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WATCH: Four more months of hard work ahead in fight against COVID-19, says province's top doc –



Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown provided a COVID-19 update on March 11, the National Day of Observance on COVID-19, emphasizing the importance of the coming weeks and months in the fight against the virus.

Williams compared and contrasted the province’s modelling data from the outset of the pandemic with current numbers, shining a positive light on the numbers, while cautioning that there is still plenty of work ahead.

Early modelling indicated that by this point of the pandemic, Ontario would be approaching three million cases; that number is closer to 300,000 currently and Williams says it’s due to the efforts of Ontarians.

“When we entered the pandemic we had anticipated what might be coming down the road; when we saw the numbers rapidly increasing in Europe…and the struggles and issues they were dealing with and we knew that was coming our way,” said Williams.

The province is slightly ahead of the curve, according to Williams, with vaccines rolling out earlier than first anticipated.

“We have had over 300,000 cases, and we were expecting at this time to have close to three million cases,” said Williams. “That’s what we were facing and that’s what the data showed.”

Williams indicated that vaccines were projected to arrive within a year and a half and that projections were that the pandemic would last at least 18 months. Now in month 14 of the pandemic, the next four months are of critical importance. 

“We’re still facing new issues, we’re still facing variants of concern,” said Williams.

“While we’re well into a year of the pandemic, 14 months, we expected to have 18 months of pandemic, we still have another four to five months of clear hard work ahead of us to keep our numbers down while we do the vaccination and get caught up.”

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science table, provided some of the latest modelling data, charting Ontario’s path forward and noting that the coming weeks and months will determine what kind of summer the province has.

“I hope that the day of observance today gives us all a chance to lend each other strength in the way that each of us needs. I hope that as we move toward what is hopefully the last stage of the pandemic, that we’re able to move through it together as one province,” said Brown.

Some of the key findings outlined by Brown include:

  • Vaccination in long-term care has paid off
  • Progress otherwise has stalled. Declines in community cases and test positivity have levelled off. Cases are increasing in most public health units
  • Variants of concern continue to spread across Ontario. Our ability to control the rate of spread will determine whether we return to normal or face a third wave of infection
  • Our behaviour of the next few weeks is critical in determining the quality of our summer

“We have seen one death (in long-term care homes) in the last six days which is a profoundly different statistic than we saw at the beginning of the year,” said Brown.

“We’re down to 25 homes that have outbreaks involving residents and 13 public health units have no homes that have outbreaks right now. Although we did exceed the death toll in wave one, it has really truly flattened out now and is in a much better situation than we had anticipated when it started to spread through.” 

The province announced today that Greater Sudbury is being moved into the Grey-Lockdown zone as of tomorrow.

You can watch the entire press conference from today above.

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FDA vote expected on Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster shots – CNN



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13 more die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 667 new cases confirmed –



British Columbia announced 667 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths on Friday, the most deaths in one day since Feb. 3.

In a written statement, the provincial government said there are currently 5,128 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A total of 367 people are in hospital, with 152 in intensive care.

Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by 1.9 per cent from last Friday, when 360 people were in hospital with the disease and about 27 per cent from a month ago when 288 people were in hospital.

The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 11 per cent from 137 a week ago and by the same percentage from a month ago when 137 people were also in the ICU.

The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,055 lives lost out of 196,433 confirmed cases to date.

As of Friday, 89 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83 per cent a second dose.

So far, eight million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 3.8 million second doses.

There are a total of 19 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term and acute care. There has been one new outbreak at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. The outbreak at Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre has been declared over.

The acute care hospitals currently affected by COVID outbreaks are Mission Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of Northern B.C., GR Baker Memorial Hospital, and Tofino General Hospital. 

More than 90 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and three people have died as a result of an outbreak at a care home in Burnaby, and officials say the death toll is expected to grow. 

The majority of cases at the Willingdon Care Centre are among residents, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday he expects the number of deaths will rise to 10 over the next several days due to a delay in data reporting.

New northern restrictions

More restrictions for the northern part of the province came into effect Thursday at midnight and will last until at least Nov. 19 in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

Restrictions in the region now include limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to fully vaccinated people only, capping the number of people who can gather in any setting, moving worship services online, cutting off alcohol sales earlier at night and mandating masks and safety plans at organized events.

Health officials are strongly recommending people stay in their community unless it is essential for work or medical reasons. 

Restrictions are also in place in the Interior Health region and communities in the eastern Fraser Valley.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry continues to reiterate the importance of immunization to reduce the risk of illness and death due to COVID-19.

From Oct. 7 to 13, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 68.3 per cent of cases and from Sept. 30 to Oct. 13, they accounted for 76.3 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province. 

Anyone who has not yet received a shot is encouraged to do so immediately. Appointments can be made online through the Get Vaccinated portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in-person at any Service B.C. location. 

People can also be immunized at walk-in clinics throughout the province.

B.C. health officials are awaiting a federal review of COVID-19 vaccines for five- to 11-year-olds and are encouraging families to register their children now as they anticipate doses being available for this group by early November.

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U.S. border town welcomes back fully vaccinated B.C. visitors, but travel hurdles remain –



Businesses in northern Washington state are welcoming back Canadian customers once the United States reopens its land borders, but a B.C. mayor says travellers may face hurdles.

The U.S. is allowing fully vaccinated travellers from Canada to enter the United States by air, land and ferry for non-essential travel starting Nov. 8.

Those entering the U.S. at a land border will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. Land travellers do not need to show a negative COVID-19 test, a requirement for air travellers. 

Karen Frisbie, Chamber of Commerce president in Oroville, Wash. — a town of more than 19,000 residents bordering Osoyoos in B.C.’s South Okanagan — says her community has been quiet without Canadians travelling south to shop during the pandemic.

“We definitely miss our Canadian neighbours and look forward to having them back,” Frisbie said Friday to host Chris Walker on CBC’s Daybreak South.

Many border towns in Washington state struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing Canadians from travelling across the border. The city of Blaine, for instance, said last August their finances were hit hard after several months without Canadian visitors.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff says she can feel the happiness of Canadians who know they’ll be able to visit Oroville.

“A lot of the people in Osoyoos love to go to Oroville — they have their special places [and] restaurants [in Oroville], and they love to go down there for American milk and cheese and beer, and gas sometimes,” McKortoff said on Daybreak South.

But the mayor also strikes a cautious note.

“You still need a PCR test to come back to Canada,” she said, referring to a type of molecular testing. Molecular COVID-19 tests involve methods such a nose swab, or providing a saliva sample.

“You’re not going to go down there for a day, and [you] have to worry about having a PCR test in order to get back through the border.”

Canada still requires arriving travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their entry to Canada, regardless of their point of entry — but labs could take more than 72 hours to issue a test result.

“We need to wait until all of those things have been solved a little bit better before people will even take the chance to go across,” McKortoff said.

LISTEN |  Karen Frisbie and Sue McKortoff share their hopes and concerns about U.S. border reopening to Canadians:

Daybreak South5:24What will opening the U.S. border to Canadians mean to border communities? We go to Oroville, Washington and Osoyoos to hear more about the impacts on those cities.

What will opening the U.S. border to Canadians mean to border communities? We go to Oroville, Washington and Osoyoos to hear more about the impacts on those cities. 5:24

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