Weekly COVID-19 Update – May 5th

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Ontario Vaccine Update

Announcements from Ontario officials indicate that Ontario is on track to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 65% of adults by the end of May 2021. As of Tuesday, May 4, 43% of Ontarians aged 18 and older had received at least their first dose. A total of over 5.5 million doses have been administered with over 381,000 people now fully vaccinated.

This week, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being added to pharmacies’ vaccine roster, where Astra Zeneca vaccines were previously the only type of vaccine available. Mobile vaccination units for workers at small and medium-sized workplaces in Peel, Toronto, and York region are also set to launch on May 7, 2021. They will be located in places such as Ontario Food Terminal, Amazon, and Loblaws.

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

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 and gatherings (both indoor and outdoor) are limited to members of the same household (if you live alone, you can have close contact and gather with one other household). 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, which brings us to May 20, 2021. At this time, the order will be re-evaluated. While the Order is in place, Ontario’s colour code framework is on pause.

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

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 in Ontario

First Nations in Ontario

There were 75 new cases reported in First Nation communities this past week. There are currently 94 active COVID-19 cases in 13 First Nations in Ontario, which is a 20% decrease from last week. Communities with active cases include:

  • Akwesasne
  • Iskatewizaagegan No. 39
  • Kasabonika Lake
  • Kettle & Stony Point
  • Lac Seul
  • Mississaugas of Credit
  • Moose Factory
  • Sachigo Lake
  • Shoal Lake 40
  • Six Nations
  • Wabaseemoong
  • 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 1,958 cases of COVID-19 in First Nations. Just over 1,830 cases have been resolved for a resolve rate of 94%. Twenty-seven 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. 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 “May 5, 2021 Memo – First Nation Community Cases.”

Ontario General

On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, Ontario reported 2,941 new cases of COVID-19. This represents the second week of downward trends. Daily new case counts have remained under 3,000 for just over a month.

Of the cases reported Wednesday, there were: 924 in Toronto, 565 in Peel Region, 254 in York Region, 171 in Durham Region, 149 in Hamilton.

The seven-day average of daily cases has decreased from 3,783 to 3,432 today. Numbers have been trending downward for the past 17 days. 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.

The current positivity rate across the province is 6.6% which is the lowest it has been since March 31, 2021.

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 (i.e. spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, requires different treatments, or changes the effectiveness of current vaccines).

As of May 5, 2021 at 7 p.m. there were 36,440 active cases in Ontario. Though this is about 3,000 less than this time last week, Ontario remains the region in Canada with the highest numbers of active cases. Cases are rapidly rising in Alberta with latest reports showing that province has 23,623 active. The provinces with the next highest numbers of active cases are Quebec with just over 8,000 active cases (down from 10,000 last week), and British  Columbia with over 7,300 active cases (down from 8,300 last week).

Hospital Capacity

As of Wednesday, May 5, the Ministry of Health reports 882 people with COVID-19 being treated in intensive care units across Ontario hospitals. This is a slight increase from last week. Of those in ICU, 620 (about 70%) are on ventilators. A total of 2,744 COVID-19 patients have been sent to Ontario’s ICUs during the third wave.

Twenty-six out of the 34 Public Health Units in Ontario are operating at 70% or more capacity in terms of ICU beds occupied. Eleven PHUs are operating at 100% capacity or higher including, Brant County, Grey Bruce, Sudbury, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Peterborough, London- Middlesex, Huron Perth, Hamilton, Leeds-Grenville & Lenark, Hastings & Prince Edward, and Niagara.

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.

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

Education Update

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

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

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.

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 5th, 2021 the province reported 147 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 95 child-related cases and 52 staff/provider-related cases. There are currently 463 child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 122 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 6,031 (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

Vaccine Approval & Safety

On May 5, Health Canada announced that it had approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in adolescents aged 12 to 15. The three other vaccines can only be used for people over the age of 18.

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.

Fourteen days after dose one is administered is estimated to be over 90% for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and over 70% for AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD. Vaccine efficacy after dose two at the recommended interval is estimated to be over 90% for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and over 80% for AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD. Long-term protection against COVID-19 is not achieved until after the second dose of vaccine is received. It is important that you receive two doses of these vaccines. All of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in Canada are also highly effective at preventing hospitalization.

More information on vaccines and vaccine safety is available in the attachment from the Ministry of Health called “COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet” and the PowerPoint called “Vaccine Information Slide Deck” from Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

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)

Cases amongst First Nations across Canada

There have been 27,564 cumulative cases of COVID-19 amongst Indigenous Peoples on reserve. Of these cases, 26,513 are now resolved. According to federal reports, there were 75 new cases reported in the past week with the largest number of new cases in Manitoba region.

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

Cases across Canada

Canada has had 1.25 million cases of COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020. Of theses cases, nearly 1.15 million have recovered while over 24,000 cases have resulted in death. Fifty-six deaths and 6,688 new cases were reported today, bringing the number of active cases in the country to 82,700 active cases as of May 5, 2021. This is a decrease from the 84,313 cases that were active at this time last week.

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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