The province is going to shift gears when monitoring COVID-19 in Ontario as we head into the fall.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health penned an op-ed in today’s edition of the Toronto Star.  In it, he made it clear that “we can expect to see cases rises as we head into September.”

In a quote provided by a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health, Dr. Moore continued, “However, thanks to the protection offered by vaccines, growing case counts will not have the same meaning as they did earlier in the pandemic. Hospitalization and ICU admissions will be the key indicators that show us the effectiveness of our response against COVID-19.”

The Ministry of Health will now provide more detailed information on its website including the percentage of daily cases that are unvaccinated, vaccinated with just one dose, and “breakthrough” cases in people fully vaccinated.

According to the Ministry of Health spokesperson, “Of note, while breakthrough cases will still occur in individuals who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, getting vaccinated provides strong protection against COVID-19. As such, we felt it was important to include data linking vaccination status with COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as well as case counts.”

In his Toronto Star op-ed, Dr. Moore says the province will not hesitate to enforce localized public health restrictions if the situation worsens but that the province is committed to minimizing disruptions. He urged everyone to get vaccinated.

In order to exit the province’s Roadmap to Reopen 80 per cent of the population over 12 must have the first dose and 75 per cent must be fully vaccinated.  On top of that, every public health unit in the province must have at least 70 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, August 10th 81.05 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older have had the first shot and 71.95 per cent are fully vaccinated.

At the Exit step, most restrictions will be eliminated including capacity limits in businesses and the attendance limits for social gatherings and organized events.  Employers will no longer have to screen workers.

Masks will have to be worn in indoor public spaces and distancing will be required if a person must remove their mask for eating or drinking.  Restaurants and bars will also have to continue to collect personal information for contact tracing.

So far, the Ontario government has given no indication when it will move into the Exit stage.

On Tuesday Ontario reported 321 new cases of COVID-19. It is the fifth straight day the province has surpassed 300 new cases.

In this image from new data shared on the Ministry of Health’s website, new case data is separated into unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, and fully vaccinated. (Supplied by Ministry of Health)

The Ministry does make a note that the numbers on this new data may not match daily case count numbers “because records with a missing or invalid health card number cannot be linked.”