Ont. reports 44 more virus-related deaths as number of COVID-19 patients in hospital dips below 2,000

Provincial officials added another 44 virus-related deaths to Ontario’s COVID-19 death toll today as the number of people hospitalized with the virus dipped below 2,000 for the first time in more than a month.

Officials say the 44 deaths logged today occurred in the last 24 days, including four on Feb. 9, nine of Feb. 8, five of Feb. 7.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has dropped to 1,897 today, down from 2,797 seven days ago. The province says 445 patients with COVID-19 are currently in the ICU, a decrease of about 100 from last week.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, the province says 56 per cent are people who were admitted for COVID-19 while 44 per cent were admitted for other reasons. In the ICU, 76 per cent of patients testing positive for COVID-19 were admitted due to the virus while 24 per cent were admitted for other reasons.

Another 3,201 COVID-19 cases were confirmed by provincial labs over the past 24 hours but this number is not a true reflection of the burden of infection in Ontario due to limits on who can receive a PCR test.

While the province announced Wednesday that it is expanding access to rapid antigen tests (RATs), which will now be distributed through grocery stores and pharmacies, it appears the Ontario government has no plans to broaden access to PCR tests to members of the general public. Officials also confirmed that the province will not be tracking positive rapid test results in any capacity.

Of the positive confirmed cases today, 425 involved people who are unvaccinated, 131 involve people who are partially vaccinated, 2,159 involve those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 486 involve people with an unknown vaccination status.

Officials say 22,417 tests were processed over the past 24 hours and the province is reporting a test positivity rate of 11.2 per cent, the lowest positivity rate reported since late December. Officials have previously said that Ontario has the capacity to complete up to 75,000 PCR tests each day but that number has not been approached since eligibility was significantly curtailed.

The number of outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario declined again week-over-week, dropping from 322 seven days ago to 236 today. Hospital outbreaks also dropped from 180 last Thursday to 120 today.

Sources have confirmed to CTV News Toronto that Premier Doug Ford is pushing for new regulations that would speed up the pace of Ontario’s reopening plan.

Under the province’s current plan, capacity limits will be lifted in all indoor settings requiring proof of vaccination on Feb. 21 and all remaining capacity limits will be eliminated by March 14.

According to CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello, Ford has personally asked that new regulations be drafted to accelerate Ontario’s reopening but it is not yet known if the provincial government plans to scrap vaccine passports or masking mandates, restrictions other province’s have moved to eliminate in recent days.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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