Ontario reported a record high 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
“Due to a data upload delay at Toronto Public Health, approximately 450 additional cases have been included in today’s count,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott noted. “These cases were primarily from January 5th and 6th.”
Of the reported new COVID-19 cases, 1,382 new cases were in Toronto, 691 in Peel, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara, and 184 in Windsor-Essex County.
In a press conference on Friday morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated the importance of public health measures and reminded Ontarians to follow public health guidelines — wearing masks, staying at home, and social distancing.
“There will be further measures, because this is getting out of control,” Ford said.
On the vaccine front, Ford said that Ontario has administered more vaccines than any other province in the country.
“I told Ontarians that we’d ramp up our vaccine rollout, and we have. Yesterday alone we vaccinated nearly 15,000 people,” Ford said.
He also said he spoke with Prime Minister Trudeau about the need for a more reliable vaccine supply to meet the growing capacity.
“Every single day we’re getting more and more needles into people’s arms, and protecting more and more of our frontline healthcare workers, long-term care residents, and most vulnerable. But we’re quickly running out,” Ford added, pleading with Health Canada to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We’re in desperate need of it. Please approve it. It’s been approved by other health agencies around the world. And that would really, really help us out,” Ford added, noting that all of Ontario will be out of Pfizer vaccines by the end of next week.
“We’re all hopeful the federal government will get us more vaccines. Without them, hospitals will have to start cancelling appointments, and all the progress we’ve made getting our daily vaccine numbers up will be lost as clinics stand by waiting for vaccines from the feds,” Ford said.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government yesterday announced that it was extending online learning until Jan. 25 for elementary schools in the 27 southern Ontario public health unit regions, and it was extending the shutdown in northern Ontario for another 14 days.
According to health officials, the positivity rate for kids aged 12 to 13 increased from 5.44 per cent in late November/early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.
“Over the holidays, we saw a 117% spike in kids getting COVID,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce tweeted, noting that Ontario students will go back to school, “but it has to be safe.”
Over the holidays, we saw a 117% spike in kids getting COVID.
We *will* get Ontario students back to school, but it has to be safe. pic.twitter.com/Kg0mDyE5zI
— Stephen Lecce (@Sflecce) January 8, 2021
In Friday’s press conference, Lecce said the province will be putting more money into province-wide targeted surveillance testing, and allocating additional money for air ventilation, cleaning, and teachers.
The provincial government was on the receiving end of a host of criticism on Twitter, with some parents and educators alleging that schools do not provide enough protection against COVID-19, or that more measures (e.g., smaller class sizes to ensure physical distancing and proper ventilation) should have been taken earlier.
You had your chance to do that, and you did NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! AT ALL.
NO small class sizes, NO ventilation. NO air purifiers. NO nurses in schools. NO money. NO computers for online learning. NO testing or tracing. NO training. NO NOTHING!#LecceLies#FireLecce
— Angry Parents – Aloha! 🌴🏄♂️🏖🍹 (@FireLecce) January 8, 2021
Click here for more up-to-date COVID information.