Ontario reports 340 new COVID-19 cases as resort town mayors say few visitors have come | CBC News

Ontario reports 340 new COVID-19 cases as resort town mayors say few visitors have come | CBC News

Ontario has reported 340 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 22,653. The provincial health ministry says 1,881 people have died, 934 are in hospital, 171 are in intensive care units and 129 are on ventilators.

Members of the public wait in line outside a COVID-19 assessment centre located at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto in March. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario has reported 340 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 22,653.

The Ontario health ministry says a total of 1,881 people have died. A total of 17,360 people have recovered.

There are 934 people in hospital, with 171 in intensive care units. A total of 129 are on ventilators.

The daily growth rate stands at 1.5 per cent on Sunday, which is lower than Saturday’s growth rate of 1.8 per cent.

The number of people in hospital dropped noticeably, while there were also slight decreases in the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators.

The province was able to test more than 16,000 people on Saturday, which was a drop compared to Friday where more than 17,000 were tested.

A total of 4,414 tests are currently under investigation and awaiting confirmation.

“It’s important to note that the total samples tested ebbs and flows based on the tests coming in and out and what’s happening regionally on the ground,” Hayley Chazan, spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in an email on Sunday.

“We still have the capacity to test all the samples that are coming in and are testing more based on our expanded testing guidelines. We also continue to lead the country in daily testing volumes per capita.”

According to a count by CBC News using data from local public health units, a total of 1,970 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

2 small town Ontario mayors report few visitors

Two Ontario mayors, meanwhile, reported few visitors to their small towns on Sunday even though it is the May long weekend.

Interviewed by CBC Radio’s Fresh Air, Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi and Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith said people from the Greater Toronto Area have not come in droves to their towns.

“We did have some tourists yesterday, but certainly not the influx that we would normally have. And for the most part, people were being respectful,” Bifolchi said. 

“They were keeping their distance. They were respectful of the congregation numbers,” she added.

“I think, overall, the weekend so far has gone well.”

Bifolchi said cottage owners have come to Wasaga Beach, northwest of Toronto, to open their cottages but they seemed to be staying mainly on their properties.

Provincial parks are open but beaches are closed. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park includes 14 kilometres of beach, which is closed. People are allowed to use the trails in the park.

As of Friday, the town had 11 cases, with seven people having recovered and three still in isolation. There has been one death of COVID-19 in town.

“We’re doing really well here in Wasaga Beach. We are following the rules and keeping the numbers down so we just want to keep it that way.”

Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi says: ‘We did have some tourists yesterday, but certainly not the influx that we would normally have. And for the most part, people were being respectful.’ (Submitted by Michael Nichols)

In Bracebridge, located in Ontario’s Muskoka region, Smith said the town has been “pretty quiet” and the number of seasonal visitors and cottage owners in town has been low this weekend.

“I think Friday, which is normally a crazy day on a May long weekend, with everyone arriving at once, was very muted compared to what it would normally be,” Smith said.

“Yesterday, I was out in the community at about 4 p.m., and it was like a Wednesday evening as opposed to a long weekend.”

Smith said people from out of town were staying out of the stores on Saturday at least. 

He said the town was clear in its messaging before the weekend that this was a family weekend, “not a friends and family weekend,” and he thinks the message was received.

Ontario long-term care association calls for public inquiry

The Ontario Long Term Care Association, which represents 70 per cent of the province’s 630 long-term care homes, says it would support a public inquiry into the sector but believes more has to be done to support care homes right now as deaths continue to mount.

The association said a review would solve long-standing and systemic issues with the provincial model for care homes, but the unprecedented threat of COVID-19 means action on personal protective equipment, staffing levels and testing was required immediately.

Crosses have been laid out for the 50 residents who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 at Camilla Care Community in Mississauga, Ont. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

“Public inquiries are important, but they take years,” said Donna Duncan, CEO of the OLTCA, in a news release.

“We need to focus on immediate solutions to protect our residents and the front-line heroes who care for them — then thoughtfully address the long-standing systemic issues COVID-19 has highlighted.”

Duncan said staffing levels were already low before the pandemic, but a lack of personal protective equipment has exacerbated the problem by leaving workers vulnerable.

She also called on the province to continue prioritizing testing in long-term care homes and allowing for staffing flexibility through emergency orders.

“There is no simple solution, but we know we cannot wait any longer to address immediate issues and start to address the historic larger structural and systemic problems. This important work can only be done in collaboration with the government, all parties, and our labour and other health-care system partners like hospitals,” Duncan said.

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