Dear OPHA Members,
Here’s your summary of some key developments, announcements and messages conveyed today by our provincial and federal political and public health leaders related to COVID-19.
- Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Committee, provided an update today on the latest modelling data. He outlined three potential scenarios:
- the best-case scenario projected that Ontario could see some 200 cases per day by the end of July with a partial reopening date of June 16th and a daily vaccination rate of 130,000;
- there would be 500 cases per day if the province starts to reopen on June 2nd with a daily vaccination rate of 130,000 by; and
- reopening schools on June 2nd, without opening anything else, would take the province “somewhere between these two options.”
- Dr. Brown explained that “the direction of the pandemic has turned,” emphasizing that “if we’re careful and cautious, we can maintain this momentum. And this momentum is what gets us to a good summer.” He indicated “the public health measures, no matter how taxing and frustrating, have helped stop the spread.”
- Based on the modelling data released today, a reopening on June 2nd would result in a surge in cases that would likely recede later in the summer. Dr. Brown suggested that “waiting until the middle of June to reopen will likely bring cases down to a very low level and a consistent downward trend throughout the summer.”
- Premier Ford released the government’s Roadmap to Reopen, a three-phase plan to cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators.
- The first stage is expected to begin on June 14th and will allow for outdoor dining with four people and non-essential retail at 15% capacity. The three reopening thresholds are: (1) 60% of adults with a first dose of vaccine; (2) 70% with first dose and 20% fully vaccinated; and (3) 70-80% with a first dose and 25% fully vaccinated.
- Schools will remain closed and continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning until public health officials, medical experts and teachers can come to an agreement about the most appropriate timing for reopening.
- The province is also reopening outdoor recreational amenities, with restrictions in place, starting Saturday, May 22nd. Outdoor gathering limits will be expanded to five people.
- Starting this Friday, York Region is opening up Pfizer vaccine appointments to 12+ who live, work or go to school in York
More details are included below along with an update on cases in Ontario and across Canada.
The Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown provided an update on the latest modelling data. The key findings were that:
- Cases, positivity and hospitalization rates are decreasing. Control of the pandemic is improving due to current public health measures and the efforts of Ontarians. The strategy of prioritizing hot spot areas has been working.
- The access to care deficit continues but high-priority surgeries are being performed at higher rates.
- Maintaining progress on vaccinations and maintaining some public health measures until mid-June can help ensure a good summer:
- School reopening would create a six to 11 percent increase in cases, but this may be manageable.
- Outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities and should be encouraged.
Dr. Brown also noted that the modeling projections could be impacted by two “critical risks”, a dramatic increase in contacts between people and new variants of concern spreading in Ontario. The presentation on updated modelling in French can be found here.
Overview of Trends and Cases:
- Since Monday, Ontario has reported an additional 5,604 cases of those infected with COVID-19, including the following new daily infections: 1,616 people on Tuesday, 1,588 people on Wednesday and 2,400 people today.
- Ontario’s seven-day average is currently at 2,131, which has decreased from 2,731 last week and further down from 3,369 two weeks ago.
- The provincial cases rate has decreased by 22% for the latest week of full data (May 8th to 14th) and is now at 114.2 cases per 100,000 people.
- Unfortunately, an additional 63 people have died since last Monday, including 27 additional deaths today.
- 45,406 people tested yesterday had a positivity rate of 5.2%. The weekly seven-day average is 6.4%, which is down from 7.2% last week.
The province’s “Roadmap to Reopen” outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:
- Step One: Resume outdoor activities with small crowds where the risk of transmission is lower and permit retail with restrictions. Allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
- Step Two: Further expand outdoor activities and resume limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn, including outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
- Step Three: Expand access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn, including indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.
- Ontario will remain in each step of the reopening for 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:
- Step 1: 60 percent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
- Step 2: 70 percent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 percent vaccinated with two doses.
- Step 3: 70 to 80 percent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 percent vaccinated with two doses.
Ongoing School Closures:
- Premier Ford said schools will remain closed until there is an agreement among public health officials, medical experts and teachers. The Premier also expressed concern that if schools reopened, it could possibly increase cases by 11 percent.
- On the importance of reopening schools, Dr. Williams stressed that Ontario’s “medical officers of health understand the concerns, especially around the mental-health wellness, the socialization and the developmental issues of all the children, and this is a very top priority to our medical officers of health, their school nurses and their teams, and of course we’d like to see the schools open as soon as they can be.”
- Dr. Williams said he has “been pushing for schools to open now for at least three to four weeks,” and would like to see it happen by June. He said he’ll have to consult with the Ministry of Education and School Boards to determine a specific date.
Second Dose of AstraZeneca Vaccines:
- Dr. Williams said he is confident at this stage that the government will be “moving fairly soon” on ensuring second doses are available for people who received an initial dose of AstraZeneca.
- Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Njoo, noted that more than 19.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Canada. More than 55 percent of the eligible adult population in Canada has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
- As of April May 16th, there have been 34 reported cases in Canada of an adverse event related to blood clots with low platelets following immunization with the Astrazeneca or COVISHIELD vaccines. Of those, 21 were tested positive for the PH4 antibodies meeting the definition of vaccine-induced-immune-thrombotic-thrombocytopenia or VITT. Laboratory testing on the remaining thirteen individuals is ongoing.
- Dr. Njoo noted that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that individuals 12 to 18 years of age be offered a complete series of two-doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
- Dr. Njoo also reiterated that Health Canada has authorized the storage of the Pfizer vaccine at temperatures between 2°C to 8°C.
- On the vaccine delivery front, Brig.-Gen. Brodie said that:
- Out of 655,000 AstraZeneca doses, 530,000 were distributed to provinces this week.
- 1.1 million Moderna doses were received this week and are being shipped to the provinces.
- Two million Pfizer doses arrived earlier this week, 1.4 million doses are being delivered today and tomorrow. Another 600,000 Pfizer doses will arrive after the long weekend.
- 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca are still sitting in federal storage. All the doses have been allocated but some provinces have chosen to keep them in federal storage until they have a plan to administer them.
- Dr. Njoo said he expects NACI to provide advice in early June on the possibility of mixing vaccine doses to offer those who received an initial dose of AstraZeneca with a choice of a mRNA vaccine as a second dose.
We will continue to monitor and report on key COVID-19 developments to help our members stay informed. Stay well!
Faduma and Pegeen
Trends and Cases in Ontario, Canada, and First Nations on Reserve:
As of May 19th, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:
- 28,781 confirmed positive COVID-19; including 2,057 in Ontario
- 867 active cases
- 1,291 hospitalizations
- 27,581 recovered cases
- 333 deaths
Cases in Ontario: (May 19th as of 10:30am)
- Total number of cases: 517,090; an increase of 2,400 cases,
- Most newly confirmed cases are concentrated in five public health unit regions (e.g. 607 new cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel, 224 in Hamilton, 181 in York Region and 110 in Durham)
- So far, 114,569 (+1,810) cases of the B.1.1.17 (United Kingdom) virus variant have been reported, 684 (+1) cases of the B.126.96.36.199 (South Africa) virus variant and 2,089 (+30) cases of the P.1 (Brazilian) virus variant
- Resolved: 485,512 (93.9%); an increase of 2,763
- Deaths: sadly, 8,552 people have died; an increase of 27 people
- Hospitalizations: 1,320 (-81) people were hospitalized; 721 (-14) were in intensive care and of those, 493 (-46) were on a ventilator
- Long-term care homes (according to iPHIS): 37 active outbreaks; 52 active cases in residents; 101 active cases in staff; 3,767 deaths among residents and 13 among staff
- Lab testing: 14,901,787 completed; 45,406 people were tested yesterday with a positivity rate of 5.2%; 20,642 tests are currently under investigation.
- Vaccinations: As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 7,576,624 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 144,986 yesterday; with a total of 473,759 people fully vaccinated.
Cases in Canada: (May 19th as of 7pm)
- Total number of cases: 1,342,388 an increase of 4,248
- Deaths: sadly, 25,066 people have died; an increase of 48
- People tested per million: 888.144
- Percent Positivity: 4.1%
- Vaccinations: 19,841,393 doses administered; more than 18,311,936 Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine; 1,529,457 Canadians are fully vaccinated; 396,800 vaccine doses were administered today.
- In total, 22,932,424 doses of COVID-19 vaccines (including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca) have been delivered to the provinces for administration. As of today, 8.65% of doses delivered to the provinces have been administered.
Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
199 Quetico Avenue
Oshawa, ON L1J 1E9