Ontario Identifies Hot Spot Regions To Prioritize For Vaccinations – Full COVID-19 Update

Ontario Identifies Hot Spot Regions To Prioritize For Vaccinations – Full COVID-19 Update

13 Ontario Public Health units have been deemed hot spots by the province which means they can expect to see an influx of COVID-19 vaccines. Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Ottawa, Peel, Simcoe-Muskoka, Southwestern, Toronto, Waterloo Region, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Windsor-Essex, and York Region can now move to phase 2 of vaccinating. Many more essential frontline workers are included in phase 2, including teachers and some manufacturing worker. Supply continues to be an issue. In total, Ontario will get 3.2 million vaccines this month, which is 800,000 less than what the Province can administer.

All Ontarians 60 and Up Can Book a COVID-19 Vaccination Starting Today:

People aged 60 and over will be able to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments in every region of Ontario starting this morning. The provincial government aims to ramp up vaccinations to 100,000 shots per day. The current seven-day average stands at about 73,000 shots per day.

More Restrictions on the Way:

Today could be another one full of bad news for business owners. It is expected that the province will report in and around 4,000 new COVID-19 cases. Premier Ford and the cabinet met for hours yesterday to discuss the growing calls for new restrictions. The Premier said all options are on the table including a full stay-at-home order, a nightly curfew and restrictions on traveling between regions. The Premier is expected to speak around 1pm.

Here are Premier Ford’s remarks from yesterday:

York Region Offers Vaccines to People 45-59 Years Old:

York Region is offering COVID-19 vaccines to people between the ages of 45 and 59 in areas that are hot spots for the virus. Four of the priority communities are in Vaughan and one is in Markham. The regional municipality says those communities have high rates of COVID-19 transmission, hospitalization and death. There are 8,000 appointments available and eligible residents can sign up starting at 8:30am.

Toronto Schools are Closed:

Schools in Toronto shift to online learning today as the local public health unit tries to slow the spread of COVID-19. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa issued the order yesterday, following similar moves in Peel Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. The closure will be re-assessed on April 18th when the scheduled spring break ends. The health unit says strong measures are necessary because new virus variants have increased the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Restaurants Want Premier Ford To Reimburse Them:

Ontario’s restaurant industry is demanding Premier Ford’s government pay $100-million-dollars in compensation for its decision to pull the emergency brake and shut down indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association say the decision prompted a raft of expenses, ranging from wasted inventory to staffing costs. They suggest making further funding available through the Ontario Small Business Support program, introducing a sector-specific program for covering reopening and closure costs, and immediately ending the six-per-cent markup that restaurants pay for alcohol from the LCBO.

Trudeau to Meet with the Premiers Today:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver a message of reassurance to the premiers that his government will continue supporting the provinces and territories however it can, as much of the country faces down a dangerous third wave of COVID-19. Trudeau will meet virtually with several premiers today. Yesterday, he spoke with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Prime Minister’s Office said they both agreed on the importance of maintaining a Team Canada approach and working together on the vaccine rollout. Several jurisdictions are reporting a majority of hospital patients are now under age 60. With young, otherwise healthy people quickly filling up intensive care units, public-health officials are imploring us to understand that this virus doesn’t just attack the weak or the elderly.

The Prime Minister Is Deflecting Blame on Vaccine Procurement And Transfers to the Provinces:

Prime Minister Trudeau says this has been a very, very long year and he’s blaming pandemic fatigue for some premiers taking shots at the federal government over its delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Trudeau plans to speak with the premiers today and says he will assure them that Ottawa will continue to support everyone through the third wave of the pandemic. He says the final $700-million-dollar instalment from the billions of dollars in pandemic aid announced last summer is being delivered to the provinces and territories.

Canadian Numbers:

There were over 6,500 new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported nationwide Tuesday, bringing the total number reported since the pandemic began over a year ago to nearly 1,021,000. The number of current active cases in Canada tops 60,000. The country’s leading hot spot continues to be its most populous province — Ontario — with more than three-thousand new cases Tuesday for about 15,000 in five days. Quebec was next with nearly 1,200 new cases yesterday, followed by British Columbia with nearly 1,100, and Alberta with more than 900. No new cases were reported in any of the three territories, or in PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador.

Here are yesterday’s comments from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer:

Dr Tam Is Concerned About Hospital Capacity:

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the number of new admissions to intensive care units rose 18 per cent last week. About one-third of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized require intensive care, up from less than one-fifth in mid-January. Tam says there is growing evidence that people who are hospitalized with variants need intensive care at higher rates. In Ontario alone there are 510 COVID patients in intensive care and 310 of them are on ventilators.

New Funding for Skills Development:

A federally backed agency is rolling out $32-million dollars to fund 65 projects that will help workers affected by the pandemic adapt to a shifting labour market. Pedro Barata, executive director of the Future Skills Centre, says the programs aim to improve workers’ skills and find jobs in high-growth sectors. COVID-19 has accelerated technological shifts that were already underway in the workforce that threaten to make some jobs obsolete.

Ontario Numbers:

There were 3,065 new COVID-19 cases reported in Ontario yesterday and eight new deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there were 955 new cases in Toronto, 561 in Peel Region, and 320 in York Region. Hospitalizations saw another sharp increase. There were 219 more admitted in the 24-hour period. 16 more patients were admitted to the ICU.  1,976 more cases were marked as resolved.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Public Health of Waterloo Region confirmed 82 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. That’s the highest daily total since January. Hospitalizations decreased to 20, which is a drop of one. Six people are currently in the ICU. The number of active cases increased by thirty-eight, to 386.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health finally updated their numbers yesterday, for the first time in almost a week. The totals since last Thursday say there were 297 new cases, which increases the number of active cases to 363. The death toll is at 106. There are just 5 people hospitalized with 2 in the ICU.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot

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