Premier to speak as Ontario sees 583 new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue steady rise

Premier to speak as Ontario sees 583 new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue steady rise

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. in Toronto. Ford’s office says he will be joined by the minister of health and the associate minister of mental health and addictions.

You can watch it live in this story.

 Ontario reported another 583 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while the number of resolved infections outpaced new daily cases for the first time in months. 

Some 707 cases were marked resolved in today’s update, according to Minister of Health Christine Elliott. The seven-day average of new daily cases, however, remains at more than 600.

The newly confirmed cases were once again mainly concentrated in just four public health units:

  • Toronto: 173
  • Ottawa: 121
  • York Region: 75
  • Peel Region: 70

Other areas with double-digit increases include:

  • Hamilton: 25
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 23
  • Waterloo Region: 17
  • Halton Region: 15
  • Durham Region: 12
  • Middlesex-London: 12

About 60 per cent of new cases are people under 40 years old, Elliott added, including 69 students. Another 15 are school staff.

The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued its steady rise and now sits at 195, three more than yesterday. Forty-three of those patients are being treated in intensive care, while 28 are on ventilators. Both figures increased by two since the province’s last report. 

The number of outbreaks in the province’s long-term care homes is also slowly but steadily increasing, with active cases in 53 facilities. Some 154 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in residents yesterday.

Meanwhile, the province’s network of labs processed more than 43,000 test samples for the novel coronavirus yesterday. Another 55,413 are in the backlog waiting to be completed.

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Ontario recently announced it would end testing for asymptomatic people at its 153 COVID-19 assessment centres, instead moving to an appointment-only model for those with symptoms of the disease. The decision was made, in part, to help labs clear the backlog of test samples, which at its highest grew to more than 92,000.

Testing at Ontario’s 153 COVID-19 assessment centres shifted to an appointment-only model this week. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Health experts have cautioned the change could result in artificially deflated new daily case numbers this week

Ontario has now seen a total of 55,945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 85 per cent are considered resolved.

There are currently 5,344 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, with about 74 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Province to explore making takeout booze permanent

The provincial government says it wants to explore options to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with orders of takeout and delivery food, which they are currently allowed to do under Ontario’s COVID-19 emergency measures. 

The change is set to be included in new legislation that the government says it plans to introduce to help small businesses survive the economic fallout precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The legislation would also allow for 24/7 deliveries to some businesses, such as retailers, restaurants and distribution centres.

The province is also offering small businesses with two to nine employees in the retail, food and accommodations sectors a one-time grant of $1,000 to purchase personal protective equipment.

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