Ontario considers stricter measures as models show up to 18,000 COVID-19 cases per day by end of May: sources

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is actively considering a variety of stricter measures as COVID-19 modelling shows the province could see up to 18,000 new infections per day by the end of May if current trends continue.

Sources tell CTV News Toronto and CP24 the latest data, which is expected to be released on Friday, shows that based on Ontario’s current trends there could be between 12,000 to 18,000 new daily infections by the end of May, with up to 1,800 patients in intensive care.

The measures under consideration include shutting down construction to just critical infrastructure projects and placing limits on non-essential manufacturing and warehousing. Additional restrictions on religious services are also being considered by cabinet. 

Sources say Ontario is also considering fining business owners if non-essential staff attend work in-person. The government is also considering further restrictions on retail.

Ontario could also step up enforcement of its ongoing stay-at-home order.

A provincewide curfew is also under consideration, sources say.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones wouldn’t confirm if a curfew was on the table but expressed her concern over the riots in Montreal after one was implemented there.

Jones also expressed her frustration at the number of people she says are defying the province’s stay-at-home order.

“I am concerned when I see photos of people who are clearly not socially distancing in parks,” Jones said. “I am concerned when I see that there are lineups unnecessarily and people are not respecting the stay-at-home order … We have to get better.”

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said Thursday that Ontario’s “situation is dire” and that the province’s “data is alarming.”

“I have been providing updates to Ontarians for over a year now and at some of the previous press conferences I referred to the situation as worrisome and even scary. What is truly scary is when I used those words before our rates and trends were nowhere near where we find ourselves today.”

Yaffe said she expects case numbers to remain high in the coming days and hospitalizations will continue to increase.

She said “a variety of options are being considered” by the government to slow transmission of COVID-19, but did not provide specifics. 

“Once decisions are made, they will come out,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ontario Hospital Association President Anthony Dale said in a tweet Thursday that the government must “urgently activate even stricter measures to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario in this worsening pandemic.”

He said there are 644 patients now in Ontario intensive care units with COVID-19, with 64 new admissions in the past day.

Ontario marked a grim milestone on Thursday, reporting a record-breaking 4,736 new COVID-19 cases.

CTV News Toronto has contacted Ford’s office for comment but has not received a reply.

With files from CP24’s Cristina Tenaglia.

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