COVID-19: What you need to know for March 22

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 22, 2021

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This article was last updated on Monday 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. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 1,699 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 330,573 since the pandemic began; 813 people are in hospital, 298 of them in intensive care, and 186 on ventilators. To date, 7,244 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 56 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 12 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 110 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,753 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • As of March 22, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 120 new school-related student cases (for a total of 8,086) 19 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,785), and one new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,154); 921 schools have a reported case, and 44 schools are currently closed.

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JMM Covid Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM Covid Graph
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,521,705 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

  • On Friday, the Ontario government announced that it will be expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective today. In a statement, the province also announced that they plan to expand the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines, with another 350 pharmacies to be brought on board across the province in the next two weeks bringing the total to approximately 700 locations. It is expected that this number would again be doubled to approximately 1,500 by the end of April.

  • On Friday, the Ontario government announced that it is providing $106.4 million to help publicly assisted colleges and universities address the financial impacts of COVID-19. According to a statement, the funding will provide immediate and targeted support for postsecondary institutions that are most affected by decreases in tuition and ancillary revenues and have incurred expenses associated with online learning, personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning. Institutions can also use the funding in 2020-21 to offset COVID-19 expenses related to student financial supports and human resources.

  • According to a survey by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), a majority of nurses working in Ontario long-term-care homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic are reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder due to “horrors” witnessed inside the worst-hit homes reports CP24.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 21, there are 509 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 106,463 since the pandemic began; 258 of them are in hospital (12 new). In total, 2,759 people have died (0 new).
  • According to the City of Toronto's most recent vaccination update, 374,631 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. Starting today, individuals born in 1946 and earlier, are also able to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
  • On Sunday, March 21, Mayor John Tory marked one year since the first death resulting from COVID-19 in Toronto with a virtual commemorative ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony was virtual and broadcast live on local news channels. Footage from the commemorative ceremony will be available on the City’s YouTube channel.
  • On Friday, the Province announced outdoor dining will be permitted in areas in the Grey – Lockdown Zone as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 20, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures. In response, Toronto medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said in a statement that "this cautious approach recognizes the lower risk of transmission in outdoor spaces while supporting the mental health and well-being."
  • A French-language Catholic elementary school in  Mississauga will close until early April due to four COVID-19 cases counts among its students, reports CP24.

  • On Sunday, Hamilton saw 700 active cases of COVID-19 reported for the first time since January, CHCH News reports. On Saturday, new rules came into effect across the province allowing restaurants in the red and orange stages of Ontario's COVID-19 prevention framework (including Hamilton and Niagara) to expand indoor dining.

  • Starting today, Hamilton's Dr. J. E. Davey Elementary School is switching to remote-learning for a week. This came after a COVID-19 outbreak in the school, CBC Hamilton reports.

  • Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji, tells the St. Catharines Standard he's not planning to "pull the emergency brake" in the province's pandemic response plan to enact tougher restrictions. Despite rising cases, Hirji says he's not sure the province would leave Niagara in lockdown for weeks, which he says is what it would take to bring cases down. He adds that a regional lockdown may not be effective since people travel between regions.

  • The Standard also reports that Niagara health officials say nearly all people in Niagara aged 80 and older have been vaccinated, or are booked to receive their shots. About 13,200 (roughly half the population in that age group) have received at least one dose.

Indigenous

  • As of March 18, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,151 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 1,508 COVID-19 cases.
  • As of March 18, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 586 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 200,560 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.
  • On Friday March 19, Public Health notified the Tyendinaga Mohawk Council that the pervious day’s confirmed COVID-19 positive case was a false positive. With this news, Public Health advised that the staff member who tested positive along with all high-risk and low-risk contacts are able to stop self-isolating and resume their normal daily activities.
  • 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 Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health is now booking appointments for urban Indigenous people living in Ottawa who are 40 years of age or older.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Northern

  • An outbreak has been declared at Extendicare Falconbridge on the second and third floors on Sunday, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts. According to the health unit, one staff member has tested positive.
  • A potential high-risk exposure at the 323 Second Avenue apartment building was advised by Public Health Sudbury and Districts Saturday. Anyone who lives in, works in, or visited the building from March 6 and onward is advised to get tested as soon as possible and stay home except for essential reasons along with anyone in your household. If a symptom develops, self-isolate with everyone in your household.
  • The North Bay Parry Sound Unit has shifted its COVID response to the Yellow response level today, easing its regulations from the Red-level restrictions. The framework increases gathering numbers for personal, public gatherings outdoors, at home, in offices and restaurants. A full list of changes can be found here.
  • The Timiskaming Health Unit has shifted its COVID response to the Yellow response level today. The change eases restrictions in restaurants, gyms, and other facilites. a Full list of the guidelines can be found here.
  • Indigenous people 18 and up can schedule vaccination appointments in the Porcupine Health Unit on Monday and Tuesday. Openings in the scheduled clinics have opened up the eligibility those who are First Nation, Inuit or Métis. The clinics are held at the Cochrane Pavilion today at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the Smooth Rock Falls community centre today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Iroquois Falls community centre tomorrow at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are required and can be booked online or by calling 1-800-461-1818
  • The Northwestern Health Unit reported 24 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, with active cases doubling over the last two weeks for a total of 91 active cases on Sunday, TBNewswatch reports. The health unit moved into the Red-Control level of the province’s COVID-19 framework today.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported 52 COVID-19 cases over the weekend, including 20 on Sunday, the lowest number of cases reported in over a month, TBNewswatch reports. On Sunday, the active number of COVID-19 cases fell to 362 - the lowest it’s been since February 28.
  • Paramedics with Superior North EMS in Thunder Bay have voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action, TBNewswatch reports. The paramedics have been without a contract for over a year.
  • The Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association has joined a growing chorus of politicians and health professionals asking the province to designate Thunder Bay a COVID-19 hot spot, TBNewswatch reports. Meanwhile Greg Tinsley, a nurse practitioner at Janzen’s pharmacy in Thunder Bay, says the pharmacy could be ready within a matter of hours to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Around 70 people participated in an anti-lockdown protest in Thunder Bay on Saturday, TBNewswatch reports.

Eastern

  • Kieran Moore, the Kingston region’s medical officer of health, is warning residents that the virus is starting to “take off” in the region, with 85 active cases as of Sunday, CTV News reports. He urged all residents to limit their social contacts to fewer than five people, pointing to the increase in the B.1.1.7 variant in the community as another reason to be vigilant.
  • Anyone who visited TresOrs Jewellers in downtown Kingston between from March 8 to 20 is being directed to get tested immediately, the Kingston Whig-Standard reports. Anyone who visited Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s Central Branch on Johnson Street on March 16 are being asked to monitor for symptoms.
  • On Monday, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit moved from the yellow zone into red, while Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health moved from green into yellow, CBC News reports. Kingston has extended an order limiting the size of gatherings until May.
  • Four schools in Ottawa declared outbreaks of COVID-19 on Friday, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Five schools already had outbreaks, for a total of nine schools experiencing outbreaks.
  • Ottawa bylaw officers issued charges to two illegal gatherings and to one restaurant for violating distancing regulations on St. Patrick’s Day, CTV News reports. As Ottawa moved into the red zone last week, the city fast-tracked the opening of patios, though one epidemiologist told CBC News that residents should hold off on outdoor dining for a few more weeks as variants are on the rise.

Southwestern

  • This weekend, hundreds of people gathered in Sarnia, London and Windsor to protest COVID-19 lockdowns, CTV London reports.
  • How many frontline workers in long-term care and seniors facilities in the Windsor–Essex County region is unknown, CBC Windsor reports, noting the local health unit has not tracked those numbers; staff vaccination in long-term care in Chatham-Kent, however, is at 50 per cent.
  • Walpole Island First Nation moved into full lockdown as of today, Blackburn News reports.
  • It appears that the Grey-Bruce region's approach to mass vaccination is catching on, CTV London reports. The model, which uses hockey arenas and places people in individual "pods" that are delivered by staff coming to them, will be used in Manitoba.
  • Four cases of COVID-19 have been reported at Grey Bruce Health Services - Owen Sound hospital, Blackburn News reports.
  • London restauranteurs weigh in on new COVID-19 guidelines for regions under the province's orange pandemic restrictions, the London Free Press reports.
  • A mass COVID-19 vaccination site will open in Cambridge today, CTV Kitchener reports.
  • COVID-19 outbreaks have now closed two schools in Woodstock, Blackburn News reports.
  • Farmers in Norfolk County will protest local COVID-19 quarantine rules on Tuesday, the Simcoe Reformer reports.


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