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Ontario third wave, blame piled on Doug Ford

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Ontario Premier Doug Ford, facing backlash over his government’s handling of the pandemic, resisted calls to resign on Thursday as Canada‘s most populous province grappled with a third wave of COVID-19 infections that critics said could have been prevented.

With pressure building on hospitals, Ottawa is sending federal healthcare workers to help. Ontario had 3,682 new infections on Thursday and 40 deaths, the highest of any province.

#Dougfordmustresign has trended on Twitter this week, while newspaper editorials and provincial opposition leaders also called on Ford, 56, to step down.

Some 46% of Ontario residents have a negative view of Ford, up nine percentage points from a week earlier, according to an Abacus Data poll on Wednesday. Ford’s Progressive Conservatives(PC) trailed the opposition provincial Liberals by one point in the same poll, ahead of a June 2022 provincial election.

“Mr. Ford’s real mistake has been repeatedly ignoring the deep bench of scientists who are there to advise him, impulsively imposing himself as the province’s Fearless Decider,” an editorial in the national Globe and Mail newspaper said this week.

The premier ruled out resigning on Thursday, almost a week after issuing unpopular orders to close playgrounds and allow police to randomly stop people, both of which were abandoned within 48 hours.

Multiple police departments refused to enforce Ford’s orders while Toronto-area health units unilaterally ordered businesses that experience outbreaks to close.

“I’m not one to walk away from anything,” an emotional Ford told reporters on Thursday. “I know we got it wrong and we made a mistake, and for that I’m sorry.”

Ford said he was apologizing for acting “too quick”. Critics said the problem was that he opened the economy up too fast after the second wave, and then moved too slowly when it was obvious that cases were spiking.

Had Ontario kept stay-at-home measures in place longer in February, the case-count “would not have been nearly as bad as what we’re seeing now,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

“We saw case numbers rising for a month … and they were never really acted on,” said Bogoch, who is a member of the Ontario government’s vaccination task force.

Ford extended stay-at-home measures until mid-May last week and on Thursday said his government would provide paid sick leave to workers who need to isolate, a measure many say would have helped prevent the third wave.

On Thursday, Ford said 40% of the province would have at least one vaccine shot by the end of the month.

But the political damage could be lasting.

“It’s going to be a pretty hard hole to climb out of,” said Frank Graves, president of polling company EKOS Research.

Ford, the brother of Toronto’s late mayor Rob Ford who once admitted to smoking crack, has been in power since 2018, sweeping to an unlikely victory after the PC’s former leader was forced to resign in the midst of the election campaign.

During the 2019 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capitalized on Ford’s unpopular cost cuts, attacking him repeatedly while touring Ontario, a crucial battleground province that is home to almost 40% of Canada‘s population.

“This does remind me of 2019 where absolutely the best asset in Ontario for the federal Liberal Party was Doug Ford,” a well-placed Liberal source said.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; additional reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Diane Craft)

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EXPLAINER: Who's eligible for Pfizer booster shots in US? – North Shore News

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Millions of Americans are now eligible to receive a Pfizer booster shot to help increase their protection against the worst effects of the coronavirus.

A look at the nuts and bolts of this new phase of the vaccination campaign:

WHO SHOULD GET THE PFIZER BOOSTER?

People who got two Pfizer shots at least six months ago and who fall into one of these groups should get the booster:

— People 65 and older, nursing home residents and assisted living residents.

— Others ages 50 to 64 with a long list of risky health problems including cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV infection and heart disease. Being overweight or obese is a category that qualifies roughly 70% of people in this age group.

WHO ELSE CAN CONSIDER GETTING IT?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these people may get a booster, but stopped short of a full recommendation:

— People 18 to 49 who got their Pfizer shots at least six months ago with risky health problems can consider the booster based on their individual benefits and risks.

— Anyone 18 to 64 with a risky job, such as health care, can consider boosters. Prisoners and people living in homeless shelters are also in this group.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Serious side effects from the first two Pfizer doses are exceedingly rare, including heart inflammation that sometimes occurs in younger men.

WEREN’T SOME PEOPLE ALREADY ELIGIBLE FOR A THIRD DOSE?

Yes, people with severely weakened immune systems were already eligible to get a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna. This group includes people taking immune-suppressing medications and those with diseases that tamp down their immune systems. They didn’t have to wait six months to get a third dose.

WHAT IF I GOT MODERNA? CAN I GET A PFIZER BOOSTER?

Not yet. Health officials say they don’t have enough data on mix-and-match vaccinations. Moderna has applied to U.S. health regulators for its own booster, one that would be half the dose of the original shots. The Food and Drug Administration is considering that application.

WHAT IF I GOT J&J?

People who originally got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson also must wait. The government doesn’t recommend mixing-and-matching. J&J hasn’t yet filed a booster application. But earlier this week, the company released data showing two doses of its vaccine provided stronger immunity than one — whether the extra dose was given either two months or six months after the first.

WHERE CAN I GET MY BOOSTER?

Health departments, clinics and drugstores are offering boosters, and many people have already gotten them ahead of the official green light. You may have to show your vaccine card. Proving how you qualify is on the honor system. Your word about your risky job or health condition is likely to be enough.

ARE BOOSTERS FREE?

Yes, shots given under FDA’s emergency use authorization are free. And there should be enough supplies.

AM I ‘FULLY VACCINATED’ WITHOUT A BOOSTER?

Yes, two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one of J&J, is still considered fully vaccinated.

WHY WERE BOOSTERS SO HOTLY DEBATED?

The need is not crystal clear. Studies show the vaccines are still offering strong protection against serious illness for all ages. And many experts want to focus attention on getting shots to the unvaccinated, the group most in danger of infection, hospitalization and death.

On the other hand, there is a slight drop in the vaccine’s effectiveness among the oldest adults. And immunity against milder infection appears to wane months after people’s initial shots. Protecting health care workers from even mild illness may help some hospitals now struggling to care for unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

ARE OTHER COUNTRIES OFFERING BOOSTERS?

Britain and Israel are already giving boosters over strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries don’t have enough for their initial doses.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Carla K. Johnson, The Associated Press

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COVID surge at new record | – Hudson Valley 360

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A pharmacist handles vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. A New York state Supreme Court judge late Friday handed down a temporary restraining order to halt the state’s vaccine mandate that goes into effect Monday. CSEA sued the state alleging the mandate was illegally unilateral and ordered without proper bargaining. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS

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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ottawa up slightly, ICU admissions down – Newstalk 1010 (iHeartRadio)

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Ottawa Public Health says another 50 people in Ottawa have tested positive for COVID-19.

To date, OPH has reported 29,591 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. No new deaths were reported on Saturday. The city’s death toll from the pandemic stands at 595 residents.

Two more people are in the hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, but two patients have left the ICU.

The number of known active cases is down slightly.  

Across the province, health officials confirmed another 640 cases of COVID-19. Public Health Ontario says 10 more Ontarians have died—six in the past month and another four over a month ago—and 794 existing cases are now considered resolved. Ontario’s rolling seven-day average is at 629, down from 719 last week.

Around the region, Public Health Ontario reported 37 new cases, 30 of which are in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. There is also one new case in Hastings Prince Edward, three new cases in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington and three new cases in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark.

OTTAWA’S KEY COVID-19 STATISTICS

Ottawa is now in Step 3 of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Ottawa Public Health data:

  • COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (Sept 16 to Sept. 22): 37.9 (down from 39.4) 
  • Positivity rate in Ottawa (Sept. 17 to Sept. 23): 2.7 per cent 
  • Reproduction number (Seven day average): 0.98

Reproduction values greater than 1 indicate the virus is spreading and each case infects more than one contact. If it is less than 1, it means spread is slowing.

UNVACCINATED CASES

Health Minister Christine Elliott says of the 640 newly reported COVID-19 cases on Saturday, 155 are in fully vaccinated people and 485 are in people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

Forty-three of the 323 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 are fully vaccinated, while 280 are not or have an unknown status. There are seven fully vaccinated people in ICUs across the province, compared to 171 people who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status.

Data from Ottawa Public Health suggest unvaccinated residents are 11 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than fully vaccinated residents are.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

As of Friday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 812,726 
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 760,018 
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 88 per cent
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 82 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa: 1,417,102 

*Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario. 

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

There are 441 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, down from 444 active cases on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reported 54 newly resolved cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. The number of resolved cases of coronavirus in Ottawa is 28,555.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

 
COVID-19 Cases in Ottawa

Infogram

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

There are 14 people in Ottawa area hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses Saturday, up from 12 on Friday.

Seven people are in the ICU, down from nine.

Age categories of people in hospital:

  • 0-9: 0
  • 10-19: 0
  • 20-29: 2 (1 in ICU)
  • 30-39: 1 
  • 40-49: 3 (2 in ICU)
  • 50-59: 5 (2 in ICU)
  • 60-69: 2 (1 in ICU) 
  • 70-79: 1 (1 in ICU)
  • 80-89: 0
  • 90+: 0

COVID-19 CASES IN OTTAWA BY AGE CATEGORY

  • 0-9 years old: 11 new cases (2,599 total cases)
  • 10-19 years-old: Nine new cases (3,887 total cases)
  • 20-29 years-old: 15 new cases (6,673 total cases)
  • 30-39 years-old: One new case (4,553 total cases)
  • 40-49 years-old: Five new cases (3,882 total cases)
  • 50-59 years-old: Six new cases (3,447 total cases)
  • 60-69-years-old: Three new cases (2,031 total cases)
  • 70-79 years-old: Zero new cases (1,118 total cases)
  • 80-89 years-old: Zero new cases (866 total cases)
  • 90+ years old: Zero new cases (532 total cases)
  • Unknown: Zero new cases (3 cases total)  

VARIANTS OF CONCERN

Ottawa Public Health data:

  • Total Alpha (B.1.1.7) cases: 6,846
  • Total Beta (B.1.351) cases: 513
  • Total Gamma (P.1) cases: 55
  • Total Delta (B.1.617.2) cases: 633
  • Total variants of concern/mutation cases: 9,987
  • Deaths linked to variants/mutations: 103

*OPH notes that that VOC and mutation trends must be treated with caution due to the varying time required to complete VOC testing and/or genomic analysis following the initial positive test for SARS-CoV-2. Test results may be completed in batches and data corrections or updates can result in changes to case counts that may differ from past reports.

COVID-19 TESTING IN OTTAWA

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce reports 2,238 swabs were processed at assessment centres in Ottawa on Sept. 23.

There were 4,352 lab tests performed in Ottawa on Thursday.

The average turnaround from the time the swab is taken at a testing site to the result is 31 hours.

CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: 30 new cases
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: One new case
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: Three new cases
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Three new cases
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Zero new cases

COVID-19 OUTBREAKS

Ottawa Public Health reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at institutions and community outbreaks in Ottawa.

Community outbreaks:

  • Religious/Spiritual Organization: One outbreaks

Schools and childcare spaces currently experiencing outbreaks:

  • La Coccinelle – Des Sentiers (Sept. 6)
  • École élémentaire catholique de la Découverte (Sept. 12) 
  • Service a l’Enfance Aladin – St. Anne (Sept. 13) 
  • École élémentaire catholique Marius-Barbeau (Sept. 14)
  • École élémentaire catholique Franco-Cité (Sept. 15) 
  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha Elementary School (Sept. 17) 
  • St. Paul High School (Sept. 17) 
  • Lycée Claudel (Sept. 17) 
  • École élémentaire catholique Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Sept. 17) 
  • École élémentaire catholique Montfort (Sept. 19)
  • Service a l’Enfance et a la jeunesse MIFO – Orleans (Sept. 19) 
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school (Sept. 21)
  • École élémentaire catholique Saint-Rémi (Sept. 21)
  • Joan Of Arc Academy (Sept. 21)
  • St. Stephen Catholic Elementary School (Sept. 22)
  • École secondaire Catholique Samuel-Genest (Sept. 22) 
  • Queen Elizabeth Public School (Sept. 22) NEW
  • St. John the Apostle elementary school (Sept. 23) 

Healthcare and congregate settings experiencing outbreaks:

  • Group Home 2021-09-13 (Sept. 13)
  • Residence St. Louis – Unit 1C, 2AB, 2C (Sept 16) 
  • Peter D. Clark long-term care home (Sept. 19) 
  • Elizabeth Bruyere Hospital – 6th floor rehab unit (Sept. 21) 

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