Ontario reports 790 more COVID-19 cases, testing still below target

The province's labs processed slightly more than 32, 600 test samples for the novel coronavirus yesterday, considerably lower than the mid-October target of 50,000 per day.

Toronto accounts for more than 300 cases, Ottawa down to 57

Toronto is currently seeing a 3.1 per cent city-wide positivity rate for COVID-19, while some neighbourhoods in the northwest are regularly surpassing 10 per cent. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported another 790 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, while testing levels remain considerably below the government's target. 

As has consistently been seen through the last two months or so, the newly confirmed cases were found primarily in four public health units:

  • Toronto: 321
  • Peel Region: 157
  • York Region: 76
  • Ottawa: 57

All four areas were moved back into a modified version of Stage 2 of the province's COVID-19 recovery for 28 days earlier this month.

The seven-day average of new daily cases now sits at about 753:

The province also reported 144 new cases related to schools, including at least 66 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 518 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools, or about 10.73 per cent.

According to Minister of Health Christine Elliott, the province's labs processed slightly more than 32,600 test samples for the novel coronavirus yesterday. Both Elliott and Premier Doug Ford have said there is currently capacity for up to 50,000 tests daily, and the province had hoped to be consistently meeting that threshold by mid-October. 

On Tuesday, Ford said that a backlog of tests that previously ballooned to more than 92,000 has been cleared, but that fewer people are showing up to be tested at assessment centres. Ontario moved to an appointment-only system on Oct. 6.

"We are up to date with our testing right now," Elliott said at a news conference Wednesday. "We have caught up on any backlogs we did have." 

People in Ontario who have gotten tested should get their results between 24 and 48 hours later, Elliott said.

Active cases hit record high

There have been a total of 66,686 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 86 per cent are considered resolved.

There are currently 6,299 confirmed, active infections provincewide, a new record high. 

Nine new deaths were added to the toll today, pushing it to 3,062.

At Wednesday's news conference, Ford said the province would be allotting $24 million in funding from its previously announced $176-million "roadmap to wellness" for specialized mental health programs for children and youth.

"These supports are needed more than ever for young Ontarians," Elliott said.

Meanwhile, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness fell by 14 down to 260. There is also one fewer patient being treated in intensive care, for a total of 71. Those on ventilators, however, increased by four up to 49. 

All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health's daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.

4 Toronto hospitals with outbreaks

Another hospital in downtown Toronto has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff.

Unity Health said there are five active coronavirus cases among emergency room staff at St. Michael's Hospital.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the health network says "no patient cases have been identified to date" and the risk of patient exposure is low.

However, it recommends anyone who visited the ER at St. Michael's within the last two weeks to self-monitor.

The hospital is one of four in Toronto that have declared COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days. The others are St. Joseph's Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Still have more questions about COVID-19 in Ontario? These CBC News will help:

What's the latest on the search for a vaccine and when might it be available in Ontario?

CBC Toronto's Lauren Pelley has more on that, plus why experts say the government needs a clear plan about who gets it first.

What's the latest political news stemming from COVID-19?

At Queen's Park, Ford's government moved legislation to provide liability protection to some while also stripping municipalities of the power to use ranked ballot systems in upcoming elections.

With testing still a problem, how is contact-tracing going?

The Ontario government has urged people to download the COVID Alert app, but as CBC News reported just five per cent of those who have a confirmed case reported it via the mobile app. 

With files from Lucas Powers and The Canadian Press


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