Ontario is expanding its list of frontline workers eligible for childcare amid the COVID-19 pandemic to include those working in meat-packing companies, in retail and grocery clerks, Premier Doug Ford says.
Ford made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday.
CBC News is carrying the newser live. The following file will be updated.
Those working in retirement homes, pharmacies and truckers will also be eligible, along with members of the Canadian Armed Forces and those who work with the deaf and blind.
The province will also be expanding testing at child-care centres. The decision comes after three staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at a licensed child-care centre for children of essential workers a day earlier.
The city of Toronto reported Tuesday that the Jesse Ketchum Early Learning and Child Care Centre, one of seven emergency child-care centres run by the city that provide care for children of critical service workers, suspended its services for 14 days.
Ford was also asked why Ontario isn’t setting firm reopening dates or targets, while other provinces edge toward restarting their economies.
“Im not willing to roll the dice,” Ford said. “We’re in a different situation than Saskatchewan and Manitoba and obviously Quebec too.’
“We’ve come so far in this fight … and we’ll get there hopefully sooner than later,” said Ford.
Ontario reported 347 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the first day with fewer than 400 new cases since April 7.
While today’s figures represent a considerably lower daily growth rate than what the province has typically seen throughout April, public health officials have cautioned against inferring trends from any single data point.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said earlier this week that the province would need to see two to four weeks of declining daily growth, as well as hospitalization rates, before emergency measures could be loosened.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients increased by 20 in the last day, to 977 from 957. However, the number of people being treated in intensive care units dropped again, to 235 from 239. Patients on ventilators, a figure that has largely remained stable for several weeks, reduced by one, to 186 from 187.
The new instances of COVID-19 reported today put the cumulative provincial tally since the outbreak began in late January at 15,728. For the first time, more than 60 per cent of total cases are considered resolved.
The province says it processed 11,554 tests since its last update. The backlog of tests sits at 9,530. Public health officials previously said they hoped to be doing 14,000 tests per day by today, but whether or not that goal is achieved will be reflected in tomorrow’s data.
Some 37.5 per cent of all Ontarians infected by the novel coronavirus are known to have caught it through community transmission, while information is still pending for almost 34 per cent. Key questions about community transmission in Ontario remain unanswered.
The province also confirmed 45 more COVID-19-linked deaths, bringing the official toll to 996. Data compiled from regional public health units — a more direct way of counting that avoids lag times in Ontario’s data reporting system — puts the actual figure at at least 1,066.
Outbreaks of the novel coronavirus are being tracked in 181 of Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes, according to the Ministry of Health. Some 775 residents have died from the illness — nearly three quarters of all deaths in Ontario — while 2,352 more have been infected. The ministry also reported 1,108 staff members in long-term care facilities have tested positive.
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