Ontario reported 112 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the provincial government gets set to introduce new legislation that would enable the extension of some pandemic emergency orders over the next year.
The additional cases bring the total in Ontario since the outbreak began to 36,060. Of those, 87.6 per cent are resolved.
Another 177 instances were marked resolved yesterday, according to the Ministry of Health, meaning there are currently about 1,723 active cases of COVID-19 provincewide.
Twenty-eight of Ontario’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer new cases, while 23 of those 28 confirmed no additional cases at all, Minister of Health Christine Elliott noted in a series of tweets.
Only Toronto, Peel and York reported 10 or more new cases, with 30, 39 and 10, respectively.
Testing levels, however, dropped considerably. The province’s network of about 30 labs processed just 15,122 test samples, the fewest since June 1.
Further, after Ontario officially reported zero additional COVID-19-linked deaths in yesterday’s update, only two more were confirmed today. That puts the province’s official death toll at 2,691, though a CBC News count based on data directly from public health units puts the actual toll at 2,734.
After steadily declining over the last week, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped up slightly, to 131 from 118. Thirty-four are being treated in intensive care units, while 24 require ventilators.
Plan to extend emergency orders
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says she will introduce a bill at the provincial legislature today that would allow the government to extend some emergency orders into next year.
The proposed law would allow the government to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time, with the law expiring a year after it’s passed.
Under current legislation, the province can only issue emergency orders while the state of emergency is in place.
Ontario’s state of emergency is set to expire July 15 and Premier Doug Ford has said he hoped not to extend it again.
If the bill passes, the government could move parts of the province back to earlier stages of the pandemic lockdown if required.
It could also continue the redeployment of health-care staff and change public health orders limiting social gatherings.
Emergency orders that permit the pick-up and delivery of cannabis and prohibit price gouging on essential goods will not be included in the bill, and will expire next week.
Ontario first declared a state of emergency March 17 when the province’s COVID-19 cases began to increase.
It has subsequently issued a series of emergency orders that have been extended a number of times since the start of the pandemic.
Jones said the legislation is needed to “bridge the gap” between the strict lockdown and public health measures required to initially flatten the virus curve, and the less stringent conditions needed as COVID-19 case numbers improve.
“It allows us to transition away from the declaration of emergency, which is an important signal to people that we’re on our way out,” she said.
“But it also allows us to ensure that — because frankly, we don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19 — that we still can keep in place the important tools we need.”
Jones said the bill will also introduce additional reporting requirements to bolster oversight. The government will have to report any emergency order extensions to a legislative committee once every month and table a report on the use of the law six months after it expires.
“We want to make sure that we’re not over-using the declaration of emergency,” she said.
Kingsville, Leamington move into Phase 2
The towns of Kingsville and Leamington are joining the rest of the province in Phase 2 of the government’s reopening plan.
Ford announced Monday that the communities, which were the final two towns in Stage 1 of the process, would move up as of 12:01 a.m.
Ford says COVID-19 outbreaks on local farms are under control and community spread of the virus is low.
Most of the Windsor-Essex region, except for those two towns, moved to the second stage of reopening on June 25.
The government dispatched a team from Emergency Management Ontario to the region last week to help co-ordinate health care and housing for hundreds of agri-food workers who have tested positive for the virus.
Ford said Monday he will be visiting the region soon, and thanked people in Kingsville and Leamington for their patience in recent weeks.