Ontario's top doctor insists province has 'bent' the curve as it reports 841 new cases, 9 more deaths
Published Thursday, October 22, 2020 10:27AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 22, 2020 5:55PM EDT
More than 800 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Ontario today but for the second consecutive day, the province's positivity rate has declined as officials work to boost testing numbers.
And top public health officials say restrictions they enacted earlier in the month might have been neutralized in part by people gathering at Thanksgiving, even though that was discouraged in some populated areas.
Ontario is reporting 841 new infections today, a slight increase from the 790 new cases confirmed on Wednesday and the 821 recorded on Tuesday.
According to provincial data, today's number represents the second highest daily count of cases reported since March.
The rolling seven-day average of new infections in Ontario now stands at 761, up from 746 this time last week.
Ontario processed close to 39,000 tests over the past 24 hours, a notable increase from the daily testing numbers released by the province over the past few days.
The province's test positivity rate now sits at 2.2 per cent, down from 2.41 per cent on Wednesday and 3.42 per cent on Tuesday.
Nine more deaths reported today
A count of data from local public health units and hospital administrators found 313 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, significantly more than the 270 reported by the provincial government.
Of the 270 hospitalized patients identified in the province's data, 74 are in intensive care and 48 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
For two days in a row, the province has reported nine new COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total tally of virus-related fatalities to 3,071.
Three of the nine deaths confirmed today involved residents of long-term care homes.
There are now 79 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the province, an increase of 10 over the past week.
The number of active cases across the province continues to rise with 100 fewer recoveries today than new cases.
The total number of active COVID-19 infections in Ontario is now 6,390.
Of the new infections recorded today, there were 335 from Toronto, 162 from Peel Region, 106 from York Region and 72 from Ottawa.
On Thursday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said that actions enacted in major cities earlier in the month and private gathering limits instituted in September, had “bent” the curve but not flattened it.
“We have carried out some measures, we have bent that a bit, is it as much as I would have liked to have seen yet, no,” he said. “We still are seeing a lot of outbreaks related to family and social gatherings that have been occurring – especially in areas that are part of modified Stage 2.”
Both he and Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer said there is a likelihood that some of the recent infections disclosed were the result of people getting together at Thanksgiving, against public health advice in Toronto and Ottawa.
Province still waiting to see impact of restrictions
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said Toronto and Peel Region should soon see case numbers decline as a result of additional public health restrictions that were put in place by the province earlier this month.
Indoor dining rooms, fitness centres, and movie theatres were closed in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa on Oct. 10 and the same restrictions were applied to York Region on Oct. 19.
“When we think about when a policy is enacted... there is a bit of a lag time until you start to see any effect from your policy,” Bogoch told CP24 on Thursday morning.
“You have to imagine it's like turning a cruise ship. It is going to turn but it is going to take a while to do it. We might only start to see the first signal about two weeks after these policies were recommended. So we might only start to see the first whiff of evidence that this is working in a few days from now.”
Bogoch said there are “early indicators” that the restrictions have helped to bring down the number of new infections in Ottawa.
At this time last week, there were 108 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the nation's capital.
“I think we will start to see Toronto and Peel round the corner,” Bogoch said.
On Thursday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said while the positivity rate in Toronto is "concerning," the province is still waiting to see how the public health restrictions have made an impact on COVID-19 activity in the city.
"It is concerning for all of us. I know it is very concerning to Dr. de Villa and it is concerning Dr. Williams and the whole public health measures table but we are looking to see what action the measures we put in place are going have," she said. "It is going to be a bit delayed in terms of putting the measures in place and seeing what effect they have. If we need to take further measures of course we will do so but we are following the situation very closely right now."
Even so, Williams said Thursday he had not yet made any recommendations for new restrictions in areas already put back in modified Stage 2, nor had he recommended that Halton, Niagara or Hamilton be moved to Stage 2.
New cases in the GTA:
Peel Region: 162
York Region: 106
Halton Region: 29
Durham Region: 29