Ontario has given out 5,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Here's what else you need to know

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province between December 22 - December 23
By TVO.org staff - Published on Dec 23, 2020

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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 2,408 new cases in Ontario, for a total of total of 162,663 since the pandemic began; 1,002 people are in hospital, 275 of them in intensive care, and 186 on ventilators. To date, 4,229 people have died.
Daily COVID Chart
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
COVID Daily grap
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 161 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 1,053 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 997 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 2,555 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • According to the Ontario Hospital Association's December 22 daily update, 5,250 cumulative vaccine doses have been administered in Ontario. 

  • On Tuesday, the Ontario government announced that is will be providing new financial supports for individuals, families and small businesses during the provincewide shutdown. According to the press release, students aged 13 through Grade 12 will be eligible for funding under an expanded Support for Learners program and parents or guardians will receive a one-time payment of $200 per eligible student to help offset education expenses. The province also announced that any residential, small business, or registered charity customer with an overdue electricity or natural gas bill will now be eligible to apply for support to pay their energy bills through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)

  • Health Canada has approved Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for use, reports CBC. According to the report, the Moderna vaccine, which has different storage requirements than the Pfizer vaccine, can be administered in northern, remote, and Indigenous communities, which lack the health care infrastructure to safely store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of December 21, there are 767 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 54,732 since the pandemic began; 295 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,810 people have died.
  • CBC reports that, as vaccines begin to be distributed to overwhelmed hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area, William Osler Health System (WOHS) in Brampton and Etobicoke, has been transporting patients in intensive care units to other hospitals to manage the demand. "We have been in the eye of the storm for wave two for quite a few weeks," said Kiki Ferrari, chief operations officer, WOHS.
  • On Tuesday, Hamilton public health reported COVID-19 killed three people, bringing the total dead to 141. Niagara recorded the virus killed a 102nd person in the region.
  • Niagara's hospital system will temporarily support Niagara Falls' Oakwood Park Lodge long-term care home as it manages a COVID-19 outbreak. Niagara Falls Review reports that as of Tuesday, the virus had infected 97 residents and 91 staff. The home has 153 beds.
  • A Hamilton No Frills faces charges for breaking COVID-19 rules. An outbreak at the store has infected 11 people as of Tuesday, CBC Hamilton reports. Bylaw officers said the store was not screening people for COVID-19 symptoms, or enforcing physical distancing.
  • The Hamilton Spectator found schools in the city's lower area and downtown, are more likely to have high in-person attendance, as opposed to virtual learning, with the trend flipped in the Mountain and Stoney Creek areas. Sources suggested a few possible reasons including special programs being offered in-person, and parents in wealthier neighbourhoods being better able to support remote learning.

Indigenous

  • As of December 21, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 2,977 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nation communities across Canada. They are also reporting 70 COVID-19 related deaths in total across all First Nation reserves in Canada. To date, First Nation communities in Ontario have had a total of 222 COVID-19 cases.
ISC Covid Chart
(Indigenous Services Canada)

Northern

  • Three new active cases in Moose Factory, according to Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), placing total active case count at five.
  • The city of Sault Ste. Marie has modified its services and schedule for the provincial lockdown, according to the Sault Star. Administrative offices, GFL Memorial Gardens and the Ronald A. Irwin Civic Centre will be open for essential services.
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, Janet DeMille, says northwestern Ontario is in a “precarious situation” with COVID-19 numbers reports TBNewswatch. “I do think two weeks can help us, but people have to do the right thing,” says Demille.
  • Thunder Bay business owners say the impending two-week lockdown poses risk for businesses, but the timing and duration may not be “as severe as it could be,” Jim Hupka, local business owner and vice-chair of the Fort William Business District BIA tells CBC Thunder Bay. “A number of those days might be...non-productive days anyways, just because of the way the time of year is. So, we hope that the two-week impact will not be as severe as it could be,” says Hupka.
  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reporting 23 new COVID-19 cases, including 14 at Southbridge Roseview, a long term care home that has been experiencing an outbreak since November 17, which has resulted in the deaths of 14 residents.

Eastern

  • Premier Doug Ford has not moved from the government’s decision to include Ottawa in the province’s 28-day lockdown, despite harsh criticism from Mayor Jim Watson on Monday. Premier Ford, in turn, accused Watson of playing politics, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
  • Two public health units are warning of an increase in opioid overdoses and deaths in eastern Ontario, which have been linked to particularly toxic fentanyl circulating in the areas of Belleville, Kingston and Napanee, CTV News reports.
  • Lia De Pauw spoke with the Kingston Whig-Standard about having a baby in a pandemic and the Facebook group she started, Newborns in a Pandemic Baby Group-Kingston. “I think many of us would speak about the isolation of having a baby this year,” De Pauw told the outlet.
  • The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has issued tickets to two residents for not following self-isolation rules, the Belleville Intelligencer reports. The tickets will cost $875 each.
  • The Ottawa Citizen is memorializing Ottawa residents who have died of COVID-19. This week, the newspaper look at the life of Douglas Levy, 88, who owned a construction company; had battled polio as a child; and was an avid fisherman and gardener, among his many other hobbies.

Southwestern

  • London city hall, community agencies and volunteers have created a winter pop-up shelter to help people who are homeless get through the winter amid COVID-19 shutdowns, the London Free Press reports.
  • Western University has announced it will resume in-person course instruction on January 25 in response to the province's COVID-19 lockdown that takes effect December 26. Both the university and Fanshawe College say most online instruction will resume January 11.
  • Over the past seven days, the Windsor-Essex region has had the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the province with 256 cases per 100,000 people, the Windsor Star reports.
  • Staff at a long-term care home in Elmira were the first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the Waterloo Region, The Record reports.
  • A professor of public health at the University of Waterloo tells The Record that provincial policing is not enough to control workplace outbreaks; workplaces must embrace public health protocols and give their employees paid sick leave.
  • Expect contactless pickup and returns at libraries in the Waterloo Region once the province's COVID-19 lockdown takes effect on December 26, The Record reports.
  • Norfolk County residents are rallying in support of 200 farm workers from Trinidad who are stranded in Norfolk County by finding them warm clothes and Christmas decorations, the Simcoe Reformer reports. The workers are stranded in Canada because of COVID-19 emergency measures that have closed the borders in their home country, the CBC reports.
  • An organizer of anti-mask rallies throughout southwestern Ontario has been charged by police for a third time under the Reopening Ontario Act, the St. Thomas Times-Journal reports.
  • Mike Bradley, Sarnia's mayor, wants the province to extend its freeze on property assessments because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and related provincial lockdown. “Now, more than ever, we cannot afford to have that type of increase on businesses and homeowners,” Bradley tells The Sarnia Observer.
  • Windsor leaders wonder why the province did not identify their area as one needing extra funding to deal with the tolls of the pandemic. "If you look at per capita, right now we're ahead of the York Region and part of the GTA so we're about number three in the province," Gary McNamara, chair of the Windsor-Essex County board of health, tells the CBC. On Monday, the province announced $54 million to help 15 neighbourhoods, primarily in the GTA, to cope with the virus.
  • The union representing workers at a Windsor long-term care home want the province to send in the miliary or the Red Cross, the CBC reports. The home is struggling with an outbreak of 147 cases of COVID-19. Eight people have died.
  • A new report from Bruce County economic development indicates 4 per cent of the businesses it surveyed in October felt they were most likely to close and a further 27 per cent saw that as a possibility, Blackburn News reports. The survey, released this month, indicates 82 per cent of those surveyed saw their revenue reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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