Ontarians scrambled to get booster shot appointments yesterday as booster eligibility expanded to every adult in the province. The Ontario government said more than 186-thousand third-dose appointments were booked through its portal as of 3 p-m yesterday, but many residents said they had trouble finding shots in their regions in the coming days. Meanwhile, long line-ups were reported at some pop-up vaccination sites. Alexander McClelland said he lined up for a booster at a pop-up vaccine site in Newcastle when it opened at 10am, but the clinic ran out of shots in less than an hour. A spokeswoman for Ontario’s health minister said public health units were actively working to add appointments to the online booking system as the province ramps up vaccination capacity, aiming for between 200,000 and 300,000 doses daily.
With #Omicron cases accelerating at such a rapid pace, we must be cautious.
While there is much we still don't know about Omicron, there's one indisputable fact, this variant is the most transmissible one we've seen so far.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 20, 2021
Tougher public health restrictions went into effect yesterday in many parts of Canada as some regions continue to deal with spiking COVID-19 case counts. Bars, movie theatres and entertainment venues were to close as of 5pm in Quebec while restaurants must operate at reduced capacity and close at 10pm. New capacity restrictions are also in place in Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Ontario implemented its new public health orders yesterday, which see restaurants, retailers, gyms and other indoor settings operating at 50 per cent capacity.
Ontario’s Testing Capacity Is Being Stretched:
COVID-19 testing capacity is being stretched in Ontario as the highly contagious Omicron variant continues to spread. Ottawa Public Health says people who have symptoms but can’t get a test should assume they have been infected with the Omicron variant and isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status. In Peterborough, the local public health unit is encouraging residents to report positive test results from rapid COVID-19 tests online to help track cases in the community. Currently, people who get a positive result on a rapid test must confirm with a PCR test, but experts have warned that capacity may run out as Omicron spreads.
The NHL Shuts Down:
COVID-19 has forced an earlier- and longer-than-expected break in the National Hockey League schedule. The NHL and its Players’ Association jointly announced Monday night the suspension of all operations from Wednesday to Christmas Day amid a rise in positive tests among players and staff. Only two of 10 games scheduled for tonight will be played, and all remaining games this week have been postponed. Games will resume Monday.
The @NHL and @NHLPA have agreed to begin the Holiday Break after Tuesday’s games. Practices will resume on Dec. 26 and the League’s regular-season schedule will resume on Dec. 27. https://t.co/0Bmu8dlZ1M pic.twitter.com/JHbxtzMX6D
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 21, 2021
President Biden Will Speak Today:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday that President Biden’s planned address today is not a speech about locking the country down, but will focus on a drive for vaccinations. “This is not a speech about locking the country down. This is a speech outlining and being direct and clear with the American people about the benefits of being vaccinated, the steps we’re going to take to increase access and to increase testing, and the risks posed to being unvaccinated.” “He’ll talk about what to expect as we head into the winter months and detail additional steps that we will be taking,” Psaki said. Previewing the speech, she continued: “The president will restate that while vaccinated individuals get covid due to the highly transmissible nature of omicron, their cases will likely be mild or asymptomatic. We continue to see and our health experts assess that you are 14 times more likely to die of covid if you have not been vaccinated.”
2. Omicron cases will increase in the coming days—even among fully vaccinated individuals. If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you may still get a breakthrough case but doctors say you will likely have no symptoms or mild ones.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 21, 2021
Aide Who Was In Close Contact With Biden Tests Positive
A White House aide who was in close contact with President Biden on Friday tested positive for COVID yesterday. Biden tested negative through an antigen test Sunday and a PCR test yesterday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. He’ll be tested again tomorrow.
Trump Got A Booster:
Donald Trump has revealed that he received a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and encouraged his supporters to embrace the jabs that were developed during his term of office. “This [COVID-19] was going to ravage the country, far beyond what it is right now,” Trump told a Dallas audience during an event on Bill O’Reilly’s “History Tour” Sunday. “Take credit for it,” the former president urged. “Take credit for it. It’s a great — What we’ve done is historic. Don’t let them take it away. Don’t take it away from ourselves. You’re playing that — you’re playing right into their hands when you’re sort of like, ‘Oh, the vaccine!’ If you don’t want to take it, you shouldn’t be forced to take it,” Trump went on. “No mandates, but take credit, because we saved tens of millions of lives. Take credit. Don’t let them take that away from you.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Tests Positive:
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has tested positive for COVID-19. Joly’s spokeswoman says the Liberal lawmaker got the result from a rapid test and continues to work in isolation while awaiting confirmation through a PCR test. No information has been released about how or where she might have contracted the virus. But the vaccinated Joly has tweeted a reminder to all Canadians to limit their contacts and respect public-health guidance.
I have taken a rapid test and tested positive for #COVID19. Following public health guidelines, I am in isolation and will continue my work virtually, as I have been for a number of days, until I get the results of my PCR test. 1/3
— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) December 20, 2021
Moderna Says Their Vaccine Is Effective:
Moderna announced yesterday that a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine significantly increases antibody levels against the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. A 50 microgram jab — the authorized dose for a third shot — saw a 37-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies. Moderna also tested a 100 microgram booster dose, which increased antibody levels 83-fold. The first two shots of Moderna’s vaccine are both 100 micrograms. The company said the higher booster dose was generally safe and well-tolerated, although there was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions.
Hospital Outbreak in Oakville:
A COVID-19 outbreak at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital has been confirmed. Halton Healthcare says the outbreak is currently affecting six staff and one patient in the adult mental health unit. Patients and staff are being asked to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms. All visitation and admissions to the unit have been temporarily suspended.
The Impact On Small Businesses Across Canada:
Small business owners in the Maritimes say the most wonderful time of the year has become a nightmare of mounting COVID cases, public health restrictions and restaurant closures. Brendan Doherty, who co-owns the Old Triangle alehouse chain, says it’s been “really, really depressing” to learn of the new rules imposed on businesses like his. He says even staying open over the holidays will be difficult, and he may have to lay off staff. Doherty and others are calling on governments to bring back the wide-ranging supports seen earlier in the pandemic.
🚨 If 80% of businesses will be excluded from Federal grant/rent supports…
then it's past time for @fordnation to follow through on a viable & inclusive Small Biz Grant Program. Now.
⚡180,000 SMEs at risk
⚡$170,000 SME Debt
⏳Time is Ticking @CFIB @l_stone #onpoli pic.twitter.com/JwtKoaDper
— Catherine Fife (@CFifeKW) December 21, 2021
BC Extends The Cap On Food Delivery Apps:
The BC government is extending the cap on fees charged by food delivery companies until the end of 2022 to help the restaurant industry through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon says the order will continue to cap fees charged to restaurants from food delivery companies at 15 per cent, and the cap of five per cent for processing fees will also be extended. He says the restaurant industry still needs protection in this challenging time. The ministry will continue to monitor the pandemic’s impact on the restaurant and hospitality sector to determine if more supports need to be put in place.
US Has Its First Omicron Death
The U.S. has recorded its first death caused by the COVID Omicron variant; the victim is a Texas man in his 50s who was unvaccinated. The news was announced by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo last night, around the same time the CDC confirmed that Omicron is now the dominant COVID strain in the U.S. Hidalgo didn’t name the victim, who had undisclosed underlying health conditions, and who was treated with Regeneron antibody therapy in an unsuccessful attempt to save his life.
There were 3,784 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario yesterday. The new figures are based on 44,123 completed tests. The province didn’t report any new deaths from the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 865 of the new cases are in people who aren’t fully vaccinated and 138 people have an unknown vaccination status.
In Ontario, 25,422,938 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.5% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.8% have two doses.
284 people are hospitalized with #COVID19, and 164 people are in ICU due to COVID-19. Please note that not all hospitals report on weekends.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 20, 2021
Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health announced 398 new cases yesterday, from the whole weekend. 20 people are either in or were in hospital over the weekend. 7 are in the ICU. There are now 806 active cases.
With 350,000 Waterloo Region residents now eligible for a third dose, the Region is looking to partner with local businesses to host on-site vaccination clinics for their staff and families. More details: https://t.co/hNcwPdGM5H pic.twitter.com/RplCGwb4qv
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) December 20, 2021
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed 299 new cases yesterday from the weekend. Active cases are up to 536. 7 people were in hospital over the weekend but only 2 in the ICU.
We have resolved the issues with the booking website. Book your COVID-19 vaccine booster dose at https://t.co/6h4loerFEE
Remember, if you do not see a date on the calendar there are currently no appointments available at that location. Try another location or look back later. pic.twitter.com/NLsnI52Kl5
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 20, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot