Should we panic about Ontario’s rising COVID-19 case count?

Sabrina Almeida

 Worried about the daily increase in COVID-19 cases in Ontario?

Whether an expected consequence of the reopening measures or not, it isn’t something we should take lightly or ignore.

No doubt the real question in everybody’s mind is whether shutdowns are round the corner and coming sooner than we expected. 

Is it time to panic already??? 

We had just gotten to a good place with our high vaccination rates and diminishing cases. Things seemed almost normal as we enjoyed a movie with the family and dinner at a restaurant with friends after more than a year… and now this!!!

But we were warned about possible spikes in the fall and winter, weren’t we?

Sure enough, cases have been steadily rising in Ontario. The seven-day rolling average of new infections jumped to nearly 532 this Thursday, up from just 383 a week ago. 

Sunday’s case count of 636 new infections would have jolted even the most optimistic among us. We hadn’t seen such a high number since October 9 when 654 cases were reported.

Although the positivity rate was back under 2% on Wednesday, Thursday’s  642 new infections topped Sunday’s count. The  big spikes are a reminder COVID-19 is still here and we should act appropriately.

The pandemic has caused many of us to monitor daily coronavirus numbers as we would the weather. You know the case count of the day just as you would know whether it is going to rain or snow and when. Interest aside, there are consequences for not being up-to-date. You don’t  want to appear ignorant and uncaring when a co-worker or friend refers to them. I must confess that I’m guilty of judging people who are unaware and don’t want to be in that same boat. So, I make sure that I check Ontario’s Covid numbers every day.

On the flip side, it is almost impossible to shut them out given that they come at you from everywhere no matter what radio station or television channel you tune in to. It would be some bubble that such news doesn’t penetrate. If you’re in it, it’s time to ditch it and get back to reality.

What will Christmas and the Holiday season look like given the current situation?

Dr. Peter Juni, who is head of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table on COVID-19, says our actions today could impact future freedoms. All the unrestricted mingling with family and friends especially in large crowds could spell trouble for the months ahead.

“Right now, we have a doubling time of 17 days, meaning that if this continues like that, 500 cases per day right now on average will become about 1,000 cases per day in about two-and-a-half weeks from now,” warns Juni.

While it’s not time to panic, Juni is advising the provincial government as well as all Ontarians to exercise some caution. He recommends a stronger enforcement of public health measures like masking and checking vaccine certificates to bring the situation under control.

We know he is right! How many places have you visited where checking vaccine credentials was a half-hearted attempt or people were walking about with masks under their noses? I’ve seen it happen more than once and such carelessness will cost us dearly.

Juni is also putting each one of us on notice. We are being asked to once again start being more selective with the circle of friends and reduce the number of people we gather with as cold weather forces all activities indoors. Working from home as much as possible is also advised.

“If we all just do a little bit of that and use our vaccine certificates really consistently, we might start to get things under control again,” said Juni.

For now, the Ford government is maintaining status quo despite Juni’s recommendations. Health Minister Christine Elliott has said there are no plans to change course on Ontario’s reopening plan despite a rise in infections. When asked, she said the bump in new cases was built into the province’s plan and that if restrictions are reintroduced it will be by region like Sudbury has done. Meanwhile the province has hit the pause button on lifting capacity limits at event spaces with dancing like those hosting wedding receptions, night clubs and the like.

What happens next is up to each one of us. The pandemic isn’t over yet. Let’s keep this in mind when we plan our social events. A healthy and happy Christmas and Holiday season depend on it!




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