Ontario reported 977 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as nine new deaths were recorded for the third straight day.
The daily case count recorded over the past 24 hours marked the fourth-highest daily tally recorded in the province since the pandemic began.
Sunday's numbers showed 350 people in the province are being treated in hospital with 72 of them in intensive care and 46 on ventilators.
Of the 350 hospitalizations, 30 came in the last day.
The bulk of the new cases remained concentrated in four regions long-identified a COVID-19 hot spots.
Provincial figures showed 279 of the latest cases were reported in Toronto, 238 in neighbouring Peel Region, 130 in Ottawa and 113 in York Region.
The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that helps provide a clearer view of longer-term trends, now sits at 904, marking a slight drop from Saturday.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Sunday that the province has conducted more than 37,100 tests since the last daily report, well below capacity.
A number of other areas saw double-digit increases as well:
Durham Region: 31
Waterloo Region: 26.
Brant County: 25 — An increase of 22 from Saturday.
Simcoe Muskoka: 23
Halton Region: 16.
The new data brings Ontario's death toll to 3,145 victims and means 65,581 of 76,707 cases have been resolved.
The update comes after 1,015 cases were reported on Saturday, the second-highest number recorded since the outbreak began in late January.
Brampton's positivity rate hits 9.6%
Meanwhile, health officials and even Brampton's mayor are sounding the alarm over the city's 9.6 per cent test positivity rate.
At 9.6 per cent, this week's Peel Health surveillance report shows an increase of 1.5 per cent over last week, but experts say if the positivity rate is five per cent, transmission rates are considered under control.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown says the city has one of the highest percentages of essential workers which contributes to the high case counts the city is seeing.
"We have a greater number of essential workers. We have 11,000 people working in transportation logistics, 8,500 working in food processing," Brown said.
On Saturday, Public Health Ontario reported 282 new COVID-19 cases in Peel, a record high for the region.
Officials project between 800 and 1,200 new cases daily
The numbers trending upwards for Ontario comes days after health officials unveiled new projections for the virus's outlook and said the province will likely be heading in the right direction despite numbers that have remained high over the past week.
The numbers also mirror projections made by health officials that have predicted Ontario would likely settle into a range of 800 to 1,200 new daily cases for the next several weeks.
"Most indicators are showing slow in growth in COVID-19 cases, the trajectory appears to be moving away from the worst case, but cases are continuing to climb," said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and one of the people who helped guide the analysis.
"So this is not that we have crested and are now coming back down the other side of the epidemic curve -- we're just getting to a slower period of growth within that curve."
Still, Ford said Friday that he was mulling lifting some of the regulations meant to quell the spread of COVID-19 in hot spots including Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York.
The 28-day restrictions closed gyms and banned indoor dining at restaurants and bars, angering the business community who complained shutdowns were killing their companies.
Ford insisted the closures were the right thing to do.
The province is still far from being rid of the virus and hospitals remain under siege from outbreaks.
Metrolinx bus driver tests positive for COVID-19
Meanwhile, a Metrolinx bus operator has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for the company.
Aikins said the driver covers GO Bus Route 36 between Brampton and York Mills.
The last day of work for the driver was Oct. 25.
Aikins said of over 4,300 Metrolinx employees, 21 have tested positive for COVID-19 and all have recovered or are recovering at home. Four of those employees have tested positive in the past week.
"The pattern of infections [in Ontario] certainly mirrors in our organization as well, except that the numbers are much lower," Aikins said in an interview with CBC Toronto Sunday.
She added that all appear to have contracted the virus outside of the workplace and not while taking transit or at a worksite.
Ontario sees 30% drop in PSWs, union says
Meanwhile, the largest union representing front-line workers in Ontario's long-term care homes says there are now 30 per cent fewer workers than before the pandemic.
Sharleen Stewart, head of SEIU Healthcare, which represents more than 60,000 front-line health-care workers in Ontario, says personal support workers (PSWs) have left in droves since May and are not coming back.
She blames the poor pay for personal support workers and the dearth of full-time jobs.
Stewart says most jobs for PSWs in both for-profit and non-profit homes across the province are part time.
Her comments came in recent testimony before the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.
The commission is investigating how the novel coronavirus spread in the long-term care system and will submit its final report on April 30, 2021.