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Ontario reports 948 more COVID-19 cases as 7-day average hits new high

Posted: November 3, 2020

(November 2, 2020)

By: CBC News

Province commits to 4 hours of daily direct care for long-term care residents

Ontario reported another 948 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as the provincial government commits to a new standard that would see long-term care residents receive an average of four hours of direct care every day.

“To our residents and to their families and caregivers, four hours a day will make a world of difference,” said Premier Doug Ford on Monday.

Ford also returned to the idea of at least partially reopening areas currently under modified stage 2 rules in Ontario’s four hot spots: Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa.

He said health officials are working on a plan to allow more open businesses in those areas to open again.

This morning’s newly reported cases remain concentrated in the same four public health units:

– Toronto: 315

– Peel Region: 269

– York Region: 81

– Ottawa: 64

Several other areas also saw double-digit increases:

– Durham Region: 32

– Hamilton: 30

– Simcoe Muskoka: 28

– Niagara: 24

– Windsor: 23

– Halton Region: 19

– Waterloo Region: 19

– Middlesex London: 11

– Eastern Ontario: 11

Possibility of reopening shuttered businesses

Ford said Monday that health officials are working on a reopening plan that’s set to go before his cabinet as early as Monday.

Last week, he revealed that he was asking the province’s health experts to come up with a way to allow more businesses to reopen in the areas hardest hit by the novel coronavirus.

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were all temporarily rolled back into a modified version of Stage 2 of the province’s COVID-19 recovery strategy on Oct. 10. That means the 28-day period of this initial rollback for the three regions is set to expire this coming Saturday.

According to its COVID-19 monitoring dashboard, Toronto’s seven-day average of new daily cases is about 327. Further, there is a city-wide 4.6 per cent positivity rate for tests, considerably above the short-term goal of less than three per cent.

In Peel, new daily cases have continued on an upward trend.

York Region, the only other public health unit currently in a modified Stage 2, entered more than a week later on Oct. 19.

“I listen to the health [experts], I listen to the folks who have small businesses, and there has to be a happy balance,” Ford said on Monday on the possible reopening.

Toronto Mayor John Tory’s office immediately issued a letter, co-signed by other GTA mayors, supporting the idea.

In it, Tory wrote that he wants businesses “to be able to reopen safely, and to remain open.”

Speaking later on Monday afternoon, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said she could provide no specifics on the plan since it was still being developed by the province’s health table.

“I don’t think anything is inevitable,” she said when asked if all four regions would have their restrictions lifted.

Yaffe did comment specifically on Ottawa, which has seen a lower number of daily cases lately, calling that a “very hopeful sign” for the city.

7-day average reaches all-time high

The total is a decline from those recorded over the weekend, with 1,015 and 977 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, but come as the province’s network of labs completed just more than 27,900 tests, far from its daily capacity of about 45,000. Public health officials said in September that they hoped to be processing upward of 68,000 tests per day by mid-November.

The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that limits noise in the data to provide a clearer picture of longer-term trends, has reached about 919, the highest at any point in the pandemic.

There are now some 8,096 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the first time that number has topped 8,000 and by far the most at any one time since the first case was confirmed in late January.

After reaching a second-wave high of 350 over the weekend, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed, active cases of the illness dropped to 328 in today’s report. The province noted, however, that about 40 hospitals did not submit data from their daily bed censuses — a common happenstance on Mondays — so the real figure of infected people in hospital is likely higher.

Of those, 75 are being treated in intensive care units and 45 are on ventilators.

4-hour standard of care

The new standard of long-term care is something advocates and health unions have long been pressing for, and was also one of the recommendations released by Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

Long-term care residents currently receive an average of 2.75 hours of direct care per day.

“That’s over 31 per cent increased care for our loved ones,” said Ford on Monday, adding that “thousands and thousands” more workers will need to be hired in order to get there.

A provincial release also lays out a timeline for hitting the new target by 2024-2025.

The Ontario Health Coalition, a public-health advocacy network, says that while it is happy with the new standard, the “timeline that [the province] has given is so long that it is meaningless for the people who are suffering and dying in long-term care now.”

They’re calling for more concrete hiring and training to occur sooner to increase the amount of care residents are receiving now.

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