A roundup of coronavirus news in Ontario on March 2
6:35 pm The city has temporarily closed down Alexandra Park Early Learning & Child Care Centre after two employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The city said a staff member in the preschool room tested positive for COVID-19 on February 25. On March 1, a second staff member then tested positive.
“As a result, children and staff members were asked to self-isolate and the preschool room was temporarily closed,” the city said in a statement. “A decision has since been made to temporarily close the entire centre due to operational factors. All licensed child care centres are required to maintain provincially-mandated child-to-staff member ratios.”
Rooms are being cleaned, staff are self-isolating to monitor for symptoms and children are also isolating at home and monitor for symptoms as a precautionary measure.
2:40 pm The Toronto Public Library will no longer charge late fees to children, Mayor John Tory said today.
He said eliminating late fees “will remove the financial barrier that has kept many Torontonians from enjoying all that our libraries have to offer.”
The city says late fines have a disproportionate impact on lower-income families.
Five per cent of children from lower-income households have had their library cards blocked compared with one per cent of children from other households, Tory tweeted.
“I hope that children and families will feel more compelled to connect with our libraries,” the mayor added.
The elimination of children’s fines at @TorontoLibrary will remove the financial barrier that has kept many Torontonians from enjoying all that our libraries have to offer.— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 2, 2021
I hope that children and families will feel more compelled to connect with our libraries. pic.twitter.com/oPLB06dIqP
2:15 pm The first shipment of AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines will arrive in Canada from the Serum Institute of Indian tomorrow, federal procurement minister Anita Anand told reporters on Tuesday.
The 500,000 shots are part of the 944,600 total vaccines arriving in Canada this week, she added. The country has ordered a total of two million AstraZeneca Covishield vaccines from the Serum Institute.
Canada will also receive another 900,000 COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna next week. Those two companies have guaranteed that Canada will receive a total of six million doses by the end of March.
1:36 pm City officials say the number of people staying home during the pandemic may have led to a spike in reports of raccoon bits and scratches.
On Tuesday, the city warned residents to avoid contact with the iconic local wild animals due to increased reports of sick and injured raccoons, as well as more reports of people getting bitten and scratched.
Last year, Toronto Animal Services received 13,712 service requests for sick and injured raccoons compared with 4,172 in 2019.
“This may be because residents are home more than usual or spending more time exercising outside in their neighbourhoods, thus encountering more raccoons in the city,” officials said in a statement.
Between January 2020 and February 2021, Toronto Public Health recorded 62 per cent increase in reports of people bitten and/or scratched by raccoons, compared with the two-year average between 2018 and 2019.
The risk of rabies remains low in Toronto, but taking preventative steps is most effective. Read the city’s advice for avoiding wild animal encounters and treating bites here.
11:30 am A public school in Scarborough is switching back to remote learning after six people tested positive for COVID-19, including four cases that screened positive for fast-spreading variants.
In a statement, the city said Toronto Public health (TPH) recommended the temporary dismissal of staff and students at Donwood Park Public School effective Monday as a precautionary measure to prevent virus spread.
TPH recommends the whole school, as well as families, get tested and is following up with close contacts.
11:30 am Ontario reported 966 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths on March 2.
The province saw 1,023 new cases on Monday, 1,062 cases on Sunday and 1,185 on Saturday. The seven-day rolling average dropped by one to 1,098.
Ontario completed only 30,767 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a 2.3 per cent positivity rate. That’s the second consecutive day of testing numbers well below 40,000.
An additional 22,326 vaccines were administered in the past day, bringing the provincial total of people who have been fully vaccinated to 264,896.
According to calculations by family physician Jennifer Kwan on Twitter, at Ontario current rate of vaccination and current supply, it would take until October of 2023 to vaccinate 80 per cent of adult Ontarians.
Active cases in the province have decreased slightly to 10,546, but hospitalizations have increased for the second consecutive day to 677. Patients in intensive care have increased slightly from 280 to 284, including 189 patients in ventilators.
The total case count of the B117 variant is at 542, up seven from the day before. No additional cases of the B1351 variant or P1 variant have been reported.
There have been 302,805 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario, including 285,262 resolved, and 6,997 deaths.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 253
Peel = 223
York Region = 99
Ottawa = 64
Region of Waterloo = 46
Thunder Bay District = 39
Simcoe Muskoka District = 36
Durham Region = 34
Halton Region = 32
Windsor-Essex County = 23
City of Hamilton = 23
Sudbury & Districts = 19
Brant County = 13
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 13
Lambton = 11
Eastern Ontario = 7
Middlesex-London = 6
Northwestern = 5
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 5
Huron Perth = 5