Ontario to hold emergency meeting with hospital heads amid call for wider COVID-19 lockdowns

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to meet with top hospital officials today for an emergency meeting as rising COVID-19 cases put increasing strain on the health-care system in the province.

In a tweet Friday morning, Ford said the discussion will focus on “next steps to break the concerning trends in cases and hospitals in our province.”

As he has often repeated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford added that “everything is on the table when it comes to protecting the health of Ontarians.”

Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, are also slated to attend the 1 p.m. ET meeting.

WATCH | Here’s what Ford said about a potential further lockdown on Thursday:

There are many things to consider before Ontario will tighten its lockdown of the province to slow the spread of the coronavirus, said Premier Doug Ford. But he said he will not make a ‘snap’ judgment about which course to take. 1:34

The meeting comes on the heels of a call from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) for the province to impose a widespread, 28-day lockdown that would encompass large swathes of southern Ontario. 

In a statement yesterday, the OHA said the numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care units are pushing facilities to a breaking point. 

“We are now in the holiday season and if members of the public choose to ignore public health measures and gather outside their households, the consequences risk overwhelming Ontario’s hospitals,” the statement read.

The province reported yesterday that there were 919 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 263 are in intensive care and 172 require the use of a ventilator. Those figures were accompanied by a new single-day record of 2,432 new cases of COVID-19.

As a result, hospitals are being forced to further postpone procedures and other care that were already put off during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, and front-line workers are being pushed to exhaustion, the OHA said. 

The current lockdown orders in Ontario’s two hardest-hit public health units, Toronto and Peel Region, are set to expire on Monday. 

Williams confirmed Thursday that he has made new recommendations to the government but was clear with reporters that he couldn’t share what those recommendations are.

On CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he’d support the idea of a regional lockdown, noting right now it’s still easy for people to travel from Toronto to less-affected areas, especially during the holiday season.

Tory dismissed the idea of a government-mandated curfew though, suggesting instead that people set their own individual curfews. He continued his key message of: “Stay home.”

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