Here’s Ontario’s updated COVID-19 modelling

The latest projections suggest that schools could reopen without creating a fourth wave — but that other indoor activities will need to wait
By John Michael McGrath - Published on May 20, 2021

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The province’s science advisory table says that reopening the province’s schools to in-class instruction will cause an increase in COVID-19 cases but that the increase “may be manageable.” According to the presentation delivered Thursday at Queen’s Park by the University of Toronto’s Adalsteinn Brown, schools are the one indoor activity that the science table endorses — and it's warning people to continue to stick to outdoor activities with reasonable physical-distancing precautions.

Ontario’s new COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations, and intensive-care admissions have all declined since a peak in April; only a handful of the province’s 34 public-health units are showing a higher case load this week than they did two weeks ago. Hospitalizations among the eldest age cohorts — people who’ve had access to vaccines the longest — are also falling rapidly.

Given the province’s public-health measures and high rate of vaccinations, the modelling projects that partially reopening the province’s economy on June 2 (when the current stay-at-home order expires) would result in a small rebound in new cases, while delaying the reopening until June 16 would result in barely any increase in new cases at all.

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The presentation states that reopening schools is associated with a 6 to 11 per cent increase in new cases.

It also provides examples of safe outdoor activities and how to increase safety when possible — for example, by wearing masks while playing basketball.

Read the full presentation below.

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