Ontario will begin to offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 40 and older at pharmacies and primary care offices starting today. The province announced the change Sunday after the federal health minister told a news conference the move was well within the provinces’ jurisdiction. The province had previously stuck to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendation to only offer the shot to those 55 and over due to a slightly elevated risk of an extremely rare blood clot disorder. 1,400 pharmacies in COVID-19 hot spots are now offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
More than 1,400 pharmacies across Ontario offer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Starting April 20, eligible Ontarians aged 40+ can contact a participating pharmacy directly to make an appointment.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 19, 2021
More Calls for Paid Sick Days:
Toronto’s top doctor says Ontario needs provisions that allow workers to self-isolate and avoid spreading the virus to others. Dr. Eileen de Villa says that includes paid sick days, even on a temporary emergency basis, so people can afford to stay home if they have COVID-19. The move comes as health experts and advocates call on Premier Doug Ford’s government to put a provincial paid sick day program in place. Ontario’s NDP opposition proposed a motion in the legislation yesterday that would have made that happen, but it was rejected.
Ford Government Admits It Was Bad Execution And Badly Communicated:
Ontario Government House Leader Paul Calandra says new COVID-19 restrictions announced on Friday were poorly communicated and poorly executed. Calandra says the province announced it was closing playgrounds and granting police broader pandemic enforcement powers to get residents to understand they must stay home. He says the government was right to reel back the orders, but could not say if it will implement several key measures recommended by health experts to slow a surge in cases.
Here is Health Minister Christine Elliott answering questions yesterday:
Police Clarify Why They Quick Denounced The Province’s New Orders on Friday:
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police is explaining why police forces acted quickly to let people know they wouldn’t be exercising new powers to curb the spread of COVID-19. Spokesman Joe Couto says police didn’t want people to be afraid to go outside after the province announced on Friday that officers could randomly stop people to ask why they were out. The province rescinded the measure on Saturday after a public backlash and several police forces said they would not go along. Couto says arbitrarily stopping people is unethical and unenforceable — and police will instead focus enforcement efforts on large gatherings of more than five people.
Ontario #police services are committed to the 4 Es – Engage, Explain, Educate, Enforce. Officers will not do random individual or vehicle stops. Help stop the spread of #COVID19. Public health officials need our collective support #StayHome #StaySafe #StayHealthy @CACP_ACCP pic.twitter.com/ySiqERYD0l
— OACPOfficial (@OACPOfficial) April 18, 2021
Singh Wants Trudeau To Impose The Emergency Measures Act:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being urged to consider invoking the federal Emergencies Act to address soaring COVID-19 cases in Ontario. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the move would help ensure a more coordinated delivery of vaccines to those who need them most. Singh says Toronto’s wealthiest neighbourhoods have higher rates of vaccination than neighbourhoods that have higher levels of COVID-19 positivity. He says the move would also help prevent the spread of the virus by allowing workers to take paid sick days and time off to get vaccinated.
I have written to Justin Trudeau asking him to consider using the Federal Emergencies Act to help Ontario
This could help make sure vaccines are getting to people who need them & help sick workers get paid when they stay home
We must do everything possible to keep people safe pic.twitter.com/apQayer7t7
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) April 19, 2021
Ottawa Police Cannot Keep Securing The Border with Quebec:
Ottawa’s police chief is suggesting it’s not sustainable for his force to staff checkpoints at five bridge crossings between Ontario and Quebec. As of yesterday, anyone arriving from Quebec cannot enter Ontario unless they live or work in the province, are transporting goods, or are travelling for health or compassionate reasons. Police chief Peter Sloly tells CFRA that the force was already under stress to provide policing in the city of one-million people. He says it may soon need to make tough decisions on what it can and cannot do. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also opposes checkpoints on the bridges — telling CTV Morning Live that there is no evidence they stop the spread of COVID-19.
BC Imposes New Travel Restrictions:
The BC government says it will soon begin imposing travel restrictions to prevent movement outside of provincial health regions. Police are setting up roadside checks similar to those seen during the Christmas season. Premier John Horgan says his public safety minister is expected to provide more details about the travel restrictions Friday. Yesterday, provincial health officials also announced the COVID-19-related death of a child under the age of two, along with seven other deaths since last week.
The vast majority in BC are making extraordinary sacrifices to protect themselves & those around them.
Thank you. We're almost there.
The best thing we can all do is get outside in small numbers, stay in our communities & avoid indoor social gatherings.https://t.co/YcWuUGkgPZ
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) April 20, 2021
There were 4,447 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and 19 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 1,299 of those new cases were in Toronto, 926 are in Peel Region, and 577 are in York Region. She also said there were 233 cases in Ottawa and 227 in Hamilton. The Ministry of Health reported there were 755 people in intensive care units and 516 on a ventilator.
Ontario is reporting 4,447 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 42,900 tests completed. Locally, there are 1,299 new cases in Toronto, 926 in Peel, 577 in York Region, 233 in Ottawa and 227 in Hamilton.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) April 19, 2021
New Restrictions in Manitoba:
Restrictions on indoor gatherings, religious services and capacity in retail stores are being tightened in Manitoba to cope with rising numbers of COVID variants of concern. Premier Brian Pallister announced the changes to public health orders yesterday. Manitoba also joined Alberta and Ontario in offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and up. This comes after health authorities deemed it to be a low risk for a very rare blood clot syndrome. The previous age limit was 55 and up.
Active Cases Grow in Iqaluit:
There are now 28 active cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit, Nunavut. An outbreak was declared in the city of about 8,000 people on April 16th. The city is under a strict lock down, with all schools, non-essential businesses and offices closed. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says through contract tracing, the percentage of high risk contacts testing positive for the virus is steadily dropping. Patterson says all those infected in Iqaluit are adults, mostly in their 20s and 30s.
Boots & Hearts Cancelled Again:
A major country music festival in cottage country has been pushed back to next year. Organizers for the Boots and Hearts festival say COVID-19 restrictions make it impossible to move forward with this summer’s event. The festival was set to take place the weekend of August 5th in Oro-Medonte, north of Barrie. Country music stars that had been booked to appear include Sam Hunt and Eric Church.
— Boots and Hearts (@BootsandHearts) April 19, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health announced 65 new cases yesterday, but no new deaths. Of those new cases, at least 31 were variants. Active cases increased by twenty four to 608. There are now 39 people hospitalized, which is an increase of six.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced their entire weekend’s numbers yesterday. There were 231 new cases. 45 were in Wellington, 66 were in Dufferin and 116 were in Guelph. There were no new deaths and the number of active cases is now 679. There are 18 people hospitalized with 8 in the ICU.
We've added a new stat to our #COVID19 Status Report: Variant of Concern Cases.
And a reminder that you can find the number of hospitalizations by clicking the button in "Health System Occupancy" section.
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) April 19, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Wellington County / WDG Public Health