Premier Ford says he’ll announce targeted new measures on Friday aimed at lowering COVID19 cases in provincial hot spots. Ford says new measures must be implemented in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region because hospitals in those areas are reaching capacity. The premier did not provide further details but says the province is looking at lockdowns if case rates continue to grow.
Here is Premier Ford preparing the hot spots for tomorrow’s announcement:
Students Will Not Be Getting an Extended Winter Break:
The province has decided an extended winter school break is not needed after the holidays. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Tuesday that an extended break or a period of online learning in early January was under consideration. But Lecce announced yesterday that the province’s COVID19 protocols for schools are enough to keep kids safe at this time. Lecce says the province had consulted Ontario’s top doctor and its public health measures table before arriving at the decision.
My statement below following expert advice from the CMOH on the strength of Ontario’s plan to keep students safe. pic.twitter.com/0U8l4sl69Y
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) November 18, 2020
The Premier of BC is Asking Trudeau to Outlaw Travel Between the Provinces:
BC Premier John Horgan says we need to redouble our efforts to contain COVID19. He says he’ll be asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to establish a cross-Canada approach to limiting travel between jurisdictions, which he says has hastened the spread. Horgan says the message needs to get out to Canadians to stay where they live.
The Border Will Remain Closed for Another Month:
The Canada-US border will remain virtually closed well into December. A federal source tells The Canadian Press the current restrictions, due to expire Friday, will be extended. Unnecessary border crossings were restricted in March because of the pandemic. Prime Minister Trudeau has said the border will remain restricted as long as COVID19 is rampant in the US.
The Pfizer Vaccine is Better Than Initially Thought:
One of the vaccines in Canada’s COVID19 wish list is another step closer to approval. Pfizer reported more positive results from its clinical trials early yesterday morning. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech say new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95 per cent effective. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin says they will ask federal regulators for emergency use soon. The companies also have begun rolling submissions for the vaccine with regulators in Europe, the UK and Canada.
Despite skepticism from the Tories, Prime Minister Trudeau says his government will be ready to distribute COVID19 vaccines once they are available. Canada is set to get six-million doses of COVID19 vaccines early in the new year. Health minister Christine Elliott says the country is set to get four-million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between January and March, along with two-million doses of Moderna’s vaccine.
Waterloo Region Teacher Went to School While Waiting for COVID Test Results:
The Premier and the Health Minister are not impressed with a staff member at Centennial Public School in Waterloo who tested positive for COVID19. Public Health confirmed the person was last at the school on Tuesday. But that person had recently went for a COVID test and was awaiting results when they went to school. The test came back positive. Because of that, a total of six classrooms have now been directed to self-isolate at home until December 2. Premier Ford says, “If you’re showing symptoms and you’re going into school – you’re putting everyone in jeopardy. You’re putting kids in jeopardy, you’re putting other educators in jeopardy, and it’s unacceptable.”
Here is Premier Ford talking about this situation:
Yesterday the province announced more discouraging COVID19 numbers. There were 1,417 new cases. The good news is that there were more recovered cases than new ones so the number of active cases decreased for the first time in almost two weeks. Of the new infections, more than 75% were from the GTA. There were 463 new cases in Peel, 410 in Toronto and 178 in York Region. The death toll increased substantially in yesterday’s report. There were 32 new deaths and hospitalizations were up by 3. ICU numbers remained the same but 3 more people were put on a ventilator.
Toronto Update from Mayor John Tory:
Toronto Education Worker Dies from COVID19:
An education worker at the Toronto Catholic District School Board has died of COVID19. The child-and-youth worker was a staff member at Saint Francis De Sales school. Toronto Public Health hasn’t said where the worker may have caught the virus. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has offered his condolences.
My deepest condolences to the entire school community at St. Francis De Sales for the loss of a staff member. Sending strength and prayers to @TCDSB.
We must do everything we can to reduce the risk of #COVID19 in our communities.
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) November 18, 2020
A Windsor School Has Shut Down from an Outbreak:
A Windsor school has sent everyone home for two weeks due to an outbreak of COVID19. The local public health unit says three staff members at Frank W. Begley Elementary have tested positive. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says it’s suspected that transmission happened at the school and everyone has been dismissed out of an abundance of caution. People are being asked to monitor for symptoms.
Hamilton School Board Cancels Exams:
High school students at a Hamilton school board don’t have to worry about studying for final exams this year. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says it has decided to cancel all exams for secondary students in both semesters due to the difficulties of learning during the COVID19 pandemic. The board says grades will be based on assignments and activities that will be decided by teachers. Students must complete 20 hours of community involvement to graduate this year, a reduction from the usual expectation of 40 hours.
To our parents and guardians of secondary students, after much consideration we have decided to cancel final exams for all secondary students (Grades 9-12) in both semesters of the 2020-2021 school year. Please read the full details at https://t.co/KHEDN3zC84
— HWDSB (@HWDSB) November 18, 2020
Manitoba is Handing Out Big Fines for Not Wearing a Mask:
Anyone who disobeys the public health order in Manitoba to wear masks in indoor public places now faces a $298-dollar fine. It’s the latest in a series of enforcement measures the province is bringing in as COVID19 numbers remain high. Manitoba has also hired a private security firm to assist police, bylaw and conservation officers in handing out penalties to people who defy the mask order and other measures.
Alberta Set to Receive Lots of Vaccines:
Alberta’s chief medical health officer cautions there are still hurdles and other unknowns before it can receive 680,000 doses of COVID19 vaccine early in the new year. Doctor Deena Hinshaw says Alberta would receive the doses from pharmaceutical makers Pfizer and Moderna, which have announced their vaccines are about 95 per cent effective. The province has imposed a ban on indoor team sports and fitness classes in major cities, but Hinshaw says she is hearing that some groups are circumventing the rules.
Yukon Will Now Require a Self-Isolation Period for Visitors:
Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says as of tomorrow, everyone entering the territory other than critical services workers will be required to self-isolate for two weeks due to the COVID19 pandemic. He says his government no longer recommends any non-essential travel outside the territory. Silver says exceptions will be made for residents of border areas and transboundary First Nations. The territory now has 26 virus cases.
New American COVID19 Modeling:
More than three million people in the U.S. are likely contagious with coronavirus right now, new estimates suggests. If the modeling done by Dr. Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University are correct, that means that nearly one percent of the entire U.S. population could be spreading the infection. That’s far more than official case counts suggest. Most coronavirus cases are mild to moderate, and those people remain infectious for about 10 days. As of yesterday, 250,029 Americans have died as a result of COVID.
New York City is Closing Schools:
Public schools in New York City will close starting today as a result of the rising COVID19 test positivity rate and businesses like gyms may soon be closed too, officials warned yesterday. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday afternoon that all schools would revert to remote learning starting today because the test positivity rate in New York City was 3 percent. “No one is happy about this decision. We are all feeling very sad about this decision,” de Blasio said yesterday.
Beginning tomorrow, November 19, @NYCSchools buildings will close for in-person learning due to a 3% COVID-19 positivity rate in New York City. @NYCMayor provided an update: pic.twitter.com/lIOg5O8bhf
— City of New York (@nycgov) November 19, 2020
Cases Spiking in Japan:
Japan’s number of reported COVID19 infections has hit a record high. The prime minister is urging maximum caution but has stopped short of calling for restrictions on travel or business. The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 2,179 cases today — the first time Japan has surpassed two-thousand daily cases since the pandemic began.
COVID19 in Africa:
The African continent has surpassed two million confirmed cases of COVID19. Health officials are warning of infections starting to creep up again into a second surge. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the 54-country continent has seen more than 48,000 deaths from the virus. The continent of 1.3 billion people is being warned against prevention fatigue as countries loosen pandemic restrictions to ease their economies’ suffering and more people travel.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 37 new COVID19 infections yesterday. While still very high, that is lowest number of daily new infections in the past week. There are now 367 active cases in the Region with 18 people hospitalized. In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph there were 20 new cases yesterday. 8 were in Wellington, 8 were in Guelph, 3 were in Dufferin County. The Region has 133 active cases with 3 people being treated in hospital for COVID19.
Waterloo Region Infections:
- A staff member at Centennial Public School in Waterloo has tested positive for COVID19.
- A staff member at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener has tested positive.
- Another student at Galt Collegiate Institute in Cambridge has also tested positive.
All high risk contacts have been notified.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot