One of Hamilton’s top communicable disease doctors says Hamiltonians should expect a “lengthy” lockdown beginning this Friday.
“Frankly and I will speak bluntly … probably by this Friday, we are going to move from Red to Grey”, he says. “If we are not moved by the Province to Grey this Friday, I will be shocked given what our metrics are looking like”.
Prior to his retirement in 2018, Dr. Sider was medical director, communicable disease prevention and control, within the communicable disease emergency preparedness and response department of Public Health Ontario.
He came out of retirement to join the fight against the COVID pandemic.
Dr. Sider says that vaccinations are helping and while he expects a “lengthy” lockdown, it will not be as bad as previous lockdowns.
“I think many of you will recall back in the November/December/January period, we were facing an onslaught of serious illness, spread of hospitalizations, and death” among our “vulnerable and elderly population”, he says.
It is “a powerful testimony to the effectiveness of vaccination is that we have essentially safeguarded … our most vulnerable elderly populations and long term care facilities and retirement homes”.
Dr. Sider says variants of concern are the problem now, acknowledging another round of lockdowns will be “painful”.
“You folks live with the economic, the social, the community pain every day. I am not minimizing that”, Dr. Sider said to the BIA directors.
“The thing is that lockdowns, shutdowns work. When we look at what happened back in December/January/February, clearly the provincial decision to impose a lockdown with a stay at home order, stop the rise in cases, and put us on the down slope”.
Lockdown Needed to Stop Spread, Delays Will Make Eventual Lockdown Worse – Dr. Sider
“If the Province, for political or economic reasons, decides against a broader multiple region shut down with a stay at home order, what is going to happen is wave three is probably going to be higher than wave two, and it is going to be longer than wave two”.
Dr. Sider says Hamilton’s metrics now require a lockdown and if we stay in Red, it will delay the inevitable lockdown, and take longer for us to experience eventual relief from COVID restrictions.
“If that’s where we stay without more severe lockdown stay at home orders, things are going to drag on and they’re going to drag on through April, May through June, probably into July”.
“If there is the political will to impose a lockdown with a stay at home order, probably, we would see a much shorter, [lower] curve … by the latter part of May and into June, we’re getting to back out of this into the Red control zone and have some hope, going on into June and beyond to get to Orange and lower levels”.
Hope As Vaccinations Increase
As “we get more and more vaccines into arms, we get higher and higher percentages of our community with protection”, Dr. Sider said.
“That is going to be the durable power, that is going to mean that in all probability, wave three is the last wave that we’re going to have to go through, we are not going to see a wave four”.
Businesses Face “Dilemma”
Dr. Sider said he “thought it was quite cruel” how the Province announced changes to indoor dining limits this weekend in the Red zone. The changes were made with no notice for restaurants to be able to prepare and ramp up their operations.
He says this is only made worse by the fact that indoor dining will have to quickly shutdown if Hamilton returns to the Grey zone.
During a question and answer session following his remarks, Dr. Sider took questions from the BIA executive directors. Much of the discussion was about the unpredictability of the Province COVID decisions and how to advise BIA businesses on what short-term investments to make to gain revenue streams in the coming months.
“I don’t have an answer to the dilemma” Dr. Sider says.
“You know, sort of, I wish I was better at reading the political tea leaves”, Dr. Sider said. “I suspect that we’ll be in lockdown for a while.”
“We may not go to a shutdown. The Province may say we just can’t put up with the economic and social hardship that a … lockdown … entails”, Dr. Sider said. “I’m quite certain we’re gonna be we’re gonna move into Grey and we’ll be in Grey for a number of weeks”.