This article was last updated on Wednesday at 4:32 p.m.
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.
- Per today's government report, there are 847 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 288,583 since the pandemic began; 719 people are in hospital, 298 of them in intensive care, and 211 on ventilators. To date, 6,729 people have died.
- According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 155 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 210 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 333 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,728 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
- As of February 17, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 71 new school-related student cases (for a total of 5,356) four new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,131), and no new cases in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,125); 152 schools have a reported case, and four school are currently closed.
Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 480,377 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.
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The Ontario government has announced that it is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment. According to a statement released by the government, small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors - expanded from 2-9 employees - including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support.
Ontario Health Minister, Christine Elliot, said that Ontario is not ready to release a detailed plan for its rollout of COVID-19 vaccines because its supply of the shots has been unreliable, reports CP24. “We don't want to put something out that we may not be able to achieve because we may not have the vaccines."
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- According to data as of February 16, there are 302 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 93,455 since the pandemic began; 378 of them are in hospital (13 new). In total, 2,563 people have died (3 new).
- Both Toronto mayor John Tory and public health chief Eileen de Villa separately urged the Ford government to not ease COVID-19 restrictions in Toronto, warning that doing so would risk a third wave and another lockdown, reports the Toronto Star.
- In a media briefing Tuesday, Hamilton's medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, and director of the Emergency Operations Centre, Paul Johnson, both expressed trepidation around the provinces loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in the city. Richardson said the overall trend of COVID-19 infections is downward, but said people need to be very cautious, the Hamilton Spectator reports. New variants of the coronavirus are concerning, Richardson says, but she is not issuing any new orders. Hamilton has 18 ongoing outbreaks, including one declared Monday at the Barton Street jail.
- At the Tuesday media briefing, Richardson said snowy weather was likely one reason fewer than 100 people showed up to participate in rapid asymptomatic testing in Hamilton schools on Saturday (there was a travel advisory up in the city). Two clinics were operating for seven hours, each with a 400-person capacity, the Spectator reports. No positive cases were found.
- Hamilton Public Health launched a messaging service to help with contact tracing on Tuesday. As CBC Hamilton reports, the service will contact people identified as needing an assessment due to contact with someone who has/had COVID-19, and provide them with a link to a personal assessment form.
- A Canadian Press analysis shows about 12 per cent of residents in Hamilton received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year. That means there was an average of about 57,500 recipients in each four-week pay period. The amount started closer to 70,000 and fell to about 35,000 per week by the end.
- A St. Catharines restaurateur and vocal critic of Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, is stepping down from a Facebook group he founded, and a role on his local BIA. The St. Catharines Standard reports that Mark Wood has frequently targeted Hirji with name-calling, and shared disinformation about his authority, claiming local rules for restaurants that Hirji enacted were a form of usurpation. When the province announced Friday that Niagara would remain under tight restrictions as nearby regions lessened theirs, Hirji became the target of violence and death threats, some of which came from Wood's Facebook group, and one of which he "liked." After much media attention, Wood wrote Monday that he condemned the threats and would step down from the group, as well as resign from a board of management role on the St. Catharines Downtown Association.
- As of February 16, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1383 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 207 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 745 COVID-19 cases.
- Chief George Kakakemugick of Keewaywin was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in his community yesterday.
- As of February 16, Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting 44 active cases, and a third death, in the community.
- On February 16 Indigenous Services Canada put out a public health alert about COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOC). They recommend communities remain aware of VOC detection in their area, continue to prepare should a VOC be detected by alerting residents including preparing to support an immediate lockdown and stay-at-home order for the community which would include closure of all non-essential businesses, workplaces, schools/childcare facilities. They also recommend, should this happen, that Chief and Council communicate daily with residents about the situation.
- On February 18, from 4 - 5 p.m. EST, the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council and the Chiefs of Ontario co-present the Youth COVID-19 Town Hall. This town hall will focus on student experiences during COVID-19 and will include a special meditation presentation and exercise by Elder Emmy Mitchell of Akwesasne.
- Registration is now open for the Chiefs of Ontario 15th annual Health Forum from February 23-25. This years topic is “Sharing Stories: The True Test of Resiliences Amidst a Pandemic.” This will be a virtual event held on the Whova App.
- A retired OPP officer died at the Skyline-Lancelot outbreak in North Bay on Monday, according to the North Bay Nugget. Doug Arthur, 75, worked with the OPP for over 30 years in Powassan, Kapuskasing and White River, before ending his career in North Bay and Powassan. Arthur leaves behind his wife, Jean, his two children, Bob Arthur and Andrea Maville, and his three granddaughters, Avery and Morgan Maville and Charley Arthur.
- Collège Boréal is running an accelerated PSW program to address the local shortage of healthcare workers in Kapuskasing, according to CBC Sudbury. The course has been condensed from 28 weeks to 12 weeks. The Sensenbrenner Hospital in Kapuskasing reached out to the college's Hearst and Kapuskasing campus to see if a program could train PSWs faster.
- There are ten COVID-19 patients in hospital (including three in Intensive Care) at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, leading the hospital to reopen it’s COVID-19 isolation unit, TBNewswatch reports. The unit was closed in July. Dr. Stewart Kennedy, COVID-19 incident response lead at the TBRHSC, is concerned about the number of COVID-19 cases in Thunder Bay, and says he expects more admissions to the hospital’s COVID-19 unit. The unit has 13 beds.
- The Northwestern Health Unit has issued a Class Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, which allows the health unit to enforce self-isolation requirements for everyone residing within the health unit’s catchment. Failure to comply can result in a maximum fine of $5,000, or an Order of Confinement.
- A University of Waterloo study indicates that while mental health declined for the general population in Canada during the first wave of COVID-19, younger people were the hardest hit with 44 per cent of the study's participants who were 18 to 24 years old reporting increased feelings of depression.
- In Kitchener, minor hockey players have returned to the ice, CTV Kitchener reports.
- One case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at the Stratford Jail, the Stratford Beacon Herald reports.
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