COVID-19 cases in the GTA continue to rise despite lockdowns in Toronto, Peel and York Regions. With no sign of slowing numbers municipal leaders are now calling for even more stringent measures.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said a lockdown needs to be implemented across the GTA.
Echoing these sentiments, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that he and leaders from neighbouring regions in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) are discussing using the winter holidays to “lockdown even further.”
In her weekly COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, Crombie said data is revealing that residents are not taking the second wave of the pandemic seriously. People continue to engage in “zone-hopping,” travelling to neighbouring regions to take advantage of less restrictions.
With Toronto and Peel Region nearing the end of their 28-day lockdown on Monday, Tory is calling for action to provide as much notice as possible for any further restrictions.
“I think we need to do more and not less. I think it needs to be regional in nature so that we leave people with fewer options as to places they might go,” Tory said on Wednesday.
Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, reported 850 new COVID-19 cases for the city on Wednesday. The numbers marks a daily record at any point of the pandemic.
Crombie said she fully expects that Peel will remain in lockdown beyond Dec. 21.
“I know many people have been holding out hope that we’ll be we will be moved out of lockdown before the holiday season. We are anticipating that Peel, Mississauga will remain in the grey-lockdown zone over the holidays.”
Crombie turned the attention to provincial hospitals that are on the verge of a dire situation, similar to the first wave. She says the impact the virus is having on the health-care system should be reason enough for residents to take measures seriously.
“I want you to think about the situation that our hospitals are facing. Ontario hospitals are dealing with more than 900 COVID cases close to as many as there were during the peak of the first wave.”
On Wednesday, the CEO of Ontario Health sent a memo to hospitals in lockdown and red zones to ensure they have at least 10 to 15 percent surge capacity for adult COVID-19 patients.
Toronto’s data also shows that 7.7 percent of COVID-19 infections have been transmitted through health care systems.
Dr. Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, stressed that the situation remains critical despite promising developments on COVID-19 vaccines in recent weeks.
“An approved vaccine does not help you if you have not received it. Until a vaccine is widely available, we all remain vulnerable, and at risk, we can all spread COVID-19,” Loh said.
Ontario kicked off its vaccine rollout this week, administering the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to front-line health-care workers in Toronto and Ottawa.
According to the provincial COVID-19 numbers the GTA was responsible for 77 per cent of the cases on Wednesday compared to 70 per cent on Tuesday and 65 per cent on Monday.
Toronto’s top doctor has continued to stress her message of limiting holiday celebrations to household members only. On Wednesday, Dr. de Villa reaffirmed that typical holiday get-togethers must be completely rethought and re-imagined, saying “this year cannot be as usual.”
Toronto and Peel Region both entered lockdown on Nov. 23.