COVID-19: Ontario reports 1,023 new cases; Porter Airlines delays reopening to May

A roundup of coronavirus news in Ontario for March 1


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City releases vaccination playbook

3:15 pm City officials released more details of Toronto’s vaccination playbook as York Region and Hamilton start pre-registration for vaccines.

Mayor John Tory told reporters at city hall that hospitals will run 49 clinics, 46 run by community health groups and 209 run by pharmacies. The clinics are in addition to nine previously announced mass vaccination sites.

De Villa said Toronto is faced with organizing a more wide ranging and complicated campaign than regions that opened for pre-registration today. For example, she said the city’s population of people age 80 and up is equivalent to the population of the entire city of Guelph.

Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said 70 per cent of the city’s population must be immunize in order to achieve herd immunity. To gain trust and ensure access to vaccines, Cressy said the city will work with280 neighbourhood ambassadors, such as religious leaders and family doctors and 140 community agencies.

The city will also do targeted outreach among communities that data shows have a high positivity rate or are vulnerable, including Black people, South Asian people, seniors, Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

Officials told residents not to call 311 or show up at clinic locations to ask for vaccinations. The city will update the public on where they can go to get vaccinated when the supply increases.

Asked why the city isn’t vaccination people 80 and up yet, de Villa said hospitals have already started reaching out to people in that group who visit frequently.

She added vaccine supply issues coupled with the large number of health-care workers in the city means higher priority groups are still being vaccinated.


Toronto’s screened positive variant cases surpass 1,100

3 pm The number of COVID-19 specimens that have screened positive for fast-spreading variants of concern has more than doubled in the past week.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said today that 1,179 cases have screened positive for mutations and are expected to be confirmed positive. The number is up from 511 a week ago.

“The increase of confirmed variants of concern continues,” she said. There are now 121 cases confirmed of B117 (UK variant), three cases of P1 (Brazilian variant) and one of B1351 (South Africa variant).

In the past day, the city has confirmed 312 new COVID-19 cases. There are now 298 patients in hospital and 62 in intensive care. One more person in Toronto has died in the past day.


Ontario reports 1,023 new cases of COVID-19

11:10 am Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths on March 1, but with only 35,015 tests completed.

The province saw 1,062 new cases on Sunday, 1,185 on Saturday and 1,258 on Friday. The seven-day rolling average is sitting at 1,099 after three consecutive days above the 1,100 mark.

With lower-than-average testing numbers, the province is reporting a 3.1 per cent positivity rate.

However, vaccine numbers are remaining steady, with 17,424 doses administered in the past 24 hours and 263,214 people fully vaccinated as of 10:30 am on March 1.

Vaccination booking portals have opened in public health regions across Ontario on Monday for high priority healthcare workers and people ages 80 and above to book their vaccination appointments.

Active cases continue to trend upward, with 10,570 cases currently in Ontario. Hospitalizations have increased as well, reaching 659 from 627 the day before. That includes 280 patients in intensive care and 175 on ventilators.

An additional seven cases of the B117 variant of concern have been confirmed, bringing the provincial total to 535 cases.

Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka are moving into the grey lockdown level of the COVID-19 response framework due to fast-spreading variant cases in those regions.

To date, there have been 301,839 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario, including 284,283 resolved. There have been 6,986 deaths.


Porter Airlines to resume flights in May

11 am Toronto’s Porter Airlines has pushed back the target date to resume flights to May 19. The airline had set March 29 as a reopening date but has delayed the return “due to ongoing government travel restrictions,” according to a statement.

“Porter is preparing to introduce enhanced health and safety measures for its return to service,” the company said. “Details of these initiatives will be announced closer to when flights restart, so that plans are as closely aligned with the latest public health recommendations as possible.”

The airline is also waiving change and cancellation fees on all fares booked between March 1 and May 19.


Toronto to begin vaccinating people experiencing homelessness

11 am Toronto will begin vaccinating people experiencing homelessness in the shelter system and “other priority populations.”

In a news release on Sunday, the city said Ontario has moved people experiencing homelessness into Phase 1 of the vaccination plan.

Toronto Public Health is working with care partners, including hospitals, to to identify homeless shelters at the highest risk of COVID-19 spread.

“Data has shown that people experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to serious illness and hospitalization from COVID,” Toronto Board of Health chair Joe Cressy said on Twitter. “The new, highly-transmissible variants of concern put people at elevated risk, especially in congregate settings. A quick vaccine rollout is critical here.”

There are currently 20 outbreaks in shelters and other congregate settings, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.


New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on March 1

The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:

Toronto = 280

Peel = 182

Ottawa = 72

Thunder Bay District = 55

City of Hamilton = 53

York Region = 47

Simcoe Muskoka District = 39

Halton Region = 39

Region of Waterloo = 39

Durham Region = 34

Niagara Region = 30

Windsor-Essex County = 22

Middlesex-London = 18

Brant County = 16

Lambton = 14

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 12

Northwestern = 12

Peterborough = 12

Sudbury & Districts = 11

Eastern Ontario = 9

Renfrew County and District = 7

Haldimand-Norfolk = 5

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