By Chad Ingram
In what was a poorly kept secret, on Monday Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide lockdown for Ontario amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, one scheduled to commence on Boxing Day.
It paints a picture of a government that is scrambling; a government that is losing control of the situation.
Rewind to late summer. Summer was a “good” period as far as the pandemic goes, with fewer hospitalizations and deaths, and the number of new confirmed cases for the province hovering around 100 per day in late August. All the while, epidemiologists had been warning the autumn would bring a second wave of the coronavirus in Ontario, one that would potentially have higher case numbers than the first. Epidemiologists had said the number of confirmed cases was likely to dip during the summer with warmer temperatures and people spending more time outside, before spiking again in the fall. Remember the common cold and flu are also types of coronaviruses. When is cold and flu season? The winter, when we’re all cooped up indoors.
As summer segued to autumn, Ontarians wondered what the government’s fall plan was for dealing with the virus would be. The government said it had one. In late September it was apparently unveiled, with Ford telling people to get the flu shot. It seemed like the Ford government was crossing its proverbial fingers and hoping for the best.
Then the government produced a colour-coded chart. Based on case numbers in health unit districts, they were assigned one of a number of colour classifications, each with a different set of restrictions. In recent weeks, more and more regions have been moved into the “red” zone, then the “grey” zone of lockdown.
All the while, throughout the autumn before, daily confirmed case numbers in Ontario continued to climb closer and closer to 2,000, and at press time are hundreds of cases north of that. And now, on the brink of the holiday season, the government announces a new lockdown.
This could have been done earlier, say, during the malaise that is the month of November. Better yet, stricter measures could have been put in place, particularly in the province’s hot zones, in a more widespread fashion in early autumn, and maybe we could have had a merrier holiday season.
Ford and other leaders are in an incredibly difficult and unenviable position, tasked with trying to strike a balance between public health and not completely crushing economic activity, and their decisions are always going to be wrong to someone. This decision definitely seems like a scramble, a last-minute attempt to mitigate a wave that’s been building since the summer.
Say some curtains in your house caught fire. Would you call the fire department then, or would you wait until the entire house was engulfed in flames to call?