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Ontario reports 184 new COVID-19 cases, premier urges people to wear masks in public|BCI CANADA

Ontario's government reported 184 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, while the number of people hospitalized with the illness continues on a downward trend.

The 0.6 per cent increase in cases brings the cumulative total in Ontario to 32,554, and marks the third day in a row where Ontario is reporting fewer than 200 cases.

Of those confirmed cases, just over 84 per cent are resolved. Some 218 cases were marked resolved on Monday.

At his daily press conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said he "highly" recommends that Ontarians wear face masks if they are out in public and can't physically distance from others.

Ford stopped short of making masks in public mandatory, however. "We just don't have the manpower for bylaw and police officers to be chasing people without masks," he said.

The province completed 21,724 COVID-19 tests yesterday, with 17,920 currently under investigation. That's the fewest number of tests seen in the province in six days, though Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in a tweet Tuesday that "Ontario remains the leader in daily COVID-19 testing in Canada and our positivity rate continues to be at all-time lows."

Ontario has now completed over a million COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic.

There are 413 patients currently hospitalized with the illness, down slightly from 419 the day before. The number of patients in intensive care units also dropped slightly, down to 98 from 104. Elliott said on Twitter that this marks the first time ICU admissions have been below 100 in the province since March 29.

The number of people on a ventilator in Ontario went up one, to 70.

"Locally, 27 of Ontario's 34 public health units reported five or fewer cases, with 14 of them reporting no new cases at all," Elliott said. "We're continuing to monitor case numbers in Toronto, Peel and Windsor as we assess when they might be ready to enter Stage 2."

Those three health units will be the only ones in the province still in the first stage of reopening as of this Friday, with the province poised to ease restrictions elsewhere.

Ford said Tuesday that as Ontario starts to reopen, the province has to ensure adequate hospital capacity, rebuild personal protective equipment stockpiles, keep testing numbers high, and put in workplace health and safety measures.

"We have to get it right. The worst thing we could do is rush into reopening," he said.

Ford also announced a provincial COVID-19 safety plan guide for businesses with sector-specific workplace safety guidelines. He asked Ontarians to shop local and plan vacations at provincial destinations this summer.

"It's up to all of us to support our local businesses," Ford said.

Ontario's official COVID-19 death toll has grown by 11 and is now 2,538. A CBC News count based on data from regional public health units puts the real toll at at least 2,579.

The highest number of confirmed cases is found in the 40 to 59 age bracket, at 9,974. A close second, however, is the 20 to 39 age bracket, at 9,115.

Researchers at the University of Guelph have found numbers of new cases continue to climb among people under the age of 20 in Ontario, making it the group increasing at the highest rate.

Provincial data shows 1,422 cases in the 19 and under age bracket.

The province is reporting 67 long-term care homes with active outbreaks, down two from the day before, and 240 homes with resolved outbreaks.

Ontario is also reporting 458 active cases in long-term care residents, down from 490 on Monday. Resident deaths now stand at 1,794 according to provincial data, up two from the day before.

CBC News

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