Premier Doug Ford promised further restrictions coming for Ontario, as the province reported a record 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
That number comes with the caveat that about 450 were attributable to a data upload delay from Toronto Public Health.
Even so, that would mean about 3,800 were newly confirmed infections, considerably more than the previous record of 3,519 reported yesterday. The cases that were delayed were “primarily” from Jan. 5 and 6, the province said.
Ford held a rare morning news conference Friday, where he again asked Ontarians to follow public health guidelines. The premier said new modelling coming early next week will paint a potentially dire scenario in the province.
“We’re in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you’ll fall out of your chair,” Ford said.
“There will be further measures, because this is getting out of control.”
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, agreed with that assessment. “I think we do need to consider more serious measures, perhaps similar to what happened in the spring,” she said.
“Today’s numbers, to be frank, are scary.”
The new cases reported today include 1,382 in Toronto, 691 in Peel Region, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara Region and 184 in Windsor-Essex.
Combined, they push the seven-day average to 3,394, also a pandemic high for the province.
They come as Ontario’s network of labs processed 71,481 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 6.2 per cent.
There are now 28,203 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, the most at any point during the pandemic by a considerable margin.
While overall hospitalizations fell slightly to 1,446, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care and on ventilators both climbed to new highs — 369 and 250, respectively.
Late Thursday, CBC News obtained a memo from the president and CEO of Ontario Health, Matthew Anderson, telling hospitals to prepare for transferring dozens and potentially hundreds of patients across and even out of regions.
Ontario’s hospitals are projected to have more than 500 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units and more than 1,700 COVID-19 in other beds by Jan. 24, according to the memo.
Ford took multiple questions today about the situation in the province’s long-term care homes, where deaths continue to mount despite the province’s repeated assertions that it has placed an “iron ring” around facilities.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating as well, with the long-term care homes,” Ford said.
On Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that elementary students in southern Ontario will not be returning to schools for in-class learning until at least Jan. 25 as test positivity rates for COVID-19 rise for adults and children alike.
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