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Ontario reports 790 COVID-19 hospitalizations, 165 patients in ICU

Ontario is reporting 790 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 165 patients in intensive care Tuesday.

Province launching new plan to prepare for health emergencies

There were 5,967 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered on Monday in Ontario, with a total of 32,046,288 given out to date. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Ontario is reporting 790 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 165 patients in intensive care Tuesday.

The number of hospitalizations reported is up from 639 one week ago, though the number of ICU admissions is down from 179 on the same day last week.

Of the people hospitalized, 47 per cent were admitted specifically for treatment of symptoms brought on by the virus, while the rest were admitted for other reasons and then tested positive. Meanwhile, 76 per cent of people in ICU were admitted because of COVID-19, while the rest were added for other reasons, then tested positive for the virus.

Another seven deaths were also reported, bringing the total death toll in the province to 12,414, with two more added to the total count due to a data clean up, according to government officials.

Another 1,610 new COVID-19 cases were also logged, though due to limited PCR testing the province's medical officer of health has warned the actual number of new cases is likely 10 times higher. There were 12,302 tests completed Monday, with 6,818 currently pending.

Ontario's test positivity rate is 14.4 per cent, down from Monday's rate of 17.9 per cent — the highest seen since late January, when it hit 18.8 per cent during the Omicron wave.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:

Active cases: 19,354.

Patients in ICU requiring a ventilator to breathe: 84.

Long-term care homes in outbreak: 54.

Vaccinations: 5,967 vaccine doses were administered on Monday in Ontario with a total of 32,046,288 given out to date. Just over 89.9 per cent of Ontarians aged five or older have received at least one dose, while just over 86.4 per cent have received two doses.

Province attempts to improve health response

Meanwhile, Ontario is seeking to recruit more nurses in underserved communities, permanently boost the pay of personal support workers, and maintain a stockpile of personal protective equipment.

The measures are some of the items in what the province is calling a "plan to stay open," which aims to ensure Ontario is better equipped to respond to another health crisis. Many of the items contained in the plan were previously announced by the province.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says while the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, Ontario is in a place where it can use the lessons learned over the past two years to shore up the health system.

The plan includes new legislation that would, among other measures, make permanent a $3-an-hour wage enhancement for personal support workers that the government has been extending for a few months at a time since 2020.

The legislation would also require annual reporting on supplies of personal protective equipment, and require the province to have a provincial emergency plan that is updated every five years.

The government is also announcing $81 million over two years to expand a program in which nursing graduates can receive full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to practice in an underserved community for two years.

Black Scientists' Task Force advises continued mask use

Also Tuesday, The Black  Scientists' Task Force on Vaccine Equity (BSTF) issued a statement calling on members of the Black community to keep wearing masks in high-risk settings, and to make sure to get a third dose of a vaccine.

The statement notes that Ontario still has positivity and hospitalization rates in the vicinity of those seen in previous waves of the pandemic, and that Black people have been over-represented in both hospitalization and death data.

"If you want to know the end, look at the beginning," said Dr. Khenti, BSTF scientist, in a statement. "It's an African proverb and I quote it to remind people of the many racialized risks that inequitably harmed Black health and well-being at the beginning of the pandemic — which are still with us. We want the community to be fully apprised of the factors when deciding about whether to mask indoors."

The BSTF says members of the Black community should consider consistently wearing masks in every high-risk setting such as public gatherings, sporting events and concerts, even though masks are not mandatory in most settings in the province anymore.

With files from The Canadian Press

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