Ontario logs another 17 deaths as hospitalizations continue to fluctuate

Ontario is reporting another 17 deaths related to COVID-19 as hospitalizations continue to fluctuate.

There are 1,662 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, including 210 patients in intensive care.

This represents a slight decrease in overall hospitalizations, but also a rise in ICU admissions.

At time of publication, the province had not updated its breakdown of patients being treated for COVID-19 or who tested positive after the fact.

The 17 new deaths confirmed Friday occurred over the past month and bring Ontario’s death tally to 12,938.

Three of the deaths were in long-term care residents.

With just over 17,700 COVID-19 tests processed in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health says the province’s positivity rate now stands at about 13.8 per cent. Ontario’s positivity rate has remained under 15 per cent for just over a week.

Officials logged 2,418 new lab-confirmed infections on Friday, although due to continued PCR testing restrictions this number is an underestimation.

At the same time, wastewater data released by the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table continues to see the concentration of the novel coronavirus decrease in all regions.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Susy Hota told CP24 Friday that while hospitalizations are starting to come down, it's taking a while to do so.

“We're kind of stabilized out at around 1,700 patients across Ontario hospitals with COVID and that's a lot. It is really kind of adding to the stress of everything," she said.

"Thankfully, it looks like the wave is already starting to come down in all regions within the province. But in the next several weeks and months there's still a lot of recovery that needs to happen in the hospitals.”

Hota's comments come as three public health units are calling for mask mandates to be reinstated in schools and other indoor settings as they struggle with hospital admissions.

As it stands, masks are only mandatory on public transit and in health-care settings in Ontario.