Doug Ford demands immediate increase in COVID-19 testing
After weeks of praising Ontario's public health officials for their incredible work in tracking cases of COVID-19 across the province, Premier Doug Ford came out swinging on Wednesday with some heavy crtiticism and demands.
"I rely on our healthcare experts to give myself, give my Deputy Premier, Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, advice, and we have a great, great deal of respect for the health professionals," said Ford during his daily pandemic press briefing this afternoon.
"What is concerning me… what is unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable, are the numbers of testing that we're doing."
“What is unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable are the numbers of testing that we’re doing” said Ontario Premier @fordnation. “My patience have run thin… we need to start doing 13,000 every single day.” pic.twitter.com/f6PTRxs5Vo— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) April 8, 2020
Ford said that, after speaking with the CEO of Ontario Health last night and sitting at the province's COVID-19 command table this morning, he is confident we can ramp up testing for the deadly virus significantly.
"I may not understand health, but what people understand around this province, and what I understand are numbers, and we also understand countries that have tested and ramped up testing have shown results," said Ford.
"As I mentioned to our command table and to the CEO last night, my patience has run thin... No more excuses, it's unacceptable."
The numbers Ford was referring to are the amount of people Ontario has been testing (or lack thereof) each day for COVID-19 since the pandemic hit.
As it stands now, Ontario is testing a smaller portion of its population than any other province in Canada at roughly two or three thousand patients a day. Alberta, B.C. and Quebec have been testing at double that rate.
Testing: #Ontario has the fewest #COVIDー19 tests per 100,000 people, compared to other provinces, despite having the 2nd most cases (after Quebec).#COVID19ON #COVID19ontario #COVID19canada— Dr. Jennifer Kwan (@jkwan_md) April 6, 2020
Source: https://t.co/3lC8KsdmFH pic.twitter.com/9Rt3YM8uOZ
Health experts have repeatedly called for increased COVID-19 testing in Canada's largest province, but officials have maintained they were unable to deliver due to a massive backlog and limited supplies.
"Before, I understand we didn't have the [chemical] reagent... we have the assessment centre capabilities, we have the reagent," said Ford during his press conference on Wednesday.
"We have the capacity now," he stated. "We say we can do 13,000 a day. Then we need to start doing 13,000 every single day."
Ford's strong words came just hours after Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case update showed that only 2,568 new test results had been provided through the province’s integrated public health information system on Tuesday.
"The days are done of these 2,000 or 3,000 a day being tested," said the Premier. "Moving forward, we need to see 13,000 tests every single day... we have to make this happen and we need to start doing it immediately, starting tomorrow."
Strong message from Premier @fordnation - calling the level of testing in Ontario unacceptable and he doesn’t want any more excuses. Wants to see 13,000 tests done a day, focus on long-term care homes and frontline workers. 🙌— Rick Roth (@roth) April 8, 2020
Ford says he wants to see long term care residents, senior citizens, first responders and especially frontline healthcare workers prioritized when it comes to testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus.
"If we can identify more of the cases that are in the community it will help give us a better idea of what's going on," said Ford, echoing the sentiments of epidemiologists who've been urging the province to test more people in an effort to understand — and thus combat — the spread of COVID-19.
"Fourteen and a half million people in this province understand numbers, and we know one thing," said Ford. "When you increase testing, you're going to get better results on making sure we're measuring the people of Ontario — who has COVID, who doesn't, what areas..."
"We're gunna move forward in a rapid fashion to make sure very single person possible can get tested."
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