The two weeks to flatten the curve became months that have not ended, so is it any surprise that the four-week lockdown for Toronto and Peel has been extended?
Of course not.
We didn’t have to wait for the case numbers over the past several weeks, plenty of us knew it would never be just a four-week lockdown when it was announced Nov. 20. On Friday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that Toronto and Peel would have their lockdowns extended.
“We’re going to continue on with the lockdowns within those regions and we’ll have additional information on Monday for the balance of the province,” Ford said before an emergency call with hospital executives.
Just after 4:30 p.m. he added Hamilton to the list of areas in lockdown alongside Toronto, Peel and York. Other regions moved up the colour coded scale with Brant County and Niagara moving to Red, the most restrictive part of the provincial framework before a full lockdown.
As for what Ford will be announcing Monday, those will be new measures including the “darker shade of grey” that Toronto Mayor John Tory has been calling for.
Tory wants schools closed for an extended Christmas break, a closure of office buildings – most of which are already empty in Toronto – and further measures to keep people at home. And he will likely get much of what he wants, but whether that spreads just across Toronto or much of the province remains to be seen.
On Thursday, three different medical organizations – the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario – put out competing calls for lockdown measures. Some wanted two weeks, some wanted four, some wanted schools closed and some wanted schools open.
Which group Ford listens to or which parts of the lockdown buffet he chooses from will be determine what we see on Monday.
A week that started on a high note with the first vaccinations in the country ended on a rather dark note, fitting as we head towards Dec. 21, the shortest and darkest day of the year. More people will be isolated and more people will be put out of work as more businesses will shut down.
While Dec. 21 is the day with the least sunlight, each day after sees a little bit more and we can hope that is the way it will work with COVID-19 as well — that with each passing day, things will get better.
That will be a slow process though.
As the Ford government announced 17 new vaccination sites for the province to administer the Pfizer vaccine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered news that may have seemed hopeful but really was just sobering.
Canada will get 125,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week in the month of January for a total of 500,000 vaccines. That will see 250,000 people be able to be vaccinated. Added to the 168,000 Moderna shots that we hope to get as soon as the vaccine is approved and the Pfizer vaccine announced for December and we could see just over 450,000 Canadians vaccinated by the end of January.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand stated again Friday that the government hopes to have enough vaccines available to look after every Canadian who wants one by the end of September.
We need to hope and pray that other vaccines are approved early and production ramps up quickly. If not, we will spend a lot more time talking about lockdowns, restrictions, isolation and the non-medical impacts of COVID that far too often go unnoticed.
That is the long term outlook — in the short term, we wait for the other shoe to drop on Monday.