Ontario reported an additional 195 cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the majority in people under 40 years old — as more parts of the province move into Stage 3 of the government’s reopening plan.
Windsor-Essex alone confirmed 57 new cases and Ottawa 27, as well as another 31 in Toronto and 18 in Peel.
With the exception of July 21, which saw 203 cases due to a reporting delay in Peel, it’s the most new cases on any single day since June 29.
Health Minister Christine Elliott noted in a series of tweets this morning that 128 of the cases, or 66 per cent, are people under 40 years old.
Ontario has now confirmed 38,405 infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 88.8 per cent are considered resolved by public health officials. Another 137 were marked resolved in today’s update.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, Premier Doug Ford said the province is seeing numbers “fluctuate,” which is “concerning.”
Ford said most young people are acting responsibly, with a few exceptions.
“It’s not little Johnny I’m worried about, it’s little Johnny’s grandparents I’m worried about,” he said.
Seven more regions of Ontario formally entered Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. today. Hamilton and Niagara are among them. Durham, York, Halton, Haldimand-Norfolk and Lambton are also now in Stage 3.
The easing of anti-COVID measures means indoor dining at a restaurant or drinking in a pub is allowed. Gyms and movie theatres are also allowed to reopen.
In all cases, physical distancing must be maintained among patrons.
Ford said Friday it was “great news” that more regions are moving to the next stage of reopening.
Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex, however, will remain in Stage 2 for the time being. Ford said many people were expecting an update on those regions heading into Stage 3 on Monday, but health officials have asked for more time to “analyze the numbers” in those areas.
“And I’ve always said, we can’t rush this,” Ford said, adding that an update will now come on Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful we’ll have some good news to share on Wednesday,” he said.
The growing number of regions in Stage 3 comes as Ontario’s state of emergency — originally declared in mid-March — expired today.
Hospitalizations dip slightly
After a steady rise in hospitalizations over the last five days, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness dropped today, down to 141 from 156 — which had been the most since early July.
Thirty-one patients are being treated in intensive care units, and 20 are on ventilators.
The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by three, and is now 2,758. A CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units, which avoids lag times in the provincial reporting system, puts the real current toll at 2,789 as of yesterday evening.
LISTEN | Why is COVID-19 spreading among young people?
Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold his daily COVID-19 briefing beginning at 1p.m. in Markham. You can watch it live in this story.
Ford’s office says he will be joined by Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano, as well as Rhonda L. Lenton, the president and vice chancellor of York University, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Billy Pang, MPP for Markham–Unionville.
There has been growing concerns about how post-secondary institutions will handle the return of students for the next academic year, especially as students from hard-hit areas of the U.S. go back to Canadians campuses.
‘Stressful and concerning’ situation in Windsor-Essex
Windsor-Essex’s medical officer of health says that region now has the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed said the region passed Toronto and Peel this week with 484 cases per 100,000 people, calling the situation “stressful and concerning.”
Ahmed explained the jump in cases can be attributed to outbreaks on local farms and increasing cases in the community likely due to reopening of the region weeks ago.
Hundreds of migrant workers in the region have tested positive for the virus over the past few months and two have died.
On Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said an on-farm testing effort had recently been paused after only 19 of 176 in the region participated.
Dr. David Williams said a new communications package has been created for farms and their workers as the testing restarts.