Ontario is reporting a new record number of COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day and there are now more people hospitalized with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus than at any other point during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health says that there were 2,923 new cases confirmed on Tuesday, pushing the rolling seven-day average up to 2,309. That is a slight increase on this time last week when it stood at 2,304.
The nearly 3,000 new cases reported over the last 24 hours do represent a big jump on then record 2,553 that were reported just one day prior, though.
It also comes as testing continues to lag behind the levels seen in recent weeks.
On Tuesday the province conducted just 39,210 tests, pointing to a positivity percentage of 8.4 per cent.
It was the third straight day that a positivity rate above eight per cent was reported.
Meanwhile, the spread of the virus continues to accelerate in the GTA.
Toronto Public Health reported a record 1,069 news cases in the city on Wednesday. The province uses a different cut off time for its data but also reported a new record number of infections in Toronto – 998.
There was also a record 408 new cases reported in York Region while Peel Region reported another 441 new cases, Durham Region reported 158 and Halton Region reported 114.
“The numbers are very disconcerting,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said during an interview with CP24 earlier on Wednesday morning. “They are still alarming and they are still putting a huge strain on the healthcare system so there is nothing good about them. The numbers are just not good.”
Nearly 1,200 COVID patients now hospitalized
The latest data indicates that there are now 1,177 people hospitalized with COVID-19, eclipsing the peak seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring (1,043) for the first time.
A daily Critical Care Services Ontario report obtained by CP24 also indicated that 335 COVID-19 patients are now being treated in intensive care. That represents nearly 20 per cent of all patients in the ICU.
Some hospitals, however, have been hit harder than others.
At Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga the number of patients receiving treatment in the ICU exceeds the baseline number of beds available and more than half of them have COVID-19.
The same is also true at Humber River Hospital, where 23 of 46 beds in the ICU are now occupied by COVID-19 patients.
In Toronto 70 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care units, though there remains some theoretical capacity with only 348 of 459 available beds filled as of late Tuesday night.
Of course health officials have said that staffing resources are a bigger issue than bed availability at this point, meaning that the strain being felt by hospitals is sometimes not fully illustrated by the numbers.
“Just to lay the numbers out in wave one we had a total of 1,228 patients with COVID-19 go through Ontario’s ICUs during that entire wave and as of Dec. 27 1,252 patients have been through Ontario’s ICUs with COVID-19 during the second wave. So we have exceeded our wave one total in four months instead of the five months and things are getting worse,” Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CP24 on Wednesday. “We are tracking above the worst case scenario in terms of trajectory and I am highly concerned that access to non-COVID care will come more limited in the weeks and months to come.”
19 more deaths
A number of hospitals have already cancelled elective surgeries and procedures but officials have said that about 85 per cent of the care in ICU is critical and cannot be postponed.
Speaking with CP24, Warner said that while the province has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses it can’t “legislate what happens behind closed doors in peoples homes,” which could be a “big source” of transmission.
“The seven-day average is going to be 2,500 and when school resumed in September the seven-day average was 209 in terms of COVID cases in Ontario. So it is inconceivable that we could open things up in a week or two weeks,” he said.
On Wednesday, the province also reported another 19 deaths in people who contracted COVID-19, including 12 among long-term care home residents.
There was also another four outbreaks reported at long-term care home, pushing the total number of active outbreaks in that setting to 200.
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FDA says kid-sized Pfizer vaccine doses appear highly effective, safe – CBC.ca
U.S. health regulators said late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues, as the country weighs beginning vaccinations in youngsters.
The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question.
In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine’s benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer’s shot to be authorized.
The agency will put that question to its panel of independent advisers next Tuesday and weigh their advice before making its own decision.
U.S. children could begin vaccinations next month
If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month — with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas.
Full-strength Pfizer shots already are recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school.
WATCH | Pfizer releases clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11:
The FDA review affirmed results from Pfizer posted earlier in the day showing the two-dose shot was nearly 91 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. Researchers calculated the figure based on 16 COVID-19 cases in youngsters given dummy shots versus three cases among vaccinated children. There were no severe illnesses reported among any of the youngsters, but the vaccinated ones had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.
Most of the study data was collected in the U.S. during August and September, when the delta variant had become the dominant COVID-19 strain.
No new side effects
The FDA review found no new or unexpected side effects, which mostly consisted of sore arms, fever or achiness that teens experience.
However, FDA scientists noted that the study wasn’t large enough to detect extremely rare side effects, including myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that occasionally occurs after the second dose.
The agency used statistical modelling to try to predict how many hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 the vaccine would prevent versus the number of potential heart side effects it might cause. In four scenarios of the pandemic, the vaccine clearly prevented more hospitalizations than would be expected from the heart side effect. Only when virus cases were extremely low would the vaccine cause more hospitalizations than it would prevent. But overall, regulators concluded that the vaccine’s protective benefits “would clearly outweigh” its risks.
While children run a lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans 18 and under, according to the CDC. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — for the nation’s 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers already have signed up to get the shots into little arms.
Edward Rogers’ role as Blue Jays chair unchanged amid changes atop RCI – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO — Edward Rogers’ roles as chair of the Toronto Blue Jays and control person with Major League Baseball are unaffected by this week’s manoeuvrings that led to his removal as board chair of parent company Rogers Communications Inc., according to two industry sources.
Whether fallout from the power struggle atop the telecom giant, which also owns Sportsnet, might eventually reach the club is unclear. Last week, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said the team was “about a month away” from presenting its off-season plan during a final payroll meeting with ownership, and expressed confidence that its long-term strategic objectives would remain on track.
“Every indication I’ve received and every indication that we’ve been shown … leads me to believe that we will stay on plan and the payroll will continue to rise despite the fact that we’re still lagging behind a little bit in revenues due to (the pandemic),” Shapiro said.
Those comments came before news broke that John MacDonald, a member of the Rogers Board of Directors since 2012, had assumed the chairman role in place of Edward Rogers, who according to media reports had sought to oust company CEO Joe Natale.
Edward Rogers is now seeking to replace five board members.
At this point, the sources said the developments aren’t expected to impact a winter of opportunity for the Blue Jays, who are seeking to augment a club that missed the post-season by one game and are about to see top performers Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray and Steven Matz hit free agency.
Shapiro is close with Edward Rogers, who as chair is the top officer of the club. He is also the control person, a role each of the 30 MLB teams assigns to represent the interests of that ownership.
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