The head of Ontario’s scientific advisory task force is calling for tighter COVID-19 restrictions to curb the spread of more contagious variants. Dr. Peter Juni says the provincial government needs to impose measures similar to the shutdown seen when the pandemic hit last year. Juni says even the strictest level of the province’s current pandemic framework isn’t enough to reduce current infection rates. Case data analyzed by the science table shows more infectious COVID-19 variants have become dominant among new cases.
The Auditor General Says Trudeau Had No Plan And Make It Up As He Went Along:
The federal auditor general says the government moved as fast as it could to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it had no other choice. Karen Hogan says the government had no plan in the first place. Hogan’s report on the government’s response to the pandemic found the Public Health Agency of Canada spent years letting elements of pandemic preparedness go by the wayside. But Hogan found the government’s financial support programs rolled out well. Now efforts will be needed to ensure the money went to the right places.
Here is the report:
Feds to Hand Out Big Money to the Provinces:
The federal Liberals have introduced legislation to hand provinces, territories and cities, 7.2-billion-dollars. More than half the money is going to immediate health-care needs. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the spending is just a start, and there will be more information in next month’s budget. Freeland says COVID-19 has placed extreme pressure on health-care systems across the country and Canadians need help urgently.
Biden Doubles His Original Promise:
US President Joe Biden opened his first formal news conference yesterday with a nod toward the improving picture on battling the coronavirus. He is doubling his original goal by pledging that the nation will administer 200-million doses of vaccines by the end of his first 100 days in office. The administration had met Biden’s initial goal of 100-million doses earlier this month — before even his 60th day in office. The pandemic has killed more than 545,000 Americans and devastated the nation’s economy.
Before I took office, I set a big goal of 100 million shots in my first 100 days.
We hit the goal on day 58.
Now, I’m setting a new one: 200 million shots in my first 100 days.
Let’s do this.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 25, 2021
Update on Canadian Vaccination:
COVID-19 vaccine distribution is set to steadily increase across Canada in the coming weeks, as the country passes a milestone in its inoculation effort. Deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, says more than 11 per cent of the country’s adult population is now at least partially protected from the coronavirus. Njoo warns that more transmissible variants continue to pose a significant threat until more people are vaccinated. Meanwhile, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says she’s concerned about reports of vaccine hesitancy among health-care workers. Dr. Supriya Sharma says it’s important to dig into and address why hospital and long-term care workers are wary of the vaccine.
Here is yesterday’s federal update:
There is a Delay with the Next Shipment of Moderna:
Canadians can expect a short delay in this week’s second shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said late yesterday that the company is blaming a backlog in its quality assurance process, but says the delayed shipment of 590,000 doses should be arriving no later than April 1st. Canada received more than 255,000 doses of Moderna at Toronto’s Pearson airport on Wednesday. Anand adds Moderna has promised the backlog is temporary and won’t affect its next scheduled Canadian delivery of 855,000 doses the week of April 5th.
This afternoon, I spoke with executives from Moderna regarding a shipment to 🇨🇦 that has been delayed to next week. Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/qAFMZdesJy
— Anita Anand (@AnitaOakville) March 26, 2021
Migrant Farm Workers May Get A Free Vaccine at the Airport When They Arrive:
Migrant farm workers arriving in Ontario this year may be offered COVID-19 shots at the airport. ntario’s associate medical officer of health says the province is discussing the plan with the federal government. Doctor Barbara Yaffe says if Ottawa doesn’t offer on-arrival vaccination to the workers, the province probably will. More than 1,780 temporary foreign workers tested positive for the virus in Ontario last year and three died from it.
Here is yesterday’s technical briefing:
Funding for the Tourism Recovery:
Members of Ontario’s tourism industry are welcoming the province’s tailored aid for the struggling sector as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens a second summer. The Ontario budget calls for $400-million-dollars in spending over the next three years on the tourism industry. That’s on top of previously announced investments of $225 million dollars in the sector, after the pandemic forced would-be patrons to spend much of the last year at home. Andrew Weir — executive vice-president at Destination Toronto — says it’s encouraging to see the government recognize the tourism sector’s importance.
Thank you to the Government of Ontario for recognizing the importance of the Arts & Tourism with increased support in the 2021 budget. We are fortunate to have a great advocate & champion of the arts community in Minister @MacLeodLisa @fordnation @ONArtsCouncil #OntarioBudget2021
— Canada's Ballet Jörgen (@BalletJorgenCA) March 25, 2021
Canada’s Wonderland Being Turned Into a Vaccination Clinic:
A vaccination clinic is opening at Canada’s Wonderland on Monday, and eligible residents can start booking their shots today. There are only a limited number of appointments at the theme park-turned-drive-thru vaccine site right now. But officials say that once it’s at full capacity, as many as 1,600 shots a day can be administered at the site.
Airlines Are Ready to Fly Again:
With confidence rising that the end of the pandemic is growing closer, airlines in the US are starting to revive flights that vanished last year as people cancelled trips. United Airlines will add 26 new non-stop routes from Midwest cities to vacation spots like Hilton Head and Portland, Maine and is also restarting more than 20 domestic routes. United says it will be operating 52 per cent of its overall schedule compared with May 2019 — significantly better than the 14 per cent operated in May of last year. Air Canada also recently announced plans to resume some flights to sun spots, and WestJet is reviving routes it had suspended to Eastern Canada.
New routes. New routes. New routes.
(Plus one expanded route, just for fun. Bonus points if you can name it!)
— United Airlines (@united) March 25, 2021
Another Scam to Skip the Vaccine Line Uncovered:
An eastern Ontario health unit says non-eligible residents are using other people’s codes to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit says that’s disruptive, strains resources and takes appointment slots away from those who need them most. It’s reminding those eligible for the shots not to share their COVID-19 vaccine booking codes. Health officials also say those who booked appointments when they were not supposed to will be turned away when their identity is verified at vaccination clinics.
There were 2,380 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday but the Ministry of Health says that number was inflated by a data-processing issue. 280 of those cases were added to the count because of “data catch up”. Of the 2,100 actual new cases, almost half (1,016) were in Toronto. 294 more cases came from Brampton, 244 were in York Region and 152 were from Ottawa. 17 more fatalities were record and hospitalizations increased slightly. 1,329 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 2,380 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 60,100 tests completed. Locally, there are 1,016 new cases in Toronto, 294 in Peel, 244 in York Region and 152 in Ottawa.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 1,755,596 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) March 25, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Region of Waterloo Public Health confirmed 45 new cases yesterday after several hours of technical difficulties with their dashboard. 19 people are being treated in hospital with eight in intensive care. There are now 254 active cases, which is nineteen more than yesterday.
Public Health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph declared 16 new cases yesterday and another new case in hospital. That is a total of 4 now. Breaking down the new cases: 5 were in Wellington, 5 were in Dufferin and 6 were in Guelph. There are now 134 active cases, which is four more than yesterday.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot