Ontario is reporting another 170 new cases of COVID-19 and has now gone two full weeks with its daily counts stuck in the triple digits.

The number represents a slight increase on the 148 cases reported on Wednesday but remains short of the 190 and 185 new cases reported by the province over the holiday weekend. Both of those numbers represented the highest daily counts since July 24.

Of the new cases confirmed on Thursday, more than 70 per cent per cent of them were in the GTA (122 cases), marking the continuation of a recent trend that has seen the virus increasingly concentrated in the Toronto and Ottawa areas.

There were 55 lab-confirmed cases in Toronto, 28 in York Region, 22 in Peel Region, 13 in Durham Region and four in Halton Region.

Ottawa, meanwhile, reported another 12 cases. It, along with Waterloo (seven cases), were the only other regions to report more than five new cases over the last 24 hours.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 167 after dropping to as low as 85 last month.

“We have 14 regions that have zero cases of COVID, we have 14 other regions that have five or less and then we have the same big urban centres (where infections are higher). If you take those out we are doing very well as a province,” Premier Doug Ford said during a press conference in Sudbury on Thursday afternoon. “Right now we are keeping our eye on the ball and I would just ask people out there in those large regions, guys avoid parties because from what I am hearing it (the uptick in cases) is not coming from bars and it is not coming from restaurants; it is coming from large gatherings be it weddings or parties or whatever.”

More than 1,500 active cases

At one point in early August the province went an entire week without recording 100 or more new infections but the numbers have steadily trended up since then and are now roughly in line with where they were in late July.

Active cases have also increased.

For most of August there were fewer than 1,000 active cases province-wide but that number now stands at 1,567 after the number of new cases exceeded the number of new recoveries on Thursday by 27.

The rise in cases has led some officials to call for a rollback on some elements of the province’s reopening plan but Ford has so far refused to do that himself, instead encouraging local medical officers of health to use the Health Protections and Promotion Act to do so in their communities.

The Ford government previously took a similar approach on the issue of mandatory masks, refusing to issue a province-wide emergency order and instead deferring to municipalities and local health officials to set their own rules

“I am going to take my advice from (Chief Medical Officer of Health) Dr. (David) Williams and the medical team before I make any decision but we aren’t there yet,” he said when asked specifically about the province’s gathering limits of 100 people outdoors and 50 indoors on Thursday. “We saw another spike today, which is always concerning but to put it into perspective there is four large regions where the numbers are higher than what we would like to see and if we can get those four regions in hand we should be fairly good.”

Hospitalizations remain stable

If there is any good news to be found in Thursday’s numbers it is that the positive percentage actually declined slightly to 0.69 after the province conducted nearly 25,000 tests over a 24-hour period, an increase of more than 7,000 from one day prior.

Hospitalizations also remain stable. On Wednesday there were 54 COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals, including 14 in intensive care units.

At the height of the first wave in April, there were regularly more than 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and at one point 264 of them were in ICU units.

Other highlights from the data:

  • There was one new death reported over the last 24 hours. The death toll now stands at 2,814.
  • Younger people continue to make up a disproportionate share of new cases. Of the 170 cases confirmed on Thursday, 106 involved people under the age of 40. Meanwhile, there was only one new case in the oldest age group (80 and up).
  • There were two more outbreaks reported in long-term care homes over the last 24 hours. There are now 23 active outbreaks in those settings.
  • There were 14 public health units that reported no new cases at all over the last 24 hours.
  • The 55 cases reported by Toronto Public Health is the highest number since Sunday (60 cases).