Doug Ford calls emergency meeting with health officials over COVID-19 crisis
With just one weekend standing between now and the end of a 28-day-long lockdown period for Toronto and Peel, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has called an emergency meeting to "discuss next steps" with his senior advisors.
"I'm convening an emergency meeting today with Minister Elliott, Dr. Williams and Ontario's hospital leaders to discuss next steps to break the concerning trends in cases and hospitals in our province," announced Ford at 6 a.m. on Friday morning, referring to Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
"Everything is on the table when it comes to protecting the health of Ontarians."
The premier expressed the same sentiment during a press conference on Thursday afternoon when asked about whether Ontarians could expect wider, longer or harsher lockdown rules over Christmas.
"We have to bend the trend here because the trend just continues to grow in the GTA, no matter what we're doing," said Ford to reporters yesterday. "Everything's on the table."
I’m convening an emergency meeting today with Minister Elliott, Dr. Williams and Ontario’s hospital leaders to discuss next steps to break the concerning trends in cases and hospitals in our province. Everything is on the table when it comes to protecting the health of Ontarians. pic.twitter.com/1upuB6prAQ— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 18, 2020
While it's not quite clear what the province intends to do in terms of further restrictions, it is clear that current "grey zone" rules aren't working to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Ontario reported a daily record high of 2,432 cases just yesterday, marking the third straight day of new infections coming in above the 2,000 mark and setting a new record seven-day average of 2,026.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is among the municipal leaders who've called upon Ford's government in recent days to implement more stringent rules for lockdown zones, which now include not only Toronto and Peel but York Region and Windsor-Essex County.
The Ontario Hospital Association similarly asked the province in an urgent letter on Wednesday to take swift and significant actions as ICU occupancy approaches unsustainable levels.
"The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines means the end of the pandemic is in sight – watching health care workers receive the vaccine this week offered an uplifting light at the end of the tunnel. However, the last stretch of a marathon is the hardest," read the letter.
"We must deal with today's crisis by bending the pandemic curve so that the vaccination program can proceed as quickly and effectively as possible."
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