Oshawa and Durham Region are heading into a four-week stay-at-home order as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the province and threaten hospital and ICU capacities.
The province-wide stay-at-home order will take effect Thursday, April 8 at 12:01 a.m.
Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and announced the new stay-at-home order in a press conference Wednesday, noting the situation is evolving rapidly.
He says the additional measure will limit mobility, limit spread, keep people safe, and allow more time for the vaccine rollout.
“The reality is, despite everything we’ve done so far, the COVID-19 situation in Ontario is getting worse as these new variants spread,” says Ford.
Ford says hospitals, especially in hotspots, are reaching capacity and patients are needing to be transferred to other parts of the province for care.
“Admissions to ICUs in the past week are increasing faster than the worst case scenario that was predicted,” says Ford, noting the situation is “extremely serious.”
“As things change, as we learn more about these variants, as we see new problems arise, we need to adapt and we need to move quickly and decisively,” he says.
Ford says a top priority is to “get needles into arms.”
“This will be critical to getting the third wave under control,” he notes, adding the province is moving into the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan.
More than 104,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered Tuesday, bringing the total vaccinations to 2.7 million to date, according to Ford.
Furthermore, he says more than 100,000 Ontarians booked appointments Tuesday, and another 128,000 appointments were booked Wednesday before noon, to receive the vaccine, which brings the total to 1.6 million appointments booked to date across the province.
“I continue to ask everyone to get a vaccine as soon as you’re eligible to do so,” says Ford.
As part of phase 2 of the vaccine rollout, the province will be focusing on increasing mobile clinic teams to get vaccines into shelters, residential buildings, community centres, and faith-based locations in high-risk neighbourhoods. Vaccines will be available for people aged 18 and older in high risk neighbourhoods through the mobile clinics.
The province is also working to get frontline education workers vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Our frontline education workers are absolute champions,” says Ford, noting that while experts continue to state schools remain a safe place, everything will be done to keep it that way.
He says vaccinations for workers who support students with special needs across Ontario, as well as education workers in high-risk neighbourhoods – Toronto and Peel – will begin next week.
“As supply allows, we will expand to more neighbourhoods in hotspots, followed by the rollout to all education workers across the province,” he says.
As part of the stay-at-home order, all non-essential stores will be closed for in-person shopping but can remain open for curbside pickup from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and big box stores will be open for essential items only, including food, medicine, cleaning and personal care items.
“The decisions we make now, how we handle the next four weeks, what we do until we achieve mass immunization, will be the difference between life and death for thousands,” he says. “To boil it down, please, unless it’s for an essential reason, please stay home.”
COVID-19 update in Durham
Durham Region Health Department reported 176 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, up from the 155 cases reported Tuesday.
This brings the total active cases in Durham to 1,343. Of those, 1,284 are in home isolation, and 59 are in hospital, 25 of which are in the ICU.
In Oshawa, 43 new cases were reported Wednesday, up more than double from Tuesday with 21 cases reported.
There are 278 active COVID-19 cases in Oshawa, with 265 in home isolation, and 13 in hospital, four of which are in the ICU.