Weekly COVID-19 Update – May 14th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Vaccine Update

Ontario Vaccination Progress

As of May 10th, over 53% of Ontarians aged 18 and older in hot spot regions of the province have received a first COVID-19 vaccine dose. In lower-risk neighbourhoods in Ontario, nearly 47% of people over the age of 18 have received a first dose. As of next week, Ontario will resume allocating doses by population across Ontario rather than continuing to target hot spot regions.

As of May 17th, all adults aged 30 and over will be eligible to book their vaccination appointments and all adults aged 18 and over will be able to book starting May 24th.

Ontario is planning to begin administration of the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 17 in June.

Last week, Ontario decreased the vaccine interval for urban Indigenous people from 4 months to 21-28 days (3 or 4 weeks). If supply permits, the province is considering exempting more groups from the four-month interval between shots.

Ontario reports that it is on track to meet its target of getting a first dose to 65 per cent of adults by the end of May. More than 50 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and older have received at least one dose.

Vaccine Access in Ontario

By May 24th, over 2,400 pharmacies in Ontario will be offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Previously, pharmacies only offered AstraZeneca.

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 the 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 Safety & Effectiveness

On May 11th, Ontario announced a pause in the administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine amid concerns over rare but serious blood clotting incidents. The province is now also requesting that Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provide direction on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines for second doses for those who received AstraZeneca as the first dose. It is not yet clear if those who received AstraZeneca for their first dose will be able to choose what they receive for their second.

Earlier this month, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in adolescents aged 12 to 15. The three other vaccines approved for use in Canada, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson are only approved for a people over the age of 18.

Except for the Johnson and Johnson brand, all vaccines require two doses administered several weeks apart. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna both have a 90% efficacy rate fourteen days after dose one is administered. After dose two is received the 90% efficacy rate becomes long- term. AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD’s comparable efficacy rate is closer to 70% and 80% respectively.

Long-term protection against COVID-19 is not achieved until after the second dose of vaccine is received (apart from Johnson & Johnson). It is important that you receive two doses of these vaccines.

All the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada are effective for preventing infection of COVID-19 and for preventing hospitalization in the case of contraction.

Vaccine Administration 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)

Provincial Update

Ontario’s Stay-at-Home Order

The current order is set to remain in place until at least June 2nd, 2021. This is a slight extension from the previous end date of May 20th.

On May 11th, Ontario Health Officials indicated that the Stay-at-Home Order may be extended further until daily case counts drop to less than 1,000 for a sustained period of time. This is a daily rate that Ontario has not sustained for longer than a week since October 2020.

Restrictions under the current order include closure of restaurants and bars for indoor dining, closure of recreational facilities (with the exception of parks and playground), limiting of indoor and outdoor social gatherings to members of the same household, closure of non-essential stores and services for in-store shopping, and capacity/safety restrictions on in-store shopping for essential items. The order mandates that everyone stay home as often as possible, leaving for essential purposes only. 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

While the order is in place, Ontario’s colour code framework is on pause. The current order has been in place since April 8th.

Enforcement

If a police officer or other provincial offences officers have reason to suspect that the Stay-at- Home order is being broken, they may request your personal information (i.e. home address and purpose of leaving home) to ensure you are complying with restrictions and may issue fines.

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., social distancing requirements are in place with at least two metres distance between everyone not in your immediate household. Masks or face coverings are required.

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

Stores & Business 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. Big box stores with essential items will be allowed to open for in-store shopping for essential items only. These items include grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items. Outdoor garden centres, indoor greenhouses, and stores that sell alcohol are allowed to continue in-store shopping within the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. All in-store shopping is limited to 25% of store capacity.

Most non-essential retailers may open only 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.

Certain non-essential businesses are allowed to operate in-person by appointment only between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with 25% capacity limits. These stores include 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.

Manufacturing and construction sites will be permitted to continue operating, with increased COVID-19 testing and stricter 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 also 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

There is a strong recommendation against travel within Ontario. 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 in Ontario

First Nations in Ontario

There were 57 new cases reported in First Nation communities this past week. This is a 24% decrease from last week. There are currently 85 active COVID-19 cases in 10 First Nations in Ontario, which is a 10% decrease from last week’s total of 94 cases amongst 13 communities. Communities with active cases include:

  • Akwesasne
  • Aamjiwnaang
  • Cat Lake
  • Kettle & Stony Point
  • Lac Seul
  • Moose Factory
  • Shoal Lake 40
  • Six Nations
  • 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. The highest numbers have been experienced in the South West region of the province.

Cumulatively, there have been 2,017 cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Just over 1,904 cases have been resolved for a resolve rate of 94%. Twenty-eight community cases have resulted in death with one new death reported this past week.

Variants of Concern are driving the third wave of the pandemic. A total of 77 cases of VOCs have been confirmed amongst 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 “May 12, 2021 Memo – First Nation Community Cases.”

Ontario General

On May 12th, Ontario reported over 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 marking a third straight week of downward trends in daily case counts and the lowest single-day case count since late March. The seven-day average of daily cases has decreased to 2,826, which is a significant drop from the average of 3,400 reported seven days ago.

Of the cases reported, there were 712 in Toronto, 452 in Peel Region, 157 in York Region, 139 in Durham Region, and 78 in Halton.

The current positivity rate across the province is 6.4% which is the lowest it has been since March 31st. As of May 11th, there were over 31,00 active cases in Ontario, which is 1,000 fewer cases than this time last week.

Variants of Concern (VOCs) are continuing to spread. 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 (i.e. spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, requires different treatments, or changes the effectiveness of current vaccines).

Hospital Capacity

As of May 12th, the Ministry of Health reports 776 people with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units across Ontario hospitals. This is a decrease from the 882 in ICU last week. Of those in ICU, 559 are on ventilators, which is another slight decrease from last week. Despite these encouraging trends, COVID-19 admission rates in hospitals remain at the highest since the onset of the pandemic. Health officials have indicated they would like to see COVID-19 admissions in ICUs come down to 150 to 200 to allow hospitals to lift their current ban on non- emergency surgeries and to start tackling the growing backlog.

The emergency order allowing hospitals that are experiencing major surges to transfer some patients to long-term care or retirement homes without their consent remains in place.

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.

As of May 10th, twenty-two out of the 34 Public Health Units in Ontario are operating at 70% or more capacity in terms of ICU beds occupied. Four PHUs are operating at 100% capacity or higher including, Hamilton, Hastings & Prince Edward, Lambton, and Niagara.

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

Education Update

Ontario’s Learning Recovery and Renewal Plan for Students

Education Minister Lecce has said that the option for online learning will be available for the entire 2021-22 school year. On May 4th, 2021 Ontario announced their $2 billion Learning Recovery and Renewal Plan.

Ontario Schools Continue with Remote Learning

As of April 19th, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province moved to teacher-led remote learning. This action was 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 Education Workers

As of last week (week of May 3rd), all education workers in Ontario became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including child care workers in licensed settings. To book an appointment you can call 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

It should be noted that the 2021 Federal Budget, will be investing $112 million in 2021-22 to extend COVID-19 supports for on reserve schools. These funds are intended to promote

school safety and can be utilized for items such as PPE for students and staff, laptops for remote learning, additional teachers, and staff.

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 at 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.

COVID-19 Cases in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools

Due to students continuing remote learning there are no current statistics on COVID-19 cases in schools. However, the total number of cases reported since September 2020 (including resolved cases) is 15,002.

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

As of May 12th, 2021 the province reported 106 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 70 child-related cases and 36 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 401 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 115 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 6,450 (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

Federal Update

Public Health Restrictions

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said restrictions need to stay in place until at least 75% of the population has at least a first shot and community transmission is better controlled through testing, tracing, and tamping down on spread.

First Nations Cases Across Canada

There have been 28,118 cumulative cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous Peoples on reserve. Of these cases, 26,972 are now resolved. According to federal reports, there were 40 new cases reported in the past week with the largest number of new cases in Ontario and Manitoba.

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

Cases Across Canada

Canada currently has over 78,000 active cases of COVID-19. This is an overall decrease of nearly 10,000 from seven days ago. Cumulatively, Canada has had nearly 1.3 million cases since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Of theses cases, nearly 1.2 million have recovered and just over 24,700 cases have resulted in death.

Ontario remains the region in Canada with the highest number of active cases. Alberta has the next highest active case count with nearly 25,000. The regions with the next highest numbers of active cases are Quebec (with just over 7,800 active cases) and British Columbia (with over 6,200 active cases). Every province and territory within Canada currently has active cases.

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

Additional Information & Resources

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