Ontario is reporting a daily COVID-19 case count of just over 700 today as the rolling seven-day average of new infections dips below 1,000 for the first time in nearly seven months.

Provincial health officials logged 733 new COVID-19 cases today, up slightly from the 699 reported on Tuesday but down significantly from the 1,095 infections confirmed one week ago.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases dropped to 978 today, the lowest that number has been since Nov. 4. Last Wednesday, Ontario's average number of new infections stood at 1,622.

The lowest Ontario's seven-day average dropped to between the second and third wave of the pandemic was 1,002.

With 31,768 tests processed over the past 24 hours, the province is reporting a positivity rate of 2.8 per cent, the lowest positivity rate logged in Ontario since March. Seven days ago, officials reported a positivity rate of 5.4 per cent.

Another 25 virus-related deaths were confirmed today, bringing the Ontario's death toll to 8,791.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are currently 708 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals, down from 804 on Tuesday and 1,073 last week.

Data provided by local public health units indicates that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital is actually double what is being reported by the Ministry of Health, a discrepancy the province has not yet explained.

The number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care has declined to 576 in Ontario, a total that includes patients from out-of-province. That is down from 672 last Wednesday.

Ontario's active caseload is now 10,664, down from 17,727 last week.

Of the new cases confirmed today, 173 are in Toronto, 134 are in Peel Region, 69 are in York Region and 66 are in Hamilton.

Declining case counts point to 'better days ahead'

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, said the province is seeing community transmission rates “crumble.”

“When we look at all the big metrics— hospital capacity, community burden of infection, rates of vaccination— they're all heading in the right direction. It's all pointing to better and better days ahead,” Bogoch said.

He said officials are now in a position where they have to decide when it is appropriate to begin easing public health restrictions. 

“Have we done enough? Is that okay enough to start to open things up and lift up some of these public health measures? And I think the answer would be yes,” Bogoch said.

“We're clearly headed along the right path and I would hope that the public health measures are really aligned with the true burden of risk, which is of course going down.”

The provincewide stay-at-home order expired today but the Ford government has indicated that it plans to wait until at least June 14 before entering Stage 1 of the reopening plan, which will allow patio dining to resume and non-essential retail to reopen at 15 per cent capacity.

Despite calls to speed up the reopening plan, it is not clear if the province is considering bumping up the date that businesses can welcome customers once again.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.