A person under 50 is dying of COVID-19 in Ontario ICUs every 2.8 days, doctor says

A Toronto critical care doctor says that Ontario’s stay-at-home order does not address the root cause of COVID-19 hospitalizations—adding that in the third wave of the pandemic, a person under the age of 50 is dying on average every 2.8 days.

Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, shared the Critical Care Services Ontario data on social media Wednesday just hours before Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to announce further COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’ve been able to share some patient stories, which I think have been helpful in connecting the numbers to real lives, but some people do want numbers to frame how they view the situation,” Warner said in a video statement.

According to Warner, in the first wave of the pandemic a patient under the age of 50 died in one of Ontario’s ICUs every six days. In the second wave, it was on average every five days.

“In wave three, we are losing one every 2.8 days.”

Warner went on to say that at the end of the second wave, there were 44 patients in Ontario ICUs under the age of 50, compared to the 68 patients in the ICU as of April 4.

“I think this trend is going to continue because variant COVID is a different disease,” he said.

The number of #COVID ICU patients in Ontario younger than 50 is increasing.

On Feb 28 (end of Wave 2) = 44
As of April 4 (day 34 of Wave 3) = 68

Data must inform our vaccination rollout and public health policies. https://t.co/M6ODW0Wxcx

— Michael Warner (@drmwarner) April 7, 2021

Toronto-area doctors have been sharing the stories of younger COVID-19 ICU patients, with the permission of their families, over the last week.

Warner has shared two—a non-essential worker in his early 30s who was intubated after contracting the disease and a woman in her 40s who died after contracting the novel coronavirus from her husband who got the disease at his workplace.

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, who works at Toronto Western Hospital, spoke about a 47-year-old teacher who tested positive for COVID-19 after coming in contact with a student who was also positive and who was intubated.

“This is just absolutely heartbreaking," Sharkawy said over the weekend. "We have run out of adjectives for describing how sobering, how traumatic and how absolutely tragic this situation is."

On Wednesday, Ford is expected to announce a provincewide stay-at-home order to replace the shutdown already in place. The stay-at-home order will close all retail outlets for in-person shopping and big box stores will only be able to open to sell essential goods.

Warner said the stay-at-home order may help “stem the tide” of the third wave, but it will “not address the root cause.”

“We need to go after COVID-19 where it is and that’s in those high-risk postal codes. It’s in those essential workplaces,” he said. “We need to vaccinate those individuals, provide real workplace safety that is enforceable, rapid tests at work settings, pay people not to go to work if they’re feeling unwell, don’t wait until they get COVID to give them two weeks off.”

“Unless we address the root cause, these four weeks or however long it will be, will be squandered and more people will die.”

On Wednesday, Ontario health officials reported 3,215 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 more deaths. The last time officials logged that many cases was on Jan 17, at the height of the second wave.

More than 500 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in Ontario ICUs as of Wednesday. Officials with Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table have said that even with a stay-at-home order in place, the number of COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs could reach 800.