COVID-19: Police arrest three at anti-lockdown protests, city to decide if Pride can proceed

Ontario reports 3,422 new COVID-19 cases and another 36 deaths among long-term care home residents


Ontario reported 3,422 new cases of COVID-19 and 69 deaths on January 17.

Thirty-six of the people who died were long-term care home residents, bringing the total number of care home residents who have died since the outbreak began to 3,198.

Ontario’s total death toll is now 5,409.

Today’s case count is an increase over Saturday’s 3,056 but down from the record-high 3,945 cases confirmed this time last week.

There were 2,998 cases on Friday, 3,326 on Thursday, 2,961 on Wednesday and 2,903 on Tuesday. The seven-day average for new infections – which public health experts consider a more accurate indicator of virus spread – is now 3,143.

Province-wide hospitalizations went down by 62 over yesterday to 1,570. There are 395 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units and 293 people breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Labs in the province completed nearly 60,200 tests in the past 24 hours. The positivity rate is now 5.2 per cent, down from 6.2 per cent a week ago.

The Greater Toronto Area and Southwestern Ontario led the province in new infections.

“Locally, there are 1,035 new cases in Toronto, 585 in Peel, 254 in Windsor-Essex County, 246 in York Region and 186 in Niagara,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

There are 28,893 active cases in Ontario, down from 30,079 a week ago.

As of 8 pm, the province had administered 200,097 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ontario public health officials have revised vaccine protocol after Pfizer said it will temporarily reduce shipments of its two-shot COVID-19 vaccine to Canada by half this month.

People who have received their first shot under phase one of the immunization plan will have to wait longer than originally expected to receive the second.

Toronto police arrest three at anti-lockdown protest

On Saturday afternoon, Toronto police dispersed “large” anti-lockdown protests at Yonge Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square and arrested three people, including organizers, as officers step up enforcement under the provincial stay-at-home order.

The order, which took effect on January 14, requires people to stay at home except for 29 essential reasons. The rules prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than five people.

Premier Doug Ford also declared a second state of emergency on January 12.

In a tweet, Toronto police said officers laid 18 fail-to-comply charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“While we recognize the right to lawful protest, the existing emergency orders prohibit large gatherings of more than five people,” police said in a statement. “As a result of the orders, we are enhancing our enforcement of large gatherings.

The anti-lockdown protests have been taking place weekly for several months.

Lamont Daigle, 49, was arrested at Nathan Phillips and criminally charged with common nuisance, police said. Kelly Anne Farkus (Wolfe), 38, was arrested at Yonge Dundas Square and criminally charged with common nuisance.

Police also allege an officer was assaulted during the Yonge Dundas protest.

Conor Chappell, 22, was charged with assaulting a police officer and obstructing police.

City to decide fate of summer events, including Pride

The city will decide within a month whether or not to issue permits for in-person summer events such as Pride and Canada Day, Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Sunday.

The city cancelled Pride and many other outdoor summer festivals on March 31 last year due to the pandemic. The annual event, and many others, pivoted online to host virtual versions.

“We’ve taken no decision to cancel events into the spring, like Pride and Canada Day and so on, but that date is coming just because so much advance planning is involved that we have to sort of indicate whether we are going to issue permits and think that is viable probably in the next month,” the mayor said.

Tory said he is “doubtful” the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will happen in mid-March given the high level of community spread and the increasing volume of COVID-19 patients being admitted to GTA hospitals.

“I will work with the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade to make sure we do something virtual if the parade doesn’t happen,” Tory said.

On Friday, a doctor at the Scarborough Hospital tweeted said the critical care patients are being redirected to Oshawa, Ajax, Peterborough and Kingston (via helicopter) due to lack of critical-care beds.

New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on January 17

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

Toronto = 1,035

Peel Region = 585

Windsor-Essex = 254

York Region = 246

Niagara Region = 186

Middlesex-London = 166

Ottawa = 144

Waterloo = 144

Durham Region = 97

Hamilton = 91

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 66

Lambton = 64

Halton Region = 59

Southwestern = 58

Simcoe Muskoka = 47

Eastern Ontario = 45

Huron Perth = 36

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge = 19

Thunder Bay = 15

Haldimand-Norfolk = 13

Peterborough = 10

Chatham-Kent = 9

Grey Bruce = 6

Brant County = 6

Leeds, Grenville & Lanark = 6

Hastings Prince Edward = 5

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