Today, the number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 fell below 2,000 for the first time in more than a month, as provincial officials added another 44 virus-related deaths to the province’s COVID-19 death toll.
Officials say the 44 deaths recorded today happened in the last 24 days, with four occurring on February 9, nine on February 8, and five on February 7.
COVID-19 patients in hospitals have decreased to 1,897 today, down from 2,797 seven days ago. According to the province, 445 COVID-19 patients are currently in the ICU, down from roughly 100 last week.
Of those hospitalized with the virus, the province says 56 per cent are people who were admitted for COVID-19 while 44 per cent were admitted for other reasons. In the ICU, 76 per cent of patients testing positive for COVID-19 were admitted due to the virus while 24 per cent were admitted for other reasons.
Another 3,201 COVID-19 cases were confirmed by provincial labs over the past 24 hours but this number is not a true reflection of the burden of infection in Ontario due to limits on who can receive a PCR test.
While the province announced Wednesday that it is expanding access to rapid antigen tests (RATs), which will now be distributed through grocery stores and pharmacies, it appears the Ontario government has no plans to broaden access to PCR tests to members of the general public. Officials also confirmed that the province will not be tracking positive rapid test results in any capacity.
Of the positive cases confirmed today, 425 involved people who are unvaccinated, 131 involve people who are partially vaccinated, 2,159 involve those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 486 involve people with an unknown vaccination status.
Officials say 22,417 tests were processed over the past 24 hours and the province is reporting a test positivity rate of 11.2 per cent, the lowest positivity rate reported since late December. Officials have previously said that Ontario has the capacity to complete up to 75,000 PCR tests each day but that number has not been approached since eligibility was significantly curtailed.
The number of outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario declined again week-over-week, dropping from 322 seven days ago to 236 today. Hospital outbreaks also dropped from 180 last Thursday to 120 today.
Premier Doug Ford is pushing for additional laws to speed up Ontario’s reopening plan, according to sources who spoke to CTV News Toronto.
Capacity limits in all indoor settings needing proof of vaccination will be withdrawn on Feb. 21 under the province’s current plan, and all remaining capacity limits will be erased by March 14.
According to Colin D’Mello of CTV News Toronto, Ford has personally requested that new regulations be drafted to expedite Ontario’s reopening, but it is unclear whether the provincial government plans to scrap vaccine passports or masking mandates, which other provinces have recently moved to eliminate.