Today at 1pm, Premier Ford will hold a news conference to announce that all regions in Ontario will be placed into the grey-lockdown stage starting Christmas Eve. The move will restrict non-essential retail, close gyms and prohibit indoor dining right across the province starting at 12:01 am on Thursday. The length of the lockdown will vary depending on region. Full details will be announced later today by the Premier.
The trends we're seeing throughout Ontario are very concerning. Earlier today, I spoke with all CEOs from Ontario’s hospitals to understand what’s happening on the ground.
We will be continuing emergency meetings this weekend & will be providing an update on Monday at 1pm. pic.twitter.com/a3a8M5hnH9
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 19, 2020
Canada Bans Incoming Air Passengers from the UK:
Canada has joined a growing list of countries in issuing a temporary ban on flights from the UK. In effect for 72 hours, the ban is aimed at keeping a highly contagious new strain of the virus that causes COVID19 out of Canada. Officials say any passengers who arrived from the UK in the hours leading up to the Monday morning ban have been subjected to secondary screening and “enhanced measures.”
At midnight tonight, and for the next 72 hours, all flights from the UK will be prohibited from entering Canada. Passengers who arrived today are subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures. More on the actions we’re taking to protect you: https://t.co/UrsE5sTcJT
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 21, 2020
(1/2) Given the high number of cases of a variant #COVID19 virus observed in some areas in the United Kingdom, the #GoC is suspending entry into Canada of all commercial and private passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours, effective midnight tonight.
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) December 21, 2020
Canada’s two most populous provinces continue to lead the rising number of COVID19 infections. Yesterday Ontario reported 2,316 new cases and 25 virus related deaths, while Quebec health officials confirmed 2,146 new cases and 21 additional deaths.
Ontario is reporting 2,316 cases of #COVID19 and over 69,400 tests completed. Locally, there are 486 new cases in Toronto, 468 in Peel, 326 in York Region, 151 in Windsor-Essex County and 128 in Niagara.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 20, 2020
Optimism About the Vaccine:
An online survey shows a majority of Canadians are optimistic about the new year because of the COVID19 vaccines. A report commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies and conducted by Leger says 70 per cent of those polled said they were somewhat optimistic about 2021, while 15 per cent reported feeling very optimistic. Another 10 per cent said news of the vaccines left them feeling somewhat pessimistic about the new year, and five per cent said they felt very pessimistic.
Hamilton Enters Lockdown:
Today Hamilton enters the grey lockdown phase of the province’s pandemic response plan. Hamilton is joining Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex in lockdown mode. The stricter public health protocols, which restrict restaurants to offering takeout and delivery only, and close non-essential stores — kicked in at 12:01am.
Our government is moving six #PublicHealth regions to new levels to #StopTheSpread of #COVID19, protect our hospital capacity, and safeguard the key services we rely on. @TOPublicHealth and @regionofpeel will also remain in the Grey-Lockdown level. https://t.co/FuL62pMpBN pic.twitter.com/LANOoEFdpu
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 20, 2020
More COVID Shots to be Given Out This Week:
About 200,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID19 vaccine are expected to arrive this coming week, bound for 70 distribution sites across the country. The latest shipment comes as both Ontario and Quebec record more than two-thousand new infections a day after Canada passed the 500,000 case mark.
Trudeau Says This is Not What He Had in Mind for 2020:
Prime Minister Trudeau says he intended to take a lower-profile, more business-like approach to leading the Liberal’s minority government this year. But that all changed when the COVID19 pandemic forced him back onto centre stage with daily briefings and announcements of hastily crafted emergency aid programs. Good or bad, the PM says he vowed to spend as much as it takes to get the country through the pandemic.
Hospital Capacity is a Concern Nationwide:
Health officials have been warning that the capacity at the country’s hospitals is dwindling quickly as COVID19 case counts balloon. Now, following 15 days of spiking numbers coast-to-coast, 100,000 infections have been added to the national tally — bumping the total over the 500,000 mark. Canada’s top doctor is calling this “the pandemic of the century,” and says that while there are many lessons to help guide future pandemic planning, every virus is different.
Dr Tam Predicts a Difficult Pandemic Winter:
Doctor Theresa Tam says Canadians are facing a long, difficult pandemic winter — but there is hope on the horizon. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer says things will improve with the arrival of various vaccines, but it will still take a while before they start playing a major role in preventing the transmission of COVID19. Health Canada approved the first COVID19 vaccine on December 9th and could approve the second sometime before Christmas.
Dr Tam on Herd Immunity:
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says if Canada hopes to develop any kind of herd immunity to COVID19, at least two-thirds of Canadians will need to be vaccinated. But she says what keeps her up at night is the fear that not enough people will actually get the shot when it becomes available to the general public. She says communicating the vaccines’ success to date, telling the stories of those who have had them, and encouraging people to look for credible information about them, are going to be the big focus as 2021 gets underway.
No matter how you plan to celebrate this #holiday season, show kindness and respect to others by staying at home and away from others if you have symptoms, wearing a non-medical mask, and maintaining a physical distance.
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) December 19, 2020
Banning Flights from the UK Over New Strain of COVID19:
Officials in Belgium say they’re joining with the Netherlands in banning flights from the UK. They say rail connections will also be banned to try to prevent a new, fast-moving strain of COVID19 that’s sweeping across southern England from entering their territory. At midnight, the UK launched tougher measures for London and the surrounding areas as the new variant of the virus — that’s reported to be 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains — appeared to be spreading fast.
Nova Scotia to Keep Christmas Gatherings Small:
Nova Scotia’s premier says the province is heading in the right direction when it comes to new COVID19 cases. Still, Stephen McNeil says the key focus now is keeping holiday gatherings small in an effort to limit any further spread of the virus. The province announced two new cases on the weekend and had 41 active cases as of Sunday.
New restrictions come into effect at 12:00 am Dec. 21. Most of the restrictions apply provincewide. In areas of HRM & Hants County, restaurants, licensed establishments & the Halifax casino remain closed until Jan. 10. https://t.co/ijQ4RQxqp4.
— Stephen McNeil (@StephenMcNeil) December 20, 2020
US Closer to a Stimulus Deal:
Top negotiators in Congress have sealed an almost $1-trillion-dollar US deal on a COVID 19 economic relief package. The agreement would establish a temporary $300-dollar per week supplemental jobless benefit and $600-dollar direct stimulus payments to most Americans. Both sides of the political aisle have been haggling over the agreement for months. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed more help could be on the way once Joe Biden is sworn in as president.
BREAKING: As the American people continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be on their own.
Congress has just reached an agreement. We will pass another rescue package ASAP. More help is on the way.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 20, 2020
US Vaccine Update:
US health officials closely tracking possible side effects of the first authorized COVID19 vaccine said on Saturday they have seen at least six cases of severe allergic reactions out of more than a quarter million shots given – prompting one Illinois hospital to pause vaccinations. Medical experts said that a chemical called polyethylene glycol (PEG), a compound most commonly used in laxatives, could be the culprit causing the reactions. PEG is an ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine authorized on Friday.
A federal advisory panel recommended yesterday that people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers, and grocery store workers should be next in line for COVID19 shots, while a second vaccine began rolling out to hospitals as the nation works to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.
Biden to get a COVID Shot on TV Today:
US president-elect Joe Biden will receive his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince Americans the inoculations are safe. Today’s event will come the same day that a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, joins Pfizer’s in the nation’s arsenal. Top government leaders including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were given doses Friday.
— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) December 21, 2020
Americans Are Packing Into the Airports Again:
More than a million people have passed through US airport security checkpoints in each of the past two days. It marks the first time American airports have screened more than a million passengers since the end of last month. That came at the end of a Thanksgiving weekend that saw far more travel around the country than had been hoped as COVID19 cases began to spike again.
Thank you to our @TSA agents who worked around the clock to ensure safe holiday travels this Thanksgiving, successfully screening more than 1 million airline passengers on several individual days. https://t.co/JWIFbCgOmU
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) December 2, 2020
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
The case numbers were climbing all weekend in Waterloo Region, pushing the total number of infections over 5,000. Public Health reported 88 new cases on Friday, 84 new cases on Saturday and 96 yesterday. The number of active cases is up to 571. There are now 38 cases hospitalized with 12 in ICU. There were more deaths this weekend, increasing the local toll to 142.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph had 37 new cases on Friday but they still do not report weekend numbers. Heading into this week, the public health unit has 266 active cases and 18 people hospitalized with COVID19.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot