There are now 2,065 people in hospitals, including 726 intensive care unit patients
4:55 pm Ontario Premier Doug Ford has reversed a decision to ban playgrounds following a backlash.
“Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen,” Ford said in a tweet on Saturday. “Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced.”
On Friday, Ford announced outdoor recreational amenities, including playgrounds, soccer fields, BMX parks, baseball diamonds, basketball courts and golf courses, would be shut down effective today as part of new measures aimed at reducing mobility during the third wave.
Infectious disease experts have since questioned the scientific basis for the move in social media posts and press interviews.
Isaac Bogoch, a member of the provincial vaccination task force, said on Twitter today that closing outdoor recreational activities “does not make sense.”
“Outdoor activities are vital for mental & physical health, especially with stay-at-home orders,” he tweeted. “Science is clear: Outdoor COVID transmission is extremely rare.”
Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 17, 2021
Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced. Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.
12:32 pm Ontario is reporting a single-day increase of 4,362 new COVID-19 cases and 34 more deaths on April 17.
The seven-day average for new cases is now up to 4,370 compared with 3,371 on last Saturday.
The province reported an all-time high of 4,812 new cases on Friday, 4,736 on Thursday, 4,156 on Wednesday and 3,670 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions grew by 110 and crossed the 2,000 mark. There are now 2,065 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals, including 726 intensive care unit patients. Of those, 501 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Labs in the province completed more than 56,800 tests in the past day, making for a positivity rate of 6.9 per cent, up from 6.5 per cent a week ago.
On Friday, Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory table, said testing in Ontario remains flat so the increase in cases is because there are more cases, not because more testing is being done.
The province confirmed another 2,152 cases of the highly contagious variant of concern B117, which is now the dominant strain of the virus in the province.
“Locally, there are 1,162 new cases in Toronto, 936 in Peel, 430 in York Region, 301 in Durham and 251 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
To date, the virus has killed 7,698 people in Ontario. Of today’s deaths, one was age 20 to 39 years old and four were between ages 40 to 59 years old.
As of 8 pm last night, the province had administered 3,751,316 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 868,754 in Toronto.
Today’s numbers come as Premier Doug Ford extended the stay-at-home order in Ontario for two more weeks, closed provincial borders with Quebec and Manitoba and beefed up police powers to enforce pandemic restrictions.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 1,162
Peel Region = 936
York Region = 430
Durham = 301
Ottawa = 251
City of Hamilton = 211
Niagara Region = 151
Halton Region = 144
Middlesex-London = 117
Simcoe Muskoka = 114
Region of Waterloo = 84
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 72
Windsor-Essex = 70
Brant County = 46
Haldimand-Norfolk = 37
Eastern Ontario = 34
Porcupine = 31
Grey Bruce = 29
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge = 25
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark = 18
Hastings Prince Edward = 16
Southwestern = 15
Sudbury & Districts = 13
Peterborough = 12
Northwestern = 10
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 9
Thunder Bay = 7
Lambton = 6
Chatham-Kent = 5
Huron Perth = 5