Schools Will Not Reopen Next Week – Full COVID-19 Update

Schools Will Not Reopen Next Week – Full COVID-19 Update

The Provincial government is reversing course and cancelling all in-class instruction in Ontario schools after this week’s Spring Break. Premier Ford says students will move to online learning next week because of the high risk posed by community spread of COVID-19. No timeline has been set for when students might resume in-class instruction — with Ford saying that will be decided based on COVID-19 data. Health officials in Toronto, Peel and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph had already ordered schools to close for at least two weeks when the government balked at a province-wide shutdown on grounds it would harm students’ mental health.

Here is yesterday’s announcement:

Ontario Adding in More Critical Care Beds:

Ontario says it will add hundreds of critical care beds this week to help with an influx of COVID-19 cases that is pushing the health-care system to its breaking point. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government is exploring its options to boost hospital capacity and staffing levels as variants of concern fill intensive-care units across the province. Elliott said yesterday that hospitals have been instructed to ramp down all surgeries except the ones that are absolutely life and death matters.

Multiple Hospitals Moving Pediatric Patients To Make Room for COVID Patients:

Twelve of the 14 hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area are closing their pediatric units to make room for surging COVID-19 cases. The head of the Ontario Hospital Association says they are transferring current pediatric patients to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for care.

Canada Post Employee Dies of COVID-19:

A Canada Post worker in Toronto has died from COVID-19, according the the union representing postal workers. CUP-W says it learned of the death on Saturday. The union says the employee worked at the South Central Letter Processing Plant, where an outbreak was declared last week. Earlier this year, a Canada Post worker at a Mississauga facility died after contracting the virus.

Dr Tam Weighs in on Newest Numbers:

Canada’s chief public health officer says the country’s current COVID-19 case count is approaching the peak during last year’s second wave. Dr. Theresa Tam says intensive care admissions across the country increased by 23 per cent over the last seven days compared to the week before, which is putting strain on the health system. She says younger people are increasingly affected, and there’s been a jump in the number of hospitalizations among those 40 to 59 years old.

New Calls For Retail Business Support:

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business hopes next week’s federal budget will include measures to help its member retail stores survive the pandemic. President Dan Kelly says lockdowns and public-health restrictions have stretched some to the brink, to the point they are relying on federal aid to cover everyday costs and pay employees. He hopes the Liberals add new funding to a popular loan program to boost the amounts available to $80,000 and make up to half of that forgivable if paid off on time.

Air Canada Deal Reached:

After months of negotiations, Ottawa has reached a deal with Air Canada allowing the battered airline to access as much as $5.9-billion dollars in loans and equity financing. Air Canada has agreed to a number of commitments, including refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That process will begin no later than April 30th of this year. The airline also agreed to cap executive compensation at one-million dollars, restore service to regional airports, and maintain employment at current levels or better.

Porter Pushes Back Their Start Date Again:

Porter Airlines has extended the resumption of flights by another month to June 21st. The postponement is the latest delay in getting planes back in the air since they were grounded on March 21st of last year due to the pandemic. The head of the Toronto-based airline says it’s preparing for the possibility of some travel restrictions unwinding in the summer. Michael Deluce says Porter will begin the process of rebuilding its operations as soon as conditions allow, based on government decisions.

New Toronto Projections:

Toronto could see as many as 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 a day by the end of the month. That’s according to new projections released yesterday by the city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa. The projections are based on the current rate of transmission.

Toronto Vaccination Numbers:

Toronto says 20 per cent of its population has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. As of Sunday night, the city says nearly 759,000 doses have been administered so far in Toronto. The city says its immunization clinics are operating at or near capacity based on vaccine supply for the next week. It says that since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 125,497 cases of COVID-19 in the city, with 1,296 new cases yesterday.

Here is yesterday’s Toronto update:

Controversy Involving Alberta Speaker of the Legislature:

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is questioning the Speaker of the legislature for publicly challenging the government’s COVID-19 restrictions. Kenney says in 24 years as a parliamentarian, he has never seen a Speaker violate the long-standing convention of neutrality and impartiality until Nathan Cooper did so last week. Cooper is one of 17 members of Kenney’s United Conservative caucus who have challenged the government’s revised public-health restrictions. In an open letter, the group says the new restrictions are a backward step, and they promise to continue to fight for the livelihoods and freedoms of Albertans.

YouTube Removed Video:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is attacking YouTube for its decision to remove a video from its website of a pandemic panel discussion he recently held. That panel criticized lockdowns and some mask wearing as ineffective. YouTube says the video violated its rules against COVID-19 disinformation because some panelists contended children should not wear masks. The panelists said the masks were of little benefit to children and could be dangerous.

Canadian Numbers:

There were more than 8,500 new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported nationwide Monday, bringing the total number of cases to over 1,071,000. There were 27 new reported deaths, boosting Canada’s death toll to 23,356. Quebec reported the next-highest number of new infections with 1,600, Alberta had over 1,100, and BC had 970. No new cases were reported in any of the three territories, but there were cases reported in all four Atlantic provinces.

Ontario Numbers:

Ontario reported 4,401 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. There were also 15 new deaths as a result of the virus. The data was based on more than 47,900 tests conducted. The numbers come as hospitals in most of Ontario begin scaling back on elective and non-urgent surgeries to free up capacity for COVID-19 patients. There are now over 600 patients in Ontario ICU’s.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health reported 98 new cases and one new death. The number of active cases shot up by fifty-two to 527. Hospitalizations increased by six to 24.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported their whole weekend’s numbers yesterday. There were 278 new cases, which increases the number of active to 630. Of the new cases, 46 were in Wellington, 47 were in Dufferin and 175 were in Guelph. The good news is that there were no new deaths and hospitalizations actually went down. There are now just 4 people hospitalized with 4 in the ICU.

Contains files from the Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot

After 9 Podcast - 91.5 The Beat