Nurses are relieved to hear Premier Ford is taking important steps to lessen the spread of COVID-19, especially in areas where cases counts are especially high, including Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. The government should act fast to add additional regions to these measures, based on the relevant indicators.
RNAO says Friday’s (Oct. 9) announcement that will come into effect Saturday (Oct. 10) includes closing for 28 days indoor dining in restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas, and gyms, among other measures announced by the premier.
Grinspun says nurses wish these agonizing, but indispensable measures would have come earlier given that nurses had called for these weeks ago. Given the exponential spread of the epidemic, late action entails much larger loss of life, suffering and economic costs until we bring it under control. “We are glad the measures are taking effect ahead of the holiday weekend. It would have been devastating by next week, especially given the 939 cases reported today.”
Grinspun says there are lessons to be learned and they begin at the Premier’s command table. She says “the public has a right to know who sits at that table and who is giving advice because these measures should have been enacted weeks ago. The government was slow to act and thus made the situation much harder for everyone. Nurses are appalled that communications from health officials have blamed and shamed the public, ignoring socioeconomic conditions that make it very hard for vulnerable sectors of the public to distance and isolate.”
Morgan Hoffarth, RNAO president says these actions are especially important because no one is immune from this insidious virus and the second wave is happening just as flu season is kicking in. As pointed out by top epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman and others, if we act when we see hospitalizations up and ICUs filled – as is happening now – we are acting one month too late, given the lags involved. Similarly, if we wait for infections to start impacting on vulnerable age groups, as we are seeing now, we are, again, acting one month too late,” says Hoffarth.
Grinspun says nurses across the province also want to thank Ontarians for doing their part. “We appreciate what people are doing to keep them, their loved ones and others safe. We ask you to please keep doing what you are doing. Stay at home as much as possible, work from home if you can, wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain physical distancing if you have to go out. We understand businesses are hurting so if you can, please order curbside pick-up at cafes and restaurants this weekend.”
“We have the power to get ahead of this virus and change the direction of this pandemic. Let’s do it while we can. We are all in this together,” says Grinspun.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.