This article was last updated on Friday at 4:38 p.m.
- On Friday, Premier Doug Ford announced new restrictions meant to address soaring COVID-19 caseloads in Ontario. Included in the restrictions: closing non-essential construction; limiting outdoor gatherings to members of a single household; closing outdoor recreation, such as golf and tennis; reducing big-box retail capacity; and limiting places of worship to 10 people indoors. He also announced new checkpoints at interprovincial borders and new restrictions on entering the province from Quebec and Manitoba. The province's state of emergency has been extended until May 19.
Police powers have also been expanded; Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced that police and bylaw-enforcement officer will have the power to question anyone not at their residence about their reason for leaving the home. Anyone who refuses to identify themselves or answer police questions could potentially face a ticket and a fine, Jones added.
- Ford did not announce further workplace measures, such as paid sick leave, that public-health experts and politicians, including Toronto mayor John Tory, have called for.
- The province released new modelling Friday indicating that a six-week stay-at-home order and high rates of vaccination are the only ways to flatten Ontario’s current pandemic curve. Read the full briefing.
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- Per today's government report, there are 4,812 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 408,383 since the pandemic began; 1,955 people are in hospital, 701 of them in intensive care, and 480 on ventilators. To date, 7,664 people have died.
- According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 38 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 26 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 119 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
- Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 8 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 115,634 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,644,038 since December 2020; 2,960,172 people have received only one dose, and 341,933 people have received both doses.
The Ontario government announced that it is proposing new red-tape and burden-reduction measures intended to minimize existing barriers on businesses and support a long-term recovery plan.
- The Ontario government announced that it is providing more than $42 million to help 559 non-profit organizations across the province support staff and volunteers, reimagine programing, and renovate facilities as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario’s science table says its analysis, which was used by the Ford government to determine hot-spot postal codes, was not meant to identify neighbourhoods that will be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, reports CP24. The communications director for the advisory table said in a statement to CP24 Thursday evening that the postal codes were used in an analysis to look at the disparity between COVID-19 hot spots and other neighbourhoods. “Our aim was to illustrate the need to target both age and neighbourhood in vaccine roll-out; not to list specific neighbourhoods for prioritization,” Robert Steiner said.
An Ontario doctor is urging people to get a COVID-19 vaccine after having admitted to the ICU three patients who'd turned down shots, reports CTV News. Alex Patel, a critical-care physician in Toronto, tweeted on Wednesday that three patients who had been able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but decided not to, are now all in hospital with severe infection.
On Thursday, Hamilton officials reported the city's first case of the B.1.351 variant, first found in South Africa. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, this is the rarest mutation in the province, with only 84 cases reported as of April 13. Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji, tells the St. Catharines Standard that variants in Hamilton are likely in Niagara already.
Last week, the province earmarked select areas for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, saying that people who live in postal codes identified as “hot spots” are at an above-average risk from COVID-19. TVO.org's Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler writes that public-health units in Hamilton and Niagara were not consulted by the province in determining these hot spots and have modified the plans to better suit their communities' needs.
Hamilton public-health staff are vaccinating inmates at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre this week and plan to offer leftover vaccines to jail staff, CBC Hamilton reports. The president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says that corrections officers should be eligible for vaccines as soon as possible and that making them wait is "egregious." Hamilton public health says eligible staff will soon receive emails from the province's booking portal to book their shots at vaccine clinics in the city.
Hamilton child-care workers are also pushing for earlier vaccine eligibility, the Spectator reports. There have been 11 outbreaks at child-care facilities in the city since September and 34 outbreaks at schools.
The Spectator reported this week that it had obtained the name of a Hamilton-based basketball club that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak in the fall; public-health officials had not named it, although they have named multiple other businesses and settings in which outbreaks occurred. Now, the City of Hamilton, which released the name to the newspaper through a freedom-of-information request, is hiring a consultant to review whether it erred in doing so.
In Niagara, the Ministry of Labour is targeting inspections of farms that employ migrant workers to see whether proper safety protocols are being followed, the Standard reports. Migrant workers and others can also anonymously report concerns to the ministry. Seven large COVID-19 outbreaks occurred at farms and agricultural businesses in the province over the past year.
- As of April 15, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 643 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. It is also reporting 302 COVID-19 related deaths in total across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, First Nations communities in Ontario have had a total of 1,736 COVID-19 cases.
- As of April 13, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 613 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 288,823 doses have been administered. ISC reminds the urban Indigenous population that First Nations living off-reserve, Inuit, and Métis are or will receive COVID-19 vaccination through their provincial or territorial health services. ISC is aware of vaccinations already taking place in several urban centres, including Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Whitehorse.
- Sixty per cent of the cases reported by Public Health Sudbury and District between April 8 and 14 were variants of concern, and seven new outbreaks were reported in that time. The rate of transmission was 1.12 for northern Ontario, compared to 1.20 for Ontario overall.
- A member of White Woods Public School in Sturgeon Falls has tested positive, according to the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit. The individual boarded the 52 Alouette Bus Lines route on April 8; the route also serves students from Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Elementary School, which had a positive case in someone who took the same bus route. "However, at this time there is no confirmed link between the cases and they travelled on the bus on different days," the health unit says.
- The Porcupine Health Unit says there are discrepancies between its booking system and the province's system as the health unit isn't receiving as many vaccines as other areas. Delays of Moderna shipments at a national level have also slowed local vaccine sequencing, the health unit says. The health unit is holding vaccination clinics for individuals 60 and older and currently has appointments available for Hearst, Timmins, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, Smooth Rock Falls, Cochrane, and Kapuskasing. Timmins is also holding a clinic for Indigenous adults 18 and up and adults who live in the same household as an Indigenous adult. Appointments can be booked online.
- As hospitals in southern Ontario struggle to increase ICU capacity, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre says it is prepared to take in patients from the south should the need arise, TBNewswatch reports.
- Operation Remote Immunity, which began February 1 and wrapped up last Friday, administered more than 25,000 doses in 32 remote communities in northern Ontario, TBNewswatch reports.
- Matawa Health Cooperative in Thunder Bay is expanding vaccine eligibility for Indigenous people aged 16 years and up and people that live in the same household. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has also opened up 3,600 vaccine appointments for people aged 60 years and over, TBNewswatch reports. Appointments for that clinic can be made through the province’s online booking system.
- Ottawa is projected to hit a new high in COVID-19 numbers by next week, with at least 480 cases a day, according to modelling by a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital. (There were 370 new cases on Thursday). Hospitalizations, which were at 84 on Thursday, are projected to hit triple digits, CBC News reports.
- A barbershop in Peterborough that refused to close during the shutdown has now been shuttered with the assistance of Peterborough police, Global News reports. Supporters of the business have rallied on Facebook and raised funds through an online fundraiser. (Peterborough had recorded 73 cases this week by Thursday, which was its second-worst weekly rate so far in the pandemic, the Peterborough Examiner reports.)
- Hastings-Prince Edward’s medical officer of health is urging young people to take care during the pandemic and know that they are not “invincible,” the Belleville Intelligencer reports. “They might feel they are invincible, but they are at risk. And they are also at risk of spreading it to others,” said Piotr Oglaza. Forty-one percent of all local cases to date were younger than 40.
- Long-term-care homes in Ottawa and across Ontario are being asked to free up space to assist with hospital capacity issues, CBC News reports. At issue is 5,000 “alternative level of care” patients who are currently in hospital but are waiting for a transfer to another facility, usually long-term care. There are 616 ALC patients in eastern Ontario.
- Municipal enforcement with the City of Waterloo is discouraging people from attending a rally, set to happen this weekend, intended to support businesses in Uptown Waterloo and to protest COVID-19 lockdown measures, CTV Kitchener reports.
- With more than 100 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in three days, the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health is asking area residents to act as if they already had the virus or have experienced close contact with someone who has, according to the Owen Sound Sun Times. Some area businesses are voluntarily closing, as are several municipal facilities and area parks and trails, CTV London reports.
- A London women's shelter says that it has seen a 45 per cent uptick in people seeking urgent services and support since the start of the pandemic, the London Free Press reports. The surge has spurred the shelter to add staff, CTV London reports.
- As of noon yesterday, 65 people had been hospitalized in London for COVID-19; 29 of them are in intensive care, the London Free Press reports.
- In Chatham-Kent, some businesses are considering reopening in defiance of provincial COVID-19 lockdown orders, the Chatham Daily News reports.
- Health services in Chatham-Kent held its first-ever mobile drive-thru vaccination clinic on Thursday, CTV Windsor reports. The clinic was held in Wheatley.