Shortly after the release of figures indicating that 1,600 people could die by the end of the month without more aggressive physical distancing, Ford announced a dramatically reduced list of essential services allowed to remain open. Those who have failed to cut must suspend operations Saturday evening at 11.59 p.m.
The new closures, which will be in effect for at least 14 days, include all industrial construction sites except those on projects deemed essential, such as hospitals. “
The closure followed recommendations from some of Ontario’s top public health officials, which released projections earlier today illustrating the effects of government action to date.
Projections have shown that up to 100,000 people in the province could have died during the pandemic without the widespread closure of schools and businesses that the province enacted last month.
As it stands, the figures suggest that the death toll could reach 3,000 to 15,000 without additional protection efforts.
Ford said the data, dark in and of itself, still offers a message of hope.
“The numbers clearly show that we have collectively saved thousands of lives,” said Ford. “But we also know that we can’t stop now. There are 1,600 people who need us to do everything we can in the next 30 days. “
Dr. Peter Donnelly, President of Public Health Ontario, said the data paint a startling picture of the severity of the situation facing residents of Ontario and the need for continued action.
“If we do everything we can think of – everything that has already been done stays in place, all the other measures that are being considered are in place _ then I think we could reduce the number of deaths in Ontario between 3,000 and 15 000, “he said. “Where we end up depends on each of us. “
Ontario is projected to have seen 300,000 cases by the end of April if nothing had been done. The measures currently in place will likely reduce this number to 80,000 and 12,500 with other measures.
Earlier on HuffPost: Ontario orders the closure of non-essential businesses. The story continues below.
Likewise, the death toll would have reached 6,000 by the end of the month without any action, said Donnelly. Staying the course is expected to reduce the death toll to 1,600 and keep it down to 200 with even stricter restrictions than those currently in place.
Donnelly and other officials have proposed such measures. In addition to the steps announced by Ford on Friday, they included placing restrictions on entry to certain communities, including First Nations, increased protection for seniors, and tighter physical distance guidelines.
Donnelly said the projections, which are far from frozen, cover the entire course of the epidemic. He said it could take anywhere from 18 months to two years if you consider the second and third waves of the virus.
The estimates were released at the request of Ford, which initially expressed reluctance to share speculative data in the midst of a fluid situation.
The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Ontario continued on an upward trend on Friday, although those figures were overshadowed by the rising number of cases that are now considered resolved.
Where we end up depends on all of us.Dr. Peter Donnelly, President of Public Health Ontario
The province reported 462 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 3,255. Deaths climbed 14, to a total of 67 province-wide.
These figures did not include four new deaths in a nursing home in central Ontario, the scene of one of the largest outbreaks in the country.
Twenty of the approximately 65 residents of the Pinecrest nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, have died in the past few weeks. At least 24 facility staff have also tested positive for COVID-19.
The province has reported numerous outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Ontario.
But the number of cases resolved also increased significantly, climbing more than 30% to 1,023 against 831 Thursday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 3, 2020.