toronto covid cases

Toronto medical officer of health links COVID-19 surge to Thanksgiving

It may still be too early to tell if "modified Stage 2" restrictions are working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto, but there's a good chance Thanksgiving had something to do with speeding it up for a time.

The city's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, confirmed as much Monday afternoon, just one day after Ontario reported a new record-high daily case increase of 1,042.

"I think it is reasonable to think that part of the surge we're seeing in Toronto is tied to Thanksgiving," said de Villa during a press conference at City Hall. 

"It's been fourteen days since Thanksgiving Monday. Between October 12th and October 25th we saw 3,907 new COVID-19 cases in our city."

As for today, Dr. de Villa is reporting an even 300 new infections in the Toronto public health region. Sixteen people died during the same 24-hour period and 132 Torontonians are currently in hospital.

"The numbers represent the concerns we've been talking about lately with regard to the increase in case counts, the potential risks to people, the potential risks to the health care system, and the choices demanded by an infection rate that is heading in the wrong direction," said de Villa of today's count.

Toronto's top doc went on to once again urge citizens to strongly consider their everyday actions and the impacts of their behaviour on others.

"Because it seems to me the choices we make in daily life are now directly intertwined with COVID-19," said de Villa. "The actions I am asking you to take are simple. The choices I am asking you to make are hard. That's why everyone is so tired of all this."

It's not only vulnerable people who will suffer if Torontonians fail to sufficiently practice physical distancing, wash their hands, wear masks in public spaces and follow all other public health directives, according to de Villa: If we don't contain the virus now, we'll all have to deal with a longer, harder winter, she says.

"Our numbers are high. Right now, we're making it easier for COVID-19 to spread, rather than harder," warned the medical officer. "But these numbers in Toronto do not need to be a self-fulfilling prophecy if we have belief, will and perseverance."

"Right now, we are choosing what the next few months will look like: We are choosing between a long winter of allowing the virus to do its worst, of trying to wait it out, surrounded by rising infections — and paying the price for it, emotionally, economically and socially," she said. "Or we can choose a winter with us at our best."

Either way, the road ahead is looking tough — as if Toronto winters didn't suck enough without a pandemic in the mix.

"It will still be a long winter, parts of it will still be hard," says de Villa. "But, when it’s over, it will be something of which we can be proud, because we saw the risk for what it was, acted in ways to thwart it, and came out the other side, next spring with less suffering than what might have been and ready for a better future."

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