COVID-19: What you need to know for March 23

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 23, 2021

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This article was last updated on Tuesday at 3:48 p.m.

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 1,546 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 332,119 since the pandemic began; 868 people are in hospital, 324 of them in intensive care, and 193 on ventilators. To date, 7,253 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 52 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 10 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 99 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,753 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
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.
  • As of March 23, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 333 new school-related student cases (for a total of 8,424) 75 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,864), and one new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,155); 997 schools have a reported case, and 48 schools are currently closed.
  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,603,699 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

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  • Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that is providing over $1.2 billion to help Ontario's public hospitals recover from financial pressures created and worsened by COVID-19.

  • Ontario officials confirmed Monday that restaurant workers will in fact be included in Phase 2 of the province’s COVID-19 rollout, despite not being included a week earlier, reports CTV News.

  • Ontario’s health minister, Christine Ellliot, says she will get the AstraZeneca shot on camera to fight hesitancy to the vaccine and prove to residents that the jab is safe, reports CP24. The shot has been the subject of concern in recent weeks following reports of blood clots in a handful of people who received it in Europe.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 22, there are 520 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 106,953 since the pandemic began; 264 of them are in hospital (12 new). In total, 2,762 people have died (three new).
  • On Wednesday, March 24, the City of Toronto and East Toronto Health Partners Opens in new window(ETHP), the Ontario Health Team serving East Toronto, will open a mass immunization clinic at the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub located in the East York Town Centre. The new Thorncliffe Park Community Hub clinic expects to administer approximately 1,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on its first day of operations on Wednesday.

  • The City of Toronto has announced plans to continue COVID-19 outreach to seniors across the city. A statement released yesterday noted that, Toronto Public Library is currently mobilizing library staff to reach out to approximately 35,000 seniors starting this week to ensure those who are eligible for vaccine understand they are eligible and have all the information they need to get vaccinated. Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is undertaking work to help seniors in their 83 seniors’ buildings get vaccinated without delay. And the City has reached out to 40 senior-serving organization from across Toronto, offering financial support to increase staffing and redeploy staff to reach clients and support booking of vaccine appointments over the coming weeks.
  • The Toronto Star reports that school boards are turning to principals, specialty teachers and even lunchroom supervisors to help cover absences during the pandemic because of a shortage of supply teachers.
  • Hamilton health officials warned Monday that the city is experiencing a third surge of COVID-19 cases. The city's weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 people is 102, CBC Hamilton reports. Medical officer of health Elizabeth Richardson warned hospitals could be overwhelmed, as has been a risk during previous surges of the virus. Public health epidemiologist Stephanie Hughes warns the third surge will be even worse than the last one if trends persist, since the COVID-19 variants spread so quickly.
  • The Hamilton Spectator reports there were no appointments left at the city's mass-vaccination clinics after the province opened bookings to people 75 and older. The city plans to add more appointments to the system in the coming days. Meanwhile, clinic appointments are overall going unfulfilled, with people not booking all the appointments available. The paper reports there has been poor communication around mobile clinic appointments, which can only be booked through the city's hotline.
  • The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, ACORN Hamilton and the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton are hosting a community meeting tonight to solicit input on changes Ontario is considering for the lending industry, which it calls predatory. Critics in the groups say high-cost credit may seem appealing to people in financial crisis (as many are now), but that they cost borrowers too much in the long run.
  • Niagara's acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji, continues to warn that residents' actions now will determine how quickly a sense of normalcy can return in the summer months. He says that a near-30-per-cent increase in COVID-19 infections in the region this past week, as well as growing cases in Hamilton and the GTA leave him pessimistic, the St. Catharines Standard reports.

Indigenous

  • As of March 22, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,136 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 273 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1,531 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.
  • 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 today in Iroquois Falls.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • On March 18, Ohsweken Public Health reported it’s first Variant of Concern (VOC) lab result along with a second confirmed VOC on March 22. Contract tracing has begun and those affected have taken measures to self-isolate. 
  • As of March 22, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is reporting 0 active cases of COVID. They have administered 1411 first doses of the COVID vaccine and an additional 36 members have had first and second doses completed. 
  • As of March 22, Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the community. 

Northern

  • A retired doctor calls out the provincial vaccine distribution to the north, according to CBC Sudbury. Peter Zalan, former medical staff president at Health Sciences North, says with surging cases in Thunder Bay and Sudbury both cities should be getting more vaccines.
  • A patient at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Marathon has died after contracting COVID-19. The hospital is still managing an outbreak in it’s chronic care wing, which has infected two staff and three patients, TBNewswatch reports.
  • COVID-19 cases in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit continue to decline, with the health unit reporting only 9 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, for a total of 325 active cases. The number of patients with COVID-19 at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has also declined slightly, to 38 patients, with nine in the I.C.U, down from 40 patients with 13 in the I.C.U. on Friday, TBNewswatch reports. On Monday, the hospital also said they are not actively diverting patients to other locations in the province.
  • The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is calling on the province to refine it’s COVID-19 restrictions for businesses to allow them to operate at reduced capacity, TBNewswatch reports. Thunder Bay has been in the Grey-Lockdown for three weeks.

Eastern

  • Cases of COVID-19 linked to Queen’s University tripled in a week, the Kingstonist reports. That’s according to the university’s Case Tracker on its website, which as of Sunday, was at 60 cases, 34 of which were identified over the weekend.
  • Ottawa’s COVID-19 case count continues to rise, with 759 cases considered active as of Monday, Global News reports. The city’s public health dashboard showed 38 active outbreaks.
  • Several Ottawa residents told CTV News that they are experiencing difficulty booking vaccine appointments through the province’s online booking system. Ottawa Public Health, like the Ministry of Health, acknowledged the booking issue and said in a tweet that anyone having difficulties booking online can call 1-833-943-3900.
  • Paul Roumeliotis, the medical officer of health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, is asking the public to treat his staff with more civility, reporting in a press conference Monday that contact tracers are being shouted and screamed at by those whom they are reaching out to, Cornwall Seaway News reports.

Southwestern

  • As a group of Norfolk County farmers stage a protest today about a local rule addressing migrant workers' quarantine periods, the region's medical officer of health says the rule is needed to protect everyone in the community, the Simcoe Reformer reports.
  • The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University have announced they will return to in-classroom teaching in the fall of 2021, CTV Kitchener reports.
  • The opening of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the London area will be delayed indefinitely primarily because the city already has about twice the supply of capacity compared to the amount of vaccine that it has been issued so far, the region's medical officer of health tells the London Free Press.
  • A new mass COVID-19 immunization clinic has opened this week in a Point Edward arena, the Sarnia Observer reports.
  • Huron Perth Public Health had to close its COVID-19 vaccine booking system on Monday morning because of overwhelming demand for appointments, the Stratford Beacon Herald reports. The region's medical officer of health says the local booking service is expected to reopen today.
  • The pandemic continues to affect fundraising efforts for charities in the Grey-Bruce region, the Owen Sound Sun Times reports, with a third of 64 charities reporting in a recent survey that they have maintained only 25 per cent of what they've fundraised in previous years.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Windsor's women's shelter, CTV Windsor reports.
  • Transit Windsor is waiving fares for residents who are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, CTV Windsor reports.
  • As front line staff at the Windsor Regional Hospital dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, their hours went up, and that has meant staff numbers appearing on the Ontario Sunshine List has doubled, the Windsor Star reports. The list records all public-sector staff in the province that earn more than $100,000 in a year.

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