covid-19 cases and vaccine news

Ontario COVID-19 update: vaccinations slow to rollout, students return to virtual school

Ontario reported 3,128 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, along with 51 new deaths (22 from long-term care homes), and nearly 35,200 tests completed (down from 4,000 recorded on Monday). The numbers are slightly higher than the 2,964 cases reported on Sunday but lower than the 3,270 cases reported on Monday, and the 3,363 recorded on Saturday.

Tuesday’s report includes 778 new cases in Toronto, 614 in Peel, 213 in York Region, 172 in Durham, 151 in Middlesex-London and 151 in Hamilton.

Amidst the surge in infections, Ontario students returned to school virtually on Monday after the winter break. As part of the province-wide lockdown — which began December 26 — school lessons will take place virtually between Jan. 4 and Jan. 8. Elementary school students (as well as high school students in northern Ontario) are expected to return to in-person classes on Jan. 11, while high school students in southern Ontario are expected to return on Jan. 25 (although parents can still opt-out of in-person learning in phases).

In an open letter released Saturday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce confirmed that in-person learning will resume on the original dates outlined above. The letter states “schools are essential to the well-being, mental health and development of a child,” and “must be safeguarded at all costs to ensure they can remain open for safe in-class instruction.”

“I want to reassure parents that according to the province’s leading doctors, our schools are safe, with eight out of 10 schools in this province having no cases of COVID-19 and based on board reporting, 99.64 per cent of students have not reported a case of COVID-19,” the letter states.

Although, with the increasing number of cases, some parents are pushing for kids to continue learning at home.

Meanwhile, Ontario has also been criticized for its slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations—although plans to distribute will be ramped up soon, according to Premier Ford. Approximately 47,000 health-care workers have been vaccinated at hospital sites across the province as of Monday, but approximately 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in Ontario haven’t been administered.

“With any rollout that we’ve had throughout the pandemic, there a few bumps in the road,” Ford said on Monday. The premier was on site as staff from the Rekai Centre nursing home at Sherbourne Place in Toronto were given follow-up injections.

“We’re ramping it up and you’re going to see a significant difference over the next few weeks,” Ford added.

Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health announced that it is making important progress in vaccinating staff and residents of city-operated long-term care homes.

In a press release on Monday, the city stated that last week, approximately 800 staff members and more than 20 essential caregivers attended hospital clinics and began to receive the Pfizer vaccine. As of December 31, the Moderna vaccine began to be administered to long-term care home residents.

Within the first three days, almost 600 residents were reportedly vaccinated on-site with the Moderna vaccine at Castleview Wychwood Towers, Bendale Acres and Fudger House.

Still, Tory is receiving more than his fair share of criticism online.

Click here for more up-to-date COVID information.

Article exclusive to TRNTO