Premier Ford says Ontario preparing for ‘gradual’ economic reopening as modelling shows pandemic peak likely reached

Laura Stoneby Laura Stone

Premier Doug Ford says Ontario is preparing for the “gradual” reopening of the economy as new modelling shows the province has likely reached its peak in the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the situation in long-term care homes continues to worsen.

Mr. Ford said Monday that his jobs and recovery committee, made up of key cabinet ministers, has begun to develop a framework for a “gradual, measured and safe” reopening of the province, while cautioning that physical distancing and self-isolation measures must remain in place for weeks if not longer.

“Absolutely in no way is this fight over,” the Premier said at Queen’s Park. “We aren’t there yet. … But we want to make sure we give people hope.”

New projections, released by provincial health officials on Monday, say Ontario is now expected to have fewer than 20,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, substantially lower than the 80,000 projected by previous models.

Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, said the new projections show that physical-distancing measures implemented weeks ago are working at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in communities.

“We’ve been very successful – you’ve been very successful – in helping us to control the spread and maintain capacity within our acute-care system.”

The numbers in long-term care homes, however, continue to grow.

According to the latest model, at least 367 of the province’s 591 deaths have been in long-term care – more than 60 per cent. The numbers do not include group homes or retirement homes.

There are now 127 outbreaks at the province’s 626 long-term care homes, according to official numbers, but the number is much higher if suspected outbreaks and those not yet reported to the province are included.

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