Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, Ont., says there are reasons for “cautious optimism” given the low hospitalization rates and severe cases in his city despite the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Brown said the Brampton Civic Hospital, the only hospital in his city, had reported only 20 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at that time, with just two people in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Brown also said that half the patients included in the hospital’s daily counts for COVID-19 aren’t actually admitted there for the virus in the first place.
“Of the 20 COVID-19 patients, half of them went in for COVID, but what is interesting is half of COVID-19 patients being counted as COVID-19 patients came in for another health-care issue and inadvertently found out that they had COVID, which speaks to the fact that COVID is so well spread in the community right now. The Omicron variant is everywhere.”
He said even though an infectious disease physician told him that the case counts could rise over five times higher, he remains positive things are moving in the right direction.
“When you look at case counts that we are seeing now, that have surpassed … the highest case counts that we’ve seen before, … the hospitalization is so low, the severe cases are so low,” he said.
“That is a positive trend.”
Brown compared the situation to what happened during the height of the third wave, when there were more COVID-19 patients than space in the hospital.
“At one point, we were sending 100 patients out of our hospital a week being reassigned to different hospitals around the province,” he said.
“So when I say we only have two in ICU, it speaks to a picture that is dramatically different than we saw in previous waves.”
The mayor added he is aware that the media is reporting “a lot of negativity, and doom and gloom” about the COVID-19 situation, but he said all one needs to do is to examine the numbers closely.
“When you break down and you look at these numbers in the hospital, you know there are reasons for cautious optimism,” he said.
Following Brown’s announcement, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Communications Travis Kann wrote on Twitter that the province is now looking into ways to change its reporting on hospitalization data.
“Many have pointed out importance of distinguishing between patients in hospital/ICU for #COVID19 vs. those admitted for other reasons but test +,” Kann wrote.
“We’ve asked hospitals to update daily reporting to include this important info. We expect to begin receiving it in the coming days.”