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Ontario health official Dr. Barbara Yaffe responds to hot mic snafu

Elianna Lev
·3-min read
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 27: Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health (R) speaks alongside Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario (C) and Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto (L) during a press briefing on the coronavirus at Queens Park on January 27, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. The Ontario health officials announced the confirmation of the first case of the novel coronavirus in Toronto, along with a presumptive second case of the virus in the city. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health (R) speaks alongside Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario (C) and Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto (L) during a press briefing on the coronavirus at Queens Park on January 27, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

One of Ontario’s top medical officers is facing critical online feedback after making what some consider cavalier statements on a hot mic prior to a press conference earlier this week.

Footage on Twitter shows Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe shuffling some papers next to colleague Dr. David Williams, ahead of their twice weekly briefing.

“I don’t know why I bring these papers, I never look at them,” she tells him. “I just say whatever they write down for me.”

“Whenever you give the numbers, I go ‘oh, oh, oh,’” he replies and then laughs.

The 15 second clip, which has been viewed thousands of times online, is raising some eyebrows on social media.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Yaffe downplayed the incident, saying she speaks freely during the briefings. She says the papers she was referencing are “researched and vetted remarks” brought to her by her communications team, and they usually include the new number of cases and deaths reported in Ontario for that particular day.

“My comments overheard on a live microphone before Monday’s 3 p.m. COVID-19 media update were my bantering with Dr. Williams…” she said. “Of course I do speak freely and have no notes for responding to questions from the media.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the outlet that the remarks give weight to people questioning who is in charge when it comes to the province’s response to the pandemic.

“Every time Doug Ford gets to a microphone and says he is listening to the advice of all these various experts it rings hollow because the evidence is starting to really pile up that that is not happening,” she told CTV.

On Wednesday, Ontario reported 2,139 new COVID-19 cases and 43 more deaths. It’s the second day in a row the province has seen over 2,000 new cases of the virus.