Premier Doug Ford is standing behind information that his health minister provided about the number of COVID-19 vaccines that the province hopes to receive in early 2021, even as federal officials refuse to confirm the number.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said during Question Period on Wednesday that Ontario will receive 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first three months of 2021, assuming both are ultimately approved for use by Health Canada.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu, however, refused to confirm the allotment while speaking with reporters in Ottawa later in the day.
Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health Darren Fisher also seemed to cast doubt on the veracity of the information during an interview with Evan Solomon on CTV’s Power Play in which he said he was “not aware” of where Elliott “got her numbers.”
Asked about the confusion during his daily COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Ford said that he has since spoken with senior officials in the Ministry of Health and has been assured that they were provided the estimates by federal government officials.
He said that they were told “for planning purposes” that Ontario would receive 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, as reported by Elliott.
Because both vaccines have to be administered twice, 21 days apart, the initial shipments would likely only be sufficient to vaccinate about 1.2 million Ontarians with priority likely being given to health care workers and long-term care home residents at first.
“I appreciate the feds that it is going to be trickling out because everyone wants it but really why shouldn’t we get 40 per cent per like we always do,” Ford said. “There shouldn’t be any discrepancy whatsoever.”
Pfizer said on Wednesday morning that a final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of its vaccine found it to be 95 per cent effective and that it would seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “within days.”
Moderna, meanwhile, said last week that preliminary analysis from its Phase 3 trial has found their vaccine to be 94.5 per cent effective.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pressed about the estimates provided by Elliott during a briefing in Ottawa on Thursday but also refused to confirm them.
He said that his government wants to ensure that as vaccines arrive they “get delivered as quickly as possible to vulnerable Canadians as a priority and then to all Canadians.”
But he said that right now the discussions with provinces are still “at a preliminary stage.”
“I think there are many numbers circulating amongst health officials as to what the possible deliveries of vaccines could be but we are not going to confirm those plans until we have much more certainty around them,” he said. “Yes vaccines are coming and yes Canada will be ready and will have the right plan to make sure we are getting those out to the country but right now it is too preliminary to make firm announcements.”
Ontario government to spell out whether people can have winter holiday gatherings – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
The Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines today for celebrating the upcoming winter holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Toronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province’s tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.
Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.
The province’s top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.
Five other regions — Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo — are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Ontario’s most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.
1 in 3 Toronto schools, nearly half of Brampton schools, have active COVID-19 cases – 680 News
One in three Toronto public schools have an active case of COVID-19 – more than double the provincial average being touted by Ontario’s education minister as he promotes the government’s school safety strategy and the picture worsens at other boards in pandemic hot spots.
In Toronto’s public board, 35 per cent of schools, some 206 facilities, have at least one student or staff member who are reported as actively sick with COVID-19. Of Toronto’s Catholic schools, 40 per cent – or 79 institutions — have active cases. In Brampton, 48 per cent of all schools, both public and Catholic, have active cases.
Toronto and Peel are in lockdown so it’s no surprise they have more cases than the provincial average, but the premier has acknowledged it’s concerning.
“It is definitely setting off alarm bells,” Premier Doug Ford said at a press conference Tuesday.
The government has consistently said it is safer for students to be in school, and that the priority is to keep them open. It has never mentioned that cases in locked-down regions are significantly higher than the provincial average, which is 14.6 percent. Four schools are currently closed due to outbreaks.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce stood in the legislature Monday and insisted schools were safe.
“Parents want the facts. Here’s a fact that I think would instill a level of confidence: if they knew that 99.95% of students are COVID-19-free, that 99.92% of staff are COVID-19-free, that 99.7% of staff have never had COVID-19,” said Lecce. “Our leadership in public health and our school boards are working together to flatten this curve, to reduce the risk and to keep our kids safe, and that is a good thing we should celebrate in this province”
In Brampton, 61 public schools and 28 Catholic schools are reporting 122 and 89 cases, respectively. In the public board, 51 schools beyond Brampton are reporting a further 78 cases. Of those, 46 schools are in Mississauga, four schools are in Caledon, and one is in Bolton.
In the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board, 37 schools outside of Brampton are reporting a total of 61 cases. All but one of those schools is in Mississauga, with the lone other location in Caledon.
Brampton’s percentage of schools with active COVID-19 cases exceeds the proportion in its school boards in large.
The rate across Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, which includes Mississauga, Caledon, Bolton and Orangeville, is 43 per cent, with a total 65 of its 151 elementary and secondary schools reporting active cases. In Peel’s public board, which serves Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, the rate is 44 per cent, or 112 of the boards 257 schools.
CityNews has used the latest information posted on all the boards’ own websites to compile this data.
The premier said today that he was not downplaying cases at schools: “numbers don’t lie, they are out there.”
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has said several times it is important to keep schools open for children’s mental health, and while students and staff are bringing COVID-19 into schools, it’s not being spread inside them. Provincial Minister of Health Christine Elliott echoed that today, adding she would re-evaluate the situation if needed.
“If the circumstances change and there’s a huge increase in the number of cases in schools, we might have to take another look at it,” Elliott said.
Ontario has started deploying rapid testing in long-term care homes and rural communities. Ford called it a game-changer and suggested if schools needed testing, it could happen. University of Toronto epidemiologist Colin Furness says he doesn’t believe schools need to close, but he says those inside should be tested regularly.
“We should be doing surveillance testing broadly in the province, we should have been doing that since April. By surveillance testing, I mean you don’t test people who show up at hospital looking sick, that’s diagnostic testing. Surveillance testing means you go and test people at risk,” he explained.
“We should be testing teachers because they are also in high-risk positions, and if want to know what’s going on with COVID in schools, test teachers,” he added, “But Ontario has been very resolutely committed to not doing surveillance testing. We are not trying to control transmission with testing, we are controlling with lockdowns. I think that’s unfortunate.”
How to tell if you're flying on a Boeing Max 737 – Boing Boing
I’m a nervous flyer to begin with, so the news that Boeing is putting its crash-prone Max 737 jet back into service fills me with Lovecraftian dread.
I would rather ride a goddamn burro across the continental United States that get on one of those things. “Don’t worry, we updated the software.” There is no modern statement less reassuring.
But, how can you tell if you’ve been slated to fly on one?
As Jalopnik notes, Reuters reports that some airlines may stop using the “Max” name, so all you’ll know is that you’re flying on some sort of 737. So maybe you could just check your booking to see what sort of plane you’re on? But airlines’ methods of ID vary, and of course, sometimes at the last second they need to swap out jets for unanticipated reasons of maintenance or weather-related delays.
The upshot is that, as Jalopnik notes, you might have to simply figure it out by looking at the jet you’re about to board. This assessment would come rather late to be of any prophylactic use, mind you, unless you’re willing to skip the flight at the last second when you discover you’re about to step onto the creditScore_xxbin32_init.exe of airplanes.
If your booking information doesn’t note what kind of 737 you’ll be flying, you may be able to spot the naming on the nose, tail or landing gear doors. Some airlines with a high number of 737 MAX aircraft orders, like Southwest, have no prominent markings at all.
At the airport, you can also check the winglets at the end of the wings. The 737 MAX will often have winglets that extend both up and down. Other versions of the 737 often have winglets that extend only upward. However, as some airlines — like United — have upgraded older planes to use the newer winglets, this isn’t always a surefire way to determine 737 type, either.
If all else fails, look at the engines. The 737 MAX uses CFM International LEAP-1B engines.
These are physically larger and pushed forward compared with the CFM International CFM56-7 engines of the older 737NG. The LEAP-1B engines will also have serrated edges at the rear of the engines.
(That CC-2.0-licensed photo of a Max 737, by Edward Russell, comes courtesy Wikimedia)
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