Weekly COVID-19 Update – April 28th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Provincial Stay at Home Order

General Restrictions

Since Thursday, April 8th at 12:01am, Ontario has been under a Stay-at-Home Order requiring everyone to leave home only for essential purposes including:

  • 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

Under the order, close contact is to be limited to members of the same household (if you live alone, you can have close contact with only one other household) and employers are required to ensure that all employees work from home if possible.

The order is set to be in place for a total of 6 weeks (until May 20, 2021), at which time it will be re-evaluated. While the Order is in place, Ontario’s colour code framework is on pause.

This past week, Ontario lessened some restrictions allowing more outdoor recreational facilities to be open. Enforcement powers given to authorities were also lessened.

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

Gathering Restrictions

Under the Stay-at-Home order, it is not permitted to gather indoors or outdoors with anyone you do not live with, except one other person from outside of the household that lives alone.

Weddings, funerals, and religious services are limited to a maximum of 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services (such as receptions) are prohibited (except for with members of the same household). Drive in services are still permitted.

During religious ceremonies etc., it is required to stay at least two metres apart from everyone else and wear a mask or face covering.

Fines for not adhering to the rules for gatherings are as follows:

  • organizers may be fined a minimum of $10,000
  • each attendee may receive a $750 ticket
  • enforcement personnel may break up the gathering or temporarily close the premises

If a police officer or other provincial offences officers have reason to suspect that participation in an organized public event or social gathering, they may request your personal information (ie. home address and purpose of leaving home) to ensure you are complying with restrictions.

Stores & Businesses’ Restrictions

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 25% 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 25% 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 Restrictions

Indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants is prohibited. Restaurants are allowed to open for

take out, drive through, and delivery only.

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

Sports and Recreation Restrictions

Movie theatres, performing arts facilities, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments are closed. Indoor fitness activities such as gyms or fitness studios are closed.

Outdoor recreational amenities such as golf courses and outdoor driving ranges, tennis courts, basketball courts, skate parks, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and other multi-use fields, picnic sites and picnic tables are closed.

Parks and recreational areas, playgrounds, play structures, and play equipment, and off-leash dog parks are still open (physical distancing measures are to be followed).

Travel Restrictions

Travel within Ontario is strongly not recommended. Inter-provincial travel from Ontario to Manitoba or Quebec is not permitted (with the exceptions for essential purposes such as work, health care services, transportation, delivery of goods and services, and the exercise of Aboriginal or treaty rights.)

Confirmed Cases

First Nations in Ontario

There were 76 new cases reported in First Nation communities this past week, which is another 31% increase. There are currently 118 COVID-19 cases in First Nations in Ontario. Communities with active cases includine:

  • Akwesasne
  • Mississaugas of Credit
  • Chippewas of the Thames
  • Sachigo Lake
  • Eabametoong
  • Serpent River
  • Iskatewizaagegan No. 39
  • Shoal Lake 40
  • Kasabonika Lake
  • Six Nations
  • Keewaywin
  • Wabaseemoong
  • Kettle & Stony Point
  • Walpole Island
  • Wauzhushk Onigum

Sixty-six 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 numbers have been experienced in the South West region of the province.

Cumulatively, there have been 1,880 cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Just over 1,730 cases have been resolved for a resolve rate of 92%. Twenty-six community cases have resulted in death with no new deaths reported this past week.

Variants of Concern are driving the third wave of the pandemic. VOCs have been confirmed in eight First Nation communities including, Akwesasne, Six Nations, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Wunnumin Lake, Serpent River, Grassy Narrows, Wauzhushl Onigum, and Nippissing.

More information on case counts and increases in recent weeks is contained in the attached memo from the Chiefs of Ontario called “April 28, 2021 Memo – First Nation Community Cases.”

Ontario General

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Ontario reported 3,480 new cases of COVID-19 which represents a decrease from last week’s 4,212 new cases.

Of the cases reported Wednesday, there were: 961 in Toronto, 598 in Peel Region, 290 in York Region, 221 in Durham Region, 180 in Ottawa, 116 in Halton Region.

The seven-day average of daily cases has decreased from 4,327 last week to 3,783 today. Numbers have been trending downward for the past 11 days with last week’s average making a high point in new cases. Health officials have indicated that while it is encouraging that numbers of new cases are slowing, it will take several weeks before relief from those downward trends reaches hospitals.

Variants of Concern (VOCs) are rapidly increasing, now representing 95% of all new cases in Ontario. All 34 PHUs have 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).

As of April 27, 2021 at 7 p.m. there were 39,914 active cases in Ontario. Ontario remains the region in Canada with the highest numbers of active cases, though cases are rapidly rising in Alberta which latest reports show has 20,721 active cases. The provinces with the next highest numbers of active cases are Quebec with just over 10,000 active cases, and British Columbia with just over 8,300 active cases.

Hospital Capacity

On April 27, 2021, Ontario issued an emergency order allowing hospitals that are experiencing major surges to transfer some patients to long-term care or retirement homes without their consent. Patients that are transferred to facilities that are not their preferred option will not have to provide payment until they are moved to their preferred facility and will retain their place on the waiting list for their home of choice.

Twenty-one out of the 34 Public Health Units in Ontario are operating 70% or more capacity in terms of ICU beds occupied. Nine PHUs are operating at 100% capacity or higher including, the regions of Huron Perth, Niagara, Chatam-Kent, Grey Bruce, Hastings and Prince Edward County,

Peel, Simcoe Muskoka, London Middlesex, and Hamilton .

As of Wednesday, April 28, the Ministry of Health reports 877 people with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units across Ontario hospitals. This is up from the 790 at this time last week. Of those in ICU, 605 are on ventilators, which is another increase.

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.

Emergency Child Care

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.

The eligibility list for Emergency Child Care can be found here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/61162/ontario-provides-emergency-child-care-for- critical-frontline-workers

Vaccines for Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care Settings

As of April 29th, eligible child care workers are able to book appointments to receive the COVID- 19 vaccine and may book an appointment through the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833- 942-3900 or through own public health units. Eligible workers within child care setting will receive a letter from the employer to which the letter must be available upon booking and taken to the appointment.

For more information visit: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1000011/ontario-expands- covid-19-vaccination-booking-to-individuals-45-and-over-in-hot-spot-communities

Vaccines for Education Workers

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

Federal Safe Return to Class Fund: 2020-21 Spring and Summer Learning Opportunities

Support for Students from First Nation Schools for Summer 2021, school boards should register First Nations students who are already students of the school board via the Reciprocal Education Approach or Education Service Agreements, as well as First Nations students who will be registering with the school board in September, who may wish to participate in summer learning and credit courses at no charge.

Graduation Coach Program for Indigenous Students Funding will also be made available to selected school boards implementing the Indigenous Graduation Coach Program to offer continued supports to Indigenous students over the summer months, with a focus on supporting First Nation students transitioning from First Nation/federally operated schools to provincially operated schools for Grade 9. Participating school boards will be contacted directly by ministry staff on how to access this funding.

Full details can be found in 2021:SB04.

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

COVID-19 Cases in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools

The province has reported a cumulative total (including resolved cases) of 15,002 COVID-19 cases in schools, 11,316 of which are student cases, 2,515 staff cases and 1, 172 individuals not identified (for privacy reasons not identified as student/staff/providers/partner) since September 2020.

COVID-19 Cases in Child Care Centres & Home Care Agencies

As of April 29th, the province reported 112 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 81 child-related cases and 31 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 490 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 132 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 12th, 2020 to 5,527 (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-schools- and-child-care-centres

Vaccine Update

Canada

Federal Reports indicate that about 30% of the Canadian population have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Only about 2.6% of the population are considered fully vaccinated, having received both doses of the vaccine. In total, over 12.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the country.

Health Canada has approved different four vaccine brands for use in Canada including: Pfizer- BioNTech (approved on December 9, 2020), Moderna (approved on December 23, 2020), AstraZeneca (approved on February 26, 2021), Janssen by 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.

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%.

Vaccine Intervals

National health guidelines indicate a minimum interval of 21-28 days between first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and a maximum interval of 4 months. Guidelines state that residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges, assisted living facilities, on reserve First Nation members, remote and isolated First Nation communities (being supported by Operation Remote Immunity) should receive their vaccine at the interval of 21-28 days. Guidance for exceptions to extended dose intervals are available here: Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group (VCAG) Recommendations on Exceptions to Extended Dose Intervals for COVID-19 vaccines (gov.on.ca)

Ontario

As of Wednesday, April 28, 2021, just over 30% of the population of Ontario has received at least one dosage of a COVID-19 shot. Nearly 2.5% of the population, just over 365,000 people, are fully vaccinated, having received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. In total, Ontario has administered over 4.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Ontario is currently in Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout plan. Since April 20, 2021, select pharmacies have been booking appointments to administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to people aged 40 or older. Phase 3 of the rollout plan, where vaccines will be available widely across the province, is set to begin in July 2021.

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/

To find pharmacy nearest you offering vaccinations please visit: https://covid- 19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations.

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

Vaccine Promotion & Safety

Attached is a document from Public Health Agency of Canada with links to vaccine promotional material and safety information.

Confirmed Cases Across Canada

First Nations across Canada

As of April 24, 2020, there have been 26,165 cumulative cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous Peoples on reserve. Of these cases, 25,136 are now resolved. According to federal reports, there are 724 active cases in Indigenous communities across the country with the majority of

new cases concentrated in Manitoba region.

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 84,313 active cases, which is a slight increase from this time last week. On April 27, 2021, Canada reported 7,072 new cases and 55 deaths.

Cumulatively, Canada has had 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Of theses cases, nearly 1.1 million have recovered while over 24,000 cases have resulted in death.

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 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.

Air passengers arriving in Canada will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and required to do a hotel quarantine for at least three days or until the return of a negative test result. Even with a negative COVID-19 test result, people arriving in Canada by flight are required to quarantine for 14 days.

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.

The closure of the U.S. – Canada land border has been extended another month to May 21st, 2021 bringing the closure into its 13th month. All non-essential travel continues be strongly discouraged by the federal and provincial governments.

More information on Canadian travel requirements and restrictions is available here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/isolation

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. It is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving or returning from out-of-province travel.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly advises that individuals and families only travel out of your region if it is essential. Ontario has prohibited inter-provincial travel between Ontario the two neighboring provinces of Manitoba or Quebec (with exceptions for purposes deemed essential).

Additional Information & Resources

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