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Ontario Hospital Association calling for 4-week lockdown across GTA through the new year

Last Updated Dec 17, 2020 at 11:36 am PST

The Ontario Hospital Association is now calling for immediate action to avoid a “devastating surge in COVID-19 patients.”

The OHA says all public health units in the province with infection rates of 40/100,000 or higher should be placed into a 28-day lockdown.

As of the most recent provincial numbers, this would encompass every health unit in the province.

The province has seen over 2,000 new cases in each of the past three days and hospitalizations have been steadily climbing in recent weeks.

“We supported the government’s decision to move Peel, Toronto, York, and Windsor into lockdown, hoping that limiting restrictions to these hotspots would be sufficient,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the OHA.

“But we’re seeing a lot of transmission across regions. Some of it is because essential workers must go to their jobs in the health-care, transportation, and food production industries. Unfortunately, some of it is also people crossing into areas with looser restrictions for non-essential reasons such as shopping, hair cuts, and social visits.”

Hill said hospitals are preparing for a surge in cases over the holidays and doctors are worried about whether there will be enough resources to care for everybody.

The OHA is also recommending that ‘Grey-Lockdown’ zones of the province’s framework be re-evaluated by health experts to determine if additional or stricter restrictions are necessary

“As they keep up with current needs, hospitals are also working diligently to catch up on approximately 150,000 scheduled surgeries cancelled in the first wave of the pandemic,” reads the OHA statement.

“Evidence is mounting that the hidden toll on human health from this disruption in scheduled services will be heavy. Our communities are tired, and so are those caring for them.”

The OHA called an emergency meeting of its board of directors for Wednesday, to determine how to cope with the surging second wave.

Ontario Health sent out a memo on Tuesday warning every hospital CEO in the province to prepare to activate their emergency plans within 48 hours if needed.

The memo requested all hospitals in ‘Grey-Lockdown’ and ‘Red-Control’ zones make up to 15 percent of their beds available for COVID-19 patients.

It also asked that hospitals in the rest of the province make preparations so they could potentially make room for a surge in patients.

Provincial health officials on Wednesday reported 932 people are currently in the hospital across the province for COVID-19. Ontario surpassed the 900 patient threshold for the first time in the second wave on Tuesday. Hospitalizations are up 121 since one week ago.

Among the hospitalized, 256 are in the ICU and 157 are on ventilators.