Various media reports are circulating, claiming that Premier Ford will hold a news conference in the next 24-hours to offer more details about Ontario’s plan to reopen. Reports suggest the ban on outdoor recreational activities may be lifted at some point during, or immediately after the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend. This will be great news for golf and tennis fans but many are waiting to hear the details and what new restrictions may be imposed. The return of non-essential retail stores and restaurants is expected to be delayed several more weeks with reports indicating that patio dining will not return to the province until June. Ontario is currently under a stay-at-home order until June 2nd.
The province’s solicitor general is suggesting that outdoor activities may not resume before the long weekend — she cites the usual spike in cases that happens during holidays/celebrations. #onpoli
— Colin D'Mello CTVNews (@ColinDMello) May 19, 2021
Canada’s Privacy Commissioners Have Legitimate Concerns About Vaccine Passports:
Canada’s privacy commissioners say proof-of-vaccination certificates are an encroachment on civil liberties and should only be issued after careful consideration. A joint statement was issued yesterday by federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners that said vaccine passports must comply with applicable privacy laws and incorporate best practices to resume pre-pandemic life. Such passports, whether in paper or digital form, can help someone prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they have immunity, opening the door to travel, services and facilities.
The Bans on Most Surgeries Has Been Lifted:
The Ontario government says the lifting of a ban on non-urgent surgeries doesn’t mean the immediate resumption of procedures across the province. Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams has rescinded an emergency order issued April 20th due to a decline in COVID-19 infections. Williams says hospitalizations and intensive care admissions also appear to be trending downward, giving some hospitals the capacity to re-start non-urgent surgeries. But a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliot says the resumption will not be uniform across the province because it’s dependent on hospital capacity.
Canada Making Improvements on Vaccination:
Canada is expected to edge ahead of the United States today in at least one of the markers in the race to herd immunity against COVID-19. Almost 18-million Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. By the end of the day, nearly 49 per cent of all Canadians should have their first shot — which will be a percentage point ahead of the US. But we remain far behind the pack in the full-vaccination race, with fewer than four per cent of Canadians fully immunized.
Adjusting the Provincial Death Toll to Include Non-COVID Factors:
The province’s scientific advisory body has issued a report saying Ontario has seen a nearly 13 per cent increase in the number of deaths during the pandemic. The report says “excess deaths” include infection from COVID-19 as well as causes that are likely related to the pandemic, but not due to the virus itself. That includes deaths caused by delayed or deferred access to medical care and by worsening mental health and substance use. The COVID-19 Science Advisory Table arrived at the findings using cremation figures compared with the expected number of deaths using the previous year’s data.
New Calls for Action on the Opioid Crisis:
The Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association is urging the provincial government to take swift action to change the course of the opioid crisis. It’s making the call after the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network released a report saying opioid-related deaths were up nearly 80 per cent from February of last year to December. The mental health association says the deadly addictions crisis has nearly doubled in severity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and there are no signs of it slowing down. CMHA Ontario says fentanyl continues to drive the increases and it is repeating its call for more harm reduction services, including safe consumption sites and safer opioid supply.
Airlines Want to Fly Again:
Canada’s largest airlines are renewing their call for a clear plan from Ottawa on resuming international travel. The EU has agreed to a plan that would allow fully vaccinated travellers to visit the 27-nation bloc, as well as relax restrictions for all travels from some other countries that are deemed COVID-19-safe. Mike McNaney of the National Airlines Council of Canada lauded the EU for its science-based approach. He says the federal government should say when it will remove or adjust travel restrictions for those who are vaccinated against COVID-19. Until supply catches up with demand, it is unlikely the Trudeau government will announce plans to allow vaccinated Canadians to have more freedoms.
Our release 👇re: announcement by the EU Commission recommending fully vax travellers be able to enter the EU, and call for 🇨🇦 gov't to urgently develop a clear re-start plan for aviation including treatment of vax passengers #cdnpoli https://t.co/8zZXZf5HDX
— NACC-CNLA (@NACC_CNLA) May 19, 2021
Indigenous Vaccination Update:
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says 74 per cent of adults living on reserve have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine — and 36.1 per cent have received both doses. He says the pandemic is looking better in Indigenous communities, but challenges remain. Miller says efforts are underway to vaccinate youth with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has now been approved for kids as young as 12. Pfizer is trickier logistically, mainly requiring ultra-cold freezers and the use of special syringes to get six doses out of every vial.
Manitoba Transferring Some COVID Patients to Ontario:
Manitoba has transferred some COVID-19 patients to northwestern Ontario because of growing demand for intensive care hospital beds. Shared Health, the body that co-ordinates clinical care in Manitoba, says two stable, COVID-positive patients were transferred to Thunder Bay Tuesday. The agency says critical care capacity in Manitoba is at significant risk, and the transfer freed up much-needed bed space.
Don’t Head for the Border Just Yet Vaccine Hunters:
Canadians expecting to have a clear path to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the US should think again. Unlike Health Canada, the US border agency stated yesterday that it doesn’t consider a vaccine to be an essential medical service for travel purposes. Airline pilot Shaun Horton tried to travel to New York from Niagara Falls for a vaccination appointment but was turned back even though he had a doctor’s letter confirming the vaccine was medically necessary. The head of Windsor Regional Hospital in Windsor says there is a need for clarity and leadership on the issue.
There were more than 4,200 new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported nationwide Wednesday. Officials also reported over 61,000 active cases, and 48 new deaths. Two of the recent hot-spot provinces saw another daily drop in new infections. Ontario reported just under 1,600 new cases and Nova Scotia logged 83. But Alberta and Manitoba went in the wrong direction — Alberta’s new-infection count was 908 and Manitoba crept up to 402. Manitoba’s critical-care capacity is at significant risk and yesterday transferred two COVID-19 patients 600-kilometres away to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Each of the four Atlantic provinces reported new COVID-19 infections yesterday. And while Nova Scotia is keeping its daily count below last week’s record numbers, the province hit a grim milestone with its five-thousandth confirmed infection of this pandemic. Nova Scotia is extending its lockdown until at least the second week of June and schools will remain closed to in-person learning for the rest of the academic year. Elsewhere, New Brunswick reported eight new cases, Prince Edward Island had five, and Newfoundland and Labrador reported three.
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) May 19, 2021
Here is yesterday’s Toronto COVID-19 news conference:
There were 1,588 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 19 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 524 of those new cases were in Toronto, 335 were in Peel Region, 105 were in Ottawa and 94 in York Region. The province says that over 3,100 cases were resolved since the previous day’s report. Over 145,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered, for a total of more than 7.4 million doses. Hospitalizations continued to improve. There were 83 less in hospital, 29 less in the ICU and 20 less on a ventilator.
Ontario is reporting 1,588 cases of #COVID19 and over 38,400 tests completed. Locally, there are 524 new cases in Toronto, 335 in Peel, 105 in Ottawa and 94 in York Region.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 7,431,638 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) May 19, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health announced 47 new cases yesterday and one new death. The regional toll now sits at 255. Active cases dropped by twenty-six to 476. Hospitalizations were down by two to 41.
There were 32 new cases reported yesterday by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, but no new deaths. The number of active cases now sits at 259. That is a drop of five. There were also two less in hospital. 21 people are currently receiving in-patient care. 7 of those are in intensive care.
We miss holding hands, hugs and high fives. Hang on, we'll be there soon. Until then, remember to wear a mask, stay six feet apart and pre-register for your vaccine if you haven't already done so! Open to everyone 12+ https://t.co/XkLCwXj2vB.#ForYouForMeForWDG pic.twitter.com/YGQ1Dg57gL
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) May 18, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot