COVID-19: What you need to know for March 24

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 24, 2021

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This article was last updated on Wednesday at 4:03 p.m.

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 1,571 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 333,690 since the pandemic began; 893 people are in hospital, 333 of them in intensive care, and 210 on ventilators. To date, 7,263 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 104 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,753 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • As of March 24, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 209 new school-related student cases (for a total of 8,617) 47 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,909), and one new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,156); 1,011 schools have a reported case, and 43 schools are currently closed.

JMM March 24
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID March 24
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID Graph March 24
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 1,676,150 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

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  • Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that it is investing $3.7 million as part of the 2021 Budget to help seniors and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccinations, where transportation is a barrier.

  • Adults over 50 living in COVID-19 hotspot neighbourhoods, various frontline workers, and those with a wide range of health conditions will soon qualify to receive a vaccine as Ontario prepares to roll out Phase 2 of its vaccine plan, reports CP24.

  • Premier Doug Ford said it would be "absolutely terrible" if Ontario was forced to go back into lockdown because of the third wave of COVID-19 and that it's critical people remain cautious and vigilant to protect themselves, reports CTV News.

  • Premier Doug Ford says his cabinet will meet today to consider possible allowances for personal care services and fitness establishments, as the warming weather draws people outdoors, reports CP24.

  • According to a survey conducted by Royal LePage, a house in Ontario's and Atlantic Canada's recreational property markets are expected to see highest price gains in 2021, rising 17 per cent. CTV News reports that sales are being driven by many people’s ability to work from home and the historic low interest rates. Its also driven by the fact that some buyers have saved money during the pandemic because they haven't been able to travel.

  • Ontario family doctors are calling to be more involved in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, saying they could boost uptake, but the government said their participation would be limited to a supply-dependent pilot project for now, reports CP24. The Ontario College of Family Physicians said primary-care doctors could push overall participation in the province's immunization program to nearly 90 per cent.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area 

  • According to data as of March 23, there are 484 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 107,280 since the pandemic began; 271 of them are in hospital (12 new). In total, 2,766 people have died (four new).
  • To date, 403,902 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto. The City is currently vaccinating residents born in 1946 and earlier at three of the City-operated mass immunization clinics: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Congress Centre and Scarborough Town Centre. Today, the City of Toronto and East Toronto Health Partners will open a mass immunization clinic at the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub for eligible seniors with confirmed appointments.

  • CBC reports that communities hardest-hit by the pandemic are sounding the alarm about the inequitable distribution of vaccines in vulnerable areas of Toronto.
  • According to CBCroughly 4,000 employees of University Health Network (UHN) still not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday. UHN president and CEO Kevin Smith wrote to staff that "while our overall rate of uptake is very good, there are areas and programs where vaccination remains below 50 per cent of people."
  • The Toronto Star reports that some undocumented immigrants are worried about getting the COVID-19 vaccine because they fear that it might cause them to lose their jobs or get deported.
  • A Hamilton public health investigation found staff at a pop up vaccination clinic administered up to seven shots of COVID-19 vaccine to people who were not yet eligible to receive them. One nurse has been fired and two have been disciplined. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, the city says some doses were given to people related to one staff person under investigation.
  • Public health staff warn Hamilton's hospitals are straining as COVID-19 infections rise. The Spectator reports there are five outbreaks at the Hamilton Health Sciences hospital network, with 111 people infected as of Tuesday. Hamilton's hospitals have more patients than funded beds, and intensive care units at HHS are 95 per cent full.
  • In Haldimand-Norfolk yesterday, farmers demonstrated to protest local rules regarding quarantining, housing and transporting migrant workers. As the Spectator reports, medical officer of health Shanker Nesathurai imposed the orders, saying the rules are to reduce outbreaks. He says some measures, such as strict rules for transporting workers from the airport, will lessen the chance that farmers have to isolate large portions of their workforces. Farmers at the protest said the rules are onerous, and heard support from Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp, who chairs the board of health.
  • In Niagara, COVID-19 cases continue to go up. Outbreak numbers may seem to be more stable, and smaller compared to where they were in January, but acting medical officer of Health Mustafa Hirji tells the St. Catharines Standard not to read to much into that. He says it's not surprising outbreaks are smaller now, given most occurred among seniors in congregate living, many of whom are now vaccinated or on track to be. But, he says, numbers could go up again very quickly.

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.
  • As of March 23, Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting 13 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.
  • As of March 22, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is reporting 0 active cases of COVID. They have administered 1484 first doses of the COVID vaccine and an additional 189 members have had first and second doses completed.
  • 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

  • The North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit says the outbreak at the Lancelot Skyline apartments is over. The outbreak, which was declared February 8, resulted in 45 cases among 38 residents and seven visitors, 22 of which were confirmed as the South African COVID variant. Three people died over the course of the outbreak. Another nine cases have preliminary confirmation of a variant of concern. "“The COVID-19 community outbreak at the Skyline – Lancelot Apartments has been the most devastating COVID-19 outbreak we have faced during this pandemic,” says Jim Chirico, medical officer of health. " It has been an extremely stressful time for all those living at Skyline Lancelot Apartments. We are still investigating the outbreak and hope that the findings will help to prevent a similar situation somewhere else.”
  • An outbreak at the Chartwell Southwind retirement residence has been declared, according to Public Health Sudbury and Districts.
  • Algoma Public Health has opened up vaccination eligibility for the remainder of March to a number of priority groups. Healthcare workers, faith leaders who provide end of life, pastoral care and home visits to sick people, staff and caregivers of longterm care and retirement homes, Indigenous adults aged 18 and up and adults 75 and older can book their vaccination appointments. Directions to schedule an appointment in Algoma District including Sault Ste. Marie can be found here, and appointments in Sault Ste. Marie can be booked over the phone by calling 705-541-2332 or Toll Free at 1-800-469-2449.
  • A woman in her sixties died of COVID in Kirkland Lake, making it the second death within the Timiskaming Health Unit. “All of us at THU are extending our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time,” says Glenn Corneil, acting medical officer of health. “COVID-19 is a dangerous and deadly disease, and it is tragic to lose a member of our community.”
  • Most students in Thunder Bay will not be returning to school until after March break. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit announced that the suspension of in-person learning will continue through to April 12, or the start of March break, which the province postponed earlier this year.
  • A group of business owners in Thunder Bay’s personal care sector are calling for targeted financial support while their businesses - including salons, gyms and tattoo studios - remain closed during lockdown, TBNewswatch reports.
  • At 27 cases as of Tuesday, Sioux Lookout has the most active COVID-19 cases among the Northwestern Health Unit’s catchment, TBNewswatch reports. There are currently 54 active cases in the district.
  • Starting today, Indigenous adults born in 1966 or earlier can book their vaccine appointments online or over the phone at (807) 624-1871, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Eastern

  • There was a note of optimism in Kingston by end of day Tuesday, as medical officer of health Kieran Moore said that outbreaks linked to Queen’s University appear to be getting under control, Global News reports.
  • The number of presumed variant cases are rising in Peterborough, Global News reports, with the count reaching 166 cumulative cases on Tuesday. There are 55 active cases of COVID-19 in the community.
  • The Eastern Ontario Health Unit district is moving into the red zone as of Friday, Cornwall Seaway News reports. The region’s medical officer of health, Paul Roumeliotis, announced the change in a tweet Tuesday evening, pointing to the region’s “7 day-case rate, positivty [sic] rate, reproductive number and increasing variants.”
  • The Ottawa Citizen spoke to residents who were following public health guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing, but still became infected with COVID-19, namely one of the more infectious variants.

Southwestern

  • Kids' seasonal allergies are complicating COVID-19 screening, CBC London reports.
  • A rally to protest anti-Asian racism in London is moving online after authorities warn its organizations they could face fines under COVID-19 restrictions for public gatherings, the London Free Press reports.
  • There are new cases of COVID-19 at five London and area schools, CTV London reports.
  • More than 200 tractors joined a rally of farmers protesting a local medical officer of health order on how migrant farm workers should be housed during COVID-19 quarantines as they arrive in the country for the season and how they should be isolated if they contract the virus, CTV London reports.
  • Windsor pharmacies are running out of doses of Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine less than two weeks since 500 doses were shipped to them for a provincial pilot of using these businesses to help provide vaccinations, CBC Windsor reports.
  • Advocates raise concerns about inmates at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener have been kept on restricted routines for the past five months because of the pandemic, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo reports.
  • The Waterloo Region District School Board will continue to offer online learning as an option for students in the 2021-2022 school year, CTV Kitchener reports.


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