the beginning of the year," said Brown.
"We're down to 25 homes that have outbreaks involving residents and 13 public health units have no homes that have outbreaks right now. Although we did exceed the death toll in wave one, it has really truly flattened out now and is in a much better situation than we had anticipated when it started to spread through."
The province announced today that Greater Sudbury is being moved into the Grey-Lockdown zone as of tomorrow.
You can watch the entire press conference from today above.