The Region of Peel is urging people to strictly limit face-to-face contact for the next two to four weeks.

During a virtual press conference on Monday, Peel Regional Chair Nando Iannicca said, “We must all pull together now. Our lives depend on it.

The region reported on Monday that the total number of reported COVID-19 cases went up to 17,301 for Peel. During the conference, Iannicca stressed that Peel now has the highest positivity rate for COVID-19 in the entire Province of Ontario.

Back on Saturday Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, said that Brampton—along with Mississauga and Caledon—should abide by directives that are even more strict than the province’s Control/Red stage.

This includes social gatherings of any kind, such as wedding receptions, holidays, birthdays, religious gatherings, and hanging out with friends in bars or anyplace else indoors or out without social distancing. Loh used a recent wedding in York Region as an example. The gathering ended up spawning 33 new COVID-19 cases in Peel.

What this amounts to is that over the next 14 days, Dr. Loh says residents should be in contact only with members of their household and essential supports. Those who live alone may join one designated household. This means that residents should not visit any other households or allow visitors to come into their homes or even their yards.

“The picture we are seeing in Peel is increasingly dire,” said Loh. He then reiterated Iannicca’s statement, saying, “We are the hardest hit health unit in Ontario.”

Loh went on to add, “I know this year has been difficult. I do not make these recommendations lightly.”

Loh pointed out that these are “strong recommendations” and that at this time there would not be bylaw penalties. They will be revisited in two weeks, but of course he hopes that people will follow them to stop the increasingly bad spread of COVID.

In related news, The Star recently reported that William Osler Health System says it is experiencing “significant capacity pressure” in the past few weeks. This means that patients are being transferred to nearby hospitals and that Osler has taken the severe step of discontinuing all elective and non-urgent surgeries to keep all available beds open.

Dr. Naveed Mohammad, president and CEO of William Osler Health System, offered assurances that all essential surgery for cancer patients and people with emergencies will continue as normal.