Ford must share full COVID-19 plan — now
With the war on COVID-19 nowhere near to being won, the Ontario government made a promising start this week in launching a new autumn offensive against it.
But have no doubt. As welcome as the new initiatives announced Tuesday and Wednesday undoubtedly are, they’re only a start, mere baby steps on a 1,000-kilometre journey.
And unfortunately, while Premier Doug Ford says he’s readied a full-blown plan to get us where we need to go, he’s dragging his feet in sharing all the details with the people of this province. Why, oh why, are Ontarians still waiting for something so crucial to their health, welfare and peace of mind?
To be sure, Ford’s plan to dramatically boost the number of seasonal flu inoculations is a step in the right direction. The province will spend $70 million to buy 5.1 million doses of the flu vaccine — 700,000 doses more than last year. While Ford’s critics argue COVID-19 should be his priority, the premier is wise to step up the fight against seasonal flu. That scourge claims an average of 3,500 Canadian lives every year.
Canadian public health officials fear flu season could exact an even deadlier toll this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They warn of a possible “twindemic” where hospitals are overwhelmed trying to deal both with COVID-19 cases and people suffering from seasonal flu.
The value of bolstering Ontario’s long-established flu vaccination program is that it should result in more people being inoculated, fewer people with seasonal flu clogging hospital emergency rooms and greater medical resources being freed up to battle COVID-19. This, above all years, is the time for every Ontarian who possibly can to be vaccinated.
There are reasons, however, to be less confident this government can finally address one of the most serious ongoing problems in the pandemic — meeting the ever-rising demand for quick COVID-19 testing. Part of Ontario’s fall pandemic readiness plan will see COVID-19 testing begun in pharmacies, with as many as 60 pharmacies across the province providing these tests as of Friday.
That can only be an improvement over the frustratingly slow and dangerously inefficient system Ontarians have been dealing with for months as the demand for tests routinely exceeded the supply.
Ford long ago set a goal of providing 50,000 tests a day. He’s never come close to hitting that target. And considering that on Monday, 35,436 tests were conducted, the province still has a steep hill to climb. It’s a fair question whether 60 pharmacies or even twice that number can make up the gap of nearly 15,000 daily tests.
Meanwhile, Ford’s to-do list is even longer.
The public is still waiting to see this government deliver on one of its other promises — to provide greater protection for the residents of Ontario’s longterm-care homes where the overwhelming number of COVID-19 deaths have occurred. This week, a group representing the province’s long-term-care industry told the government many homes are not prepared to handle a second wave.
Given this troubling state of affairs, along with ongoing and well-founded concerns about Ontario’s school reopenings, the slow rollout of Ford’s fall pandemic readiness plan is unacceptable. The government says it’s had this plan ready since July. All right. Give it to us.
As each day passes, the likelihood Ontario is in the second wave of COVID-19 grows. As each week passes, our ability to cope with such a surge shrinks, even with more flu shots.
Let’s see your full plan, Mr. Premier, and let’s see it acted upon — now.