The provincial government says it’s working with Ontario’s top doctor to develop an economic re-opening plan as COVID-19 case counts continue to decline. Ontario’s stay-at-home order was recently extended to June 2nd, but Health Minister Christine Elliott says a sector-specific re-opening strategy will be released very soon. Ontario will not return to its colour-coded pandemic framework when the current stay-at-home order ends. Elliott made the comment as the province reported 17 additional deaths and 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. That’s the lowest daily case count since late March.
Was It Too Soon to Open Vaccination Appointments to 18+?
Health Minister Christine Elliott is brushing off criticism that the province expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility too quickly to residents aged 18 and up. Multiple health units, including those in Hamilton and Ottawa, say they rapidly ran out of vaccine appointments just hours they were opened to all adults at 8am yesterday. But Elliott says long waits have been seen every time the government opened bookings to more residents, and the crush is good news because it shows people are eager to get vaccinated. She also says additional vaccine shipments will allow more people to book appointments soon.
The Border May Be Closed For a While:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests that three-quarters of Canadians will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Canada-US border can be re-opened. He says discussions about the border are ongoing, but he’s tamping down any expectations that travel restrictions could be lifted soon. Discretionary travel between Canada and the United States has been prohibited since March of last year. That restriction is set to be extended into June before the end of this week.
Some Canadians May Be Allowed To Go To The US For A Shot Without Quarantining:
Health Canada says Canadian residents are allowed to drive to the US for a COVID-19 vaccine and avoid quarantine on return, provided they meet some conditions. You have to have a note from a licensed health-care provider in Canada that the inoculation is medically necessary. You then have to show written proof of the shot from a licensed US vaccine provider. The trip to the US must be in a private vehicle, and tacking on shopping or other non-essential activities is a no-no.
Quebec Is Reopening:
Quebec has presented its COVID-19 reopening plan with Premier Francois Legault saying big changes are coming for the province. They include lifting the COVID-19 curfew that has been in place for months now — and reopening restaurant patios beginning May 28th. Legault says mask requirements will eventually be loosened once more people get their shots. He says 75 per cent of Quebec adults have received at least one dose of vaccine or have an appointment to get one.
Je veux dire merci à tous les Québécois. C’est grâce à nos efforts collectifs & c’est parce qu’on s’est serré les coudes, que je peux vous annoncer qu’à partir du 28 mai, on va retrouver un peu de liberté partout au Québec.
Voici les détails de notre plan de déconfinement👉 pic.twitter.com/bGNSSeCxi0
— François Legault (@francoislegault) May 18, 2021
Business Compliance is Way Up:
Ontario is reporting strong compliance with public health rules during an ongoing workplace inspection blitz. Provincial inspectors are in their second week of targeting manufacturing, food processing and distribution sector job sites in the Greater Toronto Area. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says just 15 per cent of the 700 sites inspected last week required a followup visit. Inspectors are aiming to visit 15-hundred workplaces by the end of next week.
Trudeau Investing Big Money Into a Very Profitable Biotech Company in Mississauga:
Prime Minister Trudeau has announced nearly $200-million dollars in funding to help mass produce messenger RNA vaccines in Mississauga. The funding for Resilience Biotechnologies will cover about half of the cost to modernize and expand its manufacturing capacity. The upgrade will allow the company to make up to 640-million doses a year of m-R-N-A vaccines, the technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Trudeau says the investment is necessary for Canada to be ready to face any future health crisis.
The Feds Say No To Playoff Hockey With Fans:
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer doesn’t see this country allowing fans into arenas during the NHL playoffs. Dr. Howard Njoo says allowing fans into games is not under serious consideration at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the American games so far in the playoffs have had fans.
BC Investing Into Tourism:
The BC government is offering up to $1-million-dollar grants to help anchor attractions and tour bus operators survive the pandemic and ramp up operations when it’s safe to do so. Premier John Horgan and Tourism Minister Melanie Mark say they believe the 50-million-dollar program is enough to prevent any of those not-for-profits and businesses on the edge from going under. Horgan says anchor attractions have ripple effects for the economy as visitors stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and shop in the area, while also offering employment opportunities.
Saskatchewan Wants to Vaccine Students Already:
With the age of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines in Saskatchewan continuing to drop, officials are set to kick off a new effort to get students vaccinated before the end of the school year. Health Minister Paul Merriman says the plan calls for shots being administered in schools this June — though no dates have been finalized. Currently, minors are only eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The province says parental consent will be needed for children to receive the vaccine.
Alberta Showing Signs of Improvement:
It’s a bit of good news and bad news for Albertans. The province’s chief medical officer of health says there has been a steady improvement in new COVID-19 case numbers, as vaccination efforts have reached more than 50 per cent of the province’s population over the age of 12. However, Doctor Deena Hinshaw says the positivity rate remains very high — 11.4 per cent — compared to the 1.5 per cent it was last May. Hinshaw says the difference shows why public health measures are still needed.
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) May 18, 2021
AstraZeneca Vaccines Out of India Will Be Delayed for Months:
The Serum Institute of India says it hopes to start delivering COVID-19 vaccines to the UN-backed effort known as COVAX — and to other countries — by the end of the year. The delay announced yesterday will significantly set back global efforts to immunize people against the virus. India’s Serum Institute is the world’s biggest vaccine-maker and the main supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX. It said in March it was postponing all exports of coronavirus vaccines to deal with the explosive surge of cases on the subcontinent.
Canada added another 4,035 new COVID-19 cases, for a pandemic total of 1,338,141. Almost 64,750 cases are considered active. Vaccinations continue across the country, with 283,461 new shots in arms for an overall total of more than 19-million doses given.
1/3 #COVID19 key concerns in Canada: nationally, disease activity continues to decline, but there are still areas of Canada experiencing very high infection rates, incl. areas with an average >200 cases/100,000 population over the past 7-days. https://t.co/M03XXbXMmP
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) May 18, 2021
There were 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 17 more deaths linked to the virus. 472 of the new cases were in Toronto, 360 were in Peel Region, and 116 were in York Region. More than 109,000 people received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the 24-hour period, for a total of over 7.2 million total doses administered. Yesterday hospital numbers increased sharply with a total of 164 more patients admitted. However, 15 less were in the ICU. 2,502 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 1,616 cases of #COVID19 and over 22,900 tests completed. Locally, there are 472 new cases in Toronto, 360 in Peel, 116 in York Region, 114 in Hamilton and 102 in Durham.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) May 18, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
There were 57 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, according to Waterloo Region Public Health. No new deaths were announced. The number of active cases was up by just two to 502. Hospitalizations went up by seven to 43.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced just 10 new cases yesterday, and no new deaths. The number of active cases is now down to 264. Hospitalizations dropped by six to 23. Only 7 of those are in the ICU.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: The Ontario Legislature via YouTube