Community spread responsible for more than half of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, “perplexed”, leading physician

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Ontario’s top doctor says spread to the community is responsible for more than half of all new COVID-19 cases in the province, which he says is “puzzled” given weeks of hard physical measures of implementation.

About 55 percent of new cases cannot be traced to a clear source, said Dr. David Williams at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“It still puzzles me that we are not making significant progress,” Williams told reporters. “It makes me wonder if people are less consistent in their physical remoteness, and if they were in close contact, if they weren’t wearing a face covering in those few moments. “

“You still have to do it or we will stay on this set for quite a while. “

Williams commented on a day that saw 477 new confirmed cases of the virus – an increase in a week when the number of new cases of coronavirus seemed to be trending down. The number of new cases in Ontario has dropped below 400 in three of the past four days, the lowest being 370 on Monday.

Premier Doug Ford said earlier today that the Province of Ontario should increase its daily COVID-19 tests to 20,000 as the province plans to reopen slowly.

Speaking during his daily briefing, Ford said he was thinking of three things when he woke up Friday morning: long-term care, personal protective equipment and the new work numbers for the Ontario, that he said “weigh heavy on my heart”.

WATCH | Have. The Minister of Health says COVID-19 cases are trending down, despite a recent spike:

“There will be no big steps forward on a daily basis,” said Elliott, but the province will experience a gradual decline. 1:22

New figures released from Statistics Canada’s labor survey show that Ontario lost more than one million jobs during the pandemic, including 94,000 jobs in health care and social assistance since February.

Ford also expressed frustration over front-line workers’ access to personal protective equipment after the death of a fifth COVID-19 personal support worker in what a union says is a preventable tragedy .

Unifor has confirmed that Leonard Rodriquez, 61, died after 30 years of care. He was returned home after being exposed to the virus in supportive housing.

Ford said it was “unacceptable” that front-line health workers could not access PPE, telling them to call his office directly if they were denied protective equipment.

As discussions about reopening the economy continue, Health Minister Christine Elliott acknowledged “there is still some spread in the community,” echoing Ford’s calls to increase testing daily compared to the target of 16,000 inhabitants set in April.

Lab networks in the province have processed 16,295 tests in the past 24 hours, but have struggled to meet their daily goal for much of the past week.

On Thursday, 15,179 tests were done, but the number was far lower than in previous days – Tuesday’s total was slightly over 10,000 – for which Ford had targeted some of the province’s medical officers of health earlier this week.

Ford told reporters that he was in touch with the prime ministers and the Prime Minister on Thursday, in which he was adamant: he does not yet want the border with the United States to be reopened. He said that the premiers of Quebec and British Columbia were of the same opinion.

He also reiterated his call to people outside the province not to enter Ontario, and called for increased control at airports and border crossings, saying that these measures must be multiplied by ten and should not be left with Canadian border services officers.

In addition to an increase in confirmed cases, Friday’s data also shows that epidemics in long-term care homes continue to proliferate. Nine new outbreaks have been added to the province’s list, bringing the total number of outbreaks reached to 234.

The official death toll stands at 1,540, an increase of 63 from the last update. However, data reported directly by regional public health offices leaves at least 1,626 people dead.

The number of COVID-19 patients requiring a ventilator also increased to 166 from 155 reported Thursday.

The latest figures come after the announcement that an employee of Maple Lodge Farms, a poultry processor, has died of COVID-19.

A truck leaves a chicken processing plant at Maple Lodge Farms. The company reported one worker death and 25 positive COVID-19 cases. (Chris Helgren / Reuters)

In a statement, the company said 25 of its employees have so far tested positive for the virus. Maple Lodge Farms claims to have implemented enhanced security measures, including physical distance and mask requirements, to ensure the safety of its employees.

Meat processing plants have been responsible for several major COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada. This includes the largest outbreak in the country, at Cargill, near High River, Alberta.

Ford briefly visited cottage after telling people to stay home

The Premier also admitted on Friday that he had made a brief stop at his family cottage over the Easter weekend – despite requests from Ontarians to avoid their own seasonal homes.

“Don’t go to your cottage,” Ford said at an April 8 press conference just two days before the long weekend.

“There is no one who loves the chalet more than I do. But I don’t go to the chalet. “

A Ford spokesman confirmed on Friday that he was alone at the property on Easter Sunday “to check the plumbing.”

“He spent less than an hour there, and during his trip, he did not stop anywhere and did not interact with anyone,” the statement said.

Cottages and seasonal homes have been a problem of concern throughout the pandemic, with small communities concerned about visitors and temporary residents bringing the virus with them.

This week, Ford met with regional mayors of cottage country on the subject.

Ford was not the only politician who was asked about how he spent this long weekend: in mid-April, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were also on the defensive for their weekend trip.

Premier Doug Ford went alone to his family’s cottage on Easter Sunday to check the plumbing, a spokesperson said. (Michael Wilson / CBC)

Ontario wants to change PPE rules for social workers: a union

Meanwhile, the Canadian Union of Public Employees of Ontario says the provincial government has asked to start discussions on amending a directive that gives all workers access to N95 masks, saying the province believes that masks are not necessary.

The union says N95 masks block aerosolized virus particles and offer better protection than surgical masks currently in use – but that masks are not widely available to workers despite provincial regulations.

More than 1,600 workers in long-term care homes across the province tested positive for COVID-19 and a personal support worker in Orleans, Ontario, died of the virus earlier this week.

A spokesperson for Minister Elliott said the health and safety of Ontarians and front-line health workers is the government’s top priority and that the government is working to protect workers in the workplace. tight global supply chain for equipment.

“We are collectively examining how we can overcome these supply chain challenges, including through domestic production opportunities and the safe reprocessing of supplies,” said Hayley Chazan in a statement.

Registration of the provincial financial perspective

Ontario’s financial watchdog is expected to report on the province’s financial outlook next week.

The Financial Accountability Office has announced that it will release its annual budget estimates despite the fact that the province has not released its annual spending plan due to the pandemic.

Instead, Ontario announced a $ 17 billion spending plan in March to support the province during the pandemic. New spending will take a heavy toll on Ontario’s bottom line, reducing the deficit from $ 9 billion to $ 20.5 billion forecast for 2020-2021 – a level not seen since the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the province will release a full budget on November 15.

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