Coronavirus news from Toronto and Ontario for January 18, 2021
5 pm Hours after a mass COVID-19 immunization clinic opened in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the city has announced the facility will pause operations on January 22 due to lack of vaccine supply.
The cause is ongoing issues production issues with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in Europe.
“As stated prior to opening, the operation of the proof-of-concept clinic depends entirely on vaccine supply – which is beyond the control of the City and Province,” the city said in a statement. “The Province was clear that the clinic should proceed to open this week to begin testing operations and developing a playbook for all large immunization clinics.”
3:45 pm Toronto’s top doctor Eileen de Villa had good news and bad news to report today.
The good news: Toronto Public Health data shows lockdown restrictions imposed on December 26 have led more people to stay at home.
The bad news: Toronto hospitals will surpass intensive care capacity by the end of the month and COVID-19 levels remain “very, very high.”
Read the full report here.
3:42 pm The province has confirmed there are now 15 cases of the highly transmissable UK coronavirus variant in the province.
Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Barbara Yaffe told reporters on Monday that a “small number” of those cases have no travel history.
“They must’ve acquired it obviously in the community. There are other cases we don’t know about,” she said, adding the province has not identified any cases of the South African or Brazilian variants.
“It could very well become the predominant strain. We don’t know. We’re going to do our very best to avoid that,” she said.
The COVID-19 strain, known as B117, was first identified in the UK and led to a surge in cases in that country.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams added that because the strain transmits rapidly, doing things like having a 10-15 minute face-to-face conversation unmasked become more risky.
“You’re not going to get away with that with the UK variant,” he said, urging Ontarians to be follow physical distancing and masking protocols.
2:15 pm Here are today’s COVID-19 case numbers for the city of Toronto:
12 pm A provincial enforcement blitz of big-box retail found 75 stores violating COVID-19 rules on the weekend, provincial labour minister Monte McNaughton said on Monday.
Fifty inspectors visited 240 stores across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area on Saturday and Sunday.
He told CP24 that, of the stores visited on Saturday, only 70 per cent were adhering to protocols, including mask wearing and physical distancing guidelines.
Big-box retailers are allowed to remain open during the provincial stay-at-home order but with reduced capacity and safety protocols in place.
The continued operation of big-box shopping has roiled small business owners, who argue the large retailers continue to sell items deemed non-essential in addition to groceries.
McNaughton said the province issued 11 formal warnings and 11 tickets on Saturday.
He added the blitz will be expanded in the days ahead.
11:30 am Ontario reported 2,578 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths on January 18.
The lower daily count comes as labs in the province process a lower number of tests.
The province completed 40,301 tests in the past 24 hours – 20,000 less than the previous day – marking a 6.4 per cent positivity rate, up from 5.2 per cent on Sunday.
The number also marks the lowest daily increase since January 1, when the province recorded 2,476 new infections.
With 2,826 resolved cases, there were more cases resolved than new ones on Monday.
There are 815 new cases in Toronto, 507 in Peel, 151 in York Region, 151 in Niagara and 121 in Hamilton. The seven-day rolling average is at 3,035.
The province has administered 209,788 doses of the vaccine, with 21,752 total vaccinations completed.
There are currently 28,621 active cases in the province, down from over 30,000 a week ago. Ontario has 1,571 hospitalized patients as of January 18 and 394 patients in intensive care, including 303 on ventilators.
Long-term care residents accounted for 14 of the reported deaths, along with one death between the ages of 40 and 59. There have been 421 deaths in the past week.
There have been 240,364 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario, including 206,310 resolved. There have been 5,433 deaths.
11 am The first vaccination site outside a long-term care home or hospital has opened at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The “proof-of-concept” immunization clinic will be used to create a blueprint for similar sites that will open around the province in the second and third phases of Ontario’s vaccination plan.
The clinic’s goal is to vaccinate 250 people per day. Frontline health-care workers, including frontline shelter workers and harm-reduction and Streets to Homes staff, will be among those to receive shots of the Moderna vaccine.
“Once the clinic has operated for an initial six to eight weeks, the City will produce a thoroughly-evaluated immunization clinic playbook in collaboration with provincial and hospital partners,” the city said in a statement. “This playbook will be provided to the Province and is critical in establishing other immunization clinics across both Toronto and Ontario.”
Immunization schedules at the clinic will be based on vaccine supply. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a delay with Pfizer vaccine shipments due to an expansion of the pharmaceutical giant’s European manufacturing facility. The delay has forced the province to delay second shots of the two-dose vaccine, and may affect supply at the new clinic if Moderna doses have to be reallocated.
The vial of the clinic’s first vaccine will be added to Toronto’s artifact collection, managed by Museums & Heritage Services. “This is part of the City’s effort to document the pandemic and preserve our response to it for future generations,” the city said.
To date, health care workers and long-term care residents have received vaccines at 19 hospital sites across the province and at mobile clinics in care homes.
The Toronto clinic will operate from 11 am to 8 pm seven days a week.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 815
Peel = 507
York Region = 151
Niagara Region = 151
City of Hamilton = 121
Windsor-Essex County = 97
Ottawa = 92
Region of Waterloo = 85
Halton Region = 79
Durham Region = 76
Middlesex-London = 67
Simcoe Muskoka District = 65
Lambton = 52
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 51
Eastern Ontario = 36
Southwestern = 31
Chatham-Kent = 28
Huron Perth = 15
Haldimand-Norfolk = 13
Brant County = 12
Thunder Bay District = 8
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge
District = 7