St. Michael's Hospital declares an outbreak among ER staff as Doug Ford tries to explain low testing numbers
Ontario reported 790 cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths on October 21, down slightly over the previous day.
The province confirmed 821 new infections on Tuesday, 704 on Monday, 648 on Sunday and 805 on Saturday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said labs in the province carried out 32,600 tests in the past day. The number is up over Tuesday, but still well below Ontario’s daily capacity of 50,000 tests.
During a press conference at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Doug Ford blamed the low numbers on people not showing up to get tested.
“We can’t force people to come in for a test,” he said, adding he’s not sure why people aren’t getting tested. He speculated that people “aren’t showing symptoms” and urged people with symptoms to book an appointment to be tested.
The low testing numbers follow a period where testing centres in Toronto were overwhelmed with people.
That caused a large backlog in test specimens and prompted the government to shift from allowing walk-in testing for asymptomatic people to appointment-only testing for symptomatic people or people who were exposed to a positive COVID-19 case.
The testing backlog now stands at 29,332.
Meanwhile, four regions continue to drive Ontario’s daily case count.
“Locally, there are 321 new cases in Toronto, 157 in Peel, 76 in York Region and 57 in Ottawa,” Elliott added. “There are 719 more resolved cases.”
Hospitalizations dropped from 274 to 260 on Wednesday. There are 71 people in intensive care including 49 on ventilators.
On Tuesday evening, St. Michael’s Hospital confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak among emergency room staffers.
“As of this morning (Oct. 20), there are five active COVID-19 positive staff related to this outbreak. No patient cases have been identified to date,” the statement said. “Outbreak status means the unit has had two COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period, where both cases could reasonably have been acquired in hospital.”
The ER remains open and exposure risk for patients remains low, the hospital said.
Toronto Western, St. Joseph’s and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health are also dealing with outbreaks as Ontario’s COVID-19 resurgence continues.
To date, there have been 66,686 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Of those, 57,325 are resolved and 3,062 people have died.
The following regions reported five or more cases of COVID-19:
Toronto = 321
Peel Region = 157
York Region = 76
Ottawa = 57
Durham Region = 43
City of Hamilton = 34
Halton Region = 24
Niagara Region = 19
Region of Waterloo = 15
Simcoe Muskoka = 13
Eastern Ontario = 9
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 5