The Ontario Hospital Association’s board of directors will meet today for an emergency discussion about rising COVID19 infections in the province. The OHA says it’s deeply concerned by the worsening pandemic and related pressure on hospitals. The unplanned meeting was called in response to the situation. As of yesterday morning, there were 921 people hospitalized with COVID19 in Ontario, including 249 people in intensive care. A statement from the association says a wave of hospitalizations after the holidays risks disrupting acute care and other services in the new year. It says the situation is far more serious than the first wave of infections because elective surgeries need to be maintained.
— Ont. Hospital Assoc. (@OntHospitalAssn) December 16, 2020
More Vaccines Are Ready To Go As Soon As Health Canada Approves Them:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has signed a contract to receive up to 168,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID19 vaccine before the end of December. The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved by Health Canada but Trudeau says deliveries could begin within 48 hours of that happening. Trudeau also says Canada is set to receive about 200,000 of its total early shipment of COVID19 vaccine doses from Pfizer next week. He says there will also be 70 sites across the country ready to administer these doses, a big jump from the 14 distribution sites in place this week.
Here is yesterday’s federal update:
More Provinces to Start Vaccinating:
Canada’s immunization campaign against COVID19 is now underway in four provinces with several more to join later today. The doses administered in Alberta, BC, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan over the last two days are the early arrivals of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Manitoba and all Atlantic provinces, except for New Brunswick, are ready to give their first shots later today. Up to 417,000 doses of two vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are expected to arrive in this country by the end of this month.
Here is yesterday’s update from Premier Ford and the Vaccine Task Force:
Yesterday Ontario announced 2,275 new COVID19 cases. If that number seems higher than usual, that’s because it is. Public Health changed the time that they pull the data from the local public health units, so yesterday’s total was actually about 27 hours worth of data, instead of 24-hours. There were 1,810 more resolved cases and nearly 39,600 tests were completed in that extended period. Locally, there were 711 new cases in Toronto, 586 in Peel, 185 in Windsor-Essex County and 154 in York Region. The province also announced 20 more deaths, 54 more hospitalizations, 5 more patients in the ICU, and 7 more patients on a ventilator.
Ontario is reporting 2,275 cases of #COVID19. Locally, there are 711 new cases in Toronto, 586 in Peel, 185 in Windsor-Essex County and 154 in York Region. There are 1,810 more resolved cases and nearly 39,600 tests completed.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 15, 2020
Dr Yaffe Caught on a Hot Mic:
Video is circulating quickly about Ontario Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr Barbara Yaffe making a strange comment to Dr David Williams, not realizing the microphone in front of her was on at the time. Dr. Yaffe was overheard saying, “I don’t know why I bring all of these papers. I just say whatever they write down for me.” That has many on social media speculating that Dr. Yaffe was suggesting that government officials tell the doctor what to say. In reality, Dr Yaffe was only referring to the opening remarks that are prepared by her staff in advance of media briefings.
"They haven't yet been able to show whether the vaccine prevents infection. So even when someone is vaccinated, they need to protect themselves and others." – Ontario Associate Medical Officer, Dr. Yaffe pic.twitter.com/s3DuivCvTh
— CrasHTalk (@CrasTalk) December 14, 2020
A Caution About Vaccines in Canada:
Canada’s vaccine advisory panel says more testing is needed before COVID19 vaccines should routinely be offered to pregnant or breastfeeding women, kids under 16, or patients with compromised immune systems. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is encouraging vaccine-makers to expand clinical trials to include more study of their products in those groups. But the committee’s experts also say if there is evidence the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the potential risks of COVID19, it could be offered to pregnant women, children as young as 12, or people who are immunosuppressed, with informed consent.
LTC Home Residents Have to Wait for Health Canada:
The head of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force says nursing home residents will have to await approval of Moderna’s COVID19 before being immunized. However, retired General Rick Hillier says shipping will be easier because the vaccine doesn’t require deep cold storage like the already-approved Pfizer one. Hillier says the Pfizer vaccine is being used for front line health-care workers, which should cut the risk of spreading COVID in long-term care homes. Ontario has said it expects between 30,000 and 85,000 Moderna doses once Health Canada approves.
Hamilton Extending Mall Hours:
The mayor of Hamilton is criticizing extended shopping hours at a city mall, given COVID19 and lockdowns in neighbouring regions. Cadillac Fairview says Lime Ridge Mall will open from 9am to 9pm daily through December 23rd to encourage shoppers to spread out. But Mayor Fred Eisenberg tells CTV Toronto the move isn’t helpful when people are being urged to go out only for essential errands. Health Minister Christine Elliot says residents in lockdown areas should not be shopping in areas with lesser restrictions.
Strengthened COVID-19 enhancements are in effect for shopping malls, retail businesses and workplaces, including reduced capacity, customer screening and more. Info: https://t.co/AoRcbbJQXq #HamOnt pic.twitter.com/RB6Qxy1JAw
— City of Hamilton (@cityofhamilton) December 15, 2020
Hamilton Hospital Outbreak:
A hospital in Hamilton says it has more than 60 cases of COVID19, with infections spreading to more units. The outbreak at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre is linked to 30 patients, 30 staff and two others. Hamilton Health Sciences says fewer than five people have died.
Claiming COVID19 Expenses on Your Taxes:
The Canada Revenue Agency says it is introducing a simplified process to claim up to $400-dollars in office expenses for Canadians working from home during the COVID19 pandemic. The process will allow employees to claim these expenses as deductions on their personal income tax return for the 2020 tax year. Eligible employees can claim a deduction if they worked from home more than half of the time over at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID19. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer.
How COVID19 Impacted the Real Estate Market:
The Canadian Real Estate Association says the national average home price was up 13.8 per cent last month from a year earlier. The gain came as year-over-year sales rose 32.1 per cent — the same blistering pace as October. CREA says Canada’s real estate market is on pace for a potential annual sales record, as pent-up demand has sent sales soaring after COVID19 delayed the spring season. But it notes sales were down 1.6 per cent in November from October as the market settled into the traditionally slower winter season.
The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index climbed a further 1.2% in November 2020 compared to October. It’s now up 8% since the spring, and is running almost 12% ahead of this time last year 👉 https://t.co/oJk7D2DH6x #CREAStats pic.twitter.com/6KUv3clzrn
— CREA | ACI (@CREA_ACI) December 15, 2020
Manitoba May Appoint a Second Health Minister:
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he is thinking about appointing a second health minister to help the province fight its high COVID19 case numbers. In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Pallister says the move would not be a criticism of Health Minister Cameron Friesen, but would help ease the workload in a department that, even in non-pandemic times, is the government’s largest. Friesen has faced criticism throughout the fall as Manitoba’s COVID19 cases rose sharply.
Here is yesterday’s Manitoba update:
Tighter Enforcement Coming in BC:
Premier John Horgan warns tighter enforcement is coming to those who refuse to follow BC’s COVID19 restrictions. Horgan says BC has shown itself to be more successful in managing the virus than some of its neighbours, but the small portion of people who refuse to follow public health restrictions are jeopardizing the health of others. Hosting or visiting people from different households is prohibited with few exceptions this holiday season.
Here is yesterday’s BC Update:
Quebec is Doing a Christmas Shutdown:
Quebec is introducing strict new measures later this month to slow the spread of COVID19. Premier Francois Legault says all non-essential businesses across the province will be closed from Christmas until at least January 11th. He says big box stores will be prohibited from selling any goods that are deemed non-essential. Legault says elementary and secondary schools will close tomorrow and can reopen at the earliest on January 11th
New COVID Mutation in the UK:
A new mutation of COVID19 has turned up in more than 1,000 infected patients in the UK; and is being blamed for a more rapid spread of the contagion. British scientists from the COVID19 Genomics UK Consortium said they were examining the new strain to see if “any of these mutations are contributing to increased transmission.”
Survey on Americans and the Vaccine:
Seven out of 10 Americans say they will “definitely or probably” get a COVID19 vaccine, a new survey has found. The new statistic — 71 percent — is a considerable jump from September, when 63 percent said they’d get the jab, according to a poll yesterday from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Moderna Vaccine Closer to FDA Approval:
Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine has a good review from the FDA so far, according to documents published by agency scientists yesterday, bringing the U.S. a step closer to having enough doses of various shots to protect the most vulnerable Americans. The vaccine could get emergency approval by the end of the week.
View Moderna’s briefing document for our COVID-19 vaccine here: https://t.co/B9OCofrXgg. This data will be discussed at Thursday’s meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC).
— Moderna (@moderna_tx) December 15, 2020
New Zealand Has Eliminated COVID19:
New Zealand has eliminated COVID19 after suffering only 25 deaths. Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern says the goal was driven as much by fear as it was by ambition. She says the target grew from an early realization the country’s health system simply couldn’t cope with a big outbreak.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health reported another deadly day yesterday from the COVID19 pandemic. There were two more deaths in the region, increasing the toll to 137. 52 new cases were added to the dashboard. There are now 468 active cases in the Region with 25 people hospitalized, including 11 in the ICU.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health added 9 new cases to their dashboard yesterday. The number of active cases decreased to 232. There are 15 people hospitalized in the PHU with COVID19.
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 14, 2020
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot