New projections suggest it will take Ontario roughly three and a half years to clear the surgical backlog caused by COVID-19. That estimate comes from the Financial Accountability Office, one of the province’s fiscal watchdogs. It says the backlog of cancelled surgeries will reach 419,200 procedures by the end of September. The watchdog says its projections on clearing the backlog assumes hospitals will be able to operate at 11 per cent above pre-pandemic volumes in the coming years.

Williams Wants to See Less Than 1,000 Cases a Day Before Reopening:

Ontario’s top doctor says he would like the province to get well below 1,000 daily cases of COVID-19 before current restrictions lift. Dr. David Williams says the province is bending the COVID-19 pandemic curve, but the numbers are not low enough to lift the current stay-at-home order. Ontario has been under a stay-at-home under since early April, when the government declared a state of emergency to address surging rates of COVID-19. The health minister says the government is considering extending the current restrictions as experts advise the province to, “stay the course”.

Health Minister Says The Stay-At-Home Order Will Likely Be Extended:

Health Minister Christine Elliot says the province-wide stay at home order set to expire on May 20th will likely be extended. Elliot says daily COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations have declined slightly but remain far too high to ease restrictions. She says experts are currently advising the government to stay the course on the restrictions, and it will continue to monitor the numbers over the next week. Ontario declared another state of emergency and invoked the stay-at-home order in early April in response to the third wave of the pandemic.

Ontario Seriously Considering Mixing AstraZeneca With Pfizer or Moderna:

Ontario residents who got a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will likely receive a different shot for their second dose. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province will likely mix and match COVID-19 vaccine doses in light of uncertain future supply of all vaccines approved for use in Canada. It’s unclear when more Oxford-AstraZeneca shots will arrive but Ontario is expecting millions of Pfizer-BioNTech shots in the coming weeks. Elliot says the province is waiting for the results from a UK study on mixing different vaccines and on advice from a federal immunization panel.

New Vaccine Eligibility:

Ontario residents turning 40 or older this year will be able to book a COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday morning, regardless of whether they live in a hot spot area. The province is also starting to vaccinate people with health conditions considered at risk this week. It says those with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, most cancers and dementia will be able to book a shot starting this morning.

Health-care workers are being added to a list of high-risk employees prioritized for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The provincial government says those workers will be allowed to begin booking second doses by the end of this week. It says a wide array of health-care workers, including all hospital staff in front-line roles, will be able to get their second dose faster.

Tam Worried About Spread:

Canada’s chief public health officer warns the national decline in COVID-19 case counts is slowing. Dr. Theresa Tam says disease activity is elevated or increasing in many jurisdictions, and that is threatening Canada’s overall progress. Manitoba’s top doctor says some people are taking too many risks, as the province reports 498 new cases of COVID-19. Dr. Brent Roussin says residents should not be going to work or hanging out with others when they or someone in their household is symptomatic.

More Pandemic Charges in Toronto:

Toronto police say officers laid 24 charges and seized $13,000 dollars worth of alcohol after finding about 150 people at a party early Sunday morning. Police say officers responding to a call about a dispute in a laneway early Sunday morning heard loud music and found the partygoers at a nearby commercial building, not wearing masks. They say the force’s dedicated COVID-19 enforcement teams were called to help and the charges were laid under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Police say they will continue to investigate the circumstances and identify those in attendance.

Toronto Wants the Outdoors Open:

Toronto’s board of health is calling on the province to reopen outdoor recreational amenities that were shut when the current stay-at-home order went into effect. Board Chairman Joe Cressy says people need ways to get outside and enjoy the outdoors safely. The province shut outdoor recreational facilities — except playgrounds — last month, saying the measure is meant to discourage mobility at a time when residents are expected to stay home as much as possible. The government’s science advisers have criticized the restriction of outdoor activities, saying they will not control COVID-19 and disproportionately harm children and those who don’t have access to their own green space.

New Research Finds Big Issues With Communication From Public Health:

A new study looking at the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests Canadian public health officials struggled to tailor messaging to local communities. Researchers at McMaster University and the University of Waterloo examined thousands of tweets from public health officials. They say the messages often failed to reflect the situation in local communities despite the significant variations in transmission levels and other factors. The study also found only two per cent of tweets addressed misinformation and myths surrounding COVID-19.

Canada Vaccine Confidence:

Canadians’ general confidence in COVID-19 vaccines appears to be holding firm despite swirling confusion and concern about the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. A new online poll by Leger of 1,500 Canadians over the weekend found more than eight in 10 respondents said they are either vaccinated already or plan to get inoculated when it’s their turn. However, while over 80 per cent said they have trust in the vaccines from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, fewer than half felt that way about the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson shots — both of which have been linked to cases of a rare blood-clotting syndrome.

Vaccination Update:

More than 340,000 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered Canada-wide yesterday for a total of more than 16.2-million doses put into arms so far. Two-million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses are scheduled to arrive in Canada this week, allowing provinces to continue to ramp up their immunization efforts. Alberta yesterday began accepting vaccination appointments for children as young as 12. In British Columbia, anyone aged 40 and older will be able to book a COVID vaccine starting today, along with those 18 and over living in high-risk areas. Ontario residents aged 40 and up can do the same starting Thursday.

WHO Director Says COVID-19 Has Plateaued:

The head of the World Health Organization says the number of global COVID-19 cases has plateaued, with recent declines in the Americas and Europe. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says any decline is welcome, but warns that we have been here before. He is advising countries not to loosen their public health restrictions too quickly. He also noted that developing countries have still only received about seven per cent of the hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines administered to date.

Singh Trying to Draw a Connection Between Anti-Mask and Far Right Protesters:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he sees a link between far-right groups and those refusing to follow public-health advice around COVID-19. Singh says both groups show a disregard for the well-being of others and put people at risk. Some members of the public have expressed frustration over what they say is a lack of police enforcement around anti-lockdown and anti-mask demonstrations. Last month, a deputy director at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network noted more conspiracy theorists and far-right groups were attaching themselves to the movement.

Ontario Numbers:

Ontario confirmed 2,716 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, based on roughly 27,000 tests completed. There were 19 new deaths. The Toronto area continues to account for the bulk of new infections, with the city and nearby Peel and York regions recording about 1,800. Hospital numbers continued to trend in the right direction. There were 8 less in hospital overall, 20 less in the ICU, and 33 less on a ventilator. 3,110 more cases were marked as resolved.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Public Health of Waterloo Region announced just 48 new cases yesterday and no new deaths. The number of active cases decreased by thirteen. It’s now down to just 478. Hospitalizations increased by one to 47, with 35 of those in the ICU.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 129 new cases yesterday from the whole weekend. Broken down: there were 24 new cases in Wellington, 59 in Dufferin, and 43 in Guelph. Active cases are down to 394 and there are 34 people hospitalized. 15 of those are in the ICU.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube


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