Ontario preparing for possible end of Step 3 as early as next week
As reports that a fourth wave of the pandemic is already beginning to crest in Ontario, the province's top doctor is hinting that we could soon reach all the targets necessary to emerge from Step 3 of Doug Ford's controversial Roadmap to Reopen.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, outlined the rising case counts of the now-dominant and highly aggressive Delta variant.
Though numbers may seem troubling on the surface, vaccination rates are high and Dr. Moore stresses that we are quickly closing in on the conditions required to put Step 3 behind us.
"Eighty-one per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and over have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and we are around three per cent away from meeting our second dose target of 75 per cent. We've almost administered 20 million doses in Ontario," said Moore.
Step 3's 21-day window already passed. The figure quoted above means we have crossed the threshold for one of three outstanding conditions required to exit Step 3, mandating that 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a vaccine.
Seventy-two per cent of eligible Ontarians 12 and up have received two doses, rapidly closing in on the goal of 75 per cent.
The third condition requires that all public health units in the province fully vaccinate 70 per cent of their eligible population aged 12 and over. Many local public health units are already exceeding that goal.
We’re less than 3% away from reaching #Ontario’s 12+ two-dose threshold for moving out of Step Three into Exiting the Roadmap. Other health indicators are still needed but reaching this milestone is key. #InThisTogether #COVID19. See more provincial stats: https://t.co/EH08vWVNOd https://t.co/HziMC9F9Df pic.twitter.com/O0oEMgt4lU— OAPC (@OAPCMedia) August 11, 2021
When asked about how rising case counts and the threats of the Delta variant could affect reopening timelines, Dr. Moore states that he is keeping a close eye on the data, and that the end of Step 3 could be just around the corner.
"It looks like we'll be able to hit those targets over the next week to 10 days," he said Wednesday.
Even with all the progress, Dr. Moore stresses that we're far from the much-discussed "herd immunity" and that continued pressure on unvaccinated pockets of the population is a key in curbing future waves.
"As our rollout continues to edge forward, we need those who remain unvaccinated to step up. Recent data shows that people who are unvaccinated are approximately eight times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated individuals," said Moore.
"Unvaccinated adults 60 years of age and older are approximately 15 times more likely to be hospitalized due to compared to those fully vaccinated."
Exiting Step 3 will be a significant turning point in the fight against COVID-19.
Still, even after we emerge victorious from this latest battle, the war is expected to continue on a lesser scale. Most public health measures will be lifted, including removing capacity limits on events and social gatherings and mandatory screenings.
Other less-popular measures will remain in place for the foreseeable future, including mandatory face coverings in indoor public spaces, self-screening requirements, among other small adjustments that will help lower the risk of additional outbreaks.
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