LILLEY: This lockdown must be Ontario’s last

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When Ontario finally, slowly reopens the economy, we’re going to need something from our political leaders. The solemn promise that, barring any freak change in the situation the province finds itself in, that we won’t lockdown again.

This is something that small business owners and workers alike need, especially in the usually vibrant tourism and hospitality sectors.

When Ontario first went into an all-out lockdown on March 16, 2020, the province was reporting just 32 new cases and a 20-cases-per-day rolling average over the previous week. We didn’t have much testing capacity back then and the thinking was that cases were actually much higher.

That thinking proved to be correct and the first wave was deadly.

As was the second wave which went through the spring and faded as summer approached. We peaked in the first wave on April 30, 2020 with 87 deaths from COVID-19. We peaked in the second wave on January 15, 2021 at 100 deaths.

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In the third wave, we peaked at 47 deaths on May 9, 2021.

This is important because on May 9, 2021, Ontario had more cases than when we peaked for deaths in either the first or second waves. In fact, despite many more cases, the third wave was far less deadly than either the first or second waves.

Which brings us to the state that we are in and the time going forward.

With 75% of Ontario’s population over the age of 12 with at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and just about 24% fully vaccinated, there is no reason we should face another lockdown like we have seen over the past 15 months. There should be no reason to shut down restaurants, barbers, hair and nail salons, gyms or small retail again.

On Monday, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s soon-to-retire Chief Medical Officer of Health, said that the vaccines are working and what we are seeing now are people who are not vaccinated, or who have received one shot but not had enough time to let it take effect show up in hospital.

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“By far, most ones tend to be no doses and there’s a few with one dose and somewhere like a few days after they got their first dose,” Dr. Williams said.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, the province’s chief coroner and lead responder for COVID outbreaks in Ontario says that data shows those in the UK getting infected with the Delta variant, first found in India, are younger people who have not been vaccinated.

“So that’s why we’re imploring people to move to getting their first doses, ensuring that they have that, and then when they have the opportunity to also vaccinate with the second dose to reduce this chance of spread,” Dr. Huyer said.

We each have our part to play in making sure that this lockdown is the last for Ontario.

Individually, we need to ensure that we get ourselves vaccinated, if able, and if unable, that we follow public health measures until the virus is no longer a concern.

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We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

For our politicians, they need to prepare themselves, and the public that we may see a spike in cases in the future without the corresponding spike in hospitalizations and deaths. That is what the United Kingdom has gone through for the past six weeks.

  1. Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a recent news conference.

    LILLEY: Ford’s cabinet shuffle all about picking his troops for battle

  2. Virginia McIntosh co-owner of Breakwall BBQ, brings out the chairs in preparation for patio reopenings in Toronto.

    LILLEY: Polling shows Canadians more cautious on COVID reopening

If we follow their pattern, there will be no need to lockdown again if cases spike but hospitalization do not due to the success of the vaccination program. Being able to manage that will take some political courage in directing the population in a direction other than fear.

So far, we haven’t seen that in Ontario. Let’s hope we do in the future.

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