This article was last updated on Friday at 3:39 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 1,745 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 325,254 since the pandemic began; 759 people are in hospital, 309 of them in intensive care, and 176 on ventilators. To date, 7,212 people have died.
- According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 52 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 11 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 98 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,753 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
As of March 19, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 106 new school-related student cases (for a total of 7,967) 26 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,762), and no new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,153); 908 schools have a reported case, and 38 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.
Premier Doug Ford announced this morning in Toronto that vaccinations for people 75 and over will open through the provincial booking portal on Monday, ahead of schedule. The province is also opening up vaccinations through pharmacies using the Astra Zeneca vaccine to people 60 and older.
Yesterday, The Ontario government announced that it is investing $239 million to extend temporary wage enhancements for personal support workers and direct support workers in publicly funded home and community care, long-term-care, public hospitals, and social services sectors. According to a statement released by the government, these temporary wage enhancements will continue until June 30, 2021 and will help stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed to provide a high level of care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ontario government announced that it is investing $933 million in 80 new long-term care projects, which they say will lead to thousands of additional new and upgraded long-term care spaces across the province.
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- According to data as of March 18, there are 644 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 104,911 since the pandemic began; 251 of them are in hospital (14 new). In total, 2,743 people have died (three new).
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic board now has 10 schools closed because of COVID, including St. Sofia in Mississauga, where an outbreak hit at least 15 students and staff, sending three to hospital, reports the Toronto Star.
CBC News reports that, according to statistics from Toronto Public Health, the city has administered about 21 per cent of its COVID-19 vaccines — 66,134 out of 322,466 total doses — to people who are not Toronto residents.
The Hamilton Spectator reports that the city might be in for another lockdown, according to local health experts. Public Health Ontario Hamilton’s reproduction number remains high at 1.14 on Thursday. This key metric has to stay below 0.7 in the presence of the variants. Even with the original COVID virus, it needs to be below 1.0.
St. Joseph’s Healthcare has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in its dialysis unit at the Charlton campus after three patients tested positive, reports the Hamilton Spectator.
- Students, parents and guardians have a last chance to pick between in-person and remote learning and Hamilton's public school board. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, the HWDSB says people wanting to switch should fill out a request form between March 22 and 28. Then, students can transition on May 4.
- Researchers at Hamilton's McMaster University says $5 million they received from the federal government will help them in their work to determine how effective vaccines are in long-term-care homes. Researchers will study 2,000 residents, staff and visitors to homes over a year to try and find out if a resident's immune system response or previous exposure to the virus helps or hinders them, the Spectator reports. The team will also study if certain features of long-term care make settings vulnerable to future outbreaks.
- Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji has expressed concern over the province’s decision this week to relax restrictions for grey zone weddings, reports the St. Catharines Standard. “In other parts of Ontario, we have definitely seen that weddings have been a significant source of spread. I can think of at least one wedding outbreak we had in the fall and there might have been more,” Hirji said.
- As of March 17, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,174 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 266 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1498 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.
- The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health is now booking appointments for urban Indigenous people living in Ottawa who are 40 years of age or older.
- Akausivik Inuit Heath Family Health team is providing vaccinations for all Inuit adults living in Ottawa. To book an appointment, call 613-740-0999. The clinic is open Monday to Friday 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
- The Tyendinaga Mohawk Council has been notified of a new positive case on the territory, within Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte staff. This individual was tested for surveillance purposes and is currently asymptomatic. All high risk and low risk contacts have been notified.
- 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.
- Indigenous agencies in the Durham Region are hosting a vaccine information night for urban Indigenous people in Durham to answer questions and share knowledge on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan. The Q+A will be Monday, March 22 at 6:45 p.m.
- Tungasuvvingat Inuit has put together a list of vaccination clinics happening for Inuit living in Ontario including ones in Ottawa, Kingston, Durham and Peel Regions.
- 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.
- While Thunder Bay has received an additional 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, Dr. Janet DeMille, the medical officer of health at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit says the province should still designate the city a COVID-19 hotspot, TBNewswatch reports.
- The number of people staying in the Thunder Bay’s isolation shelters is dropping, CBC Thunder Bay reports. On March 8, 102 rooms were being used for isolation, while on March 17, that decreased to 59.
- Public Health Sudbury and Districts reports 218 new cases, of which 104 have screened as a potential variant of concern, for a total of 242 active cases between March 11 and 17. Additionally, there are are 17 active outbreaks and 13 hospitalizations. Of the total active cases, 212 are in Greater Sudbury, five in the Sudbury District and one in the Manitoulin District.
- Immunization clinics in the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit begin Monday for people born in 1941 or before. Vaccinations are scheduled by appointment only, and can be booked by calling 1-800-563-2808, option 5.“On Monday, we take an important step forward to protect our most vulnerable, as our first mass immunization clinics goes live,” says Jim Chirico, medical officer of health.
- Global News reports that the Kingston region is expected to move into the yellow zone, or possibly orange, as early as Friday, following a rising case count. The region recorded 19 new cases on Thursday. Residents who attended Miss Bao Restaurant or Lone Star Texas Grill Restaurant in Kingston on March 13 are being asked to monitor for symptoms, after two positive cases attended both places.
- As Ottawa entered the red zone Friday, the city gave early approval for restaurant patios to open, CTV News reports. In a tweet, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said that “Any restaurant/business that had a patio last summer or this winter can set up starting today using the same plan.” Many restaurant owners are frustrated with the one day of notice that they received before the switch to the red zone, leaving them with thousands of dollars of excess inventory, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
- Seven patients who were being treated for unrelated illnesses at Ottawa Civic Hospital have died of COVID-19, following an outbreak that began at the hospital on February 19, the Ottawa Citizen reports. A total of 27 patients and 15 staff members have been infected so far.
- Students living in Peterborough’s Severn Court residence are grappling with the death of a resident from COVID-19, the Peterborough Examiner reports. An outbreak occurred after a party in the residence, which many residents did not attend and some feel they are being unfairly blamed for. “We lost someone who was a friend, a roommate, a member of our Severn community, and we have been left to grieve that loss on our own. Peterborough has alienated us and left us to struggle,” one student said.
- Researchers with the Lawson Health Research Institute in London have established a way to use artificial intelligence to diagnose COVID-19 in people's lungs, CTV London reports. Last year, TVO looked at the approach to using this technology.
- Saying its regional economy is showing the second slowest recovery rate in the province from the COVID-19 pandemic, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce wants the provincial government to broaden small business financing, CBC Windsor reports.
- The Windsor–Essex County Health Unit anticipates it will begin with the second phase of vaccination in the region by the end of next week, lowering the age limit for its clinics to 75 years old at that point, the Windsor Star reports. The announcement comes as the health unit also warns residents that it is on the precipice of a third wave, the Windsor Star reports.
- Waterloo-Region Public Health says a recent cluster of more than 20 cases of COVID-19 are linked to private gatherings of university students, CTV Kitchener reports.