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Ontario sees second day of record new COVID-19 cases

Posted: December 18, 2020

(December 17, 2020)

By: Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

Ontario reported 2,000-plus more COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row.

As Toronto Mayor John Tory urged the public to stay home for the holidays, the city confirmed 780 new cases Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office would only say the government intends to follow the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health,  for any additional restrictions on public behaviour or businesses over the holidays.

“Ontario is reporting 2,139 cases of #COVID19. Locally, there are 780 new cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham and 111 in Windsor-Essex County,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted Wednesday. “There are 2,043 more resolved cases and nearly 49,200 tests completed.”

The province saw 2,275 new cases Tuesday, although that number included 2 1/2 additional hours worth of cases than the usual 24-hour period.

Ontario reported 43 additional deaths related to the pandemic Wednesday, and 4,035 people have died in total since mid-January.

There were 932 COVID-19 patients in hospital, 256 in intensive care and 157 on ventilators.

Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) President and CEO Anthony Dale described the situation for hospitals as “sailing right into a hurricane this winter.”

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), said hospitals and long-term-care homes are overwhelmed despite opportunities over the past summer for the provincial government to prepare for the anticipated second wave of the pandemic.

People hear the COVID-19 numbers every day but might not realize what that means on the front lines, she said.

“They’re not seeing the people who are dying; they’re hidden away in long-term-care homes and they’re hidden away in ICUs,” Mehra said. “There’s no picture in front of them of what’s happening and so it’s all numbers.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the province needs a “post-holiday strategy” for January that includes in-workplace and in-school testing, and also paid sick and family-care days.

Dan Kelly, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said the Ontario government should “lockdown the big guys” if it plans to continue banning in-store sales for small retailers.

Many small business owners have expressed outrage that places like Walmart and Costco continue to sell non-grocery items while they’re limited to curbside pickup.

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