COVID-19: What you need to know for December 23

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Dec 23, 2021

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This will be TVO.org's last daily COVID-19 update for 2021. We will return on January 4, 2022. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 5,790 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 667,353 since the pandemic began; 440 people are in hospital testing positive for COVID-19, while 169 are in intensive care who either previously tested positive or have currently tested positive, and patients are on ventilators. To date, 10,140 people have died. 

  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 19 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 28 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 44 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,832 confirmed resident deaths and 13 confirmed staff deaths. 

  • As of 8 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 253,258 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 26,113,307 since December 2020. 769,059 people have received only one dose, 8,812,210 people have received only two doses, and 2,567,601 people have received three doses. 86.69 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 5 have received their first dose of vaccine, 81.18 per cent have received their second, and 18.33 per cent have received their third. 

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JMM COVID Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • Ontario has become the first province to list an inexpensive and well-known antidepressant as a treatment doctors can “consider” for patients with a mild COVID-19 infection in a bid to keep them out of hospital, reports CTV NewsIn the science table listing on Wednesday, a panel indicated that the drug fluvoxamine can be considered and prescribed to patients with a mild case who are at risk of having more severe symptoms.
  • Ontario laboratory workers are putting in long hours and being asked to cancel vacation plans to handle a huge surge in COVID-19 tests, reports CTV News. Michelle Hoad, CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals' Association of Ontario, said when COVID-19 hit, 70 per cent of the province's labs were already short-staffed and many workers have since retired early or left the profession due to the pressures of the pandemic.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to December 22 data, Toronto reported 1,480 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 193,682 since the pandemic began; 36 of them are in hospital (8 new). In total, 3,726 people have died (1 new). 
  • The city of Toronto released thousands of new COVID-19 vaccine appointments this morning as officials report that more than 25 per cent of eligible Toronto residents have already received their booster shot, reports CP24. The appointments, which were added to the provincial booking system at 8 a.m., were made available after the city opted to include additional days of operation and hours at its city-run clinics from January 1 to January 3.

  • At least two Toronto hospitals have now implemented new provincial guidance allowing health-care workers who are close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases to stay on the job with regular testing in order to avoid staffing shortages, reports CP24. Both Michael Garron Hospital and Humber River Hospital confirmed to CP24 Wednesday evening that they have now implemented the policy.

  • Peel Region’s top doctor is urging younger residents to hold off from booking COVID-19 booster appointments right now in order to give priority to those over 50, reports CP24. Medical Officer of Health Lawrence Loh says all of Peel’s current vaccine appointments are booked until early February and that the region is working to add thousands of appointments daily to the provincial online booking platform.

  • A new pop-up COVID-19 testing centre is set to open this afternoon in Hamilton at Mohawk College, the Hamilton Spectator reports. “In keeping with Ontario government guidelines, appointments must be made in advance for all testing sites,” reads a news release from the city, Hamilton Health Sciences, and St. Joseph’s Hospital Hamilton. The centre will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Indigenous

  • As of December 14, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 687 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 942,383 doses have been administered, of that 390,100 were second doses and 64,673 were third doses, in individuals aged 12+
  • As of December 21, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 837 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. It is also reporting 561 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 4,251 COVID-19 cases.

Eastern

  • 130 paramedics and support staff have been identified as high-risk contacts after a COVID outbreak in connection with a gathering, the Ottawa Citizen reports. There have been at least 36 COVID cases associated with the event.
  • Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CityNews this morning that he thinks the fact that Ottawans have had to line up for hours to get rapid tests at one rec centre is "ridiculous." "Ottawa residents shouldn't have to line-up at four in the morning to collect a rapid test," he said. "I'm again asking the province to prioritize Ontario's second largest city to receive additional rapid tests as soon as possible."
  • Public Health Ontario has reported 486 cases of Covid-19 in Ottawa Thursday, CTV News reports. This is likely an undercount due to lack of testing capacity in the area.

Northern

  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reporting 20 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 70 active cases in the region.
  • The Northwestern Health Unit reported its first confirmed cases of the Omicron variant yesterday, TBNewswatch reports. One case was discovered in Dryden, and another in Kenora, both related to travel.
  • Local organizations in Kenora are struggling to keep up with rising COVID-19 cases, and the city is not sure if, or when, it will receive provincial support in response to a state of emergency declared earlier this week, TBNewswatch reports.
  • Due to supply issues across the province, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit will be providing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to people 30 years and older who are receiving their first, second or third vaccine. The pediatric Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 is not affected by these supply issues.
  • The director’s of two Thunder Bay school boards are hopeful for a return to in person learning next year, but are prepared to go virtual if necessary, TBNewswatch reports.

Southwestern

  • The COVID-19 case rate is soaring in the County of Lambton, Blackburn News reports. There are now 126.3 cases per 100,000 people in the region, up from 51.9 last week.
  • London saw its highest daily COVID-19 case ever on Wednesday, CTV News London reports. The Middlesex-London Health Unit reported 228 new cases, surpassing the previous high of 176 on April 14.
  • Uncertainty stemming from coronavirus has some London hospitality workers changing fields. "We can see a trend where employees are looking for other industries that are a little bit more secure," local hotel manager Alon Gurrman tells CBC News. "Shutting down and reopening always creates the need to find new people and it's very hard to find manpower today. People are losing their shifts."

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