Ontario reported another 948 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as the provincial government commits to a new standard that would see long-term care residents receive an average of four hours of direct care every day.

“To our residents and to their families and caregivers, four hours a day will make a world of difference,” said Premier Doug Ford on Monday, who said that the previous average was 2.75 hours. 

Ford will also said that reaching the new standard will mean thousands of new workers need to be hired, saying that that work will begin “in earnest, right now.”  

This morning’s newly reported cases are concentrated in four public health units:

Toronto: 315 Peel Region: 269 York Region: 81 Ottawa: 64

Several other areas also saw double-digit increases:

Durham Region: 32 Hamilton: 30 Simcoe Muskoka: 28 Niagara: 24 Windsor: 23 Halton Region: 19 Waterloo Region: 19 Middlesex London: 11 Eastern Ontario: 11

The total is a decline from those recorded over the weekend, with 1,015 and 977 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, but come as the province’s network of labs completed just more than 27,900 tests, far from its daily capacity of about 45,000. Public health officials said in September that they hoped to be processing upward of 68,000 tests per day by mid-November. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that limits noise in the data to provide a clearer picture of longer-term trends, has reached about 919, the highest at any point in the pandemic.

There are now some 8,096 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the first time that number has topped 8,000 and by far the most at any one time since the first case was confirmed in late January. 

After reaching a second-wave high of 350 over the weekend, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed, active cases of the illness dropped to 328 in today’s report. The province noted, however, that about 40 hospitals did not submit data from their daily bed censuses — a common happenstance on Mondays — so the real figure of infected people in hospital is likely higher. 

Of those, 75 are being treated in intensive care units and 45 are on ventilators.

Ontario also added seven new deaths to its official COVID-19 toll, which now stands at 3,152. Some 2,016, or about 64 per cent, of those deaths were residents in long-term care facilities. 

Currently, there are known outbreaks of COVID-19 in 74 of Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes. 

Four-hour standard of care

The new standard of long-term care is something advocates and health unions have long been pressing for, and was also one of the recommendations released by Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Comission. 

Long-term care residents currently receive an average of 2.75 hours of direct care per day.

“That’s over 31 per cent increased care for our loved ones,” said Ford on Monday, adding that “thousands and thousands” more workers will need to be hired in order to get to the new standard. 

Period of modified Stage 2 set to end Saturday

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa were all temporarily rolled back into a modified version of Stage 2 of the province’s COVID-19 recovery strategy on Oct. 10. That means the 28-day period of this initial rollback for the three regions is set to expire this upcoming Saturday. 

Premier Doug Ford previously said that public health experts would re-evaluate the situation in each health unit at the end of the four-week period, and determine what the next steps may need to be taken. 

According to its COVID-19 monitoring dashboard, Toronto’s seven-day average of new daily cases is about 327. Further, there is a city-wide, 4.6 per cent positivity rate for tests, considerably above the short-term goal of less than 3 per cent.

In Peel, new daily cases have continued on an upward trend.

York Region, the only other public health unit currently in a modified Stage 2, entered more than a week later on Oct. 19.

Have more questions about COVID-19 in Ontario? These CBC News stories will help:

What do the latest modelling numbers suggest about the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario?

Experts are forecasting the growth to slow, but to remain in the range of 800-1,200 new cases per day

How are hospitals coping?

CBC Toronto’s Mike Crawley has new reporting on data showing hospitals are back to pre-COVID levels of overcrowding

Why are fewer people dying during the second wave of COVID-19?

Experts say there are a range of factors, but warn there’s still cause for concern

Epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan says we are seeing a reduced number of COVID-19 deaths during the second wave because the long-term care population is better protected, but he warns that is starting to change. 0:31

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