Ontario reports record-high 1,855 new COVID-19 cases
Province reported 58,000 tests Friday, also a record high
Ontario reported a record-high 1,855 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with officials saying it will be at least two weeks before lockdowns imposed in Toronto and Peel Region have any tangible effect on the province's case numbers.
"There's been a lot of celebrations over the past couple of weeks," Premier Doug Ford said, a message echoed by Health Minister Christine Elliott, who said a rise in cases was expected at this point.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Ford also called on the federal government to provide more clarity around when Ontario can expect to receive vaccines — something he said will be key for retired general Rick Hillier, who is leading the provincial vaccine rollout taskforce, with a paycheque of $20,000 per month plus expenses.
"It was my duty to agree to the premier's request to lead the task force in this war to defeat COVID-19," Hillier said. "We will be ready as of December 31, 2020 to receive the vaccine, no matter when it arrives, and to ensure the people of Ontario are vaccinated.
Hillier also acknowledged that while there will be bumps in the vaccine's rollout, he believes those most at-risk should receive it first.
Ford calls out anti-lockdown demonstrators
During his news conference, Ford also addressed Kingston-area MPP Randy Hillier's anti-lockdown demonstration outside Queen's Park Thursday.
"I think MPP Randy Hillier is being totally irresponsible," Ford said.
He said it's the province's responsibility to protect Ontarians, even if they are against vaccines or are anti-maskers.
The premier went on to call out those protesting outside his home on a near-daily basis, saying his neighbours have been intimidated and threatened.
"You don't go after people's neighbours and their families," Ford said. "Stop acting like a bunch of buffoons."
Also Friday, Ontario processed more than 58,000 tests, also a record.
New cases in the province include 517 in Peel Region, 494 in Toronto, 189 in York Region and 130 in Halton Region.
They pushed the seven-day average of daily cases to 1,489, the highest the number has been since the first confirmed infection was reported in Ontario in late January.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
- Hamilton: 82
- Waterloo Region: 74
- Durham Region: 65
- Ottawa: 55
- Windsor-Essex: 52
- Simcoe Muskoka: 38
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 27
- Niagara: 20
- Brant County: 16
- Huron Perth: 14
- Grey Bruce: 11
- Middlesex-London: 10
- Haldimand-Norfolk: 10
There are also 122 school-related infections, of which 99 are students and 23 are staff members. There are 671 publicly funded schools in Ontario, or about 14 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Six schools are closed because of outbreaks.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health'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.)
5 regions moving into more restrictive zones
The province also announced that five more regions will move into more restrictive zones starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday:
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Lambton Public Health
- Northwestern Health Unit
There are currently 13,255 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, the most there have been in Ontario since the pandemic began.
The 58,037 test samples processed between 2 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Thursday is nearly 10,000 more than the previous high, which came on Oct. 8. The province's network of community, commercial and hospital labs reported a test positivity rate of 3.7 per cent. Public health officials have previously said they hope to build capacity for 100,000 tests daily by mid-December.
Meanwhile, the number of people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals fell by 15 to 541. Those patients being treated in intensive care stayed steady at 151, while patients being ventilated decreased slightly by four, to 101.
The province also recorded 20 more deaths linked to the illness, pushing the official death toll to 3,595. So far this month, 450 people with COVID-19 have died in Ontario.
Looking for more information about the COVID-19 situation in Ontario? These CBC News stories can help:
What does the latest modelling suggest?
What is the province recommending for the holiday season?
What about for daily life?
In Toronto, where a lockdown is in place, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, warned residents that COVID-19 is now hitting nearly every neighbourhood hard.
WATCH | All of Toronto at risk, city's top health official says:
With files from Lucas Powers