BARRIE, ONT. -- While COVID-19 cases are showing signs of decline in Simcoe-Muskoka, a respected Stayner doctor said this may be one of the worst weeks yet.

Dr. Sohail Gandhi, past president of the Ontario Medical Association, says it is too soon for him to tell if there are truly signs of optimism coming from recent data. Because serious symptoms often lag up to two weeks after initial infection, Dr. Gandhi said hospitalizations and admissions into the ICU are rising.

"This week, I'm quite concerned because we may have to bring in the triage protocol," Gandhi says. "That's a terrible name. That name has been put on to convey some sort of medical authority to it. What we're talking about is we're talking about rationing health-care."

Health officials have warned for weeks that if hospitalizations reached 900 or more, patients would be prioritized for care based on their likelihood of survival. As of Monday, there were 877 patients in intensive care units across Ontario.

Gandhi notes that the more COVID-19 patients are in hospital, the fewer beds are available for those needing other medical care.

The provincial government is reportedly in discussions with the Ontario Pharmacists Association to begin administering the Pfizer vaccine at select pharmacies as part of a pilot project. It's something Gandhi welcomes.

"It doesn't matter who gives the vaccine or what vaccine, and if pharmacies can figure out a way to roll out Pfizer that's great. The more people we have injecting, the better."

Gandhi believes it will still be some time until the provincial vaccination campaign reaches the level of herd immunity required for a reduction of the most severe COVID-19 restrictions.

"That does not mean that we cannot do some limited openings if things are safe, sooner, and it does not necessarily mean that the stay-at-home order will be extended," Gandhi says. "But I think before we can start looking at big changes, it will be at least Canada Day."

In a bid to overcome a shortage of employees, the Ministry of Long-Term Care announced over the weekend that it would allow vaccinated personal support workers (PSW) to once again work in more than one facility. PSWs had been limited to a single work site to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Gandhi says there is no data to suggest that the move is unsafe.

"I think it's something that we can say can provide a little bit of hope to people as well because you can say look, you've had your two shots, now you've got your antibodies, and you're going to be allowed to move around a little bit more. So it gives people some hope when there is so much despair."

However, Gandhi is continuing his fight for increased focus on indoor ventilation, something Gandhi feels has been overlooked.

"We really need to emphasize that people who are indoors most of the time need to be in a ventilated environment, in an area where air is circulating through HEPA filters on a regular basis."