Ontario sets new vaccination record, reports fewer than 400 new COVID-19 cases

By Michael Ranger

Ontario is reporting 384 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths on Wednesday.

There were nearly 28,100 tests completed in the last 24-hour period.

The province is reporting a test positivity rate of 1.5 per cent, down from 2 per cent one week ago. It is the lowest positivity rate reported since Oct. 3.

Locally, there are 71 new cases in Waterloo, 60 in Peel, 54 in Toronto, 23 in Middlesex-London and 21 in Ottawa. It marks the fewest new cases in Toronto since early September.

There were another 722 resolved cases, dropping the active case count once again. Resolved cases have outnumbered new infections each day since mid-April.

The province’s active case count has dropped below 5,000 for the first time since Oct. 1.

The province reported 296 cases and 13 deaths on Tuesday.

The rolling seven-day average has dropped to 475, reaching the lowest point since late September.

There are now 438 people hospitalized in the province with 377 in the ICU. Hospitalizations are down nearly 150 since one week ago and ICU numbers have dropped nearly 100 in the last week.

Graphics courtesy of @jkwan_md

There were 202,984 vaccine doses administered in the last 24-hour period.

As of 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, 11,732,414 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and 73.7 per cent of Ontarians over the age of 12 have received at least one dose, while 17 per cent of residents are now fully vaccinated.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted on Wednesday morning that the province had set a new record for daily vaccines administered by surpassing 200,000 for the first time.

Ontarians continue to flood the province’s booking portal, and line up outside pop-up clinics, in hopes of securing a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Toronto opened up 30,000 more appointments Wednesday morning for the Moderna vaccine, but many reported on social media that the appointments were quickly snatched up when the booking opened.

Many have expressed frustration at their inability to book vaccinations after the province accelerated second doses in areas where the Delta variant is spreading.

Graphics courtesy of @jkwan_md

Before Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan can begin on July 2, 70 per cent of Ontario adults need to have received at least one dose, and 20 per cent need to have received both doses. The province has already surpassed the first vaccination threshold and is on pace to reach 80 per cent by early July.

Based on current daily vaccinations, Ontario is on pace to meet the 20 per cent fully vaccinated threshold by the week of June 21.

Ontario’s interprovincial borders with Quebec and Manitoba have now fully reopened.

Travel between the regions was limited to essential reasons such as health care services, work and custody or compassionate grounds like attending a funeral. The restrictions also allowed law enforcement to stop and question people about their reasons for entering Ontario.

Waterloo Region leads province for new COVID infections as Delta variant cases rise

A region in southwestern Ontario reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the province on Wednesday, with local health officials saying an extremely transmissible variant of the virus was likely behind a recent surge in infections.

Waterloo Region recorded 71 new infections, surpassing the 60 reported in Peel Region and 54 in Toronto.

Local officials said the majority of cases are associated with close contacts and social gatherings, and area politicians called on the provincial government to help.

“We need help to put this fire out IMMEDIATELY,” NDP legislator Catherine Fife, who represents Waterloo, wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

Fife and Kitchener Centre legislator Laura Mae Lindo wrote to the premier and health minister earlier this week asking for support. They raised concerns about infections outpacing more densely populated areas of the province and said their region hasn’t received an equitable allotment of vaccine doses.

“Constituents remain concerned that our region continues to be shortchanged, exacerbating our situation locally,” they wrote.

Ontario’s overall COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been declining in recent weeks, but Waterloo’s figures appear to be moving upward.

The region, which includes the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, reported 494 active cases as of Wednesday afternoon. Local officials have also noted an increase in hospitalizations and intensive care admissions.

The region’s public health unit said the highly contagious Delta variant is behind the pattern.

“We are concerned that our trends are not improving as they are in other communities in Ontario because of the Delta variant,” Dr. Julie Emili, associate medical officer of health, said in a community presentation Friday.

As of Wednesday, there were 32 confirmed cases of the variant in Waterloo Region – the third-highest count in the province, after Peel and Toronto.

Provincial health officials have noted, however, that the process of confirming Delta variant cases is slow and cases may actually be higher.

An outbreak among homeless people in a congregate setting amounted to 87 cases as of Tuesday, Waterloo said. Emili said that particular outbreak had seen “a large number of cases, over a short period of time when compared to other outbreaks.”

Ontario’s science advisors have said the Delta variant is about 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which drove the punishing third wave of infections this spring. People with one vaccine dose are also less protected against the Delta variant.

The variant has also been linked to a dramatic spike in cases in the northeastern Porcupine Health Unit, the only region that didn’t lift health restrictions on businesses and gatherings last week as it battles the surge.

The province designated Waterloo Region as a Delta hot spot last week, prioritizing people there for accelerated second vaccine doses. However, the region warned that those requesting a new second-dose date might be in for a long wait.

“Depending on the volume of requests and vaccine supply, it may take 2-4 weeks to be contacted about an earlier second-dose appointment,” a Tuesday news release said. “Please be patient.”

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