Ontario to reveal reopening details as new COVID-19 cases at lowest since March

Ontario to reveal reopening details as new COVID-19 cases at lowest since March
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TORONTO — Ontario will reveal more details Thursday on the first stage of its reopening plan, as the province reported its lowest increase in new COVID-19 cases since March.

Premier Doug Ford teased “good news” early this week, saying people have been following pandemic protocols and the plan will include reopening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services.

Stage 1 in the province’s reopening framework also includes allowing more people to gather at certain events such as funerals, as well as allowing hospitals to resume some non-urgent surgeries.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 258 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 33 more deaths.

That brings Ontario to a total of 21,494 cases, which is a 1.2 per cent increase over the previous day — the lowest growth rate since early March. The number of new cases is the lowest since late March.

The total includes 1,798 deaths and 16,204 cases that have been resolved, which is now more than 75 per cent of the total.

Hospitalizations increased, though the numbers of people in intensive care and on ventilators decreased.

Nearly 17,500 tests for COVID-19 were completed in the previous day, as the province works toward a goal of processing 20,000 per day.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams is set to release expanded COVID-19 testing guidelines Thursday, which will say anyone with symptoms can be tested.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that doing so “will help identify and contain new cases and monitor any shifts in community spread to keep Ontarians safe.”

She said nearly every long-term care home resident and worker has now been tested, so testing will expand to other vulnerable populations, including people in retirement homes, shelters and group homes.

Previous testing guidelines relied on “clinical assessments” of patients, while also prioritizing certain groups such as front-line workers, people in long-term care, and essential workers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2020.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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