Ontario is starting to slip when it comes to COVID-19 testing
Deaths are up, testing is down, and the steady decrease in new cases of COVID-19 we've seen over the past few weeks appears to have plateaued as Ontario begins to reopen its economy.
The province's Ministry of Health confirmed 390 new coronavirus patients on Wednesday morning, marking a 1.7 per cent increase rate with a total case count of 23,774.
While more than 18,000 of those cases (roughly 76.5 per cent) are now considered to be "resolved," at least 1,962 people have now died as a result of contracting the virus, representing a mortality rate of 8.3 per cent across the province.
Forty-three new deaths were confirmed by public health officials this morning — a steep hike from the 15 reported yesterday — with 62.6 per cent of all deaths linked to long-term care homes by the Ministry of Health's estimation.
Testing is not great in Ontario right now.— Jamie Mitchell (@realJ_Mitchell) May 20, 2020
My biggest wondering from this is why...when much fewer tests are being done compared to last week...are so many more positives being discovered (7% yesterday, 5% today compared to under 3% last week).
When I say wondering I mean terror. https://t.co/pMwYlsz2X0
While nice to see the number of new cases dipping back below 400 after an overnight hike of 123 (from 304 to 427) between Sunday and Monday, another key public health indicator has been raising concerns among experts, as it did with Premier Doug Ford in early April.
The number of COVID-19 tests being processed per day has plummeted since the long weekend, with only 7,382 recorded completed on Tuesday and 5,813 completed Monday.
We should be seeing at least 20,000 tests per day completed by this point, according to the provincial government's own (revised) testing timeline, and yet rates are now worse than they've been in more than a month.
It's a puzzling (and worrying) trend to observe just as select business and service types begin to reopen for in-person patronage across the province.
Ontario's #COVID19 testing fell off a cliff yesterday...just 5,813 tests processed. Labs can test more than 21,000 daily. Epidemiologists regularly criticize the province for not testing enough to get a better picture of the virus as more stores re-open. #onpoli— Rob Ferguson (@robferguson1) May 19, 2020
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said on Tuesday that he believed the relatively low number of tests recorded the previous day were due Monday being a public holiday.
"The large inflow of people coming to get tested did not occur. It may be a weekend effect," he said.
This doesn't, however, quite explain Tuesday's low count of just under 7,400 tests — less than half of the number performed at the end of April, when the province was lauded for finally meeting its own targets with 16,532 tests performed in one day.
Whatever the reason, these numbers don't bode well for businesses hoping to get the green light from Ontario to reopen.
Williams has stated that he'll need to see a consistent decline in new case numbers, as well as sufficient enough testing to detect new outbreaks quickly, for two to four weeks before the province moves into Stage 2 of its plan to reopen the economy.
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