Ford blames local health leaders for COVID-19 testing drop

Premier Doug Ford slammed some of the province’s medical officers of health Tuesday, saying they aren’t getting enough COVID-19 tests done in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

“Some just aren’t performing. I’m calling them out right now. You’ve got to pick up the pace,” Ford said at his daily news conference, adding that some regions need to be testing more.

“We need to hold these people accountable,” Ford said. “I’m not going to name them. They know who they are.”

After several consecutive days of the province meeting or exceeding its 14,000 tests processed per day target, only 10,654 were completed in the last 24 hours. It is the lowest total in five days. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed stayed at over 6,000.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, said last week that a network of public, community and hospital labs now has the capacity to process up to 19,525 per day.

Ontario reported an additional 387 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the number of patients hospitalized by the illness jumped considerably and deaths in long-term care homes pushed past 1,000.

The new cases represent a 2.2 per cent increase, a figure on par with those observed over the last week. The cumulative case count in Ontario since the outbreak began in late January is now 18,310 — though nearly 70 per cent are now considered resolved.

Ford hoping for eased restrictions on May 24 weekend

The premier also reiterated his hope that by the Victoria Day long weekend, people will be able to head to their cottages — if case counts in the province continue to drop.

“On May 24, three weeks down the road, hopefully the numbers will be down,” he said.

Ford also said he recognized it’s “not fair” for some Ontarians to be able to escape cities for green space while others are holed up in small apartment buildings. He said by May 24, more people will be allowed to go outside.

“We’ll have some good announcements going forward this week,” he said.

Hospitalizations in Ontario have increased by 59, up to 1,043 from 984. The number of patients being treated in intensive care units dropped slightly, from 225 down to 223. Of those, 166 are on ventilators, the Ministry of Health says, a decrease of nine since yesterday.

Williams has repeatedly said that hospitalization rates will be a key consideration in how soon the province can begin to ease emergency measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ford said this week that retailers and other businesses should start preparing to reopen their doors, even if they don’t yet have a date for resuming business.

He called the province’s recent COVID-19 case numbers “encouraging,” and  said that if they continue their downward trend, parks and stores could reopen sooner than later.

Ford asked that businesses start preparing their supplies of masks and taking other steps needed to reopen in advance of a greenlight to reopen from public health officials.


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