COVID-19: What you need to know for March 17

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 17, 2021

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This article was last updated on Wednesday at 4:46 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 1,508 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 321,956 since the pandemic began; 741 people are in hospital, 300 of them in intensive care, and 190 on ventilators. To date, 7,187 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 72 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 30 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 123 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,752 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
JMM COVID-19 Graph March 17
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID-19 Graph March 17
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • As of March 17, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 145 new school-related student cases (for a total of 7,719) 33 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,715), and one new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,152); 909 schools have a reported case, and 31 schools are currently closed.

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  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,301,334 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

  • Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that it has established the Staffing Supply Accelerator Group to help implement one of the largest health care recruitment and training programs in Ontario history. According to a statement released by the government, the group will help to increase long-term-care staffing supply by expanding and accelerating education and training for personal support workers, registered practical nurses and registered nurses.

  • Premier Doug Ford is warning Ontarians to be "very cautious” and "not let our guard down for a second" after the province's science advisers declared a third wave of COVID-19, reports CP24.

  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that while new recommendations saying the AstraZeneca vaccine can be used on people older than 65 is “good news,” it also “messes everything up” logistically, reports CP24. “They're changing and moving the goalposts. I can't begin to tell you the logistics behind it. It just messes everything up to be very frank with you,” the premier told reporters on Tuesday.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 16, there are 576 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 103,878 since the pandemic began; 290 of them are in hospital (12 new). In total, 2,731 people have died (five new).
  • The Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Scarborough Town Centre and the Toronto Congress Centre will open their doors today for COVID-19 vaccinations, reports CP24. All three sites will operate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. They are currently serving people over the age of 80 who have registered for appointments.

  • Toronto Public Health says more than half of the 70 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to an outbreak at the Toronto South Detention Centre have screened positive for a variant of concern, reports CP24.

  • In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, Hamilton health officials have reminded residents it's still not recommended to gather with others outside one's own household, despite bars and restaurants being open to indoor dining.

  • The Hamilton Spectator has reported on recent public health data showing staff COVID-19 vaccinations in long-term care homes range from 26.7 per cent to 100 per cent, and staff vaccinations in retirement homes range from 1.1 per cent to 83.3 per cent. This is in contrast to the minimum of 90 per cent resident uptake at each home listed as of March 8. A palliative care physician tells the paper these numbers are concerning but not surprising, as public health officials, experts and workers' unions have expressed worry about uptake.

  • The Spectator also reports Hamilton public health has not clarified how Indigenous adults can book COVID-19 vaccines, only saying more information will come later in the week.

  • A year ago Tuesday, Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara closed for the pandemic, the Niagara Falls Review reports. They have yet to re-open and do not have a re-opening date. Casinos employ more than 4,000 people in Niagara. Provincial guidelines say casinos can open to 50 people at a time, but operators say it wouldn't be worth opening for so few people.

Indigenous

  • As of March 16, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,279 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 261 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1,478 COVID-19 cases
  • As of March 16, Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting 29 active cases of COVID-19. There were two new cases reported yesterday as of 1:32 p.m.
  • The Mindimooyenh Vaccination Clinic invites Indigenous people over 16 years old (18 years old for some of the vaccines) to book an appointment to receive their vaccine in Thunder Bay. The registration line is now open Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, in Ottawa, is now accepting Indigenous adults 50 years and older for vaccinations at their “Urban Indigenous COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic”. To book an appointment, contact them by phone; the clinic runs 7 days a week.
  • Urban Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be happening in Timmins, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Iroquois Falls. With the first clinic happening today in Timmins.
  • Indigenous residents of Peel who are 18 years of age and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine at clinics in Brampton, Caledon or Mississauga. Appointments must be booked in advance.
  • Urban Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be happening in Orillia, Midland and Barrie on March 20, 26 and 30 respectively. The clinics are hosted by Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin and the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle.
  • As of March 16, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is reporting 1 active case of COVID. They have administered 1,050 first doses of the COVID vaccine and an additional 22 members have had first and second doses completed.

Northern

  • Outbreaks have been declared at the Salvation Army's Cedar Street shelter and at the YMCA's warming centre, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts. The health unit is advising of potential high-risk exposures at the Salvation Army on March 9 and at the warming centre on March 14. News of the outbreak follows the first drop-in vaccination clinic for those who are homeless or use the city's shelters, which opened Sunday, according to CBC Sudbury.
  • A third outbreak at Health Sciences North has been declared, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts. The new outbreak is onfloor 7B of the North tower. The first outbreak was announced on March 12 and is in the South tower in hallway G of the sixth floor, while the second outbreak, announced on March 13, is on the fourth floor of the South tower. The health unit says the outbreaks are contained and there is no evidence of ongoing transmission. The hospital is screening all patients and visitors, but according to its website all emergency, acute and urgent care services continue.
  • Over 1,200 vaccine appointments were booked by the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit on the first day bookings were available. The clinics were available to anyone born in 1941 or before. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 1-800-563-2808. Choose option 5, and follow the prompts.
  • At least 32 residents at Walford retirement home in Thunder Bay have contracted COVID-19, but many of the infected residents - who have already received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine - have low-grade symptoms or are asymptomatic, Shane Muir, community paramedicine coordinator with Superior North EMS, tells TBNewswatch.
  • During a media briefing Tuesday, Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, says the high number of COVID-19 cases in Thunder Bay is an example of just how quickly things can change in communities that were less affected by COVID-19 in the past, TBNewswatch reports.

Eastern

  • Global News reports that Kingston bylaw officers were called to a large party on Friday night with more than 140 people in attendance. The party took place on the eve of restrictions coming into effect which limit gatherings to five people - meant to minimize gatherings during the week around St. Patrick’s Day. The restriction remains in place until March 20.
  • Ottawa is expected to move back into the red zone “within the next week,” said Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health; restrictions include only having 10 people inside restaurants and in indoor exercise classes, reports the Ottawa Citizen.
  • Several business owners in Ottawa spoke with CBC News about the impending move to the red zone, with one calling it a “punch in the face.” Sarah Chown, the Ottawa chair of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, said that restaurant owners can’t turn a profit with ten seats and that food waste and staff retention become major problems.
  • The Peterborough Examiner reports that a Fleming College student in his 30s has died after being infected with COVID-19 from the outbreak at Severn Court, the private student residence where he lived. His is the first death associated with the outbreak.

Southwestern

  • A Windsor judge has delayed sentencing for two men by two months because he's concerned about sending them to a jail with a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19, the Windsor Star reports.
  • A Windsor-based company that specializes in COVID-19 testing is helping Ontario's film industry to keep on top of monitoring workers, the Windsor Star reports.
  • Paramedics in the Windsor–Essex County region are beginning to deliver in-home vaccinations to the area's vulnerable residents, CTV Windsor reports. Meanwhile, there are plenty of appointment spaces open in the region at pharmacies delivering vaccinations to people aged 60 to 64, CTV reports.
  • The Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Windsor has confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak, CTV Windsor reports.
  • Walpole Island First Nation has reported its second COVID-19–related death, Blackburn News reports.
  • As some Sarnia businesses continue to defy provincial COVID-19 lock-down orders, the city's mayor urges them to consider public safety, CTV London reports.
  • A vaccination clinic dedicated to serving Indigenous populations in London and the surrounding area is now up and running, CBC London reports.
  • Haldimand and Norfolk counties' medical officer of health is raising concerns about potential COVID-19 health risks in how migrant workers are being transported from airports to complete quarrantines in local locations, the Simcoe Reformer reports.

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