Weekly COVID-19 Update – April 14th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Provincial Stay at Home Order
General

At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, 2021, Ontario implemented a third state of emergency and province-wide Stay-at-Home Order. Under this order everyone, is required to remain at home except for essential purposes. Essential purposes include activities such as:

  • Going to the grocery store or pharmacy
  • Accessing health care services (including going to medical appointments or getting vaccinated)
  • Getting outdoor exercise or walking pets in your community
  • Going to work (if it cannot be done remotely)
  • Accessing child care or school

Businesses are required to ensure that all employees work from home if possible.

The current order is issued to stay in place for 28 days (until May 6, 2021) at which time it will be re-evaluated. While the order is in place, Ontario’s colour code framework will be on pause.

More information on the Stay at Home order is outlined below with further detail available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

Schools & Child Care
On April 12, 2021, Ontario announced that all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary students in the province will not return to in-person learning at the end of spring break on April 19, 2021. They will move to teacher-led remote learning for an undetermined amount of time. Private schools operating in-person currently required are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021.

Before and after school programs will be closed but, child-care for non-school aged children will remain open. Free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.

Gatherings
Indoor gatherings are restricted to people who live together in the same household. (If you live alone, you can have close contact with only one other household.) Outdoor gatherings of up to five people are permitted. Religious services, weddings, and funeral services are limited to 15% capacity of the room indoors and the number of people that can keep two metres physical distance from each other outdoors (with the exception of wedding receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors).

Stores & Businesses
Only essential stores such as, grocery stores, farmers markets, convenience stores, other stores that sell food, and pharmacies will be allowed to open for in-store shopping at 50% capacity. Most non-essential retailers may open for curbside pickup, by appointment, between 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with delivery allowed between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Big box stores with essential items will be allowed to open for in-store shopping at 50% capacity for essential items only. These items include grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items.

Certain non-essential businesses, including telecommunication company stores that sell cell phones, businesses that sell motor vehicles and boards, optical stores that sell prescription eyewear, rental and leasing services, and safety supply stores are allowed to operate in-person by appointment only between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with 25% capacity limits.

Outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, are allowed to continue in-store shopping with 25% capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Manufacturing and construction sites will be permitted to continue operating, with increased COVID-19 testing and more enforcement of public health guidelines.

Restaurants & Personal Care
Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants is prohibited. Restaurants are allowed to be open for take out, drive through, and delivery only.

Personal care services, such as hair salons, barber shops, and pet groomers are closed.

Sports and Recreation
Indoor fitness activities such as gyms or fitness studios are closed. Outdoor recreational amenities including parks, cycling tracks and bike tracks, golf courses and outdoor driving ranges are allowed to remain open.

Movie theatres, performing arts facilities, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments are closed.

Travel
All unnecessary travel is not recommended. All unnecessary interprovincial travel is not recommended.

Enforcement

Ontarians can face fines of $750 for violating any emergency orders, including the stay-at-home order.

Confirmed Cases
First Nations in Ontario

According to reports from Chiefs of Ontario, cases in First Nations communities in the province have decreased over the past week with 64 new cases reported. As of Wednesday, April 14, there are 65 active cases of COVID-19 amongst 19 First Nations communities, which is a 14% decrease from last week. Communities with active cases include:

  • Aamjiwnaang
  • Akwesasne
  • Constance Lake
  • Fort Severn
  • Garden River
  • Grassy Narrows
  • Kassanonika Lake
  • Keewaywin     
  • Kingfisher Lake
  • Missisaguas of Credit
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

  • Nippising
  • North Caribou Lake
  • Pikangikum
  • Sachigo Lake
  • Six Nations
  • Walpole Island
  • Wunnimun Lake

Sixty-four out of the 133 First Nation communities in the province have had at least one case since the beginning of the pandemic, which is an increase of one from last week. The highest concentrations of cases and highest numbers of cases are located in the South West region of the province.

Cumulatively, there have been 1,746 cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Of these cases, 1,655 have been resolved for a resolve rate of 95%. Twenty-six community cases have resulted in death with one new death reported this past week.

To date, Variants of Concern have been confirmed in five First Nation communities, including Akwesasne, Six Nations, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Wunnumin Lake, and Nippissing.

Ontario General
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Ontario reported 4,156 new cases of COVID-19. This is the highest number of cases reported in a single day since January 17, 2021, when the second wave was at its peak in Ontario. Twenty-eight more deaths caused by the illness were also reported, bringing the province’s official death toll to 7,475.

Of the cases reported Wednesday, there were 1,254 in Toronto, 593 in Peel Region, 476 in York Region, 310 in Ottawa, 248 in Durham Region, 192 in Halton Region, 189 in Hamilton, 149 in Niagara Region, 121 in Middlesex-London and 106 in Waterloo Region.

The seven-day average of daily cases has climbed to 4,003 This is the first time the seven day average has topped 4,000 at any point during the pandemic and is nearly double last week’s average.

Ontario is also seeing a rapid increase in cases of the Variants of Concern (VOCs) with all 34 PHUs having now confirmed at least one VOC. A “variant of concern” is a mutation of the COVID-19 virus that acts differently in ways that are significant to public health (e.g. spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, requires different treatments, or changes the effectiveness of current vaccines). To date, a total of 14,599 positive cases have been confirmed as one of the known VOCs. There are also 24,769 cases that tested positive for mutations that have not yet been classified.

There are currently 35,840 active cases in Ontario, which is an increase from the 26,568 active this time last week. Ontario is by far the region within Canada with the highest numbers of active cases. The province with the next highest numbers of active cases is Alberta with 15,087 and Quebec with 13,253. The province’s positivity rate rose to over 8% this week which a significant leap from the 5.1% reported last week and well over the 2.5% threshold set by the province to enact further precautions.

This week, 21 out of 34 Public Health Units in Ontario are at 70% or more capacity of ICU beds occupied. Three PHUs are operating at 100% capacity or higher. These regions include, Hastings and Prince Edward County, Hamilton, and York Region.

As of Wednesday, April 14, the Ministry of Health reports 1,877 people in hospital with COVID-19. Of those hospitalized, 642 are being treated in intensive care units and 422 patients in critical care are on ventilators. 

Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) have both announced they would begin taking transfers of younger adult patients aged up to about 40 years old in an effort to increase intensive care capacity at other hospitals in their respective regions.

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

Education Update

Ontario Moves Schools to Remote Learning Following Spring Break

As of April 19th, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the April break. Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021. This action is being taken in support of the Government’s broader efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. This approach does not apply to First Nation and federally operated schools.

Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided. To protect the most vulnerable, boards will make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning.

With students moving to remote learning, vaccine prioritization of education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting with Peel and Toronto, will continue. Starting today, special education workers across the province and education workers in Peel and Toronto hot spots will be eligible to register for vaccination by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1‑833‑943‑3900. More information is available at: Ontario.ca/covidvaccine

First Nation/Federally Operated Schools

First Nation communities have the continued authority to determine their own locally identified measures of protection. Access updated guides, resources, and policies for First Nations from the Ministry of Education’s Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/operational-guidance-covid-19-management-schools

Learning Resources

 The Ministry of Education recently announced the launch of two new portals, TVO Learn and TFO IDÉLLO, apprendre à la maison, which provide supports for students learning remotely by accessing additional educational resources developed by Ontario certified teachers.

In addition, secondary students can continue to access TVO’s Independent Learning Centre (ILC) Open House and Portes ouvertes pour les cours TVO ILC in French-language, which provide access to 144 Grade 9 to 12 courses. These ILC resources are designed to provide flexible learning opportunities to help students keep up with their learning or deepen their understanding of a specific subject.

Student Transportation

While elementary and the secondary panels are learning remotely, student transportation services will be provided for special needs students who cannot be accommodated through remote learning based on student needs.

Resource: Innovative Child and Youth Mental Health Service Podcast

On April 14th, the Government of Ontario announced that they would be participating in a 13-part podcast series featuring promising practices and innovative mental health and addictions programs across Canada. This podcast is part of the “Promising Practices” national podcast series, led by Canada’s Premiers through the Council of the Federation, that features Canada’s 13 provinces and territories sharing their knowledge and accomplishments in mental health and addictions services, especially with rural, remote and northern communities.

More information can be found at:
Ontario Highlights Innovative Child and Youth Mental Health Service | Ontario Newsroom

Vaccine Update
First Nations
As of April 8, 2021, approximately 85,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered within First Nation communities throughout Ontario. Vaccinations are underway in at least 83 of 101 communities with 19 communities having received second doses. In addition to eligible band members, some communities have administered vaccines to non-band member adults living and/or working within the community (i.e. spouses and essential workers).

General

As of Wednesday, April 14, 2021, just over 337,200 people in the province have been fully vaccinated. There have been over 3.4 million doses administered in the province which represents about 75% of the doses received from federal sources.

Health Canada has approved four vaccines for use in Canada:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech – approved on December 9, 2020
  • Moderna – approved on December 23, 2020
  • AstraZeneca – approved on February 26, 2021
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) – approved on March 5, 2021

With the exception of the Johnson and Johnson brand, all vaccines require two doses administered several weeks apart. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one shot, but has been reported to result in blot clots in rare cases. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being targeted to people aged 60 to 64 and is not recommended for people over the age of 65 or under the age of 55. For shots requiring two doses, the first dosage is reported to provide partial immunity. Once both doses are received, immunity is reported to be above 90%.

Ontario has now entered Phase 2 of its vaccination roll out program. In this phase, people who fit into at least one of the following categories are eligible to receive their vaccines:

  • Adults aged 60 to 79
  • High-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living)
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers
  • Those who cannot work from home
  • At-risk populations

On April 7, 2021, Ontario announced that in Phase 2, everyone over the age of 18 the hardest hit neighbourhoods will be prioritized for a COVID-19 shot. Starting next week, all education workers in the high-risk neighbourhoods of Toronto and Peel Region will be eligible. Vaccinations for adult workers in congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods will also begin with the help of mobile teams over the next week. Phase 3 of the vaccine program, intended to capture those under the age of 59 that do not fall into priority categories, is set to begin in July 2021.

There are now over 1,400 pharmacies offering vaccines to those aged 60 and over. By the end of this week, up to 1,500 pharmacies will be offering vaccines to those aged 55 and older. To find the nearest pharmacy offering vaccinations please visit: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.

It is important to check your local public health unit for vaccine availability and eligibility in your specific region. Vaccination appointments can be booked through your local health care provider and through the Ontario vaccine website: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

More information on Ontario’s vaccination implementation plan is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-ontario


Confirmed Cases Across Canada
First Nations Across Canada
Cumulatively, there have been 25,647 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous Peoples on reserve. Of these cases, 24,637 are now resolved. According to federal reports, there are 712 active cases in Indigenous communities across the country this week, which is an increase of three from last week.

More information from Indigenous Services Canada is available here: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1589895506010/1589895527965

Canada General

Across the country, there are currently over 78,000 active cases, which is a significant increase from the 62,000 active last week. New cases are concentrated in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia, but the only regions with no new cases in the past seven says are Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

There are over 1 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Of theses cases over 976,000 have recovered while 23,392 cases have resulted in death, 36 of which were reported today. Monitor country-wide case counts and trends here: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html

Border Closures & Travel Restrictions

Canada now requires a negative COVID-19 test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to entering the country (or proof of having had the coronavirus in the previous 14 to 90 days, therefore having at least temporary antibody immunity.) All air travellers aged 5 years and older are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada.

Upon returning to Canada by land or flight, it is mandatory to self-quarantine for 14-days, even with a negative COVID-19 test result. People arriving in Canada by flight are required to quarantine in an approved hotel for up to three days until they receive results from a COVID-19 test taken at the airport. All international flights entering Canada are being funnelled into four airports including: the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

It has been a year since the Canada-U.S. land border was closed for non-essential travel. The current closure has been extended to April 21st, 2021. All non-essential travel continues be strongly discouraged by the federal and provincial governments.

Provincial Travel Restrictions
Provinces and Territories across Canada have varying restrictions for entry. It is recommended to research each region’s policies prior to any essential travel.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly advises that individuals and families only travel out of your region if it is essential. It is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in or returning from another province back to Ontario.

Additional Information & Resources

Generic email for Indigenous Services Canada COVID-19 information:  sac.covid-19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca

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