The beginning of distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine gives us many reasons to look forward to a return to a new normal life later this year. But with the very worst stage of this pandemic likely still before us until spring, the coming relief does not make this the time to be careless.
Toronto has 4072 new cases this week, up only slightly from last week’s 4017 but still a new record high. The fact that the daily numbers were lowest in the second part of the week is perhaps a welcome sign that the restrictions which started three weeks ago are starting to flatten the curve. Without them, we would no doubt be seeing higher increases. We’ll know more after we see next week’s numbers.
By any measurement this week’s numbers are much too high and, for multiple reasons, need to be driven down.
For one, numbers this high make it extremely difficult for Toronto Public Health to do effective contact tracing, and that in turn makes it difficult to get the reproduction rate – the number of people that each infected person passes the virus on to – below one. When it is at 1.1, where it has been hovering for some time, cases rise rapidly. If on top of that we see a spike from people not heeding advice to avoid gathering over the holidays, we will be in an even worse place by the middle of January.
Province-wide, we are well past the point where many hospitals are cancelling operations because COVID cases are filling Intensive Care Units. The more people who have COVID, the larger the number needing hospitalization, followed by increasing ICU cases and, ultimately, deaths.
Not counted in the COVID death total are the number of people whose lives are lost because they can’t get surgery soon enough or because early testing and diagnosis are delayed.
So, please, you know what to do. Keep doing it.