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‘Darker shade of grey’; Top doc dour while Ford says T.O., Peel staying in lockdown

Posted: December 20, 2020

(December 19, 2020)

By: Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun (Print Edition)

Ontario is keeping all existing lockdowns in place and adding Hamilton to the grey zone.

“After assessing trends in key public health indicators, Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health will remain in the grey-lockdown level to be reassessed on Jan. 4, 2021,” a government statement issued Friday says.

“In addition, five public health regions will be moved to levels with stronger public health measures, including moving the City of Hamilton Public Health Services to grey-lockdown. One public health region will be moving to a lower level.”

Premier Doug Ford said his government may announce more measures Monday.

Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex are already in the grey or lockdown zone of the COVID-19 framework with strict limits on social gatherings and businesses.

“I can tell you they won’t be expiring,” Ford said Friday. “We’re going to continue on with the lockdowns within those regions and we’ll have additional information on Monday for the balance of the province.”

Brant County and Niagara Region are moving to the red, or control, zone on Monday, while Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington goes to the orange, or restrict, zone.

Timiskaming moves to the yellow or protect zone, while Sudbury moves the opposite direction on the COVID-19 framework to the least restrictive zone, called green or prevent.

Ontario recorded another 2,290 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams said people should be prepared for a “darker shade of grey” – referring to restrictions in addition to the framework’s lockdown measures.

Toronto confirmed 691 new cases, Peel had 361, York 296, Hamilton 126, Durham 89 and Halton 57.

Windsor-Essex reported 207 additional cases and Waterloo another 84 cases.

Public health officials reported 877 patients in hospital, including 261 in intensive care and 168 on a ventilator.

Ford said he’s asked for an emergency meeting with every hospital CEO in the province over the weekend, as the climbing hospitalizations threaten capacity for important surgeries.

“I want to listen to what’s happening on the ground, within the hospitals, within the ICU units,” the premier said.

Ontario recorded another 40 COVID-related deaths and 139 long-term-care homes are in outbreak.

The Ontario Health Coalition, which has warned for years that the province’s health-care system is under resourced, released a survey Friday of 88 long-term-care staff members from dozens of nursing homes.

The majority, 65%, said their workplaces were shortstaffed, including personal support workers, nurses, housekeeping, laundry, dietary, recreation and rehab.

“The most common element of care that cannot be done is hygiene. Staff report that bathing and grooming cannot be completed at all in some homes, and in others, if completed, are not up to the standards they expect,” an OHC statement says.

“The other common response is that staff struggle to feed and hydrate all of the residents.”

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