March break is being postponed for a month in an effort to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says he made the decision to reschedule the break to begin April 12th on the advice of public health officials. Lecce says it’s critical to avoid a repeat of the spike in youth-related COVID-19 cases that occurred over the winter break. He says adds the province continues to advise residents not to travel given the increase in new variants. The new schedule means teachers and students will enjoy the 4-day Easter long weekend, return to school for just 1-week, and then have 1-week off for Spring Break. To read the media release: CLICK HERE (You will be redirected)
Here is the announcement:
Teacher Unions Aren’t Happy with the March Break Change:
Unions representing teachers and education workers are decrying the Ontario government’s decision to postpone March break. Four teachers’ unions issued a statement yesterday saying mental health wasn’t considered in the move. The union for education workers criticized the government’s claim that the delay is aimed at stemming COVID-19 infections, arguing proper safety measures haven’t been taken in schools. The Opposition NDP also says the focus should be on in-school safety rather than cancelling a much-needed break.
— Catholic Teachers (@OECTAProv) February 11, 2021
Canada is Finally Getting Some Vaccines Next Week:
The single biggest shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to arrive next week. Major-General Dany Fortin says Pfizer will ship 400,000 doses starting Monday, with almost 1.8-million doses arriving in the country over the next four weeks. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Doctor Howard Njoo says more than one-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far.
Health Experts Warn Ontario Could Be Heading for a Third Wave:
Health experts advising the Ontario government are warning that the province could be headed into a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. New COVID-19 projections issued yesterday say an aggressive vaccination schedule and a stay-at-home order will help prevent another surge in cases. The scientists say public health measures have cut COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and positivity rates across the province. But they say new COVID-19 variants are concerning and cases will likely grow again in late February, which will lead to more admissions to intensive care units.
Here is yesterday’s modeling data report:
Fauci Says Any American Will Be Able To Get Vaccines By April:
Dr. Anthony Fauci has predicted that any American who wants one will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine by April. “By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’ namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said during a Today show interview yesterday. “Hopefully as we get into the middle and end of the summer we will have accomplished the goal of…the overwhelming majority of people have gotten vaccinated.”
Waiting for Data on Teenager Vaccination:
Both Pfizer and Moderna say they expect to have data on how well their vaccines work in teenagers later this year. Currently, immunizations against COVID-19 are only recommended in Americans aged 16 and up for Pfizer and ages 18 and up for Moderna. However, Pfizer says it has completed enrollment of 2,259 participants in its study of 12-to-15 years old and believes it will have data in the early part of 2021, a spokeswoman said.
The Ontario Deficit Will Be Massive Unless Taxes Get Hiked or Services Get Cut:
Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says the province will be stuck with a $16-billion-dollar ongoing deficit once it gets through the pandemic unless it hikes taxes or cuts services. Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman projects the deficit will grow to $35.5-billion dollars in the current fiscal year before dropping to $16-billion by 2024-2025. Weltman says it will remain at that level moving forward, barring any government policy change. His report projects Ontario’s economy will take a major hit because of the pandemic but will rebound strongly over the next two fiscal years.
The Raptors Will Spend The Whole Season in Tampa:
Border restrictions and public safety measures in Canada will keep the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Florida this season. The team has announced it won’t play any home games in Toronto because of the pandemic. Team president Masai Ujiri says the players are grateful for the hospitality they’ve found in Tampa, adding that home is where the heart is, and their hearts are in Toronto.
Because of ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada, the team has decided they will continue to play their home games in Tampa for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 11, 2021
Universities Urging Students Not to Travel for Reading Week:
Several Ontario universities are urging students living on campus not to travel during the upcoming reading week in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most university students are attending classes virtually during the pandemic but those who require access to campus services have been staying at student residences. The University of Guelph this week told the 840 students living at on-campus residences to restrict non-essential travel during next week’s break. Students at the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo also received similar messages strongly discouraging them from travelling during the week-long break.
Canadians’ Mental Health Deteriorating:
A new survey confirms what many have suspected: the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of Canadians. The poll, conducted on behalf of the United Way, found 76% claim COVID caused stress, anxiety or depression. The pandemic also affected many people’s finances. Almost 1 in 5 say they have been unable to pay at least one of their bills.
The Variants Are in Northern Ontario:
At least three-quarters of those infected with COVID-19 in a northern Ontario outbreak likely have a variant of the virus. The local public health unit says 24 people have been infected in the outbreak at an apartment building in North Bay. Eighteen people have a positive result for a more infectious variant, with further testing underway to determine exact strain. More than 100 people were tested last week after two people with no connection other than living in the same building tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario reported fewer than one thousand new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, but officials say the tally reflects some underreporting. The Ministry of Health says the low number — 945 infections — is due to ongoing issues as Toronto migrates its case counts to the provincial database. The province also reported 14 new deaths linked to the virus. Hospitalizations, ICU patients and patients on a ventilator all declined in the daily report.
Ontario is reporting 945 cases of #COVID19 and over 68,800 tests completed. Locally, there are 258 new cases in Peel, 116 in York Region and 112 in Toronto.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 426,836 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 11, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Yesterday’s COVID-19 numbers for Waterloo Region were discouraging, to say the least. There were 68 new cases and 3 new deaths, including a man in his 40’s. That brings the death toll to 214. Active cases increased to 396. There are now 35 people in hospital with 9 in the ICU. In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, there was an increase in new cases as well. 23 new ones were reported. 4 were in Wellington, 2 in Dufferin and 17 in Guelph. Active cases dropped to 167 and there are now 11 people hospitalized.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC / ON Parliament via YouTube screenshot