The top doctors from Toronto and Peel Region are calling for stay-at-home orders and lockdowns to remain in place in COVID-19 hot-spots until at least March 9th. Dr. Eileen de Villa and Dr. Laurence Loh have sent a letter to the province’s chief medical officer asking that the strict measures remain in place for two more weeks. De Villa says she is making the recommendation because of the presence of variant strains of the virus. Ontario is set to lift the stay-home order for Peel, Toronto, York Region and North Bay next week as it moves them back into its colour-coded pandemic restrictions framework. Health Minister Christine Elliott has said that no decisions have been made regarding what restrictions will be placed on the COVID-19 hot-spots.
Here is yesterday’s Toronto news conference:
Here is yesterday’s update from Brampton:
Health Canada Not Ready To Approve The AstraZeneca Vaccine:
Health Canada is not ready to approve the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. The World Health Organization gave its seal of approval to AstraZeneca Monday. If Health Canada follows suit, almost 500,000 doses could be shipped to Canada in March through the global vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX. But Health Canada is still having a back and forth with the British-based company as it seeks more information on clinic data.
NDP Angry After Ford Says Andrea Horwath Yelling In The Legislature Is Like Nails on a Chalkboard:
Premier Doug Ford is being accused of making a misogynistic comment to NDP leader Andrea Horwath as she pressed him on his government’s pandemic response. During a heated exchange in Question Period yesterday, Ford said listening to Horwath and her criticism was like hearing nails on a chalkboard. Liberal house leader John Fraser calls the comment unacceptable and says Ford should apologize. Horwath says the premier owes an apology to the people of Ontario, not her.
Here is yesterday’s question period:
My message to women: don’t let anyone try to tell you you don’t belong at Queen’s Park.
I’m going to continue making positive proposals to give people the help and hope they need to get through this pandemic. If Mr. Ford doesn’t like hearing my positive proposals, too bad.
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) February 17, 2021
Did an Ontario Judge Hear Cases While in the Caribbean?
The Ontario Superior Court says a judge on an approved stay outside of Canada was allowed to hear cases due to an oversight. A statement from the office of the chief justice says the trip was approved despite COVID-19 guidance not to travel, due to what are described as “very specific personal and confidential circumstances.” But it says the judge will not be hearing any more cases until their return to Ontario by the end of the month. The statement did not identify the judge or confirm a CBC News report that the female justice had presided over cases from the Turks and Caicos.
No New Deaths Reported Yesterday in Quebec:
There’s some encouraging news about COVID-19 in Quebec. There were no new COVID-related deaths reported across the province yesterday. Officials reported 14 new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus that they say occurred at earlier dates, mostly between February 10th and 15th. The province announced 800 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.
Concern Over Variants Getting Into First Nations Communities:
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says he fears the prospect of highly transmissible COVID-19 variants taking hold in First Nations communities. Miller has told an Ottawa news conference the variants are of particular concern to vulnerable Indigenous people. He calls it scary. Miller says there have been more than 19,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on First Nations reserves as of Tuesday; nearly 1,400 of which were active.
BC in a Legal Battle Over In-Person Church Services:
A judge has dismissed an application by the British Columbia government for an injunction against three Fraser Valley churches that are breaking COVID-19 rules. The injunction request by the attorney general and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry came after the churches and others filed a petition challenging the rules of no in-person services. BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson says in a written ruling that the provincial health officer has means under the Public Health Act to enforce the rules without an injunction.
Vegas Hotels Preparing to Rebound:
Three Las Vegas resorts that had been closing mid-week because of slowed business amid the COVID-19 pandemic will resume normal 24/7 operations starting March 3, owner MGM Resorts International announced yesterday. The affected properties include the Mandalay Bay, Park MGM and The Mirage.
In this week’s #MGMMinute: @MandalayBay Events Center is renamed, @MGMNorthfield resumes normal hours, @MGMSpringfield's hotel will reopen on March 5, @EmpireCCasino participates in Supplier Diversity summit, @BetMGM looks ahead to tournament time, and more! pic.twitter.com/YyfsWpXI3C
— MGM Resorts (@MGMResortsIntl) February 15, 2021
COVID Has Caused Average Life Expectancy to Drop:
Life expectancy in the US dropped a full year in the first half of 2020, according to a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Experts say that Covid-19 was a significant factor contributing to the decline. The life expectancy for the entire US population fell to 77.8 years, similar to what it was in 2006, CDC data shows.
The province reported 847 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and just 10 new deaths. Hospitalizations declined by 23 and 1,456 more cases were marked as resolved.
Ontario is reporting 847 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 34,000 tests completed. Locally, there are 257 new cases in Toronto, 170 in Peel and 131 in York Region.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 489,484 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) February 17, 2021
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health announced just 35 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and no new deaths for a second straight day. The number of active cases is now down to 316. That’s a drop of 29. Hospitalizations are down to 21 and ICU patients have dropped down to 7. In Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph public health reported just 14 new cases yesterday. Active cases dropped by 17, down to 150. There are now 12 people hospitalized which is a decrease of one.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot