This article was last updated on Friday at 4:13 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 1,150 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 290,771 since the pandemic began; 689 people are in hospital, 269 of them in intensive care, and 190 on ventilators. To date, 6,820 people have died.
- According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 130 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 164 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 259 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,730 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
- As of February 19, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 64 new school-related student cases (for a total of 5,465) 16 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,165), and no new cases in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,125); 225 schools have a reported case, and five school are currently closed.
- In response to requests by Toronto’s medical officer of health, the Province of Ontario announced Toronto will remain in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to the stay-at-home order until at least March 9. "This is the right move for Toronto at this time and I am grateful the Province supported the request for it," said medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa in a statement.
- The province also announced that shutdown measures and the stay-at-home order will continue to apply to both Peel and the North Bay-Parry Sound District until at least Monday, March 8. According to a statement by the government, North Bay Parry Sound District has seen its case rate increase by 11.5 per cent to 14.6 cases per 100,000 people. York Region Public Health will be moving back to the colour-coded framework at the Red-Control level and will no longer be subject to the stay-at-home order.
Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 489,484 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.
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The Ontario government announced that it is launching new health and safety education campaigns, with a particular focus on helping small businesses across the province reopen safely. According to a statement released by the government, starting next week, provincial offences officers will be visiting businesses in regions opening into grey, red and orange zones. Officers will carry out inspections to ensure businesses are complying with the Reopening Ontario Act and adhering to capacity limits, appropriately screening workers and customers, enforcing masking requirements and having adequate safety plans in place.
Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that it is investing $2.5 million in wearable contact tracing technology, TraceSCAN. According to a statement released by the government, the technology will alert users within a workplace who have been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- According to data as of February 18, there are 452 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 94,231 since the pandemic began; 362 of them are in hospital (20 new). In total, 2,597 people have died (15 new).
- A new study by researchers at Public Health Ontario, Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, and Dynacare Laboratories in Brampton points to a significant rise of the U.K. COVID variant in the GTA, and predicts it will likely become dominant in the region before the end of the month, reports the Toronto Star.
- The City of Toronto has announced that all nine of its COVID-19 immunization clinics are on schedule to be ready to open on or before April 1. According to a statement from the city, once all clinics are fully operational, it is estimated that more than 120,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will be administered each week through the clinics.
- Toronto Public Health has released data on the spread of Variants of Concern (VOC) in Toronto. As of February 17, there have been 57 cases confirmed for VOC reported in Toronto. Of these cases, 56 have tested positive for the U.K. B.1.1.7 strain and one has been confirmed to be the Brazilian B.1 strain. There are 341 cases that have screened positive for a mutation, which suggests it is likely a VOC.
- The outbreak at Belmont Meats, a North York meat production facility, linked to 15 COVID-19 variant cases has ended, reports CP24. Toronto Public Health said the outbreak resulted in a total of 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, eight tested positive for the U.K. variant, and seven more have been screened positive for a variant of concern.
Travellers on four different trips on the Barrie GO line earlier this month are being urged to get tested for COVID-19 after a commuter screened positive for a variant of concern, reports CP24. "These sorts of situations will happen, but because of the fact that the individual has the variant, which is highly transmissible, we are taking this additional precaution of having a public notice," said Karim Kurji, York Region's medical officer of health.
- Hamiltonians aged 80 and up will be among the next group to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the city. As CBC Hamilton reports, the city Is launching a new vaccination clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. It opens March 1 and shots will be available by appointment only. Indigenous adults and adult chronic home-care patients are also in the next group who will be vaccinated. So will residents and caregivers in retirement homes and congregate settings, and high-risk healthcare workers.
- Hamilton's three permanent men's shelters are not taking in new residents due to COVID-19, the Spectator reports. The city has procured more hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness, but people who can't get in risk sleeping outside in dangerously cold conditions. Unhoused people will not be included in the next round of vaccinations.
- Leaders continue to urge caution as Hamilton's COVID-19 infection rate, and number of patients in hospital continue to decline. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, the rate of weekly new cases per 100,000 is at 39. For that metric, 40 per 100,000 is the threshold for the red stage of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions framework.
- A new report from Hamilton public health says the pandemic has worsened Hamilton's opioid crisis. The data will be presented to the board of health Friday, CBC Hamilton reports. Overall, 2020 saw fewer suspected overdoses than 2019 (565 compared to 596). Still, the report says the rate deaths increased during the pandemic makes Hamilton one of the four regions in Ontario with the largest increase in opioid deaths compared to before the pandemic.
- As of February 18, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,265 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 215 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 774 COVID-19 cases.
- Six Nations of the Grand River elected council will be making an announcement at 10 a.m. on Zoom and Facebook live today. Included in that announcement is a decision to authorize the reopening of early years and childcare programs effective February 22. Federal schools are to reopen to staff on February 22 and to reopen for in-class learning effective March 1.
- On March 2 from 7-9 p.m. EDT there will be a webinar for nurses and other health-care providers: “Sken:en, Mino-bimaadziwin: Understanding the wellness in Indigenous wisdom traditions for caregivers”
- Hanna Waswa, a Band Councillor in Eabametoong, was one of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in her community.
- Algoma Public Health confirms one new case the Elliot Lake area and says it could be connected to the cluster of cases at the Warsaw Place apartment building. There are currently 10 active cases in the health unit's region.
- Public Health Sudbury and Districts reports 29 new cases, 19 resolved cases and two deaths between February 10 to 17. There are currently 37 active cases in the region, six active outbreaks and 10 hospitalizations.
- The North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit has recorded one new positive case for a total of 25 active cases, according to Bay Today. 15 of those active cases stem from the outbreak at the Skyline-Lancelot apartment building in North Bay, which infected 33 people. 17 cases in the outbreak have been resolved, and there was one death as a result of the outbreak.
- The Porcupine Health Unit is reporting three new cases in the Hearst and Hornepayne area. Two of the cases were close contacts of a case, while the third was related to international travel. There are currently 13 active cases in the region.
- A Cambridge company tells CTV Kitchener that it is storing millions of masks in part because of delays in getting them certified by a U.S. organization, and its CEO tells CTV there's a need for such certification in Canada.
- Westjet has announced it's cutting its four-day-a-week service from London to Toronto for three months beginning mid-March because of decline in demand due to the ongoing pandemic, Blackburn News reports.
- Bluewater Health in Sarnia has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in its general and acute medicine units, Blackburn News reports. Six staff have tested positive for the virus.
- Forty of 50 inmates and four staff members at the Sarnia Jail have tested positive for COVID-19, Blackburn News reports.
- Five patients and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at a unit in Windsor Regional Hospital's Metropolitan Campus, Blackburn News reports. The hospital is also dealing with an outbreak in its clinical teaching unit on the Ouellette Campus.
- Windsor police have released statistics that show that there was a nearly 16 per cent increase in violent crimes in 2020 compared to 2019, CTV Windsor reports. Aldo DiCarlo, Amherstburg mayor and vice-chair of the local police service, tells CTV that "the numbers are probably not that big of a surprise with the pandemic."
- As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, Windsor's public transit system has seen an 85 per cent drop in ridership from pre-pandemic figures, and the city warns it needs more provincial and federal funding in order to avoid service cuts, CBC reports.