doug ford ontario covid

Doug Ford isn't worried about the 6th wave of COVID but everyone else in Ontario is

The sentiment surrounding Ontario's COVID-19 situation is growing ever dicier as new daily cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions rise once again in the wake of lifted public health restrictions.

And this spike doesn't appear to be nearly as "slight" as provincial officials expected following the removal of mask mandates. Rather, if estimations based on viral levels in wastewater samples are correct, Ontario is positively teeming with the coronavirus right now.

COVID-19 Science Advisory Table director Dr. Peter Jüni, who warned just last week about samples showing up to 35,000 new infections per day, told reporters on Wednesday that this figure has jumped up to as many as 120,000 per day.

It's been difficult to pin down exactly how fast the virus is spreading since the provincial government dramatically scaled back public testing in December, but hospitalization numbers alone tell a concerning story.

Nearly 1,100 COVID-19 patients were reported in hospitals across Ontario as of Tuesday, marking a 40 per cent jump over the week previous.

Most experts seem to agree that we're smack dab in the middle of a sixth wave, driven by both the highly-contagious nature of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant and the widespread relaxing of pandemic-time rules including mask mandatescapacity limits and vaccine passport requirements.

With all remaining COVID-related public health requirements set to expire in just a few weeks, on April 27, some organizations and individuals are reversing course on reopening in an effort to keep people healthy.

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, encouraged all residents this week to continue wearing masks as a safety precaution, even though they don't legally have to. The Toronto District School Board, for its part, is reimplementing a system to let all members of a school community know when they've been exposed to COVID.

Jüni told CityNews journalist Cynthia Mulligan on Wednesday that, while cases are exploding, he doesn't think Ontario hospitals are at the same risk of being overwhelmed as they were during previous waves, thanks to widespread immunizations and better immunity levels.

Still, he and other doctors continue to warn that things could get bad if people continue to go around socializing maskless, behaving as they did before March of 2020 when the world irreversibly changed.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott aren't quite so concerned.

"Knowing that we have the capability in our hospitals to manage this,  this is something that we are sure we're going to be able to get through," said Elliott after a press conference on Thursday when asked about the recent uptick in hospitalizations among adults and children.

"There is no cause for panic... this was anticipated."

Elliott cited the imminent expansion of fourth-dose booster shots to all people over 60 and a growing supply of antiviral medications as reasons for critics to chill.

When asked the same question, Ford said similarly that "we do have the capacity within our hospitals and our ICU," noting that Ontario can "ramp up" to have more than 3,000 ICU beds available in total. "We have the antiviral pills as well."

"The health professionals and I am very, very confident as we see the uptick a little bit that we knew that was coming," Ford continued.

"Dr. Moore mentioned it, and I've mentioned it publicly. We can handle this. We have the resources. We have the skill set and we'll get through it."

Trust in Ford's reassuring words has very much waned among members of the public, however, after so many lockdowns and reopenings followed by more lockdowns and reopenings.

Ontarians weighing in online seem to be growing more and more nervous as the virus spreads, recounting tales of widespread staff shortages and mass infections at social events.

With Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health nowhere to be found, many are listening to other medical experts including Jüni for information — and Jüni is now saying that Ford's wrong about hospitals handling another wave.

"There is no way we could ramp up to 3,000 ICU beds. We don't have the staff," he said to CTV following Ford's Wednesday presser, during which the province announced new supports for Ukranian refugees. 

While the science advisory table chief agrees with Ford that built-up immunity should result in less hospitalizations overall, the number of people with COVID is growing.

Said Jüni on Wednesday: "We are probably already having the highest number of daily infections ever in the pandemic."

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario


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