A roundup of coronavirus news in Ontario on March 4
4 pm The percentage of test specimens in Ontario that are screening positive for variants of concern is nearly 26 per cent, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said today.
During a briefing at Queen’s Park Dr. David Williams said 1,452 test specimens have screened positive out of 5,598 between February 24 and March 5.
The percentage for screened positive cases was 14.8 per cent on March 2.
Those specimens will undergo genome sequencing to determine the precise kind of variant.
Overall, Williams said 75 per cent of confirmed variant cases, which spread more easily from person to person, have been traced back to outbreaks or close contacts.
The variants are largely staying “contained” and replacing the old version of COVID-19 rather than adding a great number of cases to the daily count, Williams said.
“It’s becoming a higher percentage of that number as the old [COVID-19] goes down,” he said. “Everything is doing well and we’re holding.”
Williams also said the vaccination timeline will accelerate now that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization increased interval between first and second doses for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to 16 weeks.
Williams added that the efficacy of the shots stays the same during that 16-week period.
The decision means the province can give more people their first dose and push the second shot to later on. The new timeline means Ontario could finish vaccinating people sooner than early fall, he said.
2 pm Dance studio and nightlife space Dovercourt House is the latest venue to fall victim to the pandemic.
The 21-year-old venue has been closed for the past year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The studio has recently changed leaseholders and the new leaseholder “does not plan to continue the building’s current usage,” the companies operating in the venue said in a joint statement.
“The news comes after Dancemakers announced in November 2020 that it will close its studio doors in July 2021,” they added. “The closing of Dovercourt House and Dancemakers spaces represents a combined loss of five studios from the City’s cultural infrastructure.”
Dovercourt House is the full-time home of princess productions, CORPUS and Kaeja d’Dance for 21 years. It has also hosted a mix of amateur and professional dance events, and also dance parties.
“The news came as a shock to the three resident companies who have been paying their rent on time for over two decades, benefitting both the landlord and the performing arts community,” they continued. “In the early 2000’s the three companies secured a number of Ontario Trillium Foundation grants to make long-lasting renovations to the studios.
“The landlord was looking to receive higher rent for the building but did not approach the resident companies to negotiate,” they added. “Instead, the landlord found a new leaseholder without informing the current tenants. The resident companies and the new leaseholder are in discussion to smooth the transition period.”
1:50 pm The city of Toronto has lost $8.35 billion in economic activity in the past year, according to a report by Destination Toronto. The losses are felt across a variety of sectors that benefit from tourism and hospitality.
Mayor John Tory shared the data on Twitter today, which shows the retail and food/beverage sectors taking the biggest hit from the lack of tourism.
The pandemic public health restrictions have led to 463 cancelled events, more than 380,000 attendees unable to come to Toronto and $833 million in lost economic impact.
This past year, the pandemic has taken its toll on the tourism and hospitality sector.— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 4, 2021
I am determined to work with @SeeTorontoNow and businesses across the city to attract visitors and ensure all the success we had before COVID-19 continues when these tough times are over. pic.twitter.com/TGIIXuQhXa
11:15 am Ontario reported 994 cases of COVID-19 on March 4, the third consecutive day of case counts under 1,000.
The province saw 958 new cases on Wednesday, 966 on Tuesday and 1,023 on Monday. The seven-day rolling average dropped from 1,084 to 1,064.
An additional 10 deaths have been reported in the past day, including two long-term care residents.
With 65,643 tests completed in the past 24 hours in the province, Ontario is reporting a 1.5 per cent positivity rate.
The province administered a new high of vaccine doses as of March 4, with 30,409 daily doses and 268,118 people fully vaccinated.
Active cases in Ontario have decreased for the third consecutive day, reaching 10,309. Hospitalizations have decreased as well, dropping from 668 to 649 today. There are 281 patients in intensive care, with 183 on ventilators.
Variants of concern have increased significantly, with an additional 92 cases of the B117 variant being reported in the past day alone. That brings the provincial total to 644.
To date, there have been 304,757 total COVID-19 cases in the province, including 287,424 resolved and 7,024 deaths as a result of the virus.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 298
Peel = 171
York Region = 64
Ottawa = 49
City of Hamilton = 40
Simcoe Muskoka District = 39
Lambton = 39
Niagara Region = 37
Halton Region = 33
Thunder Bay District = 24
Durham Region = 23
Region of Waterloo = 23
Sudbury & Districts = 18
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 18
Windsor-Essex County = 16
Middlesex-London = 12
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 10
Northwestern = 9
Eastern Ontario = 9
Peterborough = 9
Brant County = 9
Haldimand-Norfolk = 8
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 7
Huron Perth = 7
Southwestern = 6