Pandemic restrictions will loosen in 27 Ontario health units today as the province moves ahead with a reopening plan in light of projections showing a likely third wave of COVID-19. Niagara Region will be the only region in the grey-lockdown zone. The rest of the regions fall along the scale that moves from red — the second-most strict level behind the grey — through green, with lighter restrictions on businesses and gatherings at each stage. Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and North Bay Parry Sound are set to remain under the stay-at-home order until at least Monday.
Here is the media release explaining which regions are in which colour: CLICK HERE (You will be redirected)
Effective Feb 16 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario is transitioning 27 #PublicHealth regions into a revised and strengthened #COVID19 Response Framework, which categorizes regions into five levels. https://t.co/zAaUc0mPCm pic.twitter.com/oq5v77dwVP
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 15, 2021
The Rest of Ontario Students Begin In-Person Learning Today:
Students in three of Ontario’s COVID-19 hotspots will return to in-class learning today. Schools in Toronto, York Region, and Peel Region will be opening their doors after doing online learning since classes resumed in January. Children or their guardians will now have to complete a more detailed screening form every day. Students in Grade 1 or older will also be expected to wear a mask whenever they’re indoors and during outdoor recess when physical distancing is not possible.
Read my @TheTorontoSun op-ed below.
The return of in-class learning for all students on Tuesday is:
✏️ Critical for mental health
✏️ Safe as community cases ⬇️
✏️ Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.https://t.co/afTEYY1rvy
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) February 15, 2021
New Land Crossing Border Rules are Now in Effect:
New rules went into effect yesterday morning for travellers driving into Canada from the US. They now have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours — or proof of positive test between 14 and 90 days before arrival, which is long enough for them to recover and still have some immunity. Next week those arriving at land border crossings will also be required to take a COVID-19 test to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants.
Beginning February 22, travellers arriving to 🇨🇦 by land will be required to submit travel information + a suitable quarantine plan via #ArriveCan before crossing the border. Remember #NowIsNotTheTime to travel. ➡️ https://t.co/j544UmgLOp pic.twitter.com/HM8IQNPJR9
— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) February 14, 2021
Trudeau May Call in the Military to Help Enforce Border Restrictions:
The federal government is preparing to enlist the military’s help in screening travellers for COVID-19 at the border. The Public Health Agency of Canada is now looking at setting up testing sites at 16 land border crossings with the US with assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces and other federal departments. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that, starting February 22nd, that all non-essential travellers arriving at the border by land will be tested before they are allowed to enter the country.
Vaccine Shipments are Finally About to Ramp Up:
After a month-long slowdown in vaccine shipments as Pfizer expanded its plant in Belgium, provinces are getting ready to hit the ground running with a significant increase in deliveries. Canada is expecting to receive weekly shipments of more than 400,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine between this week and early April. Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dube says the influx will allow the province to ramp up vaccination, particularly in private seniors homes. The Ontario government says it is developing a web portal for booking COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
Multiple #COVID19 vaccination sites (including drive-through) planned for when supply allows.
“Sites are being chosen based on accessibility criteria, population distribution & vulnerability.”
-Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region medical officer of healthhttps://t.co/fah80GgiBR
— Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac) February 15, 2021
Prioritizing Who Gets The Shot:
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on immunization says adults from racialized communities most affected by COVID-19 should be prioritized for shots. It also recommends that essential workers who can’t do their jobs from home are also a priority. The committee’s guidance applies to the second stage of Canada’s vaccination campaign. It’s expected to start this spring after provinces get COVID-19 inoculations into the arms of all staff and residents of long-term care homes, adults aged 70 or older, front-line health workers and adults in Indigenous communities.
The Legislature Resumes Sitting Today:
The Ontario legislature will start its spring sitting today. Politicians return to Queen’s Park to begin the new session that is scheduled to last until June. The sitting is expected to be dominated by continued pandemic response measures. Premier Doug Ford’s government will also deliver its spring budget before the end of March.
Barrie Residents Still Urged to Stay Home:
The mayor of Barrie is urging people to continue to follow public health measures as stay-at-home orders lift for most of the province today. Barrie was hit hard by a COVID-19 variant outbreak that has led to the deaths of 70 residents at the Roberta Place long-term care home. Mayor Jeff Lehman says his city has seen how quickly more contagious variants can spread and he’s concerned the government’s economic reopening is coming too soon.
— Jeff Lehman (@Mayor_Jeff) February 16, 2021
Police Investigating a Durham LTC Home:
Police in Durham Region say they’re investigating a retirement home following allegations that handles were removed from some residents’ doors. Police say they received a complaint on Friday regarding the White Cliffe Terrace Retirement Residence in Courtice. Several media reports allege the residents who had their door handles removed tested positive for COVID-19. Verve Senior Living says all handles have since been replaced and an investigation is underway to determine how long residents were confined to their rooms.
Quebec Inquest on Hold:
A Quebec coroner’s inquest into long-term care deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave is on hold. A lawyer representing the Montreal-area Herron Residence has requested a postponement or a publication ban due to the possibility of criminal charges stemming from the deaths. Lawyers representing some families of the 47 residents who died and others acting for media organizations oppose the publication ban request.
Several People Who Have Been Immunized Test Positive:
Four people in Oregon, who were fully immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine, have tested positive for coronavirus. This makes Oregon among the first states to report breakthrough cases, which occur when people test positive for the virus at least 14 days after receiving their second dose of the vaccine. Both vaccines approved for emergency use authorizations – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – are 95 percent effective, meaning five percent who get vaccinated may still get sick, which official says is serious but not surprising.
New Research Into the Vaccines:
Two doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 94 percent effective at stopping over-55s from falling unwell with the disease, according to a major study in Israel. The data of more than half a million people who received two shots of the jab found patients were also 92 percent less likely to develop severe illness. The study, which suggests Pfizer’s vaccine works almost as well in the real world as it did in clinical trials, compared 600,000 patients given two doses of the jab against a similar-sized group who had matching medical histories but were not inoculated.
The UN Vaccination Effort is Underway:
It’s nearly launch time for the United Nations’ unprecedented program to deploy COVID-19 vaccines for hundreds of millions in need around the globe. More than two months after countries like Canada, Britain and the United States started immunizing their most vulnerable people, the UN’s health agency has approved a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The move could trigger the release of hundreds of millions of doses by the UN’s COVAX initiative.
Tweaking the Vaccines to Protect Against the Variants:
Drug companies are racing to tweak their COVID-19 vaccines so they offer protection against more contagious virus mutations. Studies are raising concern that first-generation COVID-19 vaccines don’t work as well against a mutant that first emerged in South Africa as they do against other versions circulating around the world. But many of the new COVID-19 vaccines are made with new, flexible technology that’s easy to upgrade if and when the decision is made that the virus has mutated enough to warrant a change.
COVID Variant Detected in Kitchener School:
Public health officials have identified a probable case of a COVID-19 variant in a student at a school in Kitchener. The Waterloo Region District School Board says the patient is a student at W.T. Townshend Public School who is a close contact of someone who previously tested positive for a virus variant of concern. The board didn’t offer details on which variant is suspected.
Yesterday the province did not provide a COVID-19 update, due to the provincial holiday. Over the weekend there were 61 new deaths and over 2,200 new cases. It’s expected that the weekend numbers were actually higher than published, due to an ongoing issue with Toronto Public Health migrating their numbers to the Provincial pandemic reporting system. As of Sunday, there were 705 COVID-19 patients in hospital with 203 on a ventilator.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health did not report COVID-19 numbers yesterday due to the Provincial holiday. On Sunday there were 37 new cases and on Saturday there were 39. The death toll climbed to 218 over the weekend but the number of active cases dropped down to 376. Heading into today, there are 28 people hospitalized with 7 in the ICU. The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph public health unit has not reported any numbers since Friday.
ICYMI: There are no dashboard updates today. Our Waterloo Region COVID-19 summary dashboard and @RegionWaterloo's Vaccine Distribution summary dashboard will be updated tomorrow. You can view the dashboards here:
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) February 15, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Government of Ontario