We Ontarians are in a very dangerous position with respect to the continuing pandemic. The problem is Premier Ford’s pre-election tactic of declaring the pandemic “done” and delivered to his right-wing base the lifting of essentially all COVID public health measures as demanded by the truck-convoy protestors. That required eliminating any easy access to accurate and reliable public health data that would undermine his messaging.
A critical element of that strategy was Mr. Ford’s self-serving restriction of eligibility for the PCR tests which drive those statistics to a small minority of the population. Ontario’s actual COVID infection rate continued to rise in March with the spread of the more infectious and immunity-evading BA.2 subvariant, but that didn’t matter because the Province was no longer tracking that number.
The slang adjective “crappy” comes to mind as an appropriate label for Mr. Ford’s strategy because the most immediate of the remaining objective metrics for COVID viral reproduction in this Province is now PCR testing of municipal sewage. The “wastewater index” tracked in this graph is a direct measure of the quantity of COVID viruses in that sewage and therefore an indirect measure of the corresponding quantity in Ontarians’ bodies.
As you can see, Omicron rose exponentially in tandem with Mr. Ford’s lifting of restrictions. It was also reflected in a general sense of unease as we learned of many individuals and whole households in our respective circles coming down with first-time or repeat COVID infections.
Fortunately as April unfolded, the virus’s intrinsic seasonality ushed in a months-long decline in new cases. But seasons are of limit duration, so the infection rate began its inexorable rise in early August and has since continued to climb.
Click here for comparable regional Ontario wastewater charts.