Your COVID-19 Summary for January 4th – Vaccine Roll Out
Dear OPHA Members,
Here’s your summary of the key announcements and messages conveyed on Monday, January 4th by our political and public health leaders related to COVID-19.
- Education Minister Lecce released a letter to parents on January 2nd confirming that in-person learning at schools will resume as announced earlier (i.e. online learning started on January 4th for elementary and secondary students; in class learning will resume on January 11th for all elementary students and for secondary students in the north and on January 25th for other secondary students).
- Health care workers in long-term care received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
- Health Minister Elliott emphasized that the province is ramping up its vaccine rollout and larger quantities of vaccines are expected to arrive by this weekend.
- The NDP called for the Ontario legislature to return “to work on solutions to save people in long-term care and Ontario’s lethargic vaccines program.”
- Workplaces in Toronto will now be required to follow a number of new measures including reporting outbreaks when two or more employees are infected.
More details are included below along with an update on cases in Ontario and across Canada.
Increase in Cases and the U.K. Variant:
- Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Williams noted Ontario reported the numbers of those infected “was escalating” with a new single day record of 3,363 cases on Saturday, which then declined slightly to 2,964 on Sunday and increased again to 3,270 Monday.
- Dr. Williams indicated that 58% of the new cases reported were concentrated in the Toronto, Peel and York Region and 21 of 34 public health units were in the red zone with only four left in the green zone, as of the end of last year. He attributed many of these infections to pre-Christmas activity.
- Dr. Williams also noted the tragic loss of another 149 people to COVID-19 since January 1st.
- Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Yaffe said that Ontario has reported an additional three cases of the U.K. variant of the coronavirus, bringing the provincial total to six.
- Dr. Yaffe indicated that each of the new cases were residents of Toronto, Peel and York Regions and “all three of the new cases have travelled or have had close contact with someone who travelled outside of the country.”
- Dr. Yaffe noted that case and contact management is being performed by the relevant public health units.
- The province began administering second doses to Ontarians on Monday, as the first five health-care workers who received the COVID-19 vaccine at the University Health Network in mid-December have now gotten their second shot.
- Dr. Williams noted that the Moderna vaccine has arrived and will be rolled-out this weekend into long term care facilities.
- As of 8pm yesterday, 42,419 total doses were administered in Ontario, including 4,808 doses on Sunday.
- In the face of criticism about only .28 percent of the population being vaccinated, Premier Ford explained “with any rollout that we’ve had throughout the pandemic, there’s a few bumps in the road, but we have proven…once we get rolling we’ll be number one in the entire country [and] hoping… in North America. We’re going full steam forward.”
- Toronto Public Health (TPH) launched a new outbreak COVID-19 data on its monitoring dashboard and released the findings and trends from recently collected COVID-19 case data on current and historical workplace outbreaks.
- Toronto businesses and organizations permitted to operate under the Reopening Ontario Act were presented Monday with a letter of instruction outlining additional measures to further limit the spread of COVID-19. These measure include:
- immediately notifying TPH of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days that are connected to the workplace setting;
- providing a designated contact to work with TPH to immediately implement any additional required measures to reduce virus spread;
- providing contact information for all workers within 24 hours to support case and contact tracing, and notify the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development and any other relevant government authorities; and
- following enhanced infection prevention and control recommendations to help reduce virus spread (e.g. ensuring hand sanitizer and hand-washing facilities are available, rigorous and frequent environmental cleaning in all high-touch public areas, conducting a regular review of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to ensure they are functioning well; and ensuring a two metre physical distancing between workers throughout the workplace in lunchrooms, change rooms and washrooms).
Long Term Care (LTC) Facilities:
- The Minister of Long-term Care has denied the Ontario Long-Term Care Commission’s requests to extend the deadline for the Commission’s final report from April 30th to December 31st. The Commission has indicated that the government needs to provide them with more information to allow them to complete their work.
- York Region’s Medical Officer of Health issued an Order under section 29.2(1) of the Health Promotion and Protection Act requiring a long -term care residence in their region, the Sienna Senior Living, operators of Villa Leonard Gambin, to adhere to the directions of public health.
Low Risk Drinking Guidelines:
- In Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer December 31st statement, Dr. Tam drew attention to Canadians’ increased alcohol use.
- Dr. Tam noted that “it is common to look for ways to cope during periods of uncertainty, but I continue to be concerned about the potential risks of increased alcohol use during COVID-19. Dr. Tam reminded Canadians “to be aware of the impacts of increased alcohol consumption on their health and to find alternative ways of celebrating and coping with stress that respect public health measures in your region” and “while the best way to avoid short and longer-term risks is to not drink alcohol, Canadians who do consume alcohol can consult Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines for strategies to help lower the risks for them and the people around them.”
We will continue to monitor and report on key COVID-19 developments to help our members stay informed. Stay well!
Pegeen and Faduma
P.S. In case you missed it, check out our December 30th summary note outlining the Ethical Framework for Vaccine Distribution in Ontario.
Details and Links to Other Announcements:
- Support for Home-Based Food Businesses: In addition to making regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods, the Ontario government released a new guide on how to start a home-based food business. The guide includes an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator.
- De-tasking Police: The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and other advocacy groups released a report showing how de-tasking the police could shrink Toronto police spending by 25 per cent and lead to lower social costs. The report called for a reallocation of $340M from the Toronto Police budget to help people who are experiencing homelessness, youth in crisis and provide mental health and community supports.
Trends and Cases in Ontario, Canada, and First Nations on Reserve:
As of January 2nd, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:
- 8,992 confirmed positive COVID-19
- 3,153 active cases
- 417 hospitalizations
- 5,756 recovered cases
- 83 deaths
Cases in Ontario: (January 3rd as of 10:30am)
- Total number of cases: 194,232; an increase of 3,270
- Most newly confirmed cases are concentrated in five public health units (e.g. 917 new cases in Toronto, 581 in Peel Region, 234 in Windsor-Essex County, 389 in York Region 246 in Windsor-Essex County and 131 in Ottawa)
- Resolved: 164,775 (84.8%); an increase of 2,074
- Deaths: sadly, 4,679 people have died; an increase of 29
- Hospitalized: 1,190 people were hospitalized; 333 were in intensive care and of those, 194 were on a ventilator
- Long-term care homes (according to iPHIS): 219 active outbreaks; 1,160 confirmed cases in residents; 1,140 confirmed cases in staff; 2,795 deaths among residents and 8 among staff
- Lab testing: 8,142,953 completed; 39,121 tests were completed yesterday; down from 49,803 tests on Saturday; while the backlog of tests waiting to be completed decreased to 19,683 from 27,769
Cases in Canada: (January 3rd as of 7pm)
- Total number of cases: 601,663; an increase of 6,578
- Resolved: 504,976 (83.9%)
- Deaths: 15,865 (2.6%)
- People tested per million: 373,549
- Percent Positivity: 4.0%
Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)
154 Pearl Street
Toronto, ON M5H 1L3