Ontario reported another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 more deaths of people with the illness on Wednesday, as the government said it is expanding its workplace enforcement effort to include farming operations and essential businesses in the service sector.
The new cases include 925 in Toronto, 473 in Peel Region, 226 in York Region and 179 in Windsor-Essex County (which continues to see a huge strain on its ICUs).
They come as Ontario’s network of labs processed 54,307 test samples for the novel coronavirus — a third straight day well below the system’s capacity of more than 70,000 — and logged a test positivity rate of 4.9 per cent.
The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555.
Meanwhile, the province said in a news release up to 300 inspectors will be involved in the enforcement blitz. The first campaign is to be held in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, with 10 others planned so far in Toronto, Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough and Leeds Grenville Lanark.
The announcement comes after Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted 240 big-box stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the weekend and found about 69 per cent of locations were in compliance with public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Similar actions last December found about 67 per cent compliance. The most common infractions were not wearing masks, not having a safety plan and not screening people in the workplace, the province said.
The government specifically identified the following types of workplaces for its expanded campaign:
- Retail establishments, including big-box stores
- Restaurants providing take-out meals
- Essential service-sector establishments, such as gas stations
- Farming operations, particularly those that employ temporary foreign workers
More to come.