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Ford urges people to download COVID-19 app as Ontario reports uptick in new cases

134 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in today’s Ministry of Health update

Ford urges people to download COVID-19 app-canada-mileniostadium
The COVID Alert app, launched Friday in Ontario, tracks the locations of phones relative to other phones, and notifies users if they have been in proximity to another app user who has been confirmed to have COVID-19. (MDC Media Group/@fanow)

Premier Doug Ford urged Ontarians to download the new COVID-19 exposure app as more of the province implements Stage 3 reopenings today.

“Please everyone, download the app,” said Ford at his daily news conference. “This will be a huge help as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today.”

The app is designed to tell users whether they have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous two weeks. It is now available to be downloaded by residents of Ontario.

Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the treasury board, also spoke at today’s press conference and said the more people download the app, “the more effective it will be.”

Residents can download the app to their mobile phones, which will use Bluetooth technology to exchange signals with other nearby phones. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, their public health authority will give that person a one-time key to enter in the app. It will then send notices to every phone that also has the app that has been within two metres of the infected person for at least 15 minutes.

Those who receive a notification will also receive instructions on what to do next. While government officials say the goal is to make the COVID Alert contact notification app available across the country and are in talks with other provinces, they could not say when it will be available outside Ontario.

Uptick in cases

Toronto and Peel Region are the latest regions to join the rest of Ontario in Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan this Friday.

Meanwhile, the province confirmed an additional 134 cases of the illness this morning after two straight days of fewer than 100.

The new cases are concentrated in Ottawa, Windsor-Essex, Peel and Toronto. Meanwhile, Southwestern Public Health, which serves the counties of Oxford and Elgin and the City of St. Thomas, reported 19 additional cases.

Ontario has now confirmed a total of 39,209 infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 89.5 per cent are resolved. Another 168 cases were marked resolved in today’s update.

Despite the relative increase in new daily cases, the number of active cases, 1,360, is at its lowest since infections peaked in the province.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus is also at its lowest, 78, since the Ministry of Health began reporting hospitalization data.

The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by three in today’s report, and now sits at 2,775. A CBC News count based on data from public health units puts the real toll at 2,806.

Ford stressed the importance of following public health advice ahead of the upcoming long weekend, and pointed to rising case counts in the U.S. after the July 4 long weekend as a cautionary tale.

“We don’t have to go down that road,” he said. “And it’s up to us to write the next chapter.”

CBC/MS

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