Published Tuesday, December 15, 2020 10:14AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 15, 2020 11:57AM EST
But Tuesday’s data also revealed troubling increases in hospitalizations, test positivity and hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Twenty more Ontarians died of novel coronavirus infection, brining the total dead since March to 3,992.
The province reported 1,940 cases on Monday, 1,677 on Sunday, and 1,873 new cases on Saturday.
“Locally, there are 711 new cases in Toronto, 586 in Peel, 185 in Windsor-Essex County and 154 in York Region," Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
The Ministry of Health said Tuesday’s total is also higher because they changed the cut-off time for when local public health units can submit data to the province, meaning Tuesday’s count allowed 2.5 more hours for data to be submitted than earlier days.
There are now more than 17,000 active cases of infection across the province, the highest that number has ever been, and 123,000 people have recovered.
One-hundred and eighty-four people have died of the virus in the past week. Only one of the deaths reported on Tuesday involved a resident of a long-term care home.
Test positivity reached 5.4 per cent, with 39,500 tests completed and another 45,770 specimens under investigation.
The number of people hospitalized in the province hit 921 today, up from less than 800 one week ago, with 249 patients in intensive care and 156 breathing with the help of a ventilator.
However, the Critical Care Services of Ontario report for Dec. 14, obtained by CP24 showed 267 COVID-19 positive patients in intensive care, as well as two children and one baby.
While the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed to small groups of healthcare workers in Toronto and Ottawa, infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 the burden Ontario’s existing active caseload is placing on GTA hospitals is zapping some of his enthusiasm about the vaccine.
“When we’re sustaining that burden of new cases per day, we know that a small but real percentage of them are going to need healthcare, and a small but real percentage of them are going to be admitted to hospital, and a small percentage of them are going to land in intensive care and sadly some of these individuals are going to die.”
“It’s not a good place. We are watching healthcare systems primarily in and around the Toronto area get stretched beyond capacity.”
Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region reported 65 new COVID-19 cases, Durham Region reported 92 and Hamilton reported 99 new cases.
The high numbers on Tuesday prompted Ontario’s opposition to issue statements urging Premier Doug Ford to do more to stem the tide.
“As we head into the holidays, Mr. Ford is condemning families to more pain and suffering because he just doesn’t want to spend the money, so instead he’s waving a white flag in the fight against COVID,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said, referring to the $12 billion in contingency funding the PCs had set aside as of Sept. 30. “We can take some comfort knowing that the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, but that can’t be an excuse to stop taking urgent and necessary actions today.”
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca said Ford’s granting of new privileges for a small evangelical university (whose leader vociferously supported Ford in the PC Party leadership race) and changes to wildlife conservation passed this fall showed the premier was distracted from COVID-19 response at a time when it mattered.
“Doug Ford’s priorities this fall were rewarding his bigoted friend Charles McVety, and gutting our conservation authorities. He was focused on helping his buddies and forgot about the rest of us.”