COVID-19: De Villa cautions against rush to reopen; Ontario to expand vaccine eligibility to people 40+

People with diabetes, grocery workers and restaurant workers will be eligible to book appointments this week


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Daily COVID-19 cases must be “well below 1,000” before restrictions lift: Williams

3:16 pm Ontario will need to get “well below” 1,000 daily new cases before restrictions can lift, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said today.

Asked for the data thresholds the province will use in determining when to lift restrictions, Williams said he used fewer than 1,000 daily cases during the first wave but during the second wave cases only dropped below 1,000 for a few days before the third wave began.

“We are bending the curve. We are coming down off the third wave but we want to get down the third wave totally,” he said during a press briefing at Queen’s Park. “We didn’t get down the second wave totally before the third wave hit. We don’t want to repeat that again.”

Highly transmissible variants of concern now comprise nearly 75 per cent of Ontario’s cases, meaning the situation is different.

“We have to use a different type of metric,” he said. “I haven’t got a definite metric right now. It certainly will be well below 1,000 [cases per day].”

Ontario’s stay-at-home order is due to expire on May 19. The province has not yet formally announced whether the order will be modified or extended. Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters at Queen’s Park earlier today that medical experts have advised the province to “stay the course right now.”


Toronto’s daily cases will drop to 400 by June if restrictions remain in place: de Villa

2:30 pm Toronto is “moving in the right direction” in the fight against COVID-19, but current restrictions should remain in place through June, Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said today.

“I am of the belief that there is little likelihood the facts will change sufficiently by May 20th when the current [stay-at-home order] is set to expire,” she said during a press briefing at city hall on Monday. “I believe we cannot vaccinate our way out of this third wave but that vaccination will be a launchpad toward a more normal way of living when this wave passes.”

De Villa presented data modelling projections that showed current restrictions remaining in place would result in daily COVID-19 cases dropping to 400 per day in Toronto. If the city opens up, transmission could increase by 20 per cent, resulting in 800 daily cases by early June.

The projection modeling assumes a steady rate of vaccination while assuming variants of concern are 50 per cent more transmissible than original variants.

“To move too soon would be to follow the worst possible path through this pandemic,” she said. “We’ve seen what happens when we rush to reopen. It always leads us to a resurgence of daily illness, hospitalizations and ultimately deaths.”

De Villa said Toronto is “incrementally” moving in the right direction. Toronto’s seven-day average for new daily cases is 963 and the latest case rate is 262 new cases per 100,000 people per week.

The case rate has declined for three weeks straight but the current level is still “well above” the peak from second wave when it was 244 cases per 100,000 people per week, de Villa added.

She said there have been 2,529 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto since last Friday, which averages to 843 cases daily. There are 1,095 patients in hospital, including 269 in intensive care units. In the past three days, the virus has killed 37 people in Toronto.

De Villa added that the “emergency brake” on April 3 resulted in a 43 per cent reduction in virus transmission. She said anonymous cellphone data showed more people started spending more time at home following the stay-at-home order on April 7. Time spent at home went from 77 per cent to 80 per cent after the order took effect, she said.

Mayor John Tory urged the provincial government clearly communicate whether the stay-at-home order will be extended or modified beyond May 19 when it is currently set to expire. He said the city is working with the Toronto Region Board of Trade on “orderly and predictable” reopening plans so the city is ready to go once the province loosens restrictions.

Tory said the city is on track to reach – or exceed – the goal of having 65 per cent of adults 18 and older vaccinated with first doses by the end of May.


Police say 150 people were partying without masks at Dundas West and Beverley

12 pm Toronto police said officers broke up a large party in a commercial building and laid 24 charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) early Sunday morning.

In a news release, police said officers responded to reports of a dispute in a laneway near Dundas and Huron shortly before 1:30 am on May 9. Upon arriving, officers allegedly heard loud music and people nearby and called in COVID-19 enforcement teams.

“Approximately 150 people, who were not wearing masks, were found partying in a commercial building,” police said. “Some of the people in attendance dispersed and left the premises. Officers had to take into account their safety at the time but were able to charge 24 individuals under the EMCPA.”

Police said officers seized $13,000 worth of alcohol. The major crimes unit is now launching an investigation to identify the people in attendance.


Ontario reports 2,716 new cases with testing numbers under 30,000

11:15 am Ontario is reporting 2,716 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths on May 10.

While this is the lowest case count the province has seen since April 1, medical labs only completed 27,175 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a 10 per cent calculated positivity rate and 9.1 per cent positivity rate from Public Health Ontario.

Ontario detected 3,216 new cases on Sunday, 2,864 on Saturday and 3,166 on Friday. The seven-day average for new cases is now 3,017, down from 3,577 last Monday.

The province administered 94,093 doses of the vaccine over the past day after a week of record-breaking vaccination numbers. There have now been 6,238,778 doses of the vaccine administered province-wide, including 393,884 people who have been fully vaccinated.

Active cases continue to decrease, reaching 31,991 today and 1,632 patients hospitalized. Intensive care patients are down by 20 to 828, including 547 patients on ventilators.

Of the deaths reported today, six were people between the ages of 40 and 59.

Toronto led the province in new daily cases, with 807 infections confirmed in the past 24 hours. Peel Region detected 707 and York Region had 294, according the Ministry of Health.

The less common P1 and B1351 variants are becoming more prominent across Ontario, with 329 P1 and 111 B1351 additional confirmed cases being reported by the province over the past day. That brings the cumulative case count province-wide to 511 B1351 cases and 1,559 P1 cases. By comparison, there are currently 93,263 confirmed B117 cases.

To date, there have been 495,019 total cases of COVID-19 in Ontario and 8,327 deaths.


Ontario to lower age of eligibility to book vaccines online this week

9:20 am Ontario will lower the eligibility age to book COVID-19 vaccines at mass immunization sites to people aged 40 and up this week.

On May 11 at 8 am, people with at-risk health conditions such as dementia, diabetes and sickle cell disease, and people who can’t work from home, such as grocery store and restaurant workers, will be eligible to book appointments using the provincial system.

Then, on May 13 at 8 am, eligibility will expand again to people turning 40 and over in 2021 in non-hot spot communities. Eligible people can book via the provincial booking system, or directly through public health units that use their own booking system.

“With a stable and predictable supply of vaccines, Ontario’s vaccine rollout continues to pick up speed, and we are on track to administer a first dose to 65 per cent of Ontario adults by the end of May,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement on Monday morning.

Additionally, high-risk health care workers, dialysis patients, and all First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals will be eligible later this week to book their second doses earlier than the recommended four month interval. Details on how those groups can book will be announced in the coming days, the province said.

Over the weekend, Toronto officials said they expected 50 per cent of all eligible adults to have a least one dose by the end of the weekend.

Here are Ontario’s latest vaccine numbers as of May 9 at 8 pm:

  • Over 6.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across the province
  • Over 92 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over and 91 per cent of residents aged 75 to 79 have received at least one dose
  • More than 48 per cent of the population aged 18 and over have received at least one dose
  • Over 393,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including 95 per cent of long-term care residents

New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on May 10

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

Toronto = 807

Peel = 707

York Region = 294

Durham Region = 168

City of Hamilton = 106

Niagara Region = 96

Halton Region = 95

Ottawa = 86

Region of Waterloo = 50

Simcoe Muskoka = 41

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 41

Windsor-Essex County = 35

Middlesex-London = 28

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District = 24

Porcupine = 20

Renfrew County and District = 20

Huron Perth = 18

Southwestern = 15

Peterborough = 11

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 9

Hastings Prince Edward = 8

Haldimand-Norfolk = 8

Eastern Ontario = 6

Sudbury & Districts = 5

Lambton = 5

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