The province announces a plan to boost contact tracing as daily testing hits a new high
Ontario reported 2,998 new cases of COVID-19 and 100 deaths on January 15.
The steep death toll is due to 46 deaths from earlier in the pandemic in Middlesex-London that weren’t reported at the time, Ontario Public Health said.
The province saw 3,326 new cases on Thursday, 2,961 on Wednesday and 2,903 on Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average dropped slightly to 3,273.
There are 800 new cases in Toronto, 618 in Peel, 250 in York Region, 161 in Waterloo and 153 in Niagara.
Public health officials have blamed the surge in cases on a “small” portion of the population that is not following COVID-19 protocols.
On Thursday, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health David Williams told reporters during a briefing that recent cases are due to New Year’s Eve gatherings.
Earlier in the month, the province saw a spike in infections following Christmas gatherings, he said.
In response to continuing COVID-19 spread, Premier Doug Ford declared a new state of emergency on January 12. A stay-at-home order took effect on January 14.
The premier undertook the moves after modelling data projected daily deaths to double from 50 to 100 deaths by the end of February, and intensive occupancy to hit 1,000 beds by early February.
This week, the province sent hospitals triage guidelines that critical doctors can use in determining how to prioritize patients when they are forced to deny care due to lack of beds.
Meanwhile, the province announced a plan to boost the contract tracing workforce to 1,600 staff by February 15.
Along with staff working in public health units and federal workers with Statistics Canada, the total number of case and contact tracers in the province will be close to 5,600.
Toronto Public Health has added 180 callers and case managers to focus on “rapid isolation of cases,” and the city is recruiting an additional 100 case managers to work on rapid isolation as the existing workforce concentrates on high-risk populations.
The province completed a new provincial high of 76,472 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a 3.9 per cent positivity rate.
A total of 174,630 vaccination doses have been administered as of January 15, including 17,094 completed vaccinations (both doses administered).
Active cases in the province have increased again to 28,825 after a slight dip on Wednesday. Hospitalizations decreased slightly to 1,647 from 1,657 the day before and intensive care patients are down by one to 387. A total of 280 of those patients are on ventilators.
Of the deaths reported today, 45 were among long-term care residents and one was a person between the ages of 40 and 59. There have been 407 deaths over the past week in Ontario.
To date, there have been 231,308 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario, including 197,194 resolved – up 3,380 from the day before. 5,289 people have died.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 800
Peel = 618
York Region = 250
Region of Waterloo = 161
Niagara Region = 153
Windsor-Essex County = 148
City of Hamilton = 138
Ottawa = 133
Durham Region = 113
Halton Region = 81
Simcoe Muskoka District = 73
Middlesex-London = 61
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 51
Lambton = 36
Eastern Ontario = 27
Brant County = 25
Huron Perth = 20
Southwestern = 19
Haldimand-Norfolk = 18
Chatham-Kent = 18
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District = 13
Grey Bruce = 8
Algoma = 7
Thunder Bay District = 6
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 5
Peterborough = 5
With files from NOW staff