Province Moving Quickly to Vaccinate Healthcare Workers – Full COVID19 Update

Ontario will start COVID19 vaccinations at hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa on Tuesday. Premier Ford says a very small number of doses are expected to arrive in the coming days. He says health-care workers in long-term care homes will be the first to receive their shots. The University Health Network in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital will be the first sites to receive and administer the vaccinations beginning on Tuesday.

Here is General Hillier’s update:

Feds Asking for Patience:

Canadians are being urged to remain patient as provinces begin to release their vaccination priority lists ahead of next week’s arrival of the first shipment of COVID19 vaccines. Health officials are also reminding people to continue following COVID19 guidelines, noting it will be some time before everyone can get the shot. They warn that case numbers will spike if public health restrictions are relaxed. Ontario released new modelling data yesterday showing current localized lockdowns have not been as effective at containing the spread as the more stringent, provincewide shutdown imposed during the first wave.

Here is yesterday’s federal update:

Vaccine Approval in America is Imminent:

A US government advisory panel has endorsed Pfizer’s COVID19 vaccine, with the Food and Drug Administration expected to follow the recommendation within days. In a vote of 17-4 with one abstention, the advisory group concluded the shot appears safe and effective against the virus in people age 16 and older. Health Canada approved the vaccine earlier this week.

New Provincial Modelling:

Ontario health officials say the province is at a “critical juncture” where the COVID19 case rate may change quickly. New modelling data released yesterday shows hospital intensive care unit occupancy will continue to rise above 200 beds for the next month, particularly if public health interventions are relaxed. The new data comes as the province announced health-care workers in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings in Toronto and Ottawa will be the first to receive Ontario’s share of the initial shipment of COVID19 vaccines.

Teachers Union Wants Asymptomatic Testing of Kids in Every School:

Toronto education workers want the province to expand an asymptomatic testing pilot program into every school in the city. Unions for teachers and education workers have written to Toronto public health officials and provincial ministers with their request. The pilot found more than 20 cases of COVID19 last month in the first Toronto school where it was deployed. The workers also want classes to move online for the first two weeks of 2021.

Here is Dr David Williams discussing the idea:

Windsor Schools are Going Online Because of So Many Cases:

All elementary and high schools in Windsor-Essex are closing for students as COVID cases keep rising. The county’s medical officer says students will have to go online as of Monday. Dr. Wajid Ahmed says schools will remain open to teachers and staff, as well as for full-time daycares.

The PBO is Concerned About the Liberal Stimulus Plan:

Parliamentary budget watchdog Yves Giroux is raising red flags over the lack of details in the government’s $100-billion-dollar stimulus plan. He’s suggesting Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s phone is probably ringing off the hook with calls from lobbyists wanting a piece of the action. The government’s COVID19 recovery plan calls for massive spending over the next three years to build a greener and more inclusive economy. Giroux says that exposes the government and the minister of finance to significant lobbying. The opposition Conservatives have already called the Finance Minister to be transparent on which companies are getting money. Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre has accused the Liberals of using COVID funds to pad the pockets of their supporters.

The Pandemic is Costing Municipalities Billions:

COVID19 could cost Ontario municipalities billions of dollars next year. That’s according to a report released yesterday by the province’s fiscal watchdog. The report says more than $2.4 billion dollars in pandemic-related expenses remain outstanding for 2021. The Financial Accountability Officer says municipalities may need to raise taxes or cut services without more federal or provincial funding support.

Big Outbreak in Mississauga Hospitals:

A Mississauga hospital network has closed some units to admissions after 36 staff at its facilities tested positive for COVID19. Trillium Health Partners says there are seven patient cases across its three facilities. The outbreaks include the emergency department at Credit Valley Hospital and the cardiac surgical ICU at Mississauga Hospital.

Here is Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie:

Ontario Numbers:

There were just shy of 2,000 new COVID19 cases in Ontario yesterday and 35 new deaths. After over 61,000 tests, the Province confirmed 1,983 cases. Broken down: 515 new cases were in Peel, 496 in Toronto and 208 in York Region. There were 1,804 more resolved cases. The province also announced there were 18 more people hospitalized, 7 more in the ICU and 3 more people on a ventilator.

Bill Gates Makes Another Big Donation to Vaccine Distribution:

Bill Gates has warned about the need to prepare for a pandemic for years. Since the novel coronavirus swept across the country in March, the billionaire has put his money where his mouth is.  “This will be seared in the memory of this generation, hopefully enough, to invest, to be more ready next time. Hopefully to invest more in all these infectious diseases that are still a huge problem,” Gates told ABC News.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new $250 million commitment yesterday, adding to the foundation’s total investment to $1.75 billion into combating COVID19 through vaccine development and distribution.

US Numbers:

The U.S. death toll from COVID19 surpassed the number of World War II combat fatalities last night.  A day after reporting more than 3,000 COVID19 deaths for the first time, the U.S. topped 292,000 total deaths, several hundred more than the number of battlefield deaths in WWII, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Johns Hopkins University data dashboard reported 3,124 deaths on Wednesday, a single-day toll worse than 9/11, when about 2,900 people were killed, and Pearl Harbor, which resulted in about 2,400 deaths.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

There were 63 new COVID19 cases reported yesterday by Waterloo Region Public Health, and another death. Again, thanks to a lot of recoveries, the active case-count dropped down to 382 as the death toll climbed to 131. There are now 31 people hospitalized in the Region with 11 in the ICU.

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health unit added 67 more cases to their dashboard yesterday. 33 of them were in Guelph. They now have 13 people hospitalized and 241 active cases.

New Restrictions for Businesses in Waterloo Region:

Waterloo Region’s Medical Officer of Health has imposed new restrictions for businesses that go into effect at 12:01am on Monday. They call for all employers to: Conduct active screening of employees and/or essential visitors, Prepare and implement a COVID19 safety plan, Ensure physical distancing throughout the workplace, including employee-only areas, Ensure use of face coverings and Optimize indoor air ventilation. The doctor says public health has seen a number of outbreaks in the workplace and business settings.

Waterloo Region Infections:

  • A student at J.F. Carmichael Public School in Kitchener has tested positive for COVID19.
  • A second student at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge has tested positive.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Office of the Premier via Twitter


Posted in COVID19, News
Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan