Premier Doug Ford calls emergency Friday meeting with health officials over hospitalizations

Click to play video: 'Ontario ICUs prepare for surge of COVID-19 patients'
Ontario ICUs prepare for surge of COVID-19 patients
WATCH ABOVE: Health officials in Ontario are warning hospitals to activate emergency plans to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations after the holidays. As Abigail Bimman reports, hospitals are already overcapacity. – Dec 16, 2020

TORONTO — Ontario’s premier has called an emergency meeting with health officials to discuss ways to tackle rising hospitalizations from COVID-19 as infections surge in the province.

Doug Ford said the meeting, set for 1 p.m. Friday, will include the province’s health minister, chief medical officer of health and hospital leaders, and will consider next steps to break the trend.

“Everything is on the table when it comes to protecting the health of Ontarians,” Ford said in a statement.

The meeting follows calls from hospitals, doctors and nurses for stricter lockdowns in hard-hit regions.

The Ontario Hospital Association said Thursday that the government needed to implement a four-week lockdown in every public health unit with 40 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

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That would mean 11 public health units — including the hot spots of Toronto and Peel Region, as well as Simcoe Muskoka and Middlesex-London — would be affected.

The association said the province’s current lockdown restrictions should be “rapidly” reassessed by independent experts to determine if additional measures are required.

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The province is considering new measures but Ford has offered few details about what those might be.

Ford said Thursday that any new measures must be approached with caution.

“There’s a wide variety of items (and) discussions going on over the last couple days, matter of fact, they’re going on constantly,” he said. “But there’s a lot of things to consider. The worst thing we could do is rush out there and make a snap decision in a heartbeat.”

Friday’s meeting comes as Ontario reports 2,290 new cases of COVID-19 and 40 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 691 new cases in Toronto, 361 in Peel Region, 296 in York Region, 207 in Windsor-Essex, and 126 in Hamilton.

Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Windsor-Essex are currently in the lockdown category of the province’s pandemic framework. The lockdowns in Toronto and Peel are currently set to lift next week.

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Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said the province’s COVID-19 case load is headed in the wrong direction and he’s made new recommendations for Ford’s cabinet to consider.

The province said Friday that 877 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 261 in intensive care. Of those, 168 people are on ventilators.

In the province’s long-term care homes, 757 residents currently have COVID-19 and 11 new deaths were reported Friday.

The province said 139 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.

It also reported 133 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 111 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 957 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.


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