A roundup of coronavirus news in Ontario for March 8
2:39 pm The city has launched an interim vaccination booking website and hotline for people eligible to receive doses in Phase 1 of the provincial vaccination plan.
Toronto will use vaccineto.ca to book appointments at hospitals or clinics until the provincial booking system is up and running, Toronto Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said today.
People who are eligible to pre-register or book appointments at hospital and health sector clinics include:
While we wait for the Province’s registration system to go live, Toronto hospitals and Ontario Health Teams have launched a vaccine website and call centre, for Phase 1 priority groups to register & book appointments at hospital and health sector clinics: https://t.co/OSRrjuijKO pic.twitter.com/k3qTxO81AC— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) March 8, 2021
2:30 pm COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Toronto will start to ramp up next week and so three mass immunization sites will open two weeks ahead of schedule.
Speaking to reporters at city hall, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the city-run sites at Scarborough Town Centre, Toronto Congress Centre and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will open on March 17 to offer vaccines to people age 80 and up.
Details on how to book appointments will be released in the coming days. The clinics will operate seven days a week from 11 am to 8 pm.
“As supply increases, we can continue to scale up. We have plans in place to increase the number of vaccines administered at our 9 City-run mass immunization clinics from 500,000 to nearly 1 million per month, as supply permits,” Toronto Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy tweeted today.
Here’s how many vaccine doses Toronto will receive in the weeks ahead, according to Pegg:
To date, just over 200,000 people in Toronto have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
12:50 pm Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance “to commemorate the people who lost their lives and the significant impacts we have all felt because of COVID-19.”
“Early last year, our lives, and the lives of everyone around the world, were forever changed by the emergence of COVID-19. Today – one year after the first known death of a Canadian to the disease – we now mourn the tragic loss of more than 22,000 parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones,” he said in a statement.
“COVID-19 has infected over 864,000 other Canadians, and has had an immeasurable impact on how we all work and learn, connect with friends and family, and live our daily lives,” he added.
“In recognition of how far we have come and how far we still have to go, the Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance,” he said. “On this day, I invite all Canadians to join together in honouring the memory of those we have lost, and the people they left behind. We will also recognize everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19, and pay tribute to all those who continue to work hard and make incredible sacrifices in our fight against the virus.”
11:30 am Provincial officials says they’ve finished giving first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 31 fly-in northern Indigenous communities and Moosonee.
Part of Phase 1 of Ontario’s vaccination plan, Operation Remote Immunity began on February 1 and set out to vaccinate residents of First Nations elder care homes and Indigenous communities in remote areas, who are disproportionately at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Almost all the communities are only accessible only by air and have limited access to health-care services or resources to manage outbreaks.
The province said second doses are now underway in six of the communities, with 1,455 people scheduled to receive second doses the week of March 8. The vaccine is being offered to people 18 or older.
To date, Ontario has administered 15,324 doses in remote Indigenous communities, including 12,660 first doses and 2,664 second doses.
11:20 am Ontario reported 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 on March 8, a jump after weeks of case counts hovering around the 1,000 mark.
The province also completed only 38,063 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a 4.3 per cent positivity rate, well above the positivity rate of 2.9 per cent one week ago.
Today’s increase is the highest the province has seen since February 5.
Ontario confirmed 1,299 new cases on Sunday, 990 on Saturday and 1,250 on Friday. The seven-day rolling average has increased from 1,069 to 1,115 today.
There were 10 additional deaths in the past day.
Locally, there are 568 new cases in Toronto and 322 in Peel. Both regions are moving from the stay-at-home order to the grey lockdown zone today, which will allow non-essential retailers to reopen with capacity limits.
Active cases have grown from 10,389 on Sunday to 11,016 today. Hospitalizations jumped from 606 to 626 and patients in intensive care are up from 273 to 282.
The province is reporting increases in all three variants of concern. There are 51 new cases of the B117 variant, eight new cases of the B1351 variant and four new cases of the P1 variant, bringing the provincial totals to 879, 39 and 17, respectively.
To date, there have been 309,927 total COVID-19 cases, including 291,834 resolved, and 7,077 deaths.
The province administered 21,882 vaccination doses in the past 24 hours, bring the total number of Ontarians fully vaccinated so far to 273,676.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 568
Peel = 322
York Region = 119
Thunder Bay District = 91
Durham Region = 68
Ottawa = 57
Halton Region = 51
Region of Waterloo = 51
Simcoe Muskoka District = 48
Windsor-Essex County = 46
Niagara Region = 31
Sudbury & Districts = 27
City of Hamilton = 22
Brant County = 20
Lambton = 19
Middlesex-London = 18
Eastern Ontario = 15
Northwestern = 11
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 10
Peterborough = 9
Renfrew County and District = 6
Chatham-Kent = 5