Daily COVID-19 cases are steadily declining and most businesses have reopened to normal capacity, but Premier Doug Ford says the pandemic is not over yet.
“(It’s) something I hope, but no one can predict the end of this,” Ford told reporters Tuesday during a campaign-style swing through Ottawa.
In his first news conference since Ontario’s broader reopening came into effect Monday — including full indoor capacity for vaccinated patrons of restaurants, bars, and gyms — the premier stressed things are trending in the right direction.
“We’re leading North America in the lowest cases per 100,000. And again, it’s not me, it’s the people of Ontario, it’s the front-line, health-care heroes that have helped us get through this,” he said.
Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, 9,852 Ontarians have died of COVID-19 and there have been 598,110 cases of the virus.
But the seven-day average of new cases has dropped to 364, the lowest level since mid-August, which continued a steady decline that began in September.
There were 269 new cases reported Tuesday, the fewest since Aug. 5.
With about 88 per cent of eligible Ontarians 12 and up with one shot and around 84 per cent fully vaccinated, Ford believes 90 per cent of people will have had both jabs by the end of year.
“If we get our 90 per cent, we can’t wait around for the other 10 per cent, we got to move. We’ve got to continue moving and moving cautiously. I emphasize the word three times — cautious, cautious, cautious — because I don’t want to go through a repeat of anything,” he said.
As Ontario awaits Health Canada approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children five to 11, Ford said it would be up to parents to determine if they wanted their kids vaccinated.
“Do we want to get them vaccinated? Yes. But there are some parents that are … a little hesitant at the age of five or six. I get it. So let’s do our best and get as many people vaccinated,” he said.
“I also understand that they don’t want to get their five-year-old or six-year-old vaccinated. Do I want everyone to? 100 per cent.”
Meanwhile, Ford, who is still pondering whether to make vaccinations mandatory in hospitals, said he is “still waiting for answers” from hospital CEOs to determine how many health-care workers have yet to get their shots.
“We still haven’t had all the responses from the hospitals. That’s the reason we sent out the letter,” he said.
“I need an answer. You can’t manage anything unless you measure it. And if they aren’t giving me the numbers to measure, it makes things a lot more challenging. So hopefully they’re listening.”
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