Ontario health officials reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and nine new deaths, on much stronger rates of testing that sent the positivity rate lower.

Ontario reported 841 new cases on Thursday, 790 on Wednesday and 821 on Tuesday.

“Locally, there are 292 new cases in Toronto, 186 in Peel, 87 in Ottawa and 72 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter. “There are 733 more resolved cases.”

Over the past seven days, 49 people have died of infection in the province.

During his regular briefing on Friday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford expressed some concern with the numbers, particularly the fact that there were only five health units that reported no new cases at all.

As recently as this summer, more than half of Ontario’s 34 public health units were regularly reporting no new cases.

“That is telling me this spreading right across the province, which is concerning,” Ford said.

Ford then defended his decision to move certain COVID-19 hot spots into a modified version of stage 2, noting that “we won’t even have a economy if this thing just continues to spread and gets up over 1,000 cases.”

"I just want to make sure we keep our hands around this and do everything we can while balancing the economy as well. It is not easy I tell ya," he said.

Positivity rate now 2.1 per cent

The positivity rate generated by Friday’s results was about 2.1 per cent, with about 40,000 tests completed.

Another 35,000 test specimens were under investigation.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said earlier in the day that the trend of case growth in Ontario, and especially in the GTA, really needs to turn a corner in the next week.

“I am really looking for a pivot or a change or at least some signs that there may be a reduction in cases soon, probably over the next four to seven days,” Bogoch told CP24. “Because that was around the two-week mark from when we had some policy that was implemented.”

Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe told reporters Friday they still cannot say when the numbers will start to decline.

"It is probably too early for us to start to see an impact on the numbers," she said. "We might have had higher numbers if we didn’t implement measures."

There are now 6,474 active cases of novel coronavirus infection in Ontario, up from 5,873 one week ago.

The province says 3,080 people have died of the virus since March and 58,799 have recovered.

Three of the nine deaths reported on Friday involved residents of long-term care homes.

Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 38 cases, Halton Region reported 34 cases and Hamilton reported 15.

Meanwhile, Ontario's hospitals and local public health units said 310 people were in hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, down three from Thursday.

Of those, the province said at least 78 were in intensive care and 47 were breathing with the help of a ventilator.