Updated COVID-19 modelling shows some flattening, but current restrictions not as effective as the first wave

Dr. David Williams and Adalsteinn Brown reveal new COVID modelling. (Photo Credit: CPAC/YouTube).

The Ontario government released new COVID-19 modelling Thursday shows some flattening in the province, but current lockdown restrictions are not having the same impact they did during the first wave.

There is variation in case growth across public health unit regions, but many areas are seeing the number of cases with and without an epidemiological link going up, despite the province seeing a slower rate of growth across most age groups. Additionally, the relaxation of lockdown restrictions is likely to lead to higher case growth.

Areas currently in lockdown are also seeing cases going up, despite additional restrictions. Toronto and Peel continue to see the highest new cases per 100,000 residents per week, followed by York, Windsor, Durham Region, Hamilton, and Waterloo.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said some public health regions will be moving up in the COVID-19 response framework. These changes will be announced on Friday. He did not say which regions would be moving up did comment that some in the green level will be moving to the yellow level.

“We are in a very precarious stage here,” said Dr. Williams. “We’re bending the curve a bit. The data shows we are slowing the rate of increase, but we have to do better than that. We have to flatten it, we have to start some downward trend.”

The mortality rate in long-term care homes remains high, despite the flattening of cases. Mortality overall is also increasing and is likely to increase to reach a range of 25-30 per day on average by the end of the month and into January.

The growth rate has fluctuated between a range of 0-3 per cent in the past seven days. If the cases continue at closer to a zero per cent rate of growth, the province is likely to see daily cases remain around 2,000. However, if the rate of growth continues at one per cent or above, like today, cases may reach up to 2,500 per day.

If the growth rate rises to three per cent, there could be up to 5,000 daily cases and if the rate grows to five per cent, there could be up to 10,000 cases per day by January.

Hospitalization and ICU admissions continue to rise across the province, as expected. There was a 91.6 per cent increase in hospitalization growth over the past four weeks and a 165.9 per cent increase in patients in ICU units. All scenarios show that ICU occupancy will remain above 200 for at least the next month.

Access to care (e.g. surgeries) continues to decrease below the volumes shown in 2019. For example, there was a large drop in surgeries during the first wave, meaning that those who needed surgery were unable to receive it. Access started to pick back up as cases decreased and measures were put in place to restart surgeries, which has now decreased below volumes in 2019. There are similar trends seen across all other care, like diagnostic imaging, alternate level of care patients and more.

Finally, communities with the highest growth in cases are those with less access to suitable housing, those with multi-generational housing, and those that are home to non-healthcare essential workers (e.g. grocery store workers). However, rates are increasing overall, despite these factors.