Ontario reports nearly 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 as number of people in hospital surpasses first wave peak
Published Wednesday, December 30, 2020 10:15AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 30, 2020 1:26PM EST
Ontario is reporting a new record number of COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day and there are now more people hospitalized with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus than at any other point during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health says that there were 2,923 new cases confirmed on Tuesday, pushing the rolling seven-day average up to 2,309. That is a slight increase on this time last week when it stood at 2,304.
The nearly 3,000 new cases reported over the last 24 hours do represent a big jump on then record 2,553 that were reported just one day prior, though.
It also comes as testing continues to lag behind the levels seen in recent weeks.
On Tuesday the province conducted just 39,210 tests, pointing to a positivity percentage of 8.4 per cent.
It was the third straight day that a positivity rate above eight per cent was reported.
Meanwhile, the spread of the virus continues to accelerate in the GTA.
Toronto Public Health reported a record 1,069 news cases in the city on Wednesday. The province uses a different cut off time for its data but also reported a new record number of infections in Toronto – 998.
There was also a record 408 new cases reported in York Region while Peel Region reported another 441 new cases, Durham Region reported 158 and Halton Region reported 114.
“The numbers are very disconcerting,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said during an interview with CP24 earlier on Wednesday morning. “They are still alarming and they are still putting a huge strain on the healthcare system so there is nothing good about them. The numbers are just not good.”
Nearly 1,200 COVID patients now hospitalized
The latest data indicates that there are now 1,177 people hospitalized with COVID-19, eclipsing the peak seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring (1,043) for the first time.
A daily Critical Care Services Ontario report obtained by CP24 also indicated that 335 COVID-19 patients are now being treated in intensive care. That represents nearly 20 per cent of all patients in the ICU.
Some hospitals, however, have been hit harder than others.
At Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga the number of patients receiving treatment in the ICU exceeds the baseline number of beds available and more than half of them have COVID-19.
The same is also true at Humber River Hospital, where 23 of 46 beds in the ICU are now occupied by COVID-19 patients.
In Toronto 70 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care units, though there remains some theoretical capacity with only 348 of 459 available beds filled as of late Tuesday night.
Of course health officials have said that staffing resources are a bigger issue than bed availability at this point, meaning that the strain being felt by hospitals is sometimes not fully illustrated by the numbers.
“Just to lay the numbers out in wave one we had a total of 1,228 patients with COVID-19 go through Ontario’s ICUs during that entire wave and as of Dec. 27 1,252 patients have been through Ontario’s ICUs with COVID-19 during the second wave. So we have exceeded our wave one total in four months instead of the five months and things are getting worse,” Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CP24 on Wednesday. “We are tracking above the worst case scenario in terms of trajectory and I am highly concerned that access to non-COVID care will come more limited in the weeks and months to come.”
19 more deaths
A number of hospitals have already cancelled elective surgeries and procedures but officials have said that about 85 per cent of the care in ICU is critical and cannot be postponed.
Speaking with CP24, Warner said that while the province has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses it can’t “legislate what happens behind closed doors in peoples homes,” which could be a “big source” of transmission.
“The seven-day average is going to be 2,500 and when school resumed in September the seven-day average was 209 in terms of COVID cases in Ontario. So it is inconceivable that we could open things up in a week or two weeks,” he said.
On Wednesday, the province also reported another 19 deaths in people who contracted COVID-19, including 12 among long-term care home residents.
There was also another four outbreaks reported at long-term care home, pushing the total number of active outbreaks in that setting to 200.