“Today’s numbers, they’re deeply concerning,” Ford said at a press conference at Queen’s Park. “And our health officials are telling us that Ontario is now in the second wave of COVID-19.
“We know that this wave will be much more complicated, more complex, it will be worse than the first wave we faced earlier this year.”
Ontario reported 700 new cases of the disease Monday, out of 41,111 tests.
The number set a new record for the highest daily increase yet. The next highest increase was on April 24 when 640 new COVID-19 cases were reported.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said later that Monday’s high number of cases was partially due to a testing backlog that was cleared over the weekend. But the increasing numbers are still concerning, he said.
“What we do not know, yet, is how bad the second wave will be,” the premier said. “The reality is, it is up to each of us. Together, our collective actions will decide if we face a wave or a tsunami.”
Ford said Ontarians should follow public health guidance, get a flu shot and download the COVID Alert contact tracing app to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ford’s government is, so far, resisting a call from hospitals to put some parts of Ontario back into Stage 2.
“We don’t want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to.”
The Ontario Hospital Association said Monday that the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa region should move back to Stage 2, which saw restrictions on places like restaurants, gyms and outdoor playgrounds.
“We don’t want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday. “But if we do have to, we will.”
Ford did say that the province would spend $52.5 million to hire thousands of new health-care workers to meet surges in demand. New personal support workers can get a $5,000 bonus if they agree to work in the hard-hit long-term care sector for six months.
The premier would not specify what metrics he was referring to — whether number of cases, deaths or economic impact — when he predicted this next wave will be “worse” than the first.
He passed reporters’ questions about that to Williams.
“I think the potential is that it can be worse,” Williams said. “Right now we are on the upward slope of the second wave.”
He said it remains to be seen whether Ontario’s second wave will arrive in “undulating waves” or like a “tsunami.”
“If it is that more tsunami-type wave, it will be far worse than the first wave, as we’ve seen in other countries.”
Israel, for example, imposed a second lockdown in mid-September after seeing 2,715 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours. In May, the country seemed to have the virus under control and had seen fewer than 300 total deaths.
But Williams also noted that Ontario is doing far more testing now than it was in the spring, when similar numbers of new cases were being reported.
He said too many Ontarians have let their guards down.
“We really have to hunker down and stay at the task to see if we can flatten this curve like we did the first time. People have gotten very casual … It may not be worse. But we cannot be presumptive on that basis.”