As Ontario's shutdown looms, here are the biggest COVID-19 stories

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province between December 21 - December 22
By TVO.org staff - Published on Dec 22, 2020

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TVO.org reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 2,202 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 160,255 since the pandemic began; 1,005 people are in hospital, 273 of them in intensive care, and 172 on ventilators. To date, 4,188 people have died.
JMG Graphs
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMG Graph 2
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.


  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 159 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 963 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 972 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 2,537 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of December 22, in publicly funded schools, there are 119 new school-related student cases (for a total of 5,103), 35 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,094), and no new case in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 1,095); 976 schools have a reported case, and no schools are currently closed.

  • On Monday, the Ontario government announced a provincewide shutdown, which will go into effect as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. According to a press release from the provincial government, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the winter break on January 4, 2021. For more information about how this might affect you, read TVO.org's breakdown.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of December 20, there are 646 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 54,009 since the pandemic began; 300 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,800 people have died.
  • Hamilton will remain in the grey "lockdown" stage of Ontario's current COVID-19 response framework and Niagara in the red "control" stage until December 26, when the province imposes what it's calling a shutdown. With cases rapidly spreading across the Golden Horseshoe and southwestern Ontario, medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Windsor-Essex County, and Waterloo signed a statement released Sunday recommending all social gatherings — even outdoors — be avoided. Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara's acting MOH, told the St. Catharine Standard that he worries delaying the shutdown until December 26 is too late, saying "we need to be doing this tonight basically."
  • In Hamilton, the pandemic has resulted in 17 per cent fewer cancer surgeries from March 17 to November 10, compared to 2019. The Hamilton Spectator reports this represents 666 patients and is in line with a province-wide increase in cancelled screening and treatment.
  • The Spectator also reports Hamilton's public school board is seeking to re-engage about 1,750 students who stopped coming to classes in September — or never showed up — after being registered. This has led to worries about funding and students finding suitable education elsewhere.
  • As of Monday afternoon, 20 more COVID-19 cases were reported at Hamilton's biggest outbreak site, the Grace Villa long-term care home, where the virus has killed 26 people. There are now 216 cases at the facility (139 residents and 77 staff). The second-largest outbreak site, the Chartwell Willowgrove home, has 101 cases, and the third, the Shalom Village home, has 100, the Spectator reports.
  • In Niagara, businesses tell CHCH News they'll struggle to survive the province's shutdown. Niagara's important tourism sector was particularly damaged by the pandemic.

Indigenous

  • As of December 18, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 2,977 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 70 COVID-19 related deaths in total across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, First Nation communities in Ontario have had a total of 222 COVID-19 cases.
ISC
(Indigenous Services Canada)

Northern

  • Elliot Lake's municipal delivery service for seniors will resume during the lockdown, according to the Sudbury Star. The service has provided 200 deliveries a month to over 700 different people.
  • The Porcupine Health Unit has created a mental-health survey to assess the pandemic's impacts on its residents, according to the Timmins Daily Press.
  • Two staff members have tested positive at Southbridge Pinewood, the third long-term-care-home in Thunder Bay to experience an outbreak.
  • Two more residents at Southbridge Roseview Manor, in Thunder Bay, died of COVID-19, for a total of 14 deaths linked to a COVID-19 outbreak at the long-term-care-home. The home is reporting 22 active COVID-19 cases, including 14 residents and 8 staff.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 98 active COVID-19 cases in the region.
  • The Northwestern Health Unit is reporting 7 active COVID-19 cases.

  • This morning, the Thunder Bay Health Sciences Centre will administer the first Pfizer vaccine to a resident of northwestern Ontario, TBNewswatch reports.

Eastern

  • Dozens of doctors have signed a letter to Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, criticizing his campaign against public-health directives meant to stop the spread of COVID-19, reports CTV News. “You are spreading misinformation that minimizes the seriousness of COVID-19 to support your personal anti-lockdown and anti-mask beliefs,” the letter reads.
  • In Kingston, residents spoke to Global News about the upcoming province-wide shutdown. “I’m shocked they’re doing a kind of full province-wide [lockdown],” one person told Global. “I thought it would be more regional.” Global also reports that long lines began forming outside grocery stores on Monday morning.
  • In Ottawa, mayor Jim Watson said he was “blindsided” by the Ontario government’s decision to include Ottawa in the shutdown, CTV News reports. The mayor said the lockdown will have a devastating impact on the local economy and that their local public-health unit deemed a lockdown unnecessary just last week.
  • Some Ottawa restaurant owners are also frustrated by the news, given the stable case counts in the city, the Ottawa Citizen reports. “I’m a little bit angry. Just because Toronto can’t get their act together, Ottawa’s being punished for it,” one owner told the publication.

Southwestern

  • London's mayor has asked councillors to stick to virtual attendance at meetings, but some councillors say in-person attendance is necessary, the London Free Press reports.
  • An organization representing churches in the London area express relief that the province-wide lockdown schedule to come into effect on Boxing Day won't disrupt Christmas services, the London Free Press reports.
  • The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority says that conservation areas in Woodstock, London, and St. Marys remain open for walking and nature viewing during the province-wide shutdown to control the spread of COVID-19. "Spending time in nature can reduce stress and help you feel more energized," the authority notes in a Monday news release.
  • Boler Mountain, a ski hill in London, has announced that it will delay opening until the province-wide COVID-19 shutdown is lifted. The shutdown, scheduled to take effect on Boxing Day, applies to all ski hills in the province. Blue Mountain ski resort, near Collingwood, has announced it will suspend operations on Boxing Day.
  • The owner of Red Bay Lodge on the Bruce Peninsula tells CTV London that his insurance rates have jumped more than 250 per cent since the pandemic started without providing a reason. “Honestly the reason they gave me was, they didn’t want to do it anymore. There was a significant number of insurers who were unwilling to insure restaurants, bars, and in our case, lodges,” owner Mat Dwyer tells reporter Scott Miller.
  • Lambton Public Health has announced that it's changing its COVID-19 case and contact management process in order to cope with a surge in cases of the virus. "Early identification and notification of COVID-19 cases and contact exposures will continue to be the priority," the county department says in a Monday news release. The area has 66 active cases as of Monday, and seven outbreaks.
  • London Public Transit is cancelling its free bus service on New Year's Eve this year, Blackburn News reports.
  • Hospitals serving the Grey and Bruce region say a local surge in demand means the number of beds they have available over the holiday season is limited, Blackburn News reports.
  • Hospitals in the Waterloo Region tell CBC that the decision to move to a lockdown on Boxing Day to control the spread of COVID-19 should help with challenges some are experiencing of over capacity and having to reduce services.
  • Today, a personal support worker from Belle River became the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in the Windsor-Essex region, CBC reports. London, which received vaccines on Monday, will begin rolling them out on December 24, CBC reports.
  • Farmers in Norfolk and Haldimand Counties say local health-unit orders and new federal requirements to tackle COVID-19 distancing in farm-worker bunkhouses have added $65 million to their investment, or $19,000 per worker, and are unsustainable, Simcoe Reformer reports.

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