Ontario reports 35 COVID-19 deaths, 1,723 new cases

Five public health units recorded 100 or more new cases of the illness Wednesday.

5 public health units recorded 100 or more new cases of the illness

It is the sixth straight day that Ontario has confirmed more than 1,700 new cases of COVID-19. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario reported another 1,723 cases of COVID-19 and 35 more deaths linked to the illness Wednesday.

Five public health units recorded 100 or more new cases:

  • Peel Region: 500
  • Toronto: 410
  • York Region: 196
  • Durham Region: 124
  • Waterloo Region: 103

Other areas that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Hamilton: 74
  • Windsor-Essex: 60
  • Ottawa: 46
  • Halton Region: 45
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 45
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 20
  • Niagara Region: 18
  • Chatham-Kent: 15
  • Southwestern: 12
  • Thunder Bay: 10

(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

At the province's daily news conference Wednesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario has "plateaued at a very high level." She also said case numbers went up after lockdowns were enacted in certain regions "largely because of some of the events in certain communities."

The province should be seeing the results of lockdown period reflected in its case numbers in the next week or so, Elliott said.

"That's what we all want to see," she said.

The health minister also said that the province's chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, is now talking with medical officials in communities that are seeing spikes in cases to see if they should be moved into different zones of the province's COVID-19 restriction plan.

Also included in today's new cases are 166 that are school-related: 140 students and 26 staff members. Some 742 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 15.4 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while six schools are currently closed because of the illness.

The new infections drive the seven-day average to a record high of 1,720.

There are currently about 14,526 confirmed, active cases of the COVID-19 throughout the province, also a new high. 

They come as Ontario's network of labs processed 44,226 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a provincewide positivity rate of 4.7 per cent. Another 49,574 tests were added to the queue to be completed.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased to 656, while the province reported 183 people are being treated in intensive care. Of those, 106 are on ventilators. 

Elliott acknowledged that some hospitals are feeling the strain of the virus.

"There's no question that many Ontario hospitals are under stress right now, particularly in the lockdown areas," she said.

But, she added, "To say that they are in crisis is not the case."

The 35 additional deaths push the official toll to 3,698. Twenty-two of the 35 deaths in today's update were residents of long-term care.

Premier Doug Ford returned to the press conference after missing Tuesday's briefing. Ford said he had "zapped" his back, but is now feeling better.

Ford was asked why he isn't forcing big box stores, which are allowed to stay open in Ontario while small businesses in some areas are forced to close, to cordon off non-essential goods, as is being done in other jurisdictions.

"What the health table is trying to do is limit the amount of visits when you're out there," Ford said. 

"I know it's not fair, but it limits people from going out and [making stops] on the way home."

With files from Lucas Powers