COVID-19: What you need to know for March 15

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 15, 2021

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This article was last updated on Monday at 4:20 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. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 1,268 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 319,374 since the pandemic began; 699 people are in hospital, 298 of them in intensive care, and 187 on ventilators. To date, 7,162 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 87 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 42 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 146 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,750 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
JMM COVID Graph March 15
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID Graph March 15
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • As of March 15, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 91 new school-related student cases (for a total of 7,277) 15 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,621), and four new cases in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,154); 840 schools have a reported case, and 23 schools are currently closed.

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  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,158,355 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

  • The Ontario government launched a provincial booking system and customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings. The portal went live on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. and will be accepting appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics, starting with individuals aged 80 and older. The portal can be accessed here covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

  • On Friday, the Ontario government announced that on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, it is is moving three public-health regions to new levels in the revised and strengthened Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, including moving Lambton Public Health into Grey-Lockdown. The Northwestern Health Unit has been moved to Red-Control, and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit has been moved to Yellow-Protect.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 14, there are 387 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 103,002 since the pandemic began; 282 of them are in hospital (14 new). In total, 2,721 people have died (two new).
  • The COVID-19 vaccine online registration and call centre for City of Toronto clinics for eligible seniors now live. The online registration system for Toronto residents born in 1941 and earlier to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments at a City of Toronto operated clinic is live on toronto.ca/covid-19. According to a statement from the city, as of Sunday evening, 11,178 people have booked appointments to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at one of six City-operated immunization clinics between March 17 and April 11.
  • In Hamilton, residents are being asked not to use the local COVID-19 vaccine booking system as the province's opens. The hotline in Hamilton will still remain open, CBC Hamilton reports. In Niagara, the first vaccination clinic will open Thursday, the St. Catharines Standard reports.
  • Hamilton is seeing the most active cases of COVID-19 (509) since February 6, when there were 527. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, 131 people tested positive over the weekend, with 54 more cases suspected to be variants. Public health data shows variants will likely be to blame if there's a third surge of the virus in Hamilton.
  • Business experts tell the Spectator that businesses in malls — many already struggling pre-pandemic — will have to adapt to survive COVID-19 restrictions. For example, fancier restaurants seem more likely to start offering takeout or food delivery.
  • The Standard reports that according to a local historian, the year-long closure of the Canada-U.S. border is likely the biggest cross-border impediment since the War of 1812. The closure has kept apart couples who normally live half-an-hour apart and hurt Niagara businesses that rely on U.S. customers.

Indigenous

  • As of March 11, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,213 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 250 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1,432 COVID-19 cases.
  • As of March 12, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 538 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 166,084 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, Whitehorse and clinics are being planned in several others, including Saskatoon and Regina.
  • As of March 12, Six Nations of the Grand River is aware of 40 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.
  • As of March 12, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is reporting 1 active case of COVID. They have administered 1050 first doses of the COVID vaccine and an additional 22 members have had first and second doses completed.

Northern

  • Outbreaks in Immaculate Conception School and Lockerby Composite School in Greater Sudbury have been declared by Public Health Sudbury and Districts. On March 11, the health unit had ordered the closures of all schools its area, except in Chapleau, Foleyet and Gogama, by March 15.
  • There are two outbreaks in Health Sciences North. On Friday, an outbreak was declared on the sixth floor of the Ramsey Lake Health Centre's south tower, and a separate outbreak on the fourth floor of the south tower was declared Saturday.
  • The Porcupine Health Unit has begun vaccination clinics for First Nation, Inuit and Métis adults across the health unit's region beginning Wednesday and ending March 22. Appointments can be booked online or over the phone at 1-800-461-1818. A full list of the vaccination clinic locations can be found here. The health unit says more clinics will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
  • The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority declared the outbreak in Moosonee over after the final active case was resolved on Friday afternoon. The outbreak was initially declared on February 19 and had a total of 19 active cases in Moosonee and Moose Factory.
  • On Friday, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre reported a COVID-19 outbreak in its 1A Medicine Unit, and in response, the hospital moved into Level Grey (Lockdown). The hospital’s lockdown measures may include transferring patients in the Intensive Care Unit to hospitals in southern Ontario, or diverting incoming critical patients from regional communities, in order to increase critical care capacity. The hospital is also reducing elective procedures, but it says it remains a safe place for urgent care.
  • On Saturday, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre transferred two patients “elsewhere,” in an effort to increase critical care capacity, TBNewswatch reports. That same day, the hospital reported 22 people in the ICU, 19 of whom were on ventilators.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported a total of 83 COVID-19 cases over the weekend, for a total of 437 active COVID-19 cases. The Northwestern Health Unit reported 20 COVID-19 cases over the weekend, for a total of 88 active COVID-19 cases in the region.
  • On Friday, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported that an individual in its catchment area has screened positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern, though more testing is required to confirm the specific variant type. It’s the first variant of concern to be found in the Thunder Bay region. Meanwhile, the Northwestern Health Unit reported two cases of a single COVID-19 variant (the B.1.1.7 or the U.K. variant), in Fort Frances and in Dryden. The health unit says the two cases are unrelated.

Eastern

  • On Monday, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit will move into the yellow zone, following a rise in COVID-19 cases, CTV News reports. This level includes restrictions on the number of people who can sit together at a table at a restaurant, for instance.
  • Peterborough has become Ontario’s “hotspot” for COVID-19 variants, the Peterborough Examiner reports. Between February 28 and March 6, variants were involved in 84 per cent of all cases, compared to the provincial average of 32 per cent. At least 44 variant cases are linked to an outbreak at a private student residence.
  • The Eastern Ontario Health Unit will begin accepting vaccination appointments online on Monday, the Seaway News reports. Those who are eligible to book include residents aged 80 years and over, as well as Indigenous residents of Akwesasne, health care workers, and retirement home and long-term-care residents.
  • In the Kingston region, vaccination booking for those aged 80 years and older will also open Monday, CTV News reports. Vaccination appointments will take place between March 22 and April 18. Residents in Ottawa of the same age bracket can also book starting Monday.

Southwestern

  • There are now more than 200 cases of COVID-19 variants of concern in the Waterloo Region, CTV Kitchener reports.
  • The Waterloo Region vaccine distribution task force has announced it's keeping its local COVID-19 booking system for the immediate future rather than switching to the provincial one that's slated to roll out this week.
  • The Waterloo Region has announced the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Wellesley to serve its rural population.
  • Experts weigh in on what's needed to supplement students' education after a year of COVID-19, the London Free Press reports.
  • Two fitness centres in Lambton County are planning to remain open in defiance of provincial COVID-19 control zone orders that take effect today, CTV London reports.
  • Staff shortages linked to a COVID-19 outbreak has temporarily shut down a Lambton County school with students having to do remote learning for a week, CTV London reports.


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