Both Alberta and Ontario have lowered the minimum age for receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to 40. The National Advisory Council on Immunization has recommended the shot only be offered to those aged 55 and older. However, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says N.A.C.I. is currently reviewing its guidance, with an updated recommendation expected in the near future.
Ontario will begin offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 40 and over starting this Tuesday, April 20 💉
Vaccines will be available at pharmacy and primary care settings across the province.
More details to come soon.
— Caroline Mulroney (@C_Mulroney) April 19, 2021
Distance Learning Begins Today:
Spring break is over in Ontario, but students won’t be heading back to the classroom. Instead, the entire province returns to remote learning in an effort to protect against COVID-19. The province announced the move last week as COVID cases and hospitalizations repeatedly set new records. In many school boards today is a transition day for students to get familiar with login procedures.
Liberals Set To Unveil Their First Budget In Two Years:
The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course in a post-pandemic Canada. The Liberals’ first budget in two years is expected to outline the government’s plans for a national child-care system, including what strings will be attached to any spending. There are also expected to be measures to boost the supply of affordable housing and money aimed at greening the economy as the Liberals look to chart a path for promises on climate change. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is being asked by provinces for more health-care money to manage the ongoing pandemic and future costs, while hard-hit businesses, charities and workers are looking for a pledge to keep aid flowing beyond the summer when many programs are slated to end. There is also a political element to the budget, as the government needs to find at least one other major party to support the document in confidence votes in the House of Commons. Without a parliamentary dance partner, the government would fall and the country would be plunged into a federal election campaign.
Battle Brewing Over Legislature Shutdown:
There’s a political battle brewing in Ontario. The NDP say the Tories have proposed shutting down the legislature starting Wednesday in an effort to stifle criticism about their pandemic response. But the Progressive Conservatives insist they’re merely trying to find ways to keep government staffers safe from COVID-19. They say regardless, the legislature will be in session today.
Doug Ford has utterly failed to protect Ontarians from COVID-19, prioritizing a police state over public health.
Now he wants to cut and run.
I won’t run. We can still put public health first, undo Mr. Ford’s police state, and give people the help they need. pic.twitter.com/RFl8cMlhoT
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) April 18, 2021
Church Gathering in Bracebridge Broken-Up:
The OPP say they broke up a religious gathering in Bracebridge that violated public health orders. They say they were called to a warehouse at about 11am yesterday and found a large group of people inside for the religious gathering, not wearing face masks and not practicing physical distancing. They say officers tried to get the group to disperse, but the pastor refused. He was issued a provincial summons under the Reopening Ontario Act.
OPP responded to a complaint about an illegal church gathering in Bracebridge today and after efforts to educate and disperse the crowd failed, officers charged the pastor under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). #BbrOPP ^sb
— OPP Central Region (@OPP_CR) April 19, 2021
Ford Government Backtracks On Police Orders:
Just a day after the provincial government granted police the power to randomly pull over Ontario drivers to help slow the surging spread of COVID-19, that power has been withdrawn. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or driver to ask why they’re out or request their home address in an effort to enforce a stay-at-home order. Instead, police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in an “organized public event or social gathering.” Civil liberties groups had decried Friday’s announcement, and are welcoming the province’s decision to walk it back.
With the rapid spread of #COVID19, we are strengthening enforcement to drive compliance with the Stay-at-Home order. This is a critical moment in our response to this deadly virus, and we are taking action to protect our communities. Learn more: https://t.co/vxplv3x4Oe pic.twitter.com/mzUixUzXi6
— Sylvia Jones (@SylviaJonesMPP) April 16, 2021
Ford Government Backtracks On Playground Rules:
It’s welcome news for many Ontario parents — playgrounds in the province will no longer be closed due to the stay-at-home order. Premier Doug Ford backtracked on the measure on Saturday — a day after it was announced. Public health experts had expressed confusion about the decision to close the outdoor play structures, because evidence suggests almost all COVID-19 transmission happens indoors. However, outdoor gatherings involving members of different households are still banned under the order.
Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen.
Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced. Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 17, 2021
New Ontario Border Restrictions Begin Today:
Truckers warn there may delays crossing from Manitoba into Ontario beginning today. That’s due to Ontario’s new COVID-19 restrictions. Checkpoints will be set up at Ontario’s boundaries with Quebec and Manitoba to prohibit non-essential entry. The Ontario Trucking Association has asked for bypass lanes to keep truck traffic moving.
Ontario Field Hospitals:
Federal field hospitals will be staying in Ontario a little bit longer as the province grapples with a devastating third wave of COVID-19. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the two mobile health units were originally only to remain until May 1st. But he says the federal government is extending their stay until at least the end of June. The military-style field hospitals are currently deployed in Hamilton and Toronto.
Update: As the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario climbs to levels we’ve never seen before, we’re working with the province and taking serious action to protect Ontarians. To do that, and to help fight this third wave, we’re providing additional, emergency support. Thread ⤵️
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 18, 2021
Hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units are hitting record heights in Ontario. The province says 2,107 patients are currently in hospital, with 741 in an ICU and more than 500 on a ventilator. Ontario reported 4,250 new infections yesterday and 18 virus-related deaths.
Ontario is reporting 4,250 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 53,800 tests completed. Locally, there are 1,392 new cases in Toronto, 714 in Peel, 483 in York Region, 279 in Durham and 239 in Ottawa.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) April 18, 2021
Quebec continues to count high numbers of new COVID-19 cases — but far below Ontario’s record numbers. Quebec reported 1,344 new cases yesterday, along with nine new deaths related to the virus. Hospitalizations in the province declined slightly, falling by nine to 683. The number of patients in intensive care units remained stable at 175.
British Columbia’s government is ready to expand its vaccine effort to residents as young as 18. They say those 18 and older will be invited to register for an immunization appointment over the course of the week. Registration will be open to those 40 and above starting today. The age limit will be decreasing every following day. The government says those who register for a vaccine will be contacted about booking an actual appointment after they’ve signed up.
Alberta Church Update:
One person has been arrested and charged with mischief and obstruction after some fencing around an Alberta church accused of not following COVID-19 health orders was torn down. Authorities closed and fenced off GraceLife Church earlier this month, after they said it had continually held services attended by hundreds, despite houses of worship being limited to 25 per cent capacity. A section of the fence was pulled down during a demonstration outside the church east of Edmonton on April 11th. Police say a suspect believed to be involved in the incident was arrested outside the church Sunday morning, and will appear in court on June 30th.
J&J Shots Likely to Resume This Week in America:
America’s top infectious disease expert says he will be very surprised if use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t resume in some form by Friday. The vaccine is in limbo in the US after federal health advisers wanted more evidence to decide if six cases of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot and if so, how big the risk is. Advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to meet on Friday to discuss the pause.
Of nearly 7 million doses of J&J/Janssen #COVID19 Vaccine given in the US, a small number of cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot have been reported in people after receiving the vaccine. CDC & @US_FDA recommend a pause as we review data. More: https://t.co/SVTRkBgIET pic.twitter.com/QF5po3vTQ4
— CDC (@CDCgov) April 14, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health confirmed 83 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. 62 of those were variants of concern. On Saturday there were 68 new cases and 1 new death. There are now 33 hospitalized, which is up by two from Friday. The local death toll is 247. Public Health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph announced 64 new cases on Friday but that was the last update we have from them. Heading into this week there are 12 people hospitalized with 7 of those in intensive care.
Waterloo Region will be under additional provincial restrictions, starting Saturday, April 17th at 12:01 a.m. Read more in a joint release from area municipalities: https://t.co/Lk1YXv92ed. pic.twitter.com/txFq3Ux4rM
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) April 16, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Christine Elliott via Twitter