Ontario COVID-19 deaths up 37 as 510 new positive cases reported
There were four more reported outbreaks and 22 more deaths in long-term care facilities but the provincial numbers - dependent on input from local public health units - lags behind real time.
According to the province, 516 of those deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.
He also echoed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying the long-term care system needs to be improved, although he didn't specify in what way. "It is absolutely necessary to extend these emergency orders to continue keeping all Ontarians safe and healthy", said Premier Doug Ford.
"As a society we have a moral imperative to improve our long-term care system and to allow our residents and staff to be treated with respect and dignity".
"The system - we can do better", Ford said, pausing for a moment.
More assistance is on the way for long-term care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks such as Hastings Manor in Belleville, Premier Doug Ford told reporters Wednesday.
Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner on Wednesday voiced support for calling in the army to help in long-term care.
Last week, more than 100 miltary personnel were deployed to Quebec to aid in the fight against the coronavirus in that provinces senior's residences, and Premier Francois Legault has officially asked for another 1,000 members of the armed forces to help.
The province is also reporting 54 new COVID-19-related deaths as of Thursday morning, bringing the total to 713. That number has only grown - though the province's most recent public data, shared on their website on Wednesday, shows only 295 deaths among residents and patients in long-term care. That's the largest single-day increase in new cases so far, though the growth rate in total cases remains relatively low, at five per cent.
Ontario pushed the federal government Friday to provide a residential rent relief program, as Ottawa announced similar help for small businesses.
"But right now, our main focus is that we protect the people inside these long-term care homes".
Health-care workers in Ontario account for 1,626 of the total reported cases, which is 12.6 per cent of the infected population.
With many sectors of the economy struggling under the weight of COVID-19 closures, Ford promised Friday that a framework for the reopening of Ontario's economy will be released early next week.