ontario lockdown

Doug Ford says lockdown in Ontario could end a lot sooner than we thought

During his regular press conference about the pandemic on May 2, Premier Doug Ford gave some hope to Ontario residents who have now been in relative lockdown for more than six weeks.

Ford noted that Ontario's case numbers have been on a downward trend, saying that "if we keep going the way we're going, we're going to get out of this a lot sooner than we thought we might be able to get out a couple of months ago."

He added that though he doesn't have an exact timeline for when the province will be able to return to a "new" kind of normal, if things stay consistent and there are no spikes in daily count of new cases and fatalities in the next couple of weeks, we can start to "loosen things up a little bit."

"We're seeing a gradual downward slope in the public domain and the lower we get, the more we can open up... and get people back working, get people out and about," Ford said.

"We'll get out of this hopefully soon than later, and we're doing everything we can as a province to make sure that happens."

The province's latest COVID-19 stats, as of 4 p.m. on May 1, include an addition of 511 cases and 55 deaths — a jump from the 421 new cases and 39 new deaths reported the day prior, though the 3.3 per cent increase rate in proportion to the total case count remains fairly consistent with a downward trend.

The rate of positive results among those tested also continues to fall, now at 3.1 per cent.

In total, there have now been 17,119 cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in Ontario to date, including  1,176 deaths and 11,390 recoveries.

A total of 977 COVID-19 patients are currently sick enough to require hospitalization (40 fewer than the previous report), 221 of them in the ICU and 154 of them on ventilators (21 fewer than the previous report).

More than 310,000 Ontarians have been tested for the virus so far, with 16,305 tests in the last 24 hours — a significant increase from previous levels. Another 12,829 people are awaiting test results.

Cases are still skewed toward female patients (who comprise 57.5 per cent of the total), those over 60 (44.5 per cent) and those in the Greater Toronto Area (59.6 per cent).

About half of cases are in long-term care facilities, according to Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, who encouraged residents to keep physical distancing, wear masks in close contact, be cautious, and enjoy the outdoors carefully.

"We're not yet disrupting community transmission adequately at this time, so we want to stick to the task," he said on May 2, adding that the goal in the coming days is to lower our transmission rate and get new cases per day below 200.

Earlier this week, the province announced a phased plan to ease lockdown restrictions, which is starting with the re-opening of things like car washes, dealerships, nurseries (for pick-up and delivery only) and more on May 4.

Companies were also given new safety guidelines to operate under when they do open their doors, and told to "start getting ready," as we're "getting close" to being able to commence the re-opening of the provincial economy.

Ford in his briefing on Saturday reminded residents that, as long as people keep adhering by the advice set out by officials like Williams, "We're going to get through this."

"We've come such a long way, we've all stuck together as a team. And this isn't the time to separate the team," he said.

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