This article was last updated on Friday at 4.16 p.m.
Toronto and Peel Region could begin to order the temporary closure of some businesses today to control workplace COVID-19 outbreaks, reports CP24. Medical officers of health for both regions employed Section 22 orders to close businesses with recent outbreaks of five or more linked cases in the past two weeks. The shutdowns will last for 10 days and workers will have to self-isolate during that time.
The Toronto Star reports that as local health units grapple with neighbourhood flare-ups amid vaccine shortages, they are being forced to prioritize the hottest of the hot spots. And that means some areas on the government’s original list of vaccination priorities will take a back seat temporarily. Toronto officials announced a “sprint strategy” Wednesday to focus on ramping up vaccinations in the 13 highest-risk forward sortation areas (the first three characters in postal codes) in the northwest, Scarborough and Thorncliffe Park, prioritizing them over the 53 areas on the original provincial list.
Maple Lodge Farms, Maple Leaf Foods and Amazon have agreed to take part in a program to facilitate workplace sponsored pop-up clinics aimed at vaccinating employees and community members in high-risk areas, reports the Brampton Guardian. Launching over the next week, Peel Public Health will be directing the clinics, which will be supported by the Ontario government.
The City of Toronto will again paint circles on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park to encourage people to practise physical distancing while using the park. Installation work will begin next week depending on weather conditions.
CBC Hamilton reports that while local public health units have flexibility to suit their own needs under Ontario's vaccine rollout, it's Unclear just how far they can stray from the province's plan. The city's medical officer of health, Elizabeth Richardson, says it can be challenging to explain why and how Hamilton can do things differently, such as declaring its own hot spots or vaccinating people in shelters ahead of the province.
Hamilton public health are dealing with at least four construction-related outbreaks, the Hamilton Spectator reports. While some construction is still allowed under provincial restrictions, some has been deemed non-essential.
The union for Hamilton Street Railway bus drivers has asked the city to resume restrictions it imposed during the first surge of COVID-19. including rear-door loading, tight passenger limits and no fares. As the Spectator reports, the union says drivers also want priority access to vaccines and a "no mask, no ride, no exceptions" rule. Public health officials say such measures are not yet needed.
Niagara's COVID-19 case counts have yet to see a steady decline two weeks into Ontario's stay-at-home order. Acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji tells the St. Catharines Standard that contagious coronavirus variants, pandemic fatigue and mixed messaging from "opinion leaders" about risks are likely reasons why.
The Standard also reports that Niagara's regional councillors directed the region's chair to file an integrity commissioner complaint against fellow councillor and West Lincoln Mayor, Dave Bylsma, for participating in an April 10 protest against COVID-19 prevention measures.
- Northern Ontario hospitals have begun to receive transfer patients from southern Ontario. Health Sciences North received two patient transfers from southern Ontario, the North Bay Regional Health Centre received its first patient, as has the Sault Area Hospital.
- The Porcupine Health Unit is reporting one new death, 12 new cases and an exposure risk at the Walmart Supercentre. There are 95 active cases, and now 26 deaths in the region since the start of the pandemic.
- Following an outbreak in the Queen’s University district, the school’s principal, Patrick Deane, says that some students have been evicted from residence for not following COVID-19 restrictions, Global News reports. Deane said of the 40 or so students going through disciplinary proceedings, a “significant amount” were actually kicked out of residence.
- Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, has clarified that in her push for a more pared-down list of essential businesses, that she still supports the continuation of curbside pick-up, Global News reports.
- Pregnant people can now book a vaccination in Ontario, as the group was recently added to the list of those at “highest risk,” CBC New reports. Pregnant people are being asked to call the province’s vaccine call centre at 1-833-943-3900 to book.
- Two of four people charged following a large gathering on Tuesday at the Church of God in Aylmer were off-duty Toronto police officers, the London Free Press reports. Aylmer police have laid charges under the Reopening Ontario Act.
- A London hospital is suspending non-urgent surgeries to prepare for a wave of transfers of critical and non-critical patients from the GTA in the coming week, the London Free Press reports. Meanwhile in Windsor, another hospital is preparing to accept 40 patients from the GTA over eight days, CTV Windsor reports.
- A Talbotville restaurant is operating a meal program to help those in need, fuelled solely by in-kind donations, CBC London reports.
- On Thursday, Waterloo Region public health told CTV Kitchener that three area hospitals were dealing with 62 COVID-19 patients, the greatest number of virus-related hospitalizations the area has seen. Of these, 24 people were in ICU.
- Vaccination efforts in the Waterloo Region are expected to cost $20 million by the end of the year, CTV Kitchener reports.
- Members of Windsor's South Asian community say a ban on flights from India to Canada will only make matters worse, CBC Windsor reports.
- Emergency responders in Windsor tell CBC Windsor how they've had to alter their approaches during the pandemic.