Ontario has confirmed 323 new cases of COVID-19 but the number comes after more than 20,000 tests were conducted, making it among the lowest positive rates that the province has seen since the early days of the pandemic.

Testing has long been an issue in Ontario, which at one point was last in Canada on a per-capita basis, but on Friday the province’s labs turned around a record 20,640 tests, surpassing the Ford government’s goal of doing 16,000 daily tests for a third day in a row.

That means that just over 1.5 per cent of all samples tested on Friday were positive for COVID-19.

As testing lagged earlier this month, the province had seen its positive percentage steadily rise, at one point going as high as seven per cent.

The 323 new cases reported on Saturday also represent a slight decline from the rolling-five day average of new cases, which is 326, and are well off some of the numbers that Ontario was reporting last week when there were five straight days in which there were more than 400 new cases confirmed.

At the time officials suggested that the increase could have been a result of the Mother’s Day weekend but it nonetheless caused concern with Premier Doug Ford saying that if the trend persisted he would have to revaluate the gradual reopening of the province.

“If we see the numbers start spiking, we will roll things back in a heartbeat," he said at the time.

Hospitalizations continue to trend downwards

The latest data released on Saturday also includes the lowest number of deaths that the province has seen in any one day since May 19 with a total of 17.

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, continue to trend downward as they have for weeks.

On Friday there were 801 people hospitalized with COVID-19 with 121 of them in intensive care units and 84 of those people on ventilators.

At one point, more than 1,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and as many as 264 of them were in ICU units, so it has been a big change.

There are, however, still reports of hospitals that are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, particularly in the GTA.

“Stats tell us one thing but what is happening on the ground tells a different story particularly in our hospitals,” Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti told CP24 on Saturday. “I say that because our hospitals, both Markham Stouffville Hospital and Mackenzie Health, have undergone tremendous pressures in intensive care and that has happened even though in Markham we have the lowest percentage of community spread among the large municipalities in York Region. So on one hand our community has been great and yet we have seen this tremendous stress in the ICU department.”

Other highlights from the data:

  • 305 outbreaks have now been reported in Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes. Of those outbreaks, 190 are still considered active.
  • There have been 5,003 cases among long-term care residents and 1,793 cases among staff
  • About 77 per cent of all cases in Ontario (21,353) are now considered resolved
  • Greater Toronto Area public health units now account for 66 per cent of all cases
  • There are 4,675 confirmed cases among healthcare workers, accounting for 17 per cent of all known cases
  • The number of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 3,433 (12.5 per cent of all cases)