On Friday, provincial health officials logged 1,076 infections of the novel coronavirus. To support school reopening, over 4,000 ID NOW rapid diagnostic tests have been distributed to assessment centres for the rapid testing of symptomatic children in areas where turnaround times for results are above target.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 361 new cases in Toronto, 210 in Peel Region, and 122 in York Region.
The spending will not affect Ontario's overall fiscal picture and the province still expects to rack up a deficit of $38.5 billion, something Bethlenfalvy said will eventually need to be addressed.
The data showed that with no restrictions in place, in a best-case scenario, Ontario could see roughly 2,000 cases a day by the end of March.
Meanwhile, Ontario's minister of long-term care apologized Thursday afternoon for a statement earlier in the day that claimed all residents in the province's long-term care homes had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ontario conducted 62,012 tests on Thursday with a 2.2% positivity rate, another improving measure of the pandemic.
The province could see "exponential growth" of the variant that emerged in the United Kingdom if it lifts public health measures and is unable to significantly reduce the rate at which the virus spreads, Brown added.
The province began a gradual reopening of its economy Wednesday by lifting the stay-at-home order for three regions with low daily case counts and community transmission.
With the 18 new deaths confirmed by health officials on Friday, the province's death toll is now 6,632.
There were an additional 18 deaths related to COVID-19, at least eight in long-term care (LTC) residents.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of people with COVID-19 that were in hospitals fell by 65, down to 883. Of those patients, 295 are in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 204 of those 295 patients are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
The province has had 283,587 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since January 2020, and 264,450 have recovered.
There are now 12,496 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, down from 15,722 one week ago.
The province says 15-thousand-605 more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since yesterday's report. In Ontario, 151,282 total vaccinations have been completed as of Friday.
Public health testing has spotted three cases of the South African variant, but results were still out on a potential case of the Brazilian variant in Toronto.
As such, the category each region is placed ultimately depends on their local case rates and any sudden increase in infections could lead to a change in direction.
"All arrows are pointing in the right direction", infectious disease specialist Dr. Issac Bogoch told CP24 on Friday morning.
The expansion comes amid growing concerns about COVID-19 variants, which experts have warned are more transmissible and could derail progress made to contain virus spread.
He added, "as always I think we have to proceed with caution".