As its own health advisors are warning that we are staring down a third wave that could easily be worse than the first or second, the Ontario Government is moving to loosen COVID restrictions. That has already taken place in many parts of the province and could happen in Toronto as early as February 22.
The latest modelling, presented yesterday by Dr. Steini Brown, shows that case numbers which have declined over the past month will start moving back upwards around the end of this month, due to the rapid spread of variants. Because these variants spread more easily and increase more rapidly, that could mean a frightening spike in cases in March.
Brown and other experts are warning that it is too early to loosen up on the restrictions that have been highly effective. In Toronto, the average number of new daily cases fell to 431 – still dangerously high but a great improvement over where they were a month ago.
Many health experts are proposing that the current measures remain in place at least until the impact of school re-openings can be evaluated. Classrooms in Toronto will re-open this Tuesday, February 16.
Vaccination news was also mixed this week. Due to a shortfall in deliveries by Pfizer and Moderna, Canada dropped to 38th in per capita vaccinations this week.
On the positive side, the federal government announced today that additional vaccines have been secured and that they will be arriving sooner than previously expected. The Prime Minister reiterated that all Canadians can be vaccinated by the end of September.
My office has been contacted by many residents wanting to know when they can personally expect to receive a vaccine. This is something that neither I nor the City control nor currently have any detailed information about. The federal government is in charge of the overall supply; the provincial government is in charge of distribution, including deciding who gets it in what order and how you are notified when your time comes.
It is expected that, as the supply increases, vaccinations will be provided in hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and in at least nine locations provided by the city. One of these, fortunately, is in Willowdale at Mitchell Field Community Centre. Bookings for all locations will be handled through a Provincial website.
It is expected that the Mitchell Field clinic will be open at the beginning of April, by which time I’m hoping that vaccinations will be available to older residents living independently, starting with those older than 80 and moving down five years at a time.
I will provide additional information as it becomes available to me in the coming weeks.