Premier Ford says a variety of potential new measures are being considered as COVID19 cases continue to rapidly increase across the province. Ford says the province won’t impose a curfew but needs to weigh how further lockdowns could affect a number of sectors. He says if new lockdowns are imposed, the province will need to give people time to prepare.
Here is Premier Ford discussing the topic yesterday:
An Extended Winter Break is Possible for Students and Teachers:
Health Minister Christine Elliott says closing schools is far from the province’s first choice to contain the COVID19 pandemic — but nothing is off the table. Her comments came after the Ministry of Education told Ontario’s school boards to prepare for the possibility of fully remote learning in the new year. Board chairs have been told to encourage staff and students to bring their essential learning materials home for the holidays. Elliott says the province is still figuring out what back-to-school will look like in January.
The OHA is Calling for a Full Lockdown:
Ontario’s hospitals are calling for stricter lockdowns in regions hard-hit by COVID19. The Ontario Hospital Association has made a request to the province after discussing hospital capacity issues. It is asking the government to implement a four-week lockdown in every region with at least 40-per-100,000 population infection rate. It says that’s necessary to ensure that hospitals do not face a surge in COVID patients in January.
2/2 We thank Premier Ford @fordnation and Minister Christine Elliott @celliottability for their strong support of hospitals during this pandemic. Let's rally again to beat #COVID19 – that will be the right time to celebrate together. Read our statement: https://t.co/ndB9jZbGHT
— Ont. Hospital Assoc. (@OntHospitalAssn) December 17, 2020
Singh Calling on Justin to Tell the CRA to Leave the Kids Alone:
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Ottawa must put a halt to efforts to recoup money from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. In the past few weeks, about 441,000 people received letters from the Canada Revenue Agency, warning that they may owe back some of the $500-dollar-per-week payments they received. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told The Canadian Press that no one will be forced to pay back money if they aren’t able, or applied in good faith for the aid. But Singh says Trudeau need to issue an immediate directive to the CRA not to go after artists and young people that are vulnerable.
We Got More Vaccinations Than We Thought:
Vaccinations for the country’s health-care workers and seniors will continue today, as officials for Pfizer-BioNTech admit the vials distributed may yield more doses than expected. A spokeswoman for Pfizer Canada says the vials typically hold five doses, but depending on provider technique and ancillary supplies, there could be enough excess vaccine to provide an additional dose. Health Canada responded to the plot-twist, saying it has no objections to health-care professionals drawing up an additional dose or two from each vial where possible.
Ontario reported a single-day record of 2,432 new cases of COVID19 yesterday along with 23 new deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 737 new cases in Toronto, 434 in Peel Region, 209 in York Region, 190 in Windsor-Essex, and 142 in Hamilton. In the province’s long-term care homes, 819 residents currently have COVID19.
Ontario is reporting 2,432 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 58,200 tests completed. Locally, there are 737 new cases in Toronto, 434 in Peel, 209 in York Region, 190 in Windsor-Essex County and 142 in Hamilton. There are 2,009 more resolved cases.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 17, 2020
Lots of New Funding for Addictions and Mental Health:
Health Minister Christine Elliott has announced an additional $147-million dollars in funding for mental health and addictions. The funding will help immediately expand access to mental health and addictions services and address increased demand in response to COVID19. Among other things, the province is adding more staff, housing and short-term accommodation, virtual supports and supports specifically for front-line workers. Elliot says it’s critical to make it easier for people to get help with Ontario in the second wave of the pandemic and with the holiday season just around the corner.
Our government is investing over $147M to immediately expand access to #MentalHealth and addictions services and address capacity issues in response to #COVID19. This will help ensure the right mental health and addictions supports are widely available. https://t.co/9ebQw3Hvdl pic.twitter.com/fWLhxhFLti
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 17, 2020
Reviewing the NHL’s Return-to-Play Plan:
The Ontario government says it’s reviewing the NHL’s return-to-play plan and examining how a Canadian division might work. Several media outlets are reporting the league plans to realign its divisions next season to include a seven-team all-Canadian division with no cross-border travel. Ontario’s sports minister says talks are happening with the province’s chief medical officer of health, as well as officials from Toronto and Ottawa.
Ontario Planning a Big Tourism Push After COVID is Under Control:
The province has set aside $150-million dollars for a new tax credit to encourage people to travel in Ontario once COVID19 restrictions are lifted. Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod says details are still being worked out, but the credit will provide a 20 per cent return on every dollar spent. The tax credit is part of an ambitious white paper MacLeod unveiled yesterday to help stimulate the tourism, sports and cultural industries in Ontario. She also says the Ontario Trillium Foundation will receive $100-million dollars in funding, with a focus on community-based non-profit organizations.
Ontario’s heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries were among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we’ve developed a White Paper that will inform a 5-year strategic plan to help these sectors recover. https://t.co/uzVnKhjfsC pic.twitter.com/uDg6dJrXqd
— Heritage Sport Tourism Culture Industries (@ExploreON) December 17, 2020
Major Prison Outbreak:
A major COVID19 outbreak has been confirmed at the Joyceville Institution in Kingston. Correctional Service Canada says at least 80 inmates have tested positive for the virus. It’s the latest in a number of outbreaks reported in federal and provincial correctional institutions. CSC says it is closely monitoring the situation in Joyceville and has offered testing to all staff and inmates.
Hudson’s Bay Goes to Court Over Lockdowns:
Hudson’s Bay Company has gone to court to fight what it says are the Ontario government’s “irrational and arbitrary” COVID19 rules on store closings. HBC is asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to review the province’s decision to temporarily close non-essential retailers in lockdown zones. Lawyer Jonathan Lisus told a video hearing that the regulations make no “rational distinction” between Bay stores and some big box and discount retailer stores allowed to remain open. The Bay has been forced to close 16 stores in the affected regions of Toronto, Peel and more recently York and Windsor-Essex.
Quebec Blames the Feds for Problems in Long-Term Care:
The Quebec government says if Ottawa had properly funded health care in the first place, long-term care homes would not be in the crisis they are now. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that new federal funding for long-term care homes would have to be tied to national standards. But a spokesman for Premier Francois Legault says health care is firmly a provincial jurisdiction, and Ottawa’s only role is to provide funding. The pandemic has exposed deplorable conditions in some long-term care homes.
Alberta Has a Field Hospital Ready to Go:
Alberta’s health minister says a new field hospital on Edmonton’s University of Alberta campus is a last-ditch contingency if the provincial hospitals are overwhelmed by COVID19 patients in the new year. Alberta reported a record 30 virus-related deaths yesterday, and 1,571 new infections. Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba are showing signs that health restrictions are slowing the increase of new COVID19 patients.
Over the last 24 hrs, we ID’d 1,571 new cases & completed about 19.8K tests. Our positivity rate stands at about 7.9%. There are 763 ppl in hospital incl 138 in ICU. There are active alerts/outbreaks in 450 schools, or about 19% of schools in the prov w/126 on watch. (3/12)
— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) December 17, 2020
BC Hits a New Milestone:
British Columbia’s COVID19 death toll has surpassed 700 and has doubled in just weeks. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says another 21 people have died, most of them seniors. More than 50 senior’s care homes have outbreaks. Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix says one of the main goals is to protect those vulnerable seniors, yet some people are still debating the restrictions. The death toll has nearly doubled in BC since November 24th.
It’s Looking Better in Saskatchewan:
Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer says there is cause for optimism in the province’s fight against COVID19. Dr. Saqib Shahab says Saskatchewan’s caseload seems to be hitting a plateau, although officials warn the health system is still strained. COVID19 cases are also on a downward trend in Manitoba in the wake of restrictions imposed in November on public gatherings and business openings.
The Moderna Vaccine Takes Another Step Closer to US Approval:
A US government advisory panel has endorsed a second COVID19 vaccine, paving the way for Moderna’s candidate to be added to the country’s vaccination campaign. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to act quickly to authorize the vaccine for emergency use. Health Canada is still reviewing Moderna’s vaccine, but officials have said they expect regulatory approval in the near future.
We just confirmed that the @US_FDA VRBPAC recommended that the FDA grant an Emergency Use Authorization for our COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273. 20 VRBPAC members recommended for EUA, 0 members voted against, and 1 abstained. Read more: https://t.co/AmkdurMzQ2 pic.twitter.com/Ja4WAvb44Y
— Moderna (@moderna_tx) December 17, 2020
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health announced another 68 new COVID19 infections yesterday. There are now 38 people hospitalized in the Region with COVID. 10 are in intensive care. The number of active cases is now 478.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health set a new single day record for new COVID19 infections in the second wave. They announced 77 new cases. 37 cases were in Guelph. 15 were in Wellington. Here were 8 in Dufferin County. There are now 14 people hospitalized.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot