Daily COVID-19 cases are steadily declining and most businesses have reopened to normal capacity, but Prime Minister Doug Ford says the pandemic is not over yet.
“(It’s) something I look forward to, but no one can predict the end of this,” Ford told reporters Tuesday during a campaign-style twist in Ottawa.
In his first press conference since Ontario’s broader reopening took effect on Monday, including full indoor capacity for vaccinated customers of restaurants, bars and gyms, the prime minister stressed that things are going in the right direction.
“We are leading North America in the lowest cases per 100,000. And again, it’s not me, it’s the people of Ontario, it’s the frontline healthcare heroes that have helped us get through this, ”he said.
Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, 9,852 Ontarians have died of COVID-19 and there have been 598,110 cases of the virus.
But the seven-day average of new cases has dropped to 364, the lowest level since mid-August, which continued a steady decline that began in September.
269 new cases were reported Tuesday, the fewest since Aug.5.
With about 88 percent of Ontario residents turning 12 or older with a single injection and about 84 percent fully vaccinated, Ford believes that 90 percent of people will have received both injections by the end of the year.
“If we get our 90 percent, we can’t wait for the other 10 percent, we have to move. We have to keep moving and moving cautiously. I emphasize the word three times, cautious, cautious, cautious, because I don’t want to repeat anything, ”he said.
As Ontario awaits Health Canada approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11, Ford said parents should determine if they want their children vaccinated.
“Do we want to vaccinate them? Yes. But there are some parents who are … a little indecisive at the age of five or six. I get it. So let’s do our best and vaccinate as many people as possible, ”he said.
“I also understand that they do not want to vaccinate their five or six year old son. Do I want everyone to do it? 100 percent.”
Meanwhile, Ford, which is still considering whether vaccinations are mandatory in hospitals, said it is “still waiting for answers” from hospital CEOs to determine how many healthcare workers have not yet received their vaccinations.
“We still haven’t had all the responses from the hospitals. That is the reason we sent the letter, ”he said.
“I need an answer. You can’t manage anything unless you measure it. And if they’re not giving me the numbers to measure, it makes things a lot more challenging. So I hope they’re listening.”
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