The province's daily case count has dropped below 3,000 for the first time in a month
4:15 pm As vaccination rates rise in long-term care homes, the province is loosening restrictions to allow communal dining and indoor social activities.
In a news release, the Ford government said it has updated public health advice so that care homes can “safely resume activities such as communal dining and indoor events and gatherings, with precautions.”
“Additionally, residents and their caregivers who are fully immunized may choose to have close physical contact beyond what is required for care and supervision, such as hugging,” the government said.
Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, the province will issue further guidance around social outings for fully immunized residents.
However, under the updated guidance, residents can leave their homes for essential activities – such as outdoor exercise and getting groceries – regardless of immunization status. Leaving a care home is not allowed when a resident is symptomatic, has tested positive for COVID-19 or had a close contact with a positive case.
The guidance includes extra precautions in homes that do not meet a threshold of 85 per cent of residents and 70 per cent of staff fully immunized.
As of May 4, 95 per cent of long-term care residents across Ontario are fully immunized and more than 85 per cent of staff have received at least their first dose, the province said.
3:30 pm The Ontario school boards must give parents an option to choose online learning for the full 2021-2022 school year, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said today.
During a news conference at Queen’s Park, Lecce did not provide an update on the status of the current school year and whether students would return to in-person learning at some point. Schools have been closed since the April break as part of the stay-at-home order.
The minister said he would provide parents with an update if the chief medical officer of health’s advice changes. “We will not take risks with your child as we respond to high rates of COVID-19 in the community,” he said.
Lecce said the province would increase funding to boards by around $561 million next year to cover pandemic costs for a total of $25.6 billion.
The province will spend $1.6 billion toward special education and mental health supports, improve ventilation, public health nurses, COVID-19 testing, technology for remote learning and temporary COVID staffing.
In a news release, the government said school boards have been instructed to not require parents to decide on in-person or remote learning before June 1 at the earliest.
Asked if virtual learning will become a permanent part of education in Ontario, Lecce said parents asked for the for a virtual option for the next school year during a consultation process.
“Parents want that choice for September because we’re unsure where the pandemic will take us,” he said. “What I can confirm is we are ensuring every board in Ontario will provide that choice.”
10:45 am Ontario is reporting less than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since early April.
In the past day, the province detected 2,791 new infections and reported 25 deaths.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 3,436 new infections on Monday, 3,732 cases on Sunday, 3,369 on Saturday and 3,887 on Friday. The seven-day average for new cases is now 3,509, down from 3,888 last Tuesday.
“Locally, there are 931 new cases in Toronto, 653 in Peel, 275 in York Region, 147 in Durham and 128 in Hamilton,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Testing volumes continue to be low. Labs in the province processed 33,740 tests in the past day, making for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. A week ago the positivity rate was 10.2 per cent.
Of today’s deaths, two people were between the ages of 20 and 39 and four were between the ages of 40 and 59. Nine were residents of long-term care homes. To date, the virus has killed 8,143 people in Ontario.
Intensive care unit admissions continued to see slight declines, though overall hospitalizations went up by 242. There are now 2,167 patients in hospital, including 886 in intensive care. Of the ICU patients, 609 are on ventilators.
The confirmed number of active cases in Ontario is now 36,440, down from 38,852 last Tuesday.
Although the majority of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases are the B117 variant first detected in the UK, the number of P1 variant cases (formerly known as the Brazil variant) is growing. Labs confirmed another 51 P1 cases in the past day for a total of 971 – up from 371 confirmed cases this time last week.
As of 8 pm last night, the province had administered 5,467,120 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 1,216,499 shots have been given in Toronto.
After the province opened up the online booking portal to all people 18 and up in 114 hot spots, approximately 402,700 people booked COVID-19 vaccination appointments at a city-run clinics in Toronto, the city said.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 931
Peel Region = 653
York Region = 275
Durham Region = 147
Hamilton = 128
Ottawa = 112
Halton Region = 101
Niagara Region = 89
Middlesex-London = 61
Waterloo = 56
Simcoe Muskoka = 52
Windsor-Essex = 34
Brant County = 25
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 25
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 19
Haldimand-Norfolk = 13
Eastern Ontario = 11
Southwestern = 9
Northwestern = 7
Sudbury & Districts = 7
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark = 7
North Bay Parry Sound = 6
Lambton = 6
Peterborough = 5