Premier Doug Ford drew a distinction between Ontarians flouting public health measures through private gatherings and establishments that openly defy the province’s COVID-19 rules Tuesday.
The remarks came in response to questions about at Toronto barbeque restaurant owner publicly vowing to keep his doors open amid the province’s lockdown for the city.
“They have to follow the rules. There can’t be rules for one group and not another,” he said at a news conference Tuesday, less forcefully than in other instances where the premier has come out swinging against people throwing large parties or weddings, for example.
“When it comes to private parties, that’s a different ball of wax,” Ford said. “I’m not going to get up here and start pounding the small business owner when the guy’s holding on by his finger nails. I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying and renting a public storage place … that’s reckless.
“I don’t condone that he opened up but I feel terrible. My heart breaks for these guys … these business-owners, believe me. “But please, in saying all that, you’ve got to follow the protocols and guidelines.”
WATCH | Ford comments on Toronto BBQ restaurant vowing to stay open during COVID-19 lockdown:
Rapid testing begins, auditor general set to release report
The province also announced Tuesday that it has begun deploying rapid testing in long-term care homes, rural and remote areas — something the premier called a “gamechanger.”
The rapid tests, which can produce results in minutes rather than days, have been sent to 36 long-term care homes and 27 retirement homes, as well as some hospitals.
Ford said the province will continue to deploy the 98,000 ID Now tests and 1.2 million Panbio tests it has received from the federal government in the coming weeks.Health Minister Christine Elliott says another 1.5 million Panbio tests are expected to arrive in Ontario next month.
The announcement comes as a data error resulted in an artificially low daily total of 1,009 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
It also comes just one day before the province’s auditor general is set to issue a three-part report on the province’s pandemic emergency preparedness and its response to COVID-19, including lab testing, case management and contact tracing.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said that yesterday’s figure of 1,589 cases (which appeared to be a record high) inadvertently included eight-and-a-half extra hours worth of data from Nov. 22, meaning the total count was inflated. Today’s number adjusts for the mistake.
The new cases include 497 in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The seven-day average now sits at 1,395.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
- Waterloo Region: 40
- Windsor: 31
- Simcoe Muskoka: 25
- Ottawa: 19
- Niagara Region: 19
- Durham Region: 16
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 16
- Hamilton: 10
- Thunder Bay: 14
[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]
Testing falls to about half of capacity
Today’s additional cases include 270 that are school-related: 223 students and 47 staff. The Ministry of Education said in a statement that the figure is not a one-day increase. Rather it reflects cases identified in schools from 2 p.m. last Friday to 2 p.m. yesterday, and also some others that were not reported Friday because of professional learning days in some boards, including the Toronto public and Catholic boards.
There are currently 703 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to the illness, including one in Windsor with 39 cases, the largest school-related outbreak in the province.
There are now 12,917 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, a slight drop from yesterday as 1,082 cases were marked resolved today.
The further infections in today’s update come as Ontario’s network of labs processed just 27,053 test samples for the novel coronavirus, and added 29,316 to the queue to be completed. There is currently capacity in the system for up to 50,000 tests daily. Meanwhile, the province reported a test positivity rate of 5.8 per cent.
The official COVID-19 death toll grew by 14, up to 3,519. So far this month, 374 people with COVID-19 have died in Ontario.
Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 also jumped, up 27 to 534. Of those, 159 are being treated in intensive care and 91 with ventilators. Public health officials have identified 150 patients in ICUs as the threshold for when unrelated surgeries and procedures are likely to be postponed because of burdens on the hospital system.
Meanwhile, a group of engineers, physicians and other professionals issued an open letter to the province Tuesday, calling for updated COVID-19 guidelines that emphasize the importance of ventilation when it comes to curbing the risk of spreading the virus
‘With winter approaching, our activities are moving indoors and it is therefore imperative that public institutions, workplaces and individuals understand the risk of aerosol transmission as well as the actions that can be taken to combat it,” the letter says.
Backed by 36 professionals, it also calls on the province to mandate and fund ventilation assessments and upgrades of settings like schools and long-term care homes, establishing ventilation standards for reopening, among other measures.
WestJet halts Boeing 737 Max jet before takeoff after warning light in cockpit – CBC.ca
WestJet temporarily grounded a Boeing 737 Max jet that was supposed to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday after a warning light came on in the cockpit prior to takeoff.
Flight 658 was boarded and preparing to take off when a warning light came on.
“After a normal engine start, a standard function of the health monitoring system indicated a potential fault that needed to be verified and reset,” WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart told CBC News.
“This process takes time and requires a subsequent engine run, which we do not perform with guests on board [so] in the interest of our guests’ time, we cancelled Flight 658 and its return 665 (Toronto/Calgary), and we rebooked them on the next available flight to ensure a timely arrival in Toronto.”
The airline says passengers were boarded onto a 787 jet and flew as planned within the hour.
Jet in question cleared to fly again
The jet in question has already been cleared and is on track for its next flight on Sunday.
The Calgary-based airline’s fleet of 13 Max jets were grounded for almost two years after more than 300 people died in two high profile crashes of the jets, operated by Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air in 2018 and 2019.
WestJet grounded its fleet of Max jets like most airlines around the world did until earlier this month, when flight authorities cleared the jets for takeoff again.
The flight would have been the jet in question’s first flight since being approved for use again, and only the third Max flight at WestJet overall since reintroduction this week.
COVID-19: Nine New Cases In Southern Health, Zero In Steinbach – Steinbachonline.com – SteinbachOnline.com
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- COVID-19: Nine New Cases In Southern Health, Zero In Steinbach – Steinbachonline.com SteinbachOnline.com
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173 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths in Manitoba on Friday – CBC.ca
There are 173 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on Friday and two more people have died from the illness, the province says in a news release.
More than one-third of the new cases — 64 — are in the Northern Health Region, which has been hit hard by outbreaks in recent weeks.
Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is up slightly to 9.3 per cent, the release says, while Winnipeg’s is down to 6.2 per cent.
The deaths are two people in their 80s, the release says; a woman linked to Niverville’s Heritage Life Personal Care Home and a man connected to Winnipeg’s Southeast Personal Care Home.
There are also 56 new cases in the Winnipeg health region, the release says, while the remaining new infections are split between the Interlake-Eastern health region (33), the Prairie Mountain Health region (11) and the Southern Health region (nine).
Those deaths bring Manitoba’s total to 795.
People working in all Manitoba schools will have access to a rapid testing site in Winnipeg starting Monday. The site at 1066 Nairn Ave. opened on Jan. 18 to staff working in five divisions, but is now open to all school staff, the release says.
That includes anyone who works directly with students, including teachers, educational support staff, bus drivers, custodians and child-care staff in school-based facilities, the province said when the first site opened.
People going to that site need to either have symptoms of COVID-19, be identified as a close contact of a school exposure or live with someone who has symptoms, the release says. Appointments need to be made ahead of time by phoning the province’s general appointment line, which is listed on the province’s website.
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Manitoba are now up slightly to 274, from 268 on Thursday. Thirty-nine of those people are in intensive care, the release says, five more than on Thursday.
An outbreak has been declared at the Pembina Manitou Health Centre and Personal Care Home, the release says.
Previously announced outbreaks are now over at Morden’s Tabor Home, Selkirk’s Tudor House Personal Care Home and Winnipeg’s Deer Lodge Centre Lodge 4 East, West Park Manor Personal Care Home, St. Amant Health and Transition Services and the Carpathia Children’s Centre.
The latest update comes hours before Manitoba’s latest set of pandemic rules come into effect one minute after the stroke of midnight on Saturday. The latest public health orders will allow most Manitobans to have two designated people over as visitors and permit stores to sell non-essential items again.
Those rules will apply everywhere but northern Manitoba, which will remain under the current heavy restrictions because of a spike in cases in recent days and significant COVID-19 outbreaks in several communities.
The military was deployed to Garden Hill First Nation earlier this week to help the community get a handle on skyrocketing cases.
Since Jan. 11, there have been 818 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Northern Health Region. The massive region is Manitoba’s most sparsely populated, with a 2019 population just shy of 77,000.
As of Friday, that part of the province has a COVID-19 infection rate of 4,225.50 cases per 100,000 people, Manitoba’s online dashboard says — about four cases for every 100 people.
That’s by far Manitoba’s highest infection rate, and more than double the province’s second-highest of 2,087.63 in Winnipeg — or about two in every 100 people.
Places like restaurants and gyms still must stay closed to in-person services.
The rules that take effect Saturday will stay in place for three weeks before being evaluated again.
The changes come more than two months after Manitoba brought in its tightest pandemic restrictions yet, banning most household visitors and barring stores from selling non-essential goods.
Two cases were removed from Manitoba’s total on Friday because of a data correction, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 28,260, the province’s news release says.
To date, 24,204 people in Manitoba have recovered from COVID-19, while 3,261 cases are still considered active, though health officials have said that number is inflated by a data entry backlog.
There were 2,070 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Thursday, bringing Manitoba’s total number of swabs completed to 461,250 since February.
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