COVID-19: What you need to know for March 8

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 08, 2021

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This article was last updated on Monday at 4:20 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 1,631 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 309,927 since the pandemic began; 626 people are in hospital, 282 of them in intensive care, and 184 on ventilators. To date, 7,077 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 84 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 55 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 139 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,748 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 March 8
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • As of March 8, in publicly funded schools in Ontario, there are 84 new school-related student cases (for a total of 6,618) 11 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 1,477), and no new case in an "individual not identified" (for a total of 1,138); 734 schools have a reported case, and 30 school are currently closed.
  • Per the government's report on Ontario’s vaccination program, 912,486 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario.

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  • On Friday, the Ontario government announced those who will be eligible to receive COVID vaccines as the province moves into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan next month. Read the full plan on TVO.org. Those eligible include older adults between 60-79 years of age and people who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers.

  • Canada is set to receive 910,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, reports CP24. Public Health Canada says the country will receive nearly 445,000 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and the remaining 465,000 shots are expected from Moderna.

  • Prioritizing long-term-care residents and staff in Ontario’s initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout is estimated to have prevented more than 2,600 infections and hundreds of hospitalizations and deaths, reports the Toronto Star. A brief released by the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table for Ontario showed that had residents in long-term-care not been prioritized in the Phase 1 rollout of the vaccine, 2,079 more infections could have occurred, of which 249 would have resulted in hospitalization and 615 in death.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of March 7, there are 636 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 100,109 since the pandemic began; 257 of them are in hospital (nine new). In total, 2,692 people have died (four new). According to Toronto Public Health, Toronto's case counts are higher today due to a provincial Laboratory Information System outage, resulting in a delay in receiving confirmed lab results.
  • Today, Toronto re-entered the Grey-zone of the province's colour-coded framework. The Toronto Star reports on what this means for retail, restaurants, religious services and more.
  • The City of Toronto announced that a number of hospitals and community healthcare centres are vaccinating priority groups identified by the Province of Ontario’s priority framework for COVID-19 vaccination including residents aged 80 years and over.

    Scarborough Health Network, North York General Hospital, and Unity Health Toronto are three of seven hospitals that will be operating vaccine clinics today.

  • The Toronto Star reports that businesses across the personal care services industry say they’re being left behind as restrictions loosen in the Toronto and Peel region.

  • The Hamilton Spectator reports that the city's public health unit is keeping quiet amidst allegations three staffers gave 15 ineligible people COVID-19 vaccines on Friday. The three workers are on paid leave and under investigation. As it stands, only people over 85 can get a coronavirus vaccine in Hamilton. The city's case rate and number of active cases has climbed in recent weeks, meaning the totals are similar to what they were at the beginning of February, CBC Hamilton reports.

  • Hamilton Health Sciences plans to build a temporary structure to treat patients with COVID-19 variants during the pandemic, CBC Hamilton reports. The structure could be ready by the end of April. HHS' medical director of infection prevention control says a third surge of the coronavirus is inevitable, but won't likely be worse than the second was.

  • Students at McMaster University tell CBC Hamilton an online system that monitors them during exams is causing stress and raising privacy concerns. The software Respondus records students while they take exams, and can monitor their webcam, microphone and on-screen activity. The school's Student Representative Assembly says the program should be a last resort and wants the university to address worries. McMaster says it acknowledges the stress online proctoring can cause, and the company that owns the software says it collects and stores "as little data as possible."

  • Though it did not confirm why, the Haldimand-Norfolk health unit announced Friday that medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai will leave his job May 21. As the Spectator reports, he has been in that role since 2018. In recent weeks, the health unit also lost two senior staff, who left for different work.

  • Niagara Region councillors may lobby for migrant workers to be considered a priority group for COVID-19 vaccinations. The St. Catharines Standard reports that a motion asking them to do so will come before region's public health and social services committee on Tuesday.

  • In St. Catharines, an online survey on behalf of the City is asking residents for input on how the public service can prevent issues of crowding and disturbances on beaches this summer, the Standard reports. Last summer, residents across Niagara complained of overcrowding, illegal parking and public urination as beaches saw an influx of travellers.

Indigenous

  • As of March 4, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,300 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 245 COVID-19 related deaths in total, across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, Ontario First Nation communities have had a total of 1,300 COVID-19 cases.
  • As of March 4, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 480 communities across Canada with vaccinations underway. 127,000 doses have been administered. As of February 25, ISC is reporting that, in Ontario, almost 70 per cent of northern First Nations community members received a first dose. ISC reminds the urban Indigenous population that their vaccination will come 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 and clinics are being planned in several others, including Saskatoon and Regina.
  • The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, in Ottawa, is now accepting Indigenous adults 50 years and older for vaccinations at their “Urban Indigenous COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic” that started March 5. To book an appointment, contact them by phone; the clinic runs 7 days a week.
  • Tungasuvvingat Inuit is offering transportation for Inuit living in Ottawa who need help getting to their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
  • All Six Nations members interested in a COVID-19 vaccine are invited to pre-register online or by phone.
  • For the week of March 1-5, Wasauksing First Nation is reporting 0 COVID-19 cases.
  • On Friday, March 5, Chief Scott McLeod shared an updated message about COVID-19 vaccines, which are arriving in Nipissing First Nation this week.

Northern

  • Public Health Sudbury and Districts says its area will shift from Orange to Red in its provincial COVID restrictions on Wednesday in response to increased case numbers. This designation places increased restrictions on bars, restaurants, athletic facilities and more. Meanwhile, the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit has moved from Grey to Red today, lifting the lockdown which had been in effect since December 26. The Timiskaming Health Unit also moves from Green to Orange today at noon. A full list of restrictions by colour-code can be found here.
  • Fort William First Nation reported two cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Vaccinations in the community began at the end of February, and they’re ongoing, reports Anishinabek News.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit reported 151 cases of COVID-19 this weekend, including 111 cases on Sunday. The health unit says that number was the result of “issues with the provincial CCM database,” and that the case counts for the previous two days were “lower than they should have been.”
  • A new outbreak has been announced at Nanabijou Childcare Centre in Thunder Bay, after two people associated with the daycare tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, the health unit declared outbreaks at three schools in the city over, including St. James Public School, Westgate CVI and Woodcrest Public School.
  • Health unit declares outbreaks at St. James Public School, Westgate CVI, and Woodcrest Public School over Saturday.
  • The Northwestern Health Unit reported 18 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.
  • On Saturday, Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora announced a COVID-19 outbreak that began with two patients. At least 10 patients now have the virus, TBNewswatch reports. As a result of the outbreak, the hospital has suspended all non-essential and outpatient services for two weeks, and it has also implemented visitor restrictions.

Eastern

  • Ottawa is preparing to open its first mass vaccination clinic for those over the age of 80 on March 17, the Ottawa Citizen reports. It is dependent on more doses of the vaccine arriving in the city and the provincial booking system opening on March 15, as planned.
  • Last week, the Kingston region’s medical officer of health instituted a new public health order limiting gatherings to five people inside and outside between March 13 and 21, Global News reports. The order is meant to prevent street parties and large indoor gatherings during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, as occurred last year just before the region went into lockdown.
  • Peterborough moves into red zone status on Monday, following a spike in cases, the Peterborough Examiner reports. There were 86 active cases, as of Sunday. Many have been linked to a Feb. 20 party at a private student residence.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Trent University’s Champlain College residence, the Peterborough Examiner reports. Ten Trent students tested positive as of Friday, though it is not clear how many of those were living at the Champlain College residence.

Southwestern

  • COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared on two farms in Norfolk County, the Simcoe Reformer reports.
  • Schools in the London area are wrestling with COVID-19 outbreaks, including, at one school, the identification of a variant of the virus, CTV London reports.
  • With COVID-19 vaccine rollouts under way in southwestern Ontario, those who have received them experience relief while those still waiting experience envy, the London Free Press reports.
  • Students at two elementary schools in Walpole Island First Nation are learning from home this week after two students tested positive for the virus, Blackburn News reports.
  • A COVID-19 vaccination centre opens this week in Leamington, the Windsor Star reports.
  • A Windsor nurse who landed a job interview in Detroit also landed a two-week COVID-19 quarantine, CTV Windsor reports.

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