Ontario’s top public health official says that he hopes to see daily case counts dip under 600 a day before the province enters the first stage of its reopening plan.

The province has set June 14 as a target date to begin lifting some public health restrictions but that is conditional on vaccination rates and a continued decline in certain other indicators, such as case counts and hospitalization numbers.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has previously said that he would like to see case counts “well below 1,000” before the economy is gradually reopened but on Tuesday he said that the actual number he is targeting is actually “closer to 550-600 new cases a day.”

To put that in perspective, the last time Ontario saw case counts that low was early October, prior to the arrival of the second wave of the pandemic.

“There’s a number of metrics that play in there to say that we are down and we're gonna stay down, and progressively drop down through the whole summer rather than going on a roller coaster,” he told reporters. “Vaccinations are important but other metrics are also important and they're all moving in a good direction at this time.”

The comments from Williams came just hours after the province reported 1,039 new coronavirus cases, it’s lowest case count in any single 24-hour period since early March.

Ontario labs, however, processed 16,857 tests in the past 24 hours, a notable difference from the seven-day average of 35,240 tests.

The province’s positivity rate is now 6.4 per cent, unchanged from the previous day, according to the Ministry of Health.

Ontario also reported 1,446 new cases on Monday and eight more deaths. The province did not release numbers on Monday due to the Victoria Day holiday.

The numbers reported over the past two days continue a downward trend of infections across the province. Ontario logged 1,691 new cases on Sunday, 1,794 on Saturday and 1,890 on Friday.

The seven-day rolling average dropped to 1,692 on Tuesday, down from 2,287 a week ago.

Another 1,034 lab-confirmed COVID-19 variants of concern were logged on Tuesday, with 985 being the dominant B.1.1.7 variant.

Nearly 4,100 more people recovered from the virus over the past two days, resulting in 19,026 active cases across the province.

Tuesday’s death count is the highest since May 9 when 47 virus-related deaths were reported in the province. Of the latest deaths, six were individuals between 40 and 59 years old, 18 were between 60 and 79 years old and nine were 80 years and older. Ontario’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 8,655.

In the Greater Toronto area, 325 of Tuesday’s cases were reported in Toronto, while 231 were logged in Peel Region, 77 in York Region, 60 in Durham Region and 38 in Halton Region.

The number of patients hospitalized with the deadly virus saw a slight bump day-over-day with 1,025 people receiving treatment, compared to 983 on Monday.

Of those hospitalized, 692 are in intensive care units, up from 687 on Monday, and 498 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

To date, more than 524,950 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and 497,269 recoveries have been identified in the province since the virus first emerged in January 2020.

As of Monday evening, more than 8.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province since mid-December, with 86,927 shots into arms yesterday alone.

At least 544,288 people have been fully vaccinated in the province. Two doses of approved vaccines in Ontario are needed for full immunization.





The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.