TORONTO – Before the Ontario government announced tougher measures on COVID-19 hotspots, officials from the York area on Thursday asked not to move them into the lockdown area.
In a letter to Prime Minister Doug Ford, York District Chairman and CEO Wayne Emerson and York Region Medical Officer of Public Health, Dr. Karim Corgi requested that the district remain in the control category or the red category while they wait to see the impact of Monday’s restrictions.
Both officials wrote that they believe these measures are sufficient and “will go a long way in preventing new cases of COVID-19 in our communities.”
They said that the result of the restrictions is expected to emerge at the end of the month and that they are “confident” that the number of cases will decrease.
The message comes after the prime minister said some “drastic” new measures were coming in hot spots in the county – Toronto, Belle, and the York area – as new infections, ICU admissions and deaths continued to rise.
“Tomorrow our government will release more restrictions on public health based on the best medical advice, and as you look forward, these measures should be severe in the hardest hit areas,” Ford said.
“We are seeing worrying trends. Hospital intensive care units are at risk. Our long-term care role is in danger. We have some difficult but necessary decisions to make.”
Under the gray zone or closed zone, the province said widespread measures and restrictions are expected, including lockdowns, and the declaration of a state of emergency should be considered.
Emerson and Kraji acknowledge that the number of new cases and positivity rates in the region remain high, but they believe the current measures are “likely” to work.
On Thursday, York State reported 143 new cases of COVID-19. The average seven-day roll is 180.
Emerson and Kraji said in their letter that company inspections have shown that most organizations are in compliance. Residents also adhere to public health measures, including wearing masks.
They also indicated that the three district hospitals continue to manage COVID-19 patients and “have seen no evidence of strains in capacity.”
Additionally, Emerson and Corgi said the outbreak in schools is still under control, and outbreaks in the workplace are decreasing. As of Thursday, there are 42 outbreaks in the region.
“Our position is that good condition, contact management and outbreak control remain the most effective means for us to reduce new cases in the community,” the officials said.
The two officials said the district is also committed to increasing enforcement activities by York Regional Police and law officers in areas where assembly restrictions are being violated.
While wanting to exclude them from the lockdown, officials said they would welcome any additional measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in malls, supermarkets and party halls.
“Our small businesses in the York area – as they are all over Ontario – continue to do whatever they are told to stay open and keep their customers, themselves and their families safe,” Emerson and Cragey said.
“We all need to stand up for them and keep as many companies open as possible.”
We want more time
Speaking to CP24 Thursday evening, Corgi said it takes 10-12 days before the effects of the restrictions are reflected in the numbers, which is why he wants the region to remain in the red.
“This was really the case when we entered Modified Phase 2 – it took 10 to 12 days before case numbers went down. So, we’re asking to wait a little,” the doctor said.
“We want to balance the livelihoods and the health effects of COVID-19. Of course, there are the mental health effects, and the social effects as well when you are in lockdown mode.”
Corgi said many small businesses have already shut down due to the pandemic, and the shutdown will hurt more struggling entrepreneurs.
The doctor expects a decrease in the number of new cases in the region in the coming days.
“I am reasonably optimistic and optimistic that we will be able to reach (this goal), and we will make a concerted effort on enforcement activities,” Corgi said.
“If we do not succeed, we may have to reconsider our positions.”
Markham Mayor Frank Scarbetti endorses the message, saying the situation has stabilized in the area.
“We feel we want at least another week to see how the red zone measures affect the number of cases,” Scarpitti said in an interview with CP24.
“We are different from Toronto and Bell. We really feel the measures in place with the control area and if they also put in some additional measures for malls, retail stores, large grocery stores, and party halls, we think they will have enough effect to stabilize the number of cases, so that we do not go into further closures.” .
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua echoed Scarbetti, saying that the York region has handled the epidemic “very well”.
While it is important to put in place appropriate restrictions, the mayor also stressed the importance of taking personal responsibility, by following public health guidelines to limit the spread of the virus.
“I think people need to realize that these are extraordinary times. They require exceptional measures,” Bevilacqua said.
“It is about our desire and our personal responsibility. This is what will make us through this very difficult and difficult time.”
With files from CP24 staff.