‘That’s the power of vaccines’: COVID-19 positivity rate across Toronto LTC homes falls to 0.6 percent

By Lucas Casaletto, Mark Douglas

Toronto’s top doctor calls it extremely good news: an extremely low COVID-19 positivity rate in long-term care homes across the City.

At Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, Toronto mayor John Tory said the weekly positivity rate was just under 11 percent during early November but dropped to 0.6 percent by the week of February 7.

The City’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa says the numbers show “the power of vaccines” but she says it’s not time yet to ease up on visiting restrictions in long-term care homes, even for people with both their doses.

“Certainly, vaccines have made a significant difference but I don’t think that takes away from the many practices infection prevention and control practices and all the efforts that have been put into reducing the potential for transmission of COVID-19 within long-term care homes,” de Villa said.

But de Villa says vaccines are not the one and the only factor the rate has become so low.

RELATED: Mass vaccination clinics get ready to open in Peel, Toronto as supply builds

Toronto’s top doctor says a concerted effort will still be needed to get us back to the life we knew before COVID-19 was part of our vocabulary.

But even with that new low positivity rate, de Villa is not ready to say it’ll soon be time to go back to less restrictive visits for the seniors living in these homes.

Toronto Public Health says that of Monday, only 15 long-term care homes in the City had active outbreaks.

“We’re taking steps that will allow us to make future decisions with confidence, and steps to protect the ground we’ve gained because the virus still has the upper hand,” de Villa added.

Toronto announced Monday that it is continuing its preparation for the mass arrival of vaccines. The immunization task force updated the status of nine city-run clinics last week.

The cities vaccine clinics will be located at:

  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.
  • Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Rd.
  • Malvern Community Recreation Centre, 30 Sewells Rd.
  • The Hangar, 75 Carl Hall Rd.
  • Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Dr.
  • Cloverdale Mall, 250 The East Mall
  • Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave.
  • North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, 200 Eglinton Ave. W.
  • Carmine Stefano Community Centre, 3100 Weston Rd.


All locations will be ready to operate by April 1.

The City also confirmed 71 confirmed “Variant of Concern (VOC)” cases in Toronto. An additional 511 cases have screened positive and are awaiting confirmation.

Most of the VOC cases are from B.1.1.7 variant, which was first confirmed in the UK.

Meantime, starting Tuesday, the City confirmed COVID-19 vaccinations will resume for frontline paramedics at Sunnybrook and Humber River Hospital. 

Following Ontario’s priority system, the following healthcare workers will now be eligible to receive their first shots:
  • Supervised consumption site staff
  • Mobile COVID-19 testing teams
  • Community health centre staff
  • Acute care workers
  • Home and community care workers

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