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Premier to release ‘really stark’ projections Friday as Ontario confirms 401 new COVID-19 cases

Ontario confirmed 401 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 2,793.

The tally includes 16 new deaths, putting Ontario’s official death toll at 53, as well as 831 cases considered resolved.

Another 2,052 people are awaiting test results, 1083 fewer than the previous 24 hours. A total of 62,733 tests have been administered.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford promised a full briefing from the province’s health experts on Friday to explain “where this could go.” Ford says the people of the province “deserve to see” the same data he sees.

“People are going to see some really stark figures tomorrow,” Ford said.

The premier said the situation is “extremely serious,” and again implored people to stay home.

“It is a matter of life and death.”

The updated figures from the province are a snapshot of the COVID-19 situation as of 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, meaning the current death toll is higher.

A Bobcaygeon nursing home, for instance, reported two more deaths of residents in a COVID-19 outbreak there early this morning, bringing the total to 16 in that facility. The local health unit believes the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home is the largest in the province, with at least 24 staff members also infected.

For the first time, Ontario is also reporting data on hospitalizations, how many COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units, and how many cases have required a ventilator:

  • 405 infected people have been hospitalized.
  • 167 of those are in ICUs.
  • 112 patients are on ventilators.

Numbers will be ‘challenging’

Meanwhile, without going into specifics, Dr. David Williams, the chief medical health officer, said some people might find the numbers challenging.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Williams said his office has had scientists working hard at the modelling to get the information to provincial authorities.

“The more data we can give them, the more able they are to make some better projections and forecast in that sense. My point always with those things [is that] they give us an idea of what we should prepare for,” Williams said.

“I really feel that by what we’re doing we can still bend the curve. I think the numbers as always will be challenging as people see what might progress.”

3 deaths at long-term care home in Toronto

Meanwhile, CBC News has learned of three deaths at a long-term care home in Toronto.

Mary Hoare, CEO of St. Clair O’Connor Community Nursing Home, told CBC News the three deaths — all related to COVID-19 — happened Thursday morning.

These are the first COVID-19-related deaths at the home since the outbreak of the deadly respiratory illness.

On Thursday, City of Toronto officials announced a new bylaw that prohibits people from standing within two metres of each other in city parks and public squares — and failing to comply could mean a fine of up to $5,000.

Health officials also offered the following breakdown of cases since Jan. 15, 2020:

  • 48.5 per cent are male, while 50.9 per cent are female.
  • 32.3 per cent are 60 years of age and older.
  • Greater Toronto Area public health units account for more than 53 per cent of cases.

The newly confirmed cases in Ontario push the Canada-wide total to 10,132.

Ford also announced Thursday that the province is pledging $12 million to online mental health supports for those who are struggling as isolation measures continue.

“You are not alone. We’re listening. We care,” Ford said.

The association that represents Ontario’s hospitals is sounding the alarm about dwindling supplies of personal protective equipment.

The Ontario Hospital Association says it is “extremely concerned” that many of the facilities are running low.

It says that as the number of COVID-19 cases in acute care units rise, many hospitals are experiencing a shortage, especially of masks.

The association is calling on the federal and provincial governments to clearly communicate when new supplies will be provided to specific hospitals.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey today announced $2.7 million for community agencies to support victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province is also investing $1.3 million in technology to help courts and tribunals operate remotely.

Support for veterans

Meanwhile, Royal Canadian Legion branches are adapting their services to support veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s also warning that financial pressures could result in the closure of some branches.

The head of the national veterans and community service group says that despite the shut down of most branches, volunteers continue preparing hot meals, delivering groceries and providing online social links to struggling veterans.

Dominion President Thomas Irvine says the efforts come at a time when legion branches themselves are under considerable financial strain because of the pandemic.

He says their main sources of income — in-house restaurants and bars, as well as hosted events — have been cut off.

Power grid concerns

A group of personnel key to keeping Ontario’s electricity system functioning may end up locked down in their control centres due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This according to the head of the province’s power operator.

Independent Electricity System Operator CEO Peter Gregg says the measure has so far proven unnecessary.

He says that while about 90 per cent of staff were sent to work from home on March 13th, another 48 control-room operators deemed essential are still going into work.

He says it could come to a point where they can’t leave the workplace because without them, the power grid would fail.

With files from The Canadian Press

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