Don't let your guard down as warmer weather arrives: ICU doctor

The warmer weather and long weekend ahead pose a concern for a Newmarket ICU physician as people tend to let their guard down.

"My worry is that we are going to see people treating the long holiday weekend like any other holiday long weekend as though there were no risk and no threat and no virus," said Dr. Barry Nathanson.

The Southlake Regional Health Centre doctor said he hoped as temperatures rise, it would encourage more people to gather outdoors as a safer alternative.

He said doing a personal risk assessment during the summer before gathering is crucial.

"What will happen to me? How high risk am I to contracting the virus? And what is likely to happen to me if I get sick?" are questions Dr. Nathanson said everyone should ask before being around others outside their household.

He noted the higher the risk, the more measures the person should take, such as wearing a K95 or N95 mask and social distancing in public.

"We want to see you out there enjoying yourselves, there are ways and means to do it, but it does not include assuming the pandemic is over."

Meanwhile, staffing shortages continue to plague Ontario hospitals, Dr. Nathanson said.

He told CTV News more hospital staff have fallen ill with COVID-19 recently, while others are off work due to fatigue.

"We're seeing a very high dependence in general upon what we refer to as agency staffing."

This comes when the amount of COVID-19 in the community is unclear because so many people now rely on home rapid antigen tests.

Dr. Nathanson said the data is limited, but noted hospitalizations and wastewater signals suggest case volumes remain high.