Ontario to start expanded testing this weekend, Premier Doug Ford says

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In hospitals around the province, there are 984 patients (down by seven since Wednesday), which includes 155 in intensive care (down by five) and 117 who require a ventilator (down by three).

"Let's start getting out there and testing everyone possible", Ford said Thursday, encouraging people with mild symptoms to get checked at assessment centers that previously rejected them.

After a reporter asked him why Ontario is not reaching the target, Ford said fewer people are going to assessment centres than expected. "Then we're going to go into communities where there's, as I say, the hot spots, and it's really the urban centres around Toronto that we've seen".

As Ontario's testing fails to meet even its own modest goals, Ford vowed he's being like an "800-pound gorilla" on the backs of public health officials to increase COVID-19 testing.

"As sure as I'm standing here, we're going to make sure we ramp it up", Ford said, adding that he also wants to see testing expanded to the general population, including random testing.

The Premier says he doesn't think people will give him trouble now that they've had a taste of freedom.

Ontario reported 441 new cases Friday, and 28 more deaths.

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Premier Doug Ford says Ontario will be testing symptomatic and asymptomatic front-line health-care workers starting this weekend, as well as doing a second round of testing in long-term care homes.

Ross Romano, Ontario's Minister of Colleges and Universities, said he was not surprised to see so many promising efforts coming out of the province's post-secondary institutions.

"If you owed money from our "loans for tools program", you're not going to owe that money anymore", Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said. That brings the province to a total of 24,187 cases, which is an increase of 1.7 per cent over the previous day. The province has reported another 413 new cases of COVID-19, which marks a continuation of a worrying upward trend.

"We're planning to rectify that", Williams said.

"It's not about me", he said in response to criticisms of his approaches to reopening. This is the highest number we have seen in two weeks. The province says 1,993 people have died of the disease, while another 18,509 cases have resolved.

Lemieux said the government needs to test for, and find, people who have COVID but whose symptoms are so mild they don't even know it.

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