“We will bring back Ontario with a vengeance.”
That comment from Premier Doug Ford during his daily briefing Friday afternoon where he announced that the province is implementing the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy to detect and quickly stop the spread of the virus.
Testing will now be available to more people in more locations across Ontario with that testing made up of three branches, Assessment Centre Testing, Targeted Campaigns and Outbreak Management.
The Assessment Centre Testing will allow asymptomatic people to get tested who are concerned they have been exposed to the virus.
The Targeted Campaigns will expand surveillance for asymptomatic people in vulnerable populations including in long-term care homes and other shared living spaces like shelters and group homes.
It also includes targeted testing of workplaces in sectors which work with priority populations and where it may be difficult to physically distance.
Outbreak Management involves testing to make sure outbreaks are contained quickly especially in specific neighbourhoods and regions or at hospitals, institutions and workplaces.
Ford says “We can’t manage what we can’t measure, and our newly expanded testing strategy is our best defence against stopping the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually and safely reopen the province.”
People will no longer need a referral to go to any of the more than 130 assessment centres across Ontario with information about the assessment centre now accessible on Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
In contrast to Thursday where Ford seemed resistant to considering a “regional” approach to reopening parts of the province where there are fewer cases of COVID-19 he now says, “everything is on the table” but it will depend on the advice from health officials.
He says he’s “pleased” to see testing numbers increasing, and because of that, he says the government is now going to examine a “regional approach” in Stage 2 of the re-opening.
He says officials are now getting a much better picture of what each region is dealing with but he adds he’s not prepared to take unnecessary risks when it comes to reopening.
Ford says the pandemic has brought a lot to light about a system that’s been broken for decades.
He adds he inherited a broken system but that they are going to fix it and he will take ownership of it because he’s the premier and the buck stops with him.