It was another grim weekend in the fight against the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba, with public health officials reporting 649 new cases of the virus and 10 additional deaths.
Eight of the 10 deaths were connected to variants-of-concern; among the dead were two men in their 20s from Winnipeg.
During a 24-hour period beginning at noon Friday, there were 17 people infected with COVID-19 admitted into Manitoba intensive care units, further straining the already taxed healthcare system in the province.
That is the highest number of people admitted into ICUs with COVID-19 during a single 24-hour period during the entirety of the pandemic, a Shared Health spokesman said in a written statement Sunday.
There are currently 308 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba — including 74 in ICUs. Those figures don’t include the 32 COVID-19 patients Manitoba has sent to Ontario and Saskatchewan to alleviate strain on intensive care resources.
All told, there are 106 people from Manitoba in ICUs across three provinces.
Admissions into ICUs in Manitoba are now on pace to vastly outstrip what was seen last month. Since the start of May, there have been at least 225 COVID-19 patients transferred into ICUs.
In April, there were 50, according to information released by the province.
On Sunday, Manitoba reported 292 new cases of the virus, including 183 in Winnipeg. That came on the heels of 357 new cases reported Saturday.
Among the seven additional deaths reported Sunday were a man in his 40s from Winnipeg, as well as two men in their 60s from Winnipeg and the Interlake region, respectively.
There have now been 50,790 cases of COVID-19 reported in the province. There are currently 4,569 active cases.
The five-day test-positivity rate is 13.6 per cent in Winnipeg and 12.3 per cent province-wide. The number of lab tests completed on Saturday was 2,945, while testing data wasn’t available for Friday.
There were a combined 27,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered on Friday and Saturday. The province planned to administer an additional 7,395 doses of the vaccine on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Tobias Tissen, pastor of Church of God Restoration near Steinbach, continued to evade an arrest warrant during the weekend.
On Thursday, he revealed in a social media post he was wanted by police for repeated breaches of public health orders. Church of God Restoration has been repeatedly hit with fines from public health officials during the pandemic.
The news came in advance of a planned anti-mask rally at The Forks scheduled for Friday. While there were a few arrests of the main organizers, the rally went ahead as scheduled.
On Saturday, Tissen published a video on social media, filmed from an "undisclosed location," announcing he’d refused to turn himself into the police. In the video, he said he’d informed the Manitoba RCMP he planned to preach Sunday morning at his church.
A livestream of the church service was published to a Church of God Restoration social media page on Sunday morning. As vowed, Tissen participated in the church service, which appeared to be well attended.
When reached for comment, an RCMP spokeswoman directed the Free Press to the provincial government for inquires on COVID-19 enforcement.
In a video posted to social media Sunday afternoon, Tissen said he hadn’t expected the church service to go as smoothly as it did.
"Since (the police) didn’t take me here — we’re going to continue to make it hard for them," Tissen said.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.