Ford speaks as Ontario reports 721 new COVID-19 cases, majority in Toronto, Peel and York

Health Minister Christine Elliott, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe are providing a COVID-19 update. You can watch that live in this story. 

Ontario reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with the majority in Toronto and Peel and York regions. 

Health Minister Christine Elliott says today’s new cases include 270 in Toronto, 170 in Peel Region and 79 in York Region.

Tighter restrictions were imposed on Toronto and Peel Region, as well as Ottawa, on Friday in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed just 32,200 tests on Tuesday, notably fewer than the number of tests completed daily as the province worked to clear a backlog that peaked at around 92,000. The testing backlog currently sits at 26,558. 

The number of daily tests completed also falls far short of the province’s goal of processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October.

According to a news release issued on Oct. 2, Ontario said it was taking “longer-term actions” to increase the province’s testing capacity so people could get their results faster.

The province also set a goal of processing 68,000 tests by mid-November. 

Wednesday’s new cases bring Ontario’s provincial total to 61,413. Of those, 783 were marked resolved in today’s update. On Tuesday, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, suggested the province’s COVID-19 cases may be “plateauing,” even with the seven-day average showing a steady increase. You can see those comments in the video below:

Dr. David Williams made the comments on Oct. 14, despite the 7-day average in new daily cases showing a steady increase. 0:51

Ontario’s official death toll remains unchanged from Tuesday and sits at 3,017. 

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases continues to rise and currently sits at 231. 

Those requiring intensive care also increased, from 60 on Tuesday to 64 today, and the number on ventilators increased by one to 35.

The average daily number of new cases of the illness continued its steep climb and is now at 781.1. 

Meanwhile, other Ontario public health units with double-digit increases include:

  • Hamilton: 41
  • Ottawa: 39 
  • Waterloo Region: 23 
  • Durham Region: 22
  • Halton Region: 21
  • Eastern Ontario: 20 

The bulk of the new cases reported Wednesday are among those under the age of 60.

All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.

Ontario to decide which long-term care homes will receive assistance 

Wednesday’s numbers come as the provincial government works to decide which of Ontario’s long-term care homes will receive assistance from the Canadian Red Cross amid the second wave of the pandemic. 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Long-Term Care said Tuesday the province will be finalizing details of the deployment over the coming days.

On Sunday, the federal government announced it had approved a request from Ontario to send the Red Cross to seven long-term care facilities in Ottawa.

As of Tuesday evening, CBC News estimates that there were active COVID-19 outbreaks in more than 120 long-term care homes in Canada’s hardest-hit provinces alone: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.  

That upward trend is cause for rising concern among long-term care residents and families and health experts, who are hoping to avoid the same lockdowns implemented in the spring

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