Ontario reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday as its seven-day average climbed above the 900 threshold for the first time ever.

The latest daily count is down from the 936 new cases reported one day prior, though officials later indicated that some of those had been belatedly entered into the provincial database, inflating the number somewhat.

If there is good news to be found in the data it is that testing was up significantly over the last 24 hours with more than 41,000 specimens turned around by the province’s labs.

That points to the lowest positivity rating recorded so far this week at 2.18 per cent.

It is also the highest number of tests processed in any 24-hour period since Oct. 24.The number, however, remains short of Ontario’s goal of turning around 50,000 tests every day.

The province’s seven-day rolling average of new cases, meanwhile, has increased again and now stands at 909. It is the first time that number has surpassed 900. At this point last week the seven-day average was 777, pointing to a 16 per cent week-over week increase.

Daily cases Oct 30

Modelling suggests that Ontario may have avoided worst case scenario

The release of the latest data comes one day after provincial officials released new modelling that suggested that Ontario may have avoided the worst-case scenario with the second wave of the pandemic but will still see between 800 and 1,200 new daily cases of COVID-19 throughout most of November.

Speaking with CP24 earlier on Friday, infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch said that it “looks like the rate of growth of new cases is slowing” and that the modified Stage 2 restrictions introduced in some regions are starting to have an effect on transmission.

But he said that there is a lot of “unlinked cases,” suggesting that the virus is still being actively spread in the community. In Toronto 65 per cent of cases since Aug. 1 have no known epidemiological link.

“I think the takeaway is that as individuals we cannot let our guard down. We still have a job to do,” Bogoch said. “You know we are obviously relying on the government and the public health units to do their thing but as individuals we have to make some very smart choices for ourselves and we still have to do our best to practice physical distancing, to put on masks when we go inside, to avoid crowds, to not have people over at our houses for private gatherings and to keep our hands clean. There are some very significant things we can do and we should do them as we continue through the fall and the winter.”

314 new cases in Toronto

About three-quarters of the new cases confirmed on Friday occurred in the GTA, including 314 in Toronto, 173 in Peel Region, 115 in York Region, 37 in Halton Region and 32 in Durham Region.

Deaths also continue to slowly rise. On Friday, the ministry reported another nine fatalities, three of which involved residents in long-term care homes.

Over the last week, there has been an average of 6.7 deaths reported each day.

It remains well off the peak seen in April when COVID-19 was ravaging hundreds of long-term care homes resulting in dozens of deaths each day but is nonetheless a notable increase from this past summer.

“What is concerning is that we are seeing a greater number of cases in long-term care facilities. There has been about 85 deaths to date since August 15 in long-term care facilities and the trends are headed in the wrong direction,” Bogoch warned on Friday. “That is the most vulnerable of vulnerable and sadly in Canada if we look at the over 10,000 deaths we have had about 80 per cent of them were in long-term care facilities so we really have to do better to protect our most vulnerable population.”

There are currently 314 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 75 in the ICU.

Officials have previously said that some routine surgeries and procedures will have to be put on hold should the ICU number surpass the 150 threshold.

Hospital chart