Mississauga mayor says any potential lockdown should be region-wide, raises alarm over hospital capacity

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At a Nov. 19 press conference, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie addressed the city's concerning COVID-19 situation, highlighting the challenges the health care system is facing and weighing in on Premier Doug Ford's ominous lockdown warning.

Crombie told reporters that the Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) has been seeing about 400 new cases a day over the last week, with Mississauga averaging about 113 cases a day—up from 55 a few weeks ago.

Mississauga's COVID-19 test positivity rate now sits at 7.9 per cent. 

Crombie said Peel is one of the hardest-hit regions in the country. 

"With 180 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 11.8 per cent here in Peel, our hospitals continue to see more and more COVID-19 cases," Crombie said, adding that Trillium Health Partners (which operates Credit Valley Hospital and the Mississauga Hospital) is near capacity.

Crombie said Trillium Health Partners (THP) is now dealing with more than 60 COVID hospitalizations, with 12 people in critical care and 42 more waiting for their test results. 

"That’s 114 rooms being used for just COVID patients," she said, adding that 14 staff members have also recently tested positive for COVID.

"I’ve been told that THP is preparing for even more cases and while elective surgeries have not yet been cancelled, there is a growing concern that they soon will have to be."

Crombie's announcement came just one day before Anthony Dale, the head of the Ontario Hospital Association, said that there are now 150 patients in ICUs throughout Ontario with COVID-19 related conditions. 

Health experts have warned that having 150 COVID-19 patients in ICUs is concerning and could lead to cancelled surgeries.

Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, said the province’s ICUs hit the number five days earlier than the government had projected earlier this month.

“This means we’re going to have to limit access to non-COVID-related care, cancel cancer surgeries, cancel hip replacements, knee replacements,” he said. 

“We don’t want to do this. We can’t do this, people will die if we do this.”

Crombie told reporters that she's concerned about outbreaks in local hospitals, long-term care homes and group homes.

"We are seeing more and more spread in these settings, with 11 of our long-term care homes, five retirement homes and four group homes all in outbreak," she said, adding that Tyndall Retirement & Nursing Home Ltd. is experiencing a significant outbreak. 

According to Peel Public Health's website, 78 residents and 39 staff members at Tyndall have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"This is the sobering reality of what we’re seeing and what we’re facing here in Peel and as a city. We continue to see widespread transmission in the community and are struggling to control the virus," she said. 

On Nov. 19, Ford said that he and his cabinet are poised to consider new measures, including lockdowns, for the province’s COVID-19 hot spots, including Toronto, Peel and York Region. He said he expects to announce the new measures on Friday, Nov. 20.

When asked about Ford's lockdown warning, Crombie suggested that new restrictions won't work if they're only imposed in a few hard-hit cities.

"I feel very strongly that whatever is done should be done region-wide. I mean right across the GTA…otherwise, people will move and there will be that spillover effect. People will move from one region to another to pay for those services [that they cannot get at home.]" 

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's Medical Officer of Health, said that while he's open to further restrictions, more needs to be done to curb spread in essential, non-public facing businesses. According to Peel Public Health's website, 116 outbreaks have been linked to workplaces since September, with close to 34 per cent occurring in manufacturing and industrial facilities.  

"One of our biggest challenges…is that many essential workers would still be working even if broader community containment measures are used to bring this under control," Loh said. 

"We need to be addressing and dealing with some of the root causes of transmission amongst essential workplaces and households in our community. We also need to look at some of those other measures around paid sick leave, worker protections and rent supports that I’ve previously mentioned because those also play a part in incentivizing the right behaviour."

Crombie told reporters that public health is currently investigating 80 workplace outbreaks, adding that facilities can now face fines of up to $5,000 per day for failing to take the necessary actions to prevent or stop the spread of COVID. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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