Peel Region’s top public health official says that he is growing increasingly concerned that the province’s plans to restart the economy may be “out of step” with the risk still posed by COVID-19 in his community.
Peel Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh fears that the restarting of the economy may be premature given the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases following the reopening of the retail sector.
This observation was made at the weekly briefing at Brampton City Hall on Wednesday.
While cases across the province are in decline, Peel Region still has a problem.
According to statistics, 20 percent of all new cases in Ontario have been reported in Peel despite being home to just 10 percent of the province’s population.
There have been 3,711 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Peel Region with those cases resulting in 229 deaths so far.
While the number of new cases reported each day has dropped off since a record 190 were reported on April 18, they have held mostly steady in the 50 to 100 new cases a day range for weeks.
Loh said that when the province began gradually reopening the retail sector, first with garden centres and hardware stores and now with other stores, it essentially “opened the whole community that moves around” the sector.
Given this worrying situation is the reason Loh believes it would be prudent for the region to take a “cautious” approach to reopening.
For example, sports fields should remain closed until at least May 25, even though they are now permitted to reopen by the province.
Brampton has decided that it will not reopen its dog parks, as has been done in other municipalities, including Toronto.
The province’s framework for reopening calls for it to proceed to the next phase, which is expected to include child-care facilities, in two to four weeks.
Brampton has had a total of 1,743 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and accounts for nearly half of all cases (47 per cent) in Peel Region.
Another reason why there could be a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Peel Region is that there are a number of residents who throw caution to the wind and don’t take social distancing guidelines too seriously.