COVID-19 cases in Ontario top 1,000 for 2nd time in a week
Meanwhile, province is reporting 9 new deaths related to COVID-19
Ontario reported 1,015 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the second-highest number recorded since the outbreak began in late January.
The new numbers also mark the second time the daily case count has topped 1,000 in less than a week.
The Ontario health ministry said the majority of new cases were found in the province's four hot spots:
- Toronto: 325.
- Peel Region: 282.
- Ottawa: 94.
- York Region: 88.
A number of other areas saw double-digit increases as well:
- Hamilton: 41 — an increase of 27 from Friday.
- Halton Region: 31.
- Durham Region: 23.
- Niagara: 23.
- Waterloo Region: 22.
- Simcoe Muskoka: 20.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13.
- Windsor-Essex: 10.
Ontario reports 9 new deaths
Meanwhile, the health ministry said Ontario's network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 41,920 COVID-19 test samples since its last update, the highest number since last Saturday, but still below the province's daily capacity.
Saturday's new numbers bring the provincial total of COVID-19 cases to 75,730.
Public health officials also recorded nine new deaths linked to the virus over the past 24 hours.
Saturday's update brings the province's seven-day average, which offers a clearer picture of longer-term trends in new cases rather than day-to-day comparisons, to a new record high of 914.
Across the province, 320 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 73 people in intensive care and 54 of them on ventilators.
Cases among long-term care residents jumped by 44 from Friday and now sits at 6,873, while the number of long-term care homes grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks dropped by six to 72.
The province is also reporting 798 more resolved cases.
Officials have said Ontario's COVID-19 case totals are heading in the right direction despite numbers that have remained high over the past week.
So far this week, every day has seen more new infections than the same day last week.
Ford asks advisors for possible reopening plan
Saturday's update comes one day after Premier Doug Ford announced that a plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province's hot spots will be coming next week.
On Friday, Ford indicated that he's asked health advisors for a strategy to allow shuttered businesses to reopen safely.
The premier said restrictions placed on Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa on Oct. 10 were always intended to be a short-term response to soaring case counts in those areas.
"I truly believe if we didn't make this decision ... we would be having a different conversation today," Ford said. "We'd be having a conversation possibly like France or Spain."
The restrictions were put in place for 28 days and included the closure of gyms and the banning of indoor dining at restaurants and bars.
Any easing of restrictions in the coming days would follow projections released on Thursday by provincial health officials that suggested the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic is slowing in Ontario, but could quickly worsen again.
The projections indicated that the province is expected to settle into a range of 800 to 1,200 new daily cases for the next several weeks.
Toronto will likely see new measures after 28 days: mayor
Toronto Mayor John Tory said despite Toronto's stubbornly high case count, the city continues to work with health officials to determine how best to approach the reopening of gyms and indoor dining when the city's 28 days of restrictions end.
"Of course it [won't be] back to normal, when you see hundreds of people still getting the virus in Toronto alone," he told reporters Saturday.
Tory said the city is crafting measures that will keep people safe, while also ensuring business owners won't "suffer such a sacrifice that they've had to make for a long time."
Meanwhile, the mayor is urging residents to follow public health advice this Halloween skip trick-or-treating this year for those living in COVID-19 hot spots.
"The main concern we would have would be with large gatherings," Tory said.
"We strongly discourage that from happening."
With files from Julia Knope and The Canadian Press