COVID-19: What you need to know for March 26

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 26, 2021

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This article was last updated on Friday at 4:27 p.m.

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 2,169 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 338,239 since the pandemic began; 913 people are in hospital, 359 of them in intensive care, and 215 on ventilators. To date, 7,292 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 45 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 8 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 101 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,753 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • As of March 26, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 138 new school-related student cases (for a total of 8,883) 29 new staff cases (for a total of 1,978) and new unspecified cases for a total of 1,156; 1,053 schools are reporting at least one case and 44 schools have been closed.
  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 8 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 82,996 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 1,838,592 since December 2020. 1,225,846 people have received only one dose, and 306,373 people have received both doses.

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JMM COVID Graph March 26
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
JMM COVID GRAPH March 26
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.
  • Yesterday, the Ontario government announced that, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, it is moving Timiskaming Health Unit to the Red-Control level in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. According to a statement released by the government, the decision was made at the request of the local medical officer of health due to the concerning trends in public health indicators in the region. From March 16 to 22, 2021, the region's case rate increased from 3.1 to 24.5 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 700 per cent. The public health unit also reports that additional cases are expected over the next few days.
  • Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the province will release a decision in the coming weeks as to how remote learning might be integrated into the education system going forward, reports CP24.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area 

  • According to data as of March 25, there are 741 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 108,991 since the pandemic began; 281 of them are in hospital (11 new). In total, 2,773 people have died (three new).
  • Today, the City ot Toronto announced that COVID-19 mass immunization clinics in Toronto have almost 30,000 appointments available next week for eligible seniors age 75 and older to receive their first dose of vaccine.
  • An investigation by The Local found that, in the five neighbourhoods with the highest COVID-19 rates in Toronto, there are 25 pharmacies in total, and none have been selected to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The publication reports that the pharmacies distributing the vaccine are disproportionately corporate-owned, and most of the corporate pharmacies in the city are in its downtown core, an area overserved by a high concentration of pharmacies and comparatively low levels of health risk. 
  • Toronto taxi companies are disappointed after they were left out of the city's pilot program to help transport vulnerable Toronto residents and seniors to immunization clinics, reports CP24.

  • Residents in York Region who want to receive their COVID-19 vaccine from the comfort of their vehicle can begin booking their appointments for a drive-thru clinic at Canada's Wonderland starting Friday, reports CTV News.

  • At the City of Brampton’s weekly COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday,  Peel region's medical officer of health, Lawrence Loh said positive case numbers for the city have increased in the last two weeks, reports the Brampton Guardian. “This means we are seeing the start of a third wave resurgence in the Region of Peel and City of Brampton,” said Loh.

  • An infectious disease expert tells the Hamilton Spectator that gaps in contact tracing can allow COVID-19 to spread more easily. This comes as public health staff once again scaled back tracing efforts due to an increasing volume of cases. The rate of coronavirus new infections per week is now 110 per 100,000 people. It was 116 per 100,000 people when Hamilton went into lockdown in December.

  • A Hamilton caregiver told the Spectator her experience getting her elderly parents (one has a disability and one has cancer) their first vaccine doses was inhumane. She said transportation was a huge challenge and learned after the appointment that she could get her parents vaccinated at home. Public health staff say they are working on addressing the logistics of bringing vaccines to people who are homebound or require transportation.

  • Like Hamilton, Niagara public health staff are struggling to contact trace amidst case growth and the demands of vaccinations. Acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji says contact tracing is "nowhere near as good as we would normally like to be doing," the St. Catharines Standard reports.

  • A mass vaccination clinic in St. Catharines has a wall plastered with colourful post-it notes featuring messages of gratitude written by people who have been vaccinated. CHCH News showed the wall and the messages people have written. One nurse said the good wishes on display keep her going.

  • The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce policy and government relations director tells the Standard new funding for tourism operators announced as part of Ontario's 2021 budget will provide business owners with much-needed relief. As heard on The Agenda with Steve Paikin this week, some small business owners say the new money is too little and programs throughout the pandemic have not been enough.

Indigenous

  • As of March 25, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,028 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 279 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1,572 COVID-19 cases.
  • As of March 23, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 610 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 226,790 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.

Northern

  • The North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit is seeking greater allocation of vaccines as its current supply isn't enough to " to open up vaccinations beyond the phase 1 priorities," the health unit says. Provincial announcements are telling health units to book people aged 75 to 79, according to the health unit, and phase two of vaccinations are supposed to begin as phase one is almost complete. “We want to stay in line with the rest of the province,” says Andrea McLellan, director of COVID-19 Immunization. “Without an increase in our Health Unit’s allotted COVID-19 vaccine supply, we aren’t able to do this.”
  • The outbreaks on the fourth and sixth floors of Health Science North's south tower have been declared over, according to a hospital release. The outbreak on floor 7 B of the north tower, declared on March 16, is still being monitored. Four patients and three staff were infected.
  • A sixteenth death has been reported by Public Health Sudbury and Districts.
  • Another person has died from COVID-19, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit announced yesterday. Forty-six people in the Thunder Bay region have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The health unit reported 20 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with the number of active cases falling to 259.

Eastern

  • The Pharmasave in the Central Frontenac town of Sharbot Lake has been swamped with visitors from the Ottawa area looking to get vaccinated as a part of the province’s pharmacy vaccination pilot program, CBC News reports. As of Wednesday, the pharmacy had 6,400 people on its waitlist.
  • Two Ottawa-area long-term care homes spoke with CBC News about their high rates of staff vaccination, citing good communication and time off as drivers for the rates.
  • The Peterborough region’s active case count of COVID-19 has risen to 60, though outbreaks at Severn Court and Champlain College student residences are now resolved, PTBO Today reports.
  • Peterborough police are investigating a party held in late February at Severn Court, but said they have been stymied by “inconsistent” reports from students, the Peterborough Examiner reports. “They all insist that — amazingly — there were nine or less at any of the parties … They have also had some issues recalling whether or not they were there,” said Peterborough Police Chief Scott Gilbert.
  • The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reporting that some people are trying to scam the vaccination system by using booking codes obtained from social media friends to get an appointment, the Ottawa Citizen reports. It won’t work, the health unit cautioned.

Southwestern

  • Toyota's Canadian operations is requiring its employees to take weekly COVID-19 tests beginning in April, CTV Kitchener reports. The company has plants in Cambridge and Woodstock.
  • The count so far in an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rehabilitation unit at Cambridge Memorial Hospital is 16 patients and 14 staff, CTV Kitchener reports.
  • Five University of Waterloo students — three of whom live in on-campus residence — have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced in a news release on Thursday.
  • Three army reserve units in the Waterloo Region are seeing a marked drop in recruitments because of the pandemic, CBC Kitchener reports.
  • This week, the London area has seen its highest jump in new cases of COVID-19 since January, CTV London reports with the local health unit reporting 43 cases on Thursday.
  • A homeless shelter in downtown Windsor reopened yesterday following a month shutdown because of an outbreak of COVID-19, CBC Windsor reports. On Thursday's The Agenda with Steve Paikin, the shelter's manager and other guests discuss challenges with keeping homeless populations safe during the pandemic.

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