COVID-19: What you need to know for March 18

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 18, 2021

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This article was last updated on Thursday 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 1,553 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 323,509 since the pandemic began; 730 people are in hospital, 304 of them in intensive care, and 186 on ventilators. To date, 7,202 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 59 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 24 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 108 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 18
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID-19 Graph March 18
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • As of March 18, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 99 new school-related student cases (for a total of 7,858) 19 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,740), and one new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,153); 915 schools have a reported case, and 33 schools are currently closed.

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  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,359,453 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario Government announced that it is moving the Ottawa Public Health region to the Red-Control level in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, effective Friday. According to a statement released by the government, from March 10 to 15, 2021, Ottawa Public Health's case rate increased by 24.8 per cent, to 46.8 cases per 100,000 people.

  • Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that it is making it easier for businesses to test for COVID-19 in the workplace by providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 17, there are 467 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 104,306 since the pandemic began; 284 of them are in hospital (12 new). In total, 2,740 people have died (nine new).
  • To date, 318,798 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto. The City is currently vaccinating residents born in 1941 and earlier at three of the City-operated mass immunization clinics: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Congress Centre and Scarborough Town Centre. According to the city's latest vaccination update, vaccinations will also begin at the Malvern Community Recreation Centre and Mitchell Field Community Centre clinics on March 29 and at The Hangar clinic site on April 5.

  • Yesterday, Toronto announced that it is working with the Province and the Chief Medical Officer of Health to explore ways to open additional businesses and amenities in a modified Grey zone, while not fully moving into the Red – Control Zone of the provincial Lockdown Regulation.

  • In June, TVO.org reported on a Hamilton-led research effort to track COVID-19 spread using sewage. Now, the Hamilton Spectator reports that COVID sewage trends are an accurate monitor of local infection rates. The City is now testing sewage at the neighbourhood level to see if data can help public health officials make quick decisions about where education or testing efforts may be useful.
  • The Spectator reports there is still confusion over how Indigenous adults can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Some residents say it is a breach of trust with the Indigenous community that local public health officials have not provided specific details on how people can register, or how many have been vaccinated.
  • The head of a union representing correctional officers tells CBC Hamilton his members are upset that they were turned away from vaccine appointments this past weekend. Hamilton Public Health Services says some officers at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre were mistakenly given the vaccine last week. The union says public health staff initially told their members they could sign up.
  • Hamilton is hiring 10 vaccine ambassadors to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine in populations where hesitancy is high, namely marginalized communities. The Spectator reports the director of public health’s healthy families division says there are hesitancy rates between 25 and 50 per cent in Ontario's marginalized communities.
  • CHCH News reports Hamilton has its first community fridge — an effort to get food to people in need as food insecurity has increased during the pandemic.
  • In January, Niagara Region's police chief penned an open letter to residents, putting the increase in COVID-19 cases in terms of an increase in homicides or traffic collisions. This week, as part of TVO.org's COVID:Inside Stories series, Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler asked why people respond differently depending on the cause and scale of death.
  • Niagara saw 305 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday, the most since February 8, as the region and the province see case counts grow. Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji, told the St. Catharines Standard that if people voluntarily stay home but for essential reasons over the next few months, a lockdown probably won't be necessary in the summer when more people have been vaccinated. However, Hirji says there's very little time to change course now.
  • Niagara's first mass vaccination clinic opens in Niagara Falls today. It will serve people born in 1941 or earlier who book appointments online or by phone. The Standard reports that the Region plans to have 11 sites to which clinics will rotate.

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, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 585 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 198,354 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Urban Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be happening in Hearst, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Iroquois Falls between Friday March 19 and Tuesday March 23.
  • There is a vaccination clinic happening today in Akwesasne for all residents 18 years of age or older. The clinic is running on a first come, first serve basis until supplies run out. No appointment is necessary.
  • There are two urban Indigenous vaccination clinics happening in Ottawa. One is run by the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and is for Indigenous adults 50 years of age or older. The second is run by Akausivik Inuit Heath and is for First Nation and Inuit who are 18 years of age or older.
  • A clinic is taking place at the Beausoleil recreation centre for second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The vaccination clinics will take place on Monday March 22 and Tuesday March 23. The roll-out is organized in time slots indicated by birth year.
  • Pikangikum First Nation is celebrating having 78 per cent of their population of eligible individuals vaccinated. 1427 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given in the first two weeks of March.
  • As of March 17, Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting 29 active cases of COVID-19.

Northern

  • Algoma Public Health says it has vaccinated over 90 per cent of long-term-care home and elders' lodge residents with both the first and second doses of the vaccine. Staff and essential caregivers have been offered their vaccines, and the remaining people in this group are eligible in ensuing clinics. The health unit says it has begun its clinics for the 'highest priority' health care workers, adults 80 and over and Indigenous adults aged 55 and up. Between March 22 and 29, vaccines will be available to 'very high priority' health care workers, adults with chronic homecare needs and household members of Indigenous adults aged 55 and over, regardless of status or identity.
  • The Porcupine Health Unit issued a potential risk exposure from a travel-related case from outside of the region. The health unit says anyone on Air Canada, flight AC0144 at 12:15 p.m. from Calgary to Toronto Monday on March 15 in rows 14 to 18 must self-isolateand call their local public health unit, along with Air Canada, flight AC8289 6:55 p.m. from Toronto to Timmins on March 15 in rows 8 to 12. Other travellers are directed to self-monitor.
  • Another person died from COVID-19 in the Thunder Bay region yesterday. Thirty-nine people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
  • The Northwestern Health Unit will now be offering more geographic details about their daily COVID-19 cases, TBNewswatch reports. Previously, residents criticized the health unit for the lack of details they offered about new COVID-19 cases, however, the health unit justified their decision, citing privacy concerns.
  • Federal health minister Patty Hadju says the government is in the “final stages” of working on measures to support Thunder Bay’s isolation shelter, TBNewswatch reports, though the government has yet to make an announcement. The City of Thunder Bay requested federal assistance when it declared a state of emergency on February 2.

Eastern

  • Zachary Root, 31, is being remembered by family and friends after dying of COVID-19, which he contracted at Severn Court, a private student residence in Peterborough, CP24 reports. The residence experienced an outbreak after a party in late February, which Root did not attend.
  • Queen’s University students who have had unmasked contact with anyone outside their household are being urged to get tested for COVID-19, even if they are asymptomatic, following a spike in cases linked to the university, CTV News reports.
  • Ottawa is moving into the red zone on Friday, CTV News reports. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the city, as well as indicators linked to wastewater monitoring and variants of concern.
  • The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit has imposed new restrictions on businesses and gatherings in both Smiths Falls and Perth, following an uptick in cases, CTV News reports.

Southwestern

  • Health providers in Windsor and Essex County have begun to roll out a vaccination program for the area's homeless population, CBC Windsor reports.
  • Chatham-Kent's medical officer of health warns the municipality's provincial COVID-19 control zone could change to red next week because of a local rise in case numbers, Blackburn News reports. The area is currently under the orange-restrict zone.
  • In Sarnia and Lambton County, public health officials are searching for people who may have come in contact with a cab driver who has tested positive for COVID-19, Blackburn News reports.
  • Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in London and area schools, CBC London reports.
  • Students in Fanshawe College's music industry arts program in London have marked a year of the pandemic in the province with a playlist featuring music created or performed by current and former students, Blackburn News reports.
  • In the Waterloo Region, most people living in, or connected to long-term care and retirement homes have now received COVID-19 vaccinations, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo reports. The Region's chair says all area residents could have their first dose of the vaccine by June, CTV Kitchener reports.
  • A University of Waterloo accounting professor tells CTV Kitchener that there are three ways in which COVID-19 could affect your tax filing.

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