Ontario sees 1,072 new COVID-19 cases as gradual reopening begins

Ontario reported another 1,072 cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of 41 more people with the illness on Wednesday. 

The number of new cases logged today is on par with figures last seen in early November. 

They include 393 in Toronto, 196 in Peel Region and 125 in York Region.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Waterloo Region: 47
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 29
  • Halton Region: 28
  • Windsor-Essex: 24
  • Middlesex-London: 22
  • Durham Region: 21
  • Niagara Region: 19
  • Chatham-Kent: 16
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 14
  • Brant County: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the health ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

The additional cases come as the province’s network of labs completed 52,504 test samples for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and recorded a test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 1,353. It’s down from a peak of 3,555 on Jan. 11. 

There are about 13,270 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. During the surge in infections that followed the holiday season, there were more than 30,500 active cases provincewide. 

The number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals increased by 39 to 948. Of those, 313 were being treated in intensive care, and 226 required a ventilator.

Ontario’s COVID-19-linked death toll is now at 6,596.

Meanwhile, the province said it administered 13,486 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, the most on a single day in nearly three weeks. A total of 412,119 shots have been given out so far in Ontario, and 125,725 people have received both doses and are fully immunized.

Today was the province’s deadline to give first doses of vaccines to all residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care. CBC Toronto has reached out to the Ministry of Health for an update on its progress and whether that initial phase of the immunization campaign will be completed by this evening.

Gradual easing of lockdown measures begins

Restrictions were loosened in three public health units today.

Hastings Prince Edward; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington; and Renfrew County moved into the green category of the government’s colour-coded reopening framework.

Lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders were lifted in those units, meaning restaurants can reopen for limited in-person dining and non-essential businesses can welcome customers back.

On Feb. 16, all remaining regions except three hot spots in the Greater Toronto Area are set to move to the restrictions framework.

The category they are placed in will depend COVID-19 trends at the time, health officials said earlier this week.

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region are expected to be the last to make that transition on Feb. 22, but the province said any sudden increase in COVID-19 cases could delay that plan.

All federal COVID-19 funds allocated, province says

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said today that Ontario expects to spend an additional $2.6 billion to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In a news release, the finance ministry said that brings the province’s one-time pandemic spending to $13.3 billion.

The funds were provided to the province from the federal government and Bethlenfalvy said they have now all been allocated.

In its third quarter financial report released today, the ministry said the additional $2.6 billion will go toward creating a previously announced grant program for small business, and to support hospitals and long-term care homes.

Ontario’s projected deficit remains at $38.5 billion, unchanged since the 2020 budget was released in November.

The province said it has set aside a $3.9 billion contingency fund — up by an additional $2.1 billion — to address any further spending needs from the pandemic for the rest of the fiscal year.

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