Weekly COVID-19 Update – April 7th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Provincial Restrictions & Public Health Measures

At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, 2021, a province-wide Stay-at-Home Order will take effect across Ontario. Under the order everyone is required to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

Only essential stores such as grocery stores and pharmacies will be allowed to open for in-store shopping at 50% capacity. Non-essential retail stores will be allowed to open for curbside pickup only via appointment between the hours or 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Big box stores will be allowed to open for in-store shopping for essential items, including grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only.

Certain 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.

These new restrictions are in addition to those put into place under the “grey” lockdown zone announcement issued last week. This means that indoor dining at restaurants, personal care services (such as hair salons and barber shops), and indoor fitness activities (such as gyms or fitness studios) are also prohibited across the province.

Manufacturing and construction sites will be permitted to continue operating, with increased COVID-19 testing and more enforcement of public health guidelines. Schools and child care will also remain open for in-person care and learning (in public health regions where in-person learning is not restricted by local authorities), with strict safety measures in place. Schools in

Toronto and Peel Regions closed for in-person learning at the request of local health authorities this week.

Ontarians can face fines of $750 for violating any emergency orders, including the stay-at-home order. This new order is expected to stay in place for at least four weeks, which would be May 6, 2021.

More information on Ontario’s Stay-at-Home Order is available here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/61029/ontario-enacts-provincial-emergency-and-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 not fluctuated over the past week. As of Wednesday, April 7, there are 76 active cases of COVID-19 amongst 18 First Nations communities. Communities with active cases include:

  • Aamjiwnaang
  • Akwesasne
  • Bearskin Lake
  • Chippewas of the Thames
  • Deer Lake
  • Fort Severn
  • Garden River
  • Grassy Narrows
  • Kettle and Stony Point
  • Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
  • Nipissing
  • North Caribou Lake Washagamis Bay
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  • Pikangikum
  • Six Nations
  • Wabaseemoong
  • Walpole Island
  • Wunnimun Lake

Sixty-three 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.

There have been 1,697 cumulative cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Of these cases, 1,596 have been resolved for a resolve rate of 94%. Twenty-five community cases have resulted in death with no new deaths reported this past week.

To date, Variants of Concern have been confirmed in three First Nation Communities, including Akwesasne (3 cases South African B.1.351 variant), Six Nations (3 cases- variant type not yet confirmed), and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (2 cases – variant type not yet confirmed).

More information on case counts and increases in recent weeks is contained in the attached memo from the Chiefs of Ontario called “April 7, 2021 Memo – First Nation Community Cases.”

Ontario General

On Wednesday, April 7, 2021, Ontario reported 3,215 new cases of COVID-19, the most on a single day since Jan. 17, 2021, when the second wave was at its peak in Ontario. Seventeen more deaths caused by the illness were also reported, bringing the province’s official death toll to 7,475.

Of the cases reported Wednesday, 1,095 cases were recorded in Toronto, 596 in Peel Region, 342 in York Region, 225 in Ottawa, 187 in Durham Region, 113 in Middlesex-London and    104 in Hamilton. All other local public health units reported fewer than 100 new cases in   the provincial report.

The seven-day average of daily cases has climbed to 2,988, its highest point since January 18, 2021, and a notable increase from last week’s 1,676. 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).

There are currently 26,568 active cases in Ontario, which is an increase of over 6,000 since 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 if Quebec with 10,447. The reproductive rate across the province has increased by 0.2 over the past week, reaching 1.2 as of Wednesday. (A rate of less than 1% is required for the disease to die out.) The province’s positivity rate rose to 5.1% this week, which is well over the 2.5% threshold set by the province to enact further precautions.

This week, 19 out of 34 Public Health Units in Ontario are at 70% or more capacity of ICU beds occupied. One PHU is currently at 105% capacity: Hastings and Prince Edward County

As of Wednesday April 7, there are 504 people with COVID-19 being treated in Intensive Care Units which is more than reported at the height of the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year. Ontario health officials report that many hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area are operating at capacity and having to send patients to other parts of the province to receive care.

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

Education Update

Ontario’s COVID-19 Child Benefit

On March 31st, 2021 Education Minister Lecce announced the Ontario Government’s COVID- 19 Child Benefit which will provide parents a payment of $400/child age 0 to grade 12 and

$500/child with special needs 21 years old and under. The funds are to help offset   additional learning costs  and will automatically flow to parents who received the Support  for Learners payments. The funding is to begin flowing on April 26, 2021 and parents who  did not apply for the Support for Learners program can apply for this new funding as of May 3rd until May 17th.

Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) Tax Credit 2021

Ontario has also proposed a 20% enhancement to the CARE tax credit to assist parents with childcare expenses as they return to work. On average, this increase in support would bring the CARE tax credit up from approximately $1,250 to 1,500 for over 300,00 families.

For more information visit: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/60960/province-doubles- support-for-parents-with-new-ontario-covid-19-child-benefit

March Break Postponed

Ontario has postponed March break has until April 12th-18th, 2021. This postponed date does not reflect First Nations/Federally operated schools as they each have their own jurisdiction to make this decision. Standing Stone School and Quinte Mohawk School carried out their break March 15th-19th, 2021.

For more information visit: https://news.ontario.ca/en/statement/60325/ontario-delays- march-break-in-an-effort-to-reduce-community-transmission-of-covid-19

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

Ontario’s Enhanced Safety & Health Measures for Schools

As of Wednesday April 7th, Education Minister Lecce announced that further safety and health measures would be implemented into school after the April spring break. Theses measures include asymptomatic COVID testing within pharmacies and assessment centres for teachers, students and parents that will only be available between April 12th and 18th. The province also is to be “providing and mandating onsite confirmation for self-screening of students and staff.” Outdoor education continues to be encouraged, and schools will be undergoing “enhanced cleaning” before returning from the April break.

Vaccine Eligibility for Education Workers

On April 7th, 2021 Minister Lecce also announced that as of April 12th education workers that support students with special needs are to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as well as those in high-risk neighbourhoods in Peel Region and Toronto. Education workers in other hot spots such as Ottawa Region will be eligible for the vaccine once supply increases.

For more information visit: https://globalnews.ca/news/7743669/covid-ontario-vaccines- education-workers/

COVID-19 Cases in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools

As of April 7th, 2021, the province reported 719 new school-related cases (386 more new cases reported than last week), 571 of which are school-related student cases, 146 school-related staff cases and 2 individuals not identified. There is at least one reported case of COVID-19 in 1,266 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools. There are currently 57 of Ontario’s publicly funded schools with a reported case of COVID-19 that were closed due to outbreaks or operational considerations. The cumulative total of all school-related cases reported since September 5, 2020, is 14,213 (this includes resolved cases).

School Boards Transitioning to Remote Learning:

As of April 6th, 2021 the Toronto Public Health announced that schools in their catchment area would be closing Wednesday April 7th in an effort to control the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Students are to be working remotely for the rest of the week and in-person learning is anticipated to resume on April 19th, however the closures could be extended depending on COVID-19 case trends. Peel Public Health also announced the closure of schools in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga to which students were to transition to remote learning April 6th, 2021 until at least April 18th.

For more information visit: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-closing-schools- covid-19-1.5976923

To find out if your school board catchment area has transitioned to online learning, please refer to attachment “School Status Chart Week of April 5thor visit your local school board website.

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

As of April 7th, the province reported 199 new cases within child care centres and homes (116 more new cases reported than last week), including 113 child-related cases and 86 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 408 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 114 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 4,004 (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

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

Vaccines

As of Wednesday, April 7, 2021, just over 324,000 people in the province have been fully vaccinated. There have been over 2.7 million doses administered in the province with daily doses reaching over 100,000.

After independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, efficacy and quality, 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. The AstraZeneca vaccine, is being targeted to people aged 60 to 64 and is not recommended for people over the age of 65. 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, 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.

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 24,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous Peoples on reserve. Of these cases, 23,836 are now resolved. According to federal reports, there are 704 active cases in Indigenous communities across the country as of April 3, 2021 which is a continued downward trend.

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

Canada General

Canada now has confirmed over 1 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 with over 7,000 cases being added daily. Across Canada, there are currently 62,136 active cases, which is a significant increase from the 35,756 active last week. Ontario by far has the highest number of active cases with over 27,000. Alberta follows with over 11,000; Quebec with over 10,000; and British Columbia with over 8,000.

There are over 942,732 cases now recovered across Canada while over 23,173 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

For entry by land, Canada now requires a negative COVID-19 test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to crossing (or proof of having had the coronavirus in the previous 14 to 90 days, therefore having at least temporary antibody immunity). 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 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. 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 is mandatory to self-quarantine for 14-days upon entrance to Canada by flight or land, even with a negative COVID-19 test result. All non-essential travel continues be strongly discouraged by the federal government.

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 the province if it is essential and to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in or returning to Ontario.

Additional Information & Resources

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