Ontario COVID-19 cases spike in Windsor-Essex, Ottawa and among those under age 44

Spiking infections in Windsor-Essex and Ottawa are fuelling a recent rise in Ontario COVID-19 case numbers that’s not yet being felt equally across the province.

According to the Star’s count, the overall rate of infections has begun to rise again in the province after slowing through the first half of July. As of Saturday, Ontario’s 34 regional health units had reported an average of 158 new cases per day over the previous week. That’s up about 35 per cent from July 12 — when the same average hit a recent low of 117 cases daily — but still well down from the peak of nearly 600 per day in late April.

In a tweet, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said two-thirds of Saturday’s new infections were among people under 44. She also touted a “milestone,” saying the province passed two million completed COVID-19 tests.

Unlike during the April peak, the recent rise has been being fuelled by a growing number of infections outside the GTA. For the second day in a row, Windsor-Essex reported the largest number in the province: 32, tied with Toronto, which has a much larger population and is continuing to see case counts fall to their lowest levels since late March.

The Windsor-Essex health unit continues to report significant numbers of new infections among farmworkers daily; the unit says it has found 10 active workplace outbreaks, including six at farms.

Ottawa reported the third-most new infections Saturday at 28. Late last month, the nation’s capital was regularly in the low single digits; in the last week, the unit saw an average of 25 per day.

Ottawa was one of 24 units to enter Phase 3 of reopening on July 17. Windsor-Essex, Toronto and the rest of the GTA have not yet reached Phase 3.

Quebec, which recently increased testing capacity to more than 16,000 a day, reported 171 new cases Saturday.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Ontario health units had reported a total of 40,619 confirmed or probable cases with 2,794 deaths, up by 128 cases and two deaths in 24 hours. Both deaths reported Saturday came in Toronto.

In its morning update, the province reported 97 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 30 in intensive-care units of whom 21 are on a ventilator — all among the lowest totals the province has reported since early April.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. It also cautions that its latest count of total deaths may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

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Ed Tubb
Ed Tubb is an assignment editor and a contributor focused on crime and justice for the Star. He is based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @edtubb