TORONTO -- More than 500 critical care beds will be added to hospitals with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, the Ontario government announced Monday.

At least 35 of those beds will go to the Mackenzie Health's new Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, which is scheduled to open on Feb. 7 and will act as a province-wide resource for hospitals facing capacity issues.

“It’s like reinforcements coming over the hill,” Premier Doug Ford said of the facility, which the province says is the first net new hospital in over 30 years.

“With many of our hospital ICUs approaching full capacity or beyond, this new hospital is relief, its added capacity for all those heroes who are stretched to the limit right now.”

Once opened, the government says that the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital will also house 150 general medicine beds to support other hospitals to alleviate capacity pressure, with plans to provide care to patients across the western York Region once COVID-19 hospitalizations have stabilized.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Ontario Health told hospitals across the province to be ready to accept COVID-19 patients from the hardest-hit regions.

Matthew Anderson , President and CEO of Ontario Health, made the call on Jan. 7 while outlining the steps hospitals must take “immediately” to provide care for all patients in the province, whether they are infected with the novel coronavirus or not.

He said at the time that hospitals must reserve approximately one-third of their unoccupied adult ICU beds for transfers from other hospitals in Ontario that are exceeding their own capacity.

It’s unclear if the additional hospital beds announced today will be reserved exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

According to data released by the province on Monday, there are currently 1,571 patients in hospital with COVID-19 throughout Ontario. Of those, 394 patients are being treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) and 303 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Health officials have long said that when there are more than 300 patients in the ICU province-wide, non-COVID-19-related care becomes almost impossible to facilitate.

The government says that the beds announced today are in addition to the more than 3,100 beds funded by the province as part of its COVID-19 response.