Weekly COVID-19 Update – Dec 10th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Confirmed Cases
First Nations in Ontario


According to last week’s regional report, there are 449 cumulative cases of COVID-19 amongst First Nations people in Ontario, with 176 in and 273 outside of First Nation communities. There were 27 more cases reported last week, 22 of which were people living outside communities and 5 of which were inside communities. There are currently 14 active COVID-19 cases within First Nations communities, which is an increase of 2 from last week. Seven of these cases are in communities. Communities currently have active cases include:

• Akwesasne
• Deer Lake
• Fort William
• Attawapiskat
• Lac Seul
• North Caribou Lake
• Cat Lake

Cases over the past week, cases were reported resolved in the communities of Six Nations, Shoal Lake 40, Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, and Niisaachewan.

Since the end of September 2020, the number of positive test results among First Nations people in Ontario has increased significantly with the Southwest region experiencing the most cases. The largest increases during the second wave were initially among people aged 20-39 and, to a slightly lesser degree, those aged 40-64. Since the end of October, there has been an increase in positive results among people under 19 and seniors aged 65-84 as well, indicating increases in nearly every age category. Numbers of positive results among people aged 85 and older have not changed much since April 2020. The recovery rate for First Nations in Ontario is 93%.

More regional First Nation COVID-19 data is contained in attachments called, “FN COVID-19 Testing Age Analysis,” “First Nation Cases – COVID Testing Report 33,” and “MEMO New Weekly Cases.”

Ontario General
On Wednesday, December 9th , Ontario reported 1,890 new cases of COVID-19. Five hundred and seventeen cases were recorded in Toronto, 417 in Peel, and 187 in York Region where lockdown measures are implemented until at least December 21, 2020.

Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo, Durham, Windsor, and York Regions are all classified as red “stringent measures” zones while Brant, Thunder Bay, Haldimand-Norfolk, Huron-Perth, Ottawa, Simcoe-Muskoka, Southwestern, London-Middlesex, Niagara, and WellingtonDufferin-Guelph are now classified as orange “intermediate measures” zones. Colour classifications are based on case numbers and spread, testing volume and results, and hospital capacity. Access more information on colour zone criteria and restrictions here:
https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

Over the past week, daily new case counts have ranged from 1,676 to 1,975, making for an average of 1,815. This is an increase of nearly 200 from last weeks average.

There are now over 16,000 which is an increase of about 2,000 from this time last week. Hospitalizations have also increased from 654 this time last week to 811 today. Over 220 COVID-19 patients are currently in intensive care units and 129 patients in ICUs are on ventilators, all of which are increases from last week. There are now 132,800 cumulative COVID-19 cases in the province, 85% of which (112,875 cases) have recovered. The death toll has reach 3,836 with 28 deaths reported yesterday.

The most common source of virus transmission is community spread, meaning transmission cannot be linked to a single known event or person. Close contact with a known case is the second most significant source of transmission, and the 20-29 age bracket has the largest active and cumulative case count. The majority of cases are people under the age of 40.

Further detail on case numbers and demographics in the province is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

Vaccines
Federal Procurement and Approval

On Monday, December 7th , Canada announced it could be receiving an initial batch of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of December 2020, with the first shipment expected as early as next week. This is an escalated timeline, as vaccines were previously not expected to be arriving in Canada until March 2021. Vaccine mass manufacturing and wider-spread immunization is expected to take place during the first months of 2021.

The first shipment of vaccines received in Canada will include 249,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, which is enough to vaccinate 124,000 people (immunization require 2 separate doses administered two weeks apart). Within one to two days of the shipment arriving in Canada, initial doses will be allocated to the provinces on a per capital basis.

The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved for use by the United Kingdom and the United States. It was officially approved by Health Canada for use on Wednesday, December 9th.

Provincial Vaccination Plan
On Tuesday December 8th, 2020, Ontario announced it has identified the key populations slated to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first. At the top of this list are long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups. The entire priority list includes:

• Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
• Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
• Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
• Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccines to priority populations in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones. At the outset, vaccines are not expected to be administered to people who are pregnant or are under the age of 18. These restrictions will be clarified and changed based on upcoming information from clinical trials and Health Canada approvals.

Ontario’s Minister of Health stated also stated on Tuesday that though the immunization program is voluntary, proof of vaccination may be required for entry into particular places in the future, such as movie theatres or workplaces, for travel, or other places where physical distancing is a difficulty.

The Province has stated that their vaccine approach is based the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. The Ontario Regional Chief has a seat at this latter table.

Further information is made available about the various type of vaccines and availability of doses, additional details on the provincial immunization program will be released.

More information is available here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/59508/ontarioidentifies-key-groups-for-distribution-of-initial-covid-19-vaccines

Funding & Support for First Nations

Applications for the Indigenous Community Business Fund and Public Health Measures Fund are still being accepted. Any inquiries about these funds or general federal COVID-19 response can be emailed to Sac.covid-19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca More information is also available in the attached document from Indigenous Services Canada.

Public Health Measures Fund is available for First Nations communities and organizations that deliver community-based services in response to COVID-19 public health needs to provide support for these responses. The fund can also be accessed for surge capacity and additional support in the case of outbreaks in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Eligible items include: supplies and storage, surge in health infrastructure, staffing and surge capacity, mental health and wellbeing, food security, perimeter security, and expenses related to pandemic responses, other pandemic-related expenses.

More information is available here: https://www.sacisc.gc.ca/eng/1584819394157/1584819418553

Indigenous Community Business Fund is targeted towards First Nation, Inuit, and Metis community or collectively owned businesses and microbusinesses. It can provide support to strengthen operations and viability during the pandemic, with the goal of positioning them for recovery. There is no deadline for submissions. Applications will continue to be accepted until all funds are allocated.

More information is available here: https://www.sacisc.gc.ca/eng/1596809415775/1596809469296

Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada has launched a $2.3 million Rural and Northern Capacity Fund to help develop or improve infrastructure that helps get food to vulnerable people. Food Banks Canada is now accepting applications for funding from community or charitable organizations, Indigenous groups, and not-for-profits. Applications will continue to be accepted until December 15th, 2020.

There are 2 streams of funding: 1) Applications less than $15,000 (which will be approved on an ongoing weekly basis). 2) Applications for $15,000-$75,000 (will undergo review by the grant review committee after December 15th, 2020.) All funds must be spent by March 31, 2021. Eligible expenses include:

Immediate needs of food organizations: food purchases, technology and other basic necessities
Transportation and distribution of food
Access new distribution centres
Hire temporary help to fill volunteer shortages
Minor construction projects
Expansion of existing food banking services into underserved rural and remote communities, including the purchase or rental of equipment and materials, investments in cold chain and other infrastructure needed to deliver nutritious food
Refrigeration equipment – e.g., fridges, freezers, cooler room, walk-in freezer, etc.
Refrigerated transportation equipment – e.g., refrigerated trucks, vans, retrofitting vehicles
Other, community-driven projects that ensure underserved communities or regions build ongoing support for those in need.

To apply, you must create an online account with Food Banks Canada at Food Banks Canada – Online Grant Portal (smapply.ca). More detail is contained in attached application steps, eligibility criteria, and overview documents.

If you have any questions about the application process, contact Glenn Court, Program Officer, at glenn@foodbankscanada.ca or 905-602-5234 ext. 266.

Universal Broadband Fund
Canada’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has launched a Universal Broadband Fund to support high-speed Internet projects across the country. The Universal Broadband Fund has been designed to fund broadband infrastructure projects that will bring high-speed Internet at 50/10 Megabits per second (Mbps) to rural and remote communities. In addition to funding a diversity of high-speed Internet projects to connect Canadians, there is:

• up to $50 million available to support mobile Internet projects that primarily benefit Indigenous peoples, including projects along highways and roads where mobile connectivity is lacking;
• up to $750 million available for large impact projects;
• up to $150 million available as part of our Rapid Response Stream.

More information is available here: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/139.nsf/eng/h_00006.html

Provincial Restrictions & Public Health Measures
General Restrictions

Ontario is recommending holiday celebrations across the province be limited to those living in the same household. Everyone is also encouraged to continue to limit contact with people outside of their immediate household on a daily basis. Face coverings are still mandatory in all indoor public places including, businesses, facilities, and workplaces (if physical distancing cannot be maintained), and public transit. Continue with all hand washing, distancing, and sanitization measures. Stay home and get tested if you feel ill or have been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

Specific restrictions within Ontario are based on the colour classification system available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

GREY
It is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with. You must limit contact to your household (the people you live with) and stay at least 2 metres apart from everyone else. Do not visit any other household or allow visitors in your home. If you live alone, you can have close contact with only one other household. No indoor social gatherings are allowed with people outside of your own household. Outside social gatherings are limited to 10 people with distancing measures in place. Funerals, weddings, and religious services are limited to 20 in and outdoors. Only go out for essential reasons, such as: work, school, groceries, pharmacy, health care, helping vulnerable people, exercise and physical activity. Work remotely, where possible. Only essential stores are allowed to open at 50% capacity and no indoor dining at restaurants or other establishments is allowed. All indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and gyms are closed.

RED
In these zones, social gatherings are limited to 5 people indoors and 25 outdoors and families are recommended not to gather with people outside of their immediate household, not to visit another household, and to leave the house for essential purposes only. Indoor dining at restaurants and bars is limited to 10 people at one time with table sizes no larger than four. Liquor cannot be sold after 9 p.m. and establishments must close by 10 p.m. Gyms may have a maximum of 10 people in one room at a time with 3 meters distance between them and masks worn when not exercising. Religious, wedding and funeral services are limited to 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.

ORANGE
In these zones, social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors and families are recommended not to gather with people outside of their immediate household, not to visit another household. Indoor dining at restaurants is allowed with a maximum of 50 persons inside at one time and table sizes no larger than four persons. Liquor can only be sold until 9 p.m. and establishments must close at 10 p.m. Gyms can open with a maximum of 10 people in one room at a time with 2 meters distance between them and masks worn at all times, except when exercising. Organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are allowed with a maximum of 50 people inside and 100 people outside. Religious, wedding, and funeral services are limited to 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors.

YELLOW AND GREEN
Yellow and green zones have the same restrictions as orange for social gatherings, organized events, and religious events and weddings. Restaurants some lessened restrictions on table sizes and hours. Gyms also have lessened restrictions.

Education Update
Publicly Funded Schools

On December 9 th , the province reported 207 new cases related to schools, including 174 among students and 33 among staff. These reports bring the current number of schools with at least one reported case of COVID-19 to 866 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools. There are currently 11 schools closed due to COVID-19 and the cumulative total of all school-related cases reported since September 5, 2020 sits at 5,919 (this includes resolved cases).

Child Care Centres & Home Care Agencies
On December 9 th, the province reported 42 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 26 child-related cases and 16 staff-related cases. There are currently 200 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 26 centres closed due to virus outbreaks. This brings the cumulative total of all COVID-19 cases reported in child care and home care since June 12, 2020 to 986 (this includes resolved cases).

A detailed list of the schools, licensed child care centres and homecare agencies with COVID-19 cases can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-cases-schoolsand-child-care-centres

In complimentary to this list, is the COVID-19 School Dashboard that maps confirmed school-related COVID-19 cases in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools across the province: http://covid19schooldashboard.com

As of December 7th, 2020, students (and their siblings) within Toronto schools must self-isolate if experiencing just one symptom of COVID-19 and are to get tested before returning to class. However, the Toronto’s associate medical officer of health has said that parents who do not wish to have their children tested must stay home for 10 days along with their siblings. Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 K-12 student screening tool has been recently been updated and symptoms include: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of taste, feeling unwell, muscle aches or fatigue, headache, sore throat, pain when swallowing, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and a stuffy for runny nose. For more information go to: https://www.cp24.com/news/startingtoday-toronto-students-with-1-covid-19-symptom-must-get-test-or-wait-10-days-beforereturning-to-school-1.5220288

Support for Learners Fund
The Ontario government has announced a second COVID-19 “relief” payment to support families with children 12 and under (to receive $200) and children with special needs 21 and under (to receive $250) for the 2020-21 school year. The deadline to apply is January 15th, 2021. You are eligible if your child:

• attends a publicly funded school
• attends a private school
• attends a First Nation operated or federally operated school
• attends school in-person or online
• is homeschooled
• is enrolled in child care
• is at home

For more information and to apply go to: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-learners

COVID-19 Alert App
It is recommended to download the new COVID Alert app available from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This app will help expedite notifications to individuals that are in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. More information on this app is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covidalert

Testing Access and Guidelines
COVID-19 assessment centres offer tests by appointment only. A list of COVID-19 testing centres is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/. Testing is also available at select pharmacies for asymptomatic individuals by appointment only with involves a pre-screening process to ensure those seeking tests have no symptoms. A list of pharmacies with the testing service is available here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/58491/ontario-expands-covid-19-testing-to-pharmacies-1

Symptoms and Screening
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. The most common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, fatigue, body and muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, headache, gastrointestinal upset, and (in children) skin rashes and stomach upset. Ontario’s updated COVID-19 symptom list is available here: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/2019_referenc e_doc_symptoms.pdf

A COVID-19 self-assessment tool is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/

Federal Updates
Canada has recently updated its description of high risk-settings for transmission to account for the inclusion of aerosol transmission of COVID-19. This means that Canada has confirmed transmission of COVID-19 is possible through air particles. More details on transmission risks is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novelcoronavirus-infection/health-professionals/main-modes-transmission.html

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases – First Nations in Canada
According to federal reports as of December 5th , there are 4,595 cumulative COVID-19 cases confirmed amongst First Nations people living on-reserves across Canada. This is an increase of 461 from the previous reporting period. There are currently 1,600 active cases amongst First Nations people on reserves across Canada, which is a decrease of about 150 from the last reporting period. Over 2,900 of the total reported cases are now recovered. More specific demographic breakdowns from Indigenous Services Canada are available here: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1589895506010/1589895527965

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases – Canada
The vast majority of all provinces are territories are reporting record high case counts and are implementing increased public health restrictions. On December 9 th , Canada reported an additional 5,981 cases of COVID-19 bringing the cumulative case count to over 429,000. Nearly 72,000 cases are active and over 344,200 recovered. The death toll has now reached 12,867 with 90 deaths reported yesterday. More detailed information and trends across the country are available here: https://healthinfobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html

Border Closures & Travel Restrictions
The Canada-U.S. land border has been closed to non-essential travel since mid-March 2020. The closure is currently extended to December 21st, 2020. The Prime Minister has indicated that extensions to the closure will continue until COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. decrease. Canada is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel. The mandatory 14-day selfquarantine for all individuals entering the country remains in place and international travel suspension orders limiting non-essential travelers and non-citizens from entering Canada remain in place. Provinces and Territories across Canada have varying restrictions for entry from non-residents. It is recommended to research each region’s policies prior to any essential travel.

Additional Information & Resources
• Ontario COVID-19 website: https://covid-19.ontario.ca
• Canada COVID-19 website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
• Chiefs of Ontario COVID-19 webpage: https://chiefsofontario.wordpress.com/
• Generic email for Indigenous Services Canada COVID-19 information: sac.covid19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca
• Red Cross Support The Canadian Red Cross virtual help desk for Indigenous communities’ COVID-19 responses is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST), 7 days a week at: 1-833-937-1597.
• InfoPoint A single point of contact for credible and reliable info on COVID-19. Health managers can call or email to ask specific questions. Toll free: 1-855-446-2719 or Email: Infopoint@fnhma.ca

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