Ontario is reporting 1,631 new COVID-19 cases on the same day stay-at-home orders lift in three regions, including Toronto and Peel — which have consistently seen the province’s highest number of infections throughout the pandemic.
Monday’s cases mark the highest number of new infections in over a month, though Ontario’s Ministry of Health says today’s case count is higher than expected due to a “data catch-up process.”
Asked how much Monday’s figure was inflated by the data delay, Public Health Ontario said it couldn’t provide a specific number “due to the way the data are pulled for the reports.”
Of the new cases, 568 were reported in Toronto, 322 were reported in Peel Region and 119 were reported in York Region.
Provincewide, the Ontario government is reporting that some 626 people are in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 282 are in intensive care, and 184 require a ventilator to breathe.
But according to a report by Critical Care Services Ontario — which provides a more up-to-date look at critical care data — the actual number of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care now sits at 337.
Ontario is also reporting an additional 10 deaths, bringing the death toll to 7,077.
Toronto, Peel and North Bay were the last regions still under a stay-at-home order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.
North Bay is now in the “red” category, while Toronto and Peel are entering the “grey-lockdown,” something local public health officials asked for in both regions.
Despite the “lockdown” title, moving to the grey category will allow more retailers to open with restrictions. Gyms, personal care services and indoor restaurant dining, however, will stay closed.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government is taking a “safe and cautious approach” to ending the provincewide shutdown, which started in January.
This comes as Ontario’s lab network processed 38,063 test samples for the virus — the lowest number completed in a week. The test positivity rate was 3.4 per cent.
According to the ministry, health units across Ontario administered 21,882 doses of vaccines yesterday. A total of 273,676 people in Ontario have now been given both shots of a vaccine.
Ontario’s website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments began a “soft launch” in six public health units last week.
Ahead of the province’s centralized website for all public health units, Toronto hospitals have launched their own site where you can pre-register to get a vaccine if you’re 80-plus or a high-priority health-care worker.
Labs also confirmed 51 more cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bringing the cumulative total to 879 (though the actual number is likely higher).
The Ministry of Education also reported another 95 school-related cases: 84 students and 11 staff members. Thirty schools are currently closed due to the respiratory illness.
The seven-day average of daily cases now stands at 1,155 — the highest it’s been in three weeks.
The new daily case count brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began in Ontario to 309,927.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in cases were:
- Thunder Bay: 91
- Durham Region: 68
- Ottawa: 57
- Halton Region: 51
- Waterloo Region: 51
- Simcoe Muskoka: 48
- Windsor-Essex: 46
- Niagara: 31
- Sudbury: 27
- Hamilton: 22
- Brant County: 20
- Lambton: 19
- Middlesex London: 18
- Eastern Ontario: 15
- Northwestern: 11
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 10
What you need to know about retail reopening in ‘grey lockdown’
Under the grey lockdown tier of the framework, non-essential stores can open at 25 per cent capacity while indoor dining, gyms and hair salons remain closed.
Grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and must comply with physical distancing rules.
Though non-essential stores in Toronto and Peel Region are allowed to open for the first time in more than 100 days, it won’t be business as usual.
To prepare for visitors, major malls in these two hot spots have implemented new safety protocols, including:
- 25 per cent capacity limit.
- Live online meters to check mall capacity in real time.
- Mandatory screening (in-person or online) for all retailers, employees, and shoppers entering the malls.