Ontario records more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for second time over one-week period
Published Saturday, October 31, 2020 10:20AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 31, 2020 2:04PM EDT
Ontario is reporting more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 today, the second time in the past week that the province has recorded more than 1,000 infections in a 24-hour period.
Provincial health officials are confirming 1,015 new cases of the virus in Ontario today, up from 896 on Friday.
The seven-day average of new infections in the province is now a record 914, up from 802 last week.
"Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto, 282 in Peel, 94 in Ottawa and 88 in York Region," Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Saturday.
"There are 798 more resolved cases and over 41,900 tests completed."
Ontario’s positivity rate now stands at an estimated 2.4 per cent, up slightly from 2.2 one week ago.
The province also confirmed nine new deaths today, bringing the total number of virus-related fatalities to 3,136.
Five of the deaths reported on Saturday involve residents of long-term care homes.
Hospitalizations continue to steadily rise in the province.
According to centrally confirmed data, there are 320 people infected with COVID-19 who are currently receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals.
Of those patients, 73 have been admitted to intensive care units and 54 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
The rise in new infections comes one day after Premier Doug Ford told reporters he has asked public health officials to prepare a plan for how the government can ease restrictions in some of Ontario's COVID-19 hot spots as early as next weekend.
Gyms and movie theatres were closed and bars and restaurants were forced to halt indoor dining in Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa on Oct. 10 when the Ontario government reverted the three regions back to a modified version of Stage 2 for 28 days.
The 28-day period will expire on Nov. 7.
“Based on the latest evidence and based on what I am seeing and the modelling I have asked our public health experts to come back next week on a plan to begin to ease restrictions in a way that safely allows businesses to start opening back up after the 28-day period is over,” Ford said at a news conference on Friday.
“I want the health officials to come with a plan that allows business to reopen safely because we don’t know how long this virus will be with us.”
Modelling data released by Ford's top public health advisers earlier this week indicated that while Ontario may have avoided the worst-case scenario previously predicted for the province, Ontario will continue to see high case counts of 800 to 1,200 new infections per day throughout the month of November.
The modelling also showed that 14 per cent of known COVID-19 outbreaks in Toronto have been traced back to bars and restaurants, while just three per cent and eight per cent of known outbreaks in Peel Region and York Region respectively were linked to bars and restaurants.
It should be noted that in Toronto, a large number of positive cases have no known epidemiological link, meaning public health officials are unclear where they were exposed to the virus.
That number was as high as 65 per cent on Thursday, according to data released by the province.
“The numbers are still going up but they are going up slower," Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, said of the province's daily case counts on Friday.
"What it is saying to us is that we can look at perhaps modifying the conditions but that doesn’t mean everyone can loosen up on everything we all need to do."
Mayor John Tory told reporters Saturday that he believes there is a way to safely reopen businesses in Toronto.
"When we sat down four or five weeks ago, there was a projection at that time that you’d see an exponential increase in the number of cases that you’d have and they were increasing at a huge rate as was hospitalizations at the time. So I think that in that sense it may way be the case that some of the public health measures that have been undertaken have helped to limit the growth," he said.
"We are still see growth in the number of cases so it is still a very real concern... People I think still have to follow the same advice— wash your hands, keep your distance, wear your mask, avoid crowd scenes— but at the same time we are trying to look forward and sort of say well alright in light of the fact the virus is very much still present, how do we find ways to open doors safely."