Ontario reported another 2,275 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a single-day record that comes with an important caveat, according to the province.
Changes to how Public Health Ontario collects and analyzes cases mean that today’s figure includes 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the total number — but by how much is not yet clear.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday that the data swap doesn’t mean people should discount today’s numbers.
“Those are still disturbing numbers,” Elliott said, while advocating for people to follow public health guidelines.
“Please, just celebrate the holidays with your own household.”
The new cases include 711 in Toronto (the local count in the city was unaffected by the data changes), as well as 586 in Peel Region, 185 in Windsor-Essex and 154 in York Region.
They come as hospitalizations in Ontario near highs not seen since the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.
The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped considerably today, up to 921 from 857 yesterday, an increase of 64. Of those, 249 are being treated in intensive care and 156 require the use of a ventilator, up five and seven, respectively, from yesterday.
At the height of the first wave, hospitalizations topped out at 1,043, while ICU admissions peaked at 264.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
Durham Region: 92
Waterloo Region: 71
Halton Region: 65
Niagara Region: 65
Simcoe Muskoka: 55
Brant County: 28
Huron Perth: 12
Eastern Ontario: 11
Due to a one-time data clean-up, Ottawa reported -9 cases.
(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)
At the province’s daily news conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford called Ontario’s numbers “concerning.” When asked if he would consider a larger shutdown in the weeks after the holidays, Ford said “everything is on the table.”
The Ministry of Education also reported 319 new cases that are school-related: 270 students, 48 staff members and one person who was not identified. Some 913 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools, or about 18.9 per cent, have at least one case of COVID-19, while 20 schools are currently closed because of the illness.
The new cases push the seven-day average to 1,927, a new high.