March 1, 2021, the government outlined $14.3 million in ongoing funding that is being used to support approximately 300 Seniors Active Living Centres in 2020-21. This funding will help centres deliver virtual initiatives to keep seniors safe and socially connected during COVID-19.
Also this afternoon, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, provided an update on COVID-19 trends in the province.
Earlier, the government announced an additional $150 million to help municipal transit systems address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and almost $10 million to help large municipalities operate more efficiently through modernization and digital service delivery.
On Friday afternoon, the Ontario government announced the movement of nine public health regions to new levels of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework. This announcement included the activation of the “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay District Health Unit and Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, to move both regions immediately to Grey-Lockdown. The re-classification came into effect today, March 1, at 12:01 a.m.
Funding for Seniors Active Living Centres
This afternoon, the government provided an update on the $14.3 million in funding for 2020-21, which is being used to support nearly 300 Seniors Active Living Centres in the delivery of virtual initiatives to keep seniors connected during COVID-19.
Projects supported by this year’s funding include:
- Seniors’ Centre Without Walls – interactive telephone-based group programming for socially isolated seniors and people with disabilities;
- Virtual physical fitness programming;
- Online craft programs and delivery of pre-made craft kits;
- Meal programs ranging from curbside pickup to door-to-door deliveries; and
- Online education programs including tax clinics, technology assistance, health and wellness, and COVID-19 information.
Update on Provincial COVID-19 Trends
This afternoon, Dr. Williams and Dr. Yaffe provided an update on provincial COVID-19 trends. Key points include:
- This seven-day average number of new daily cases is 1,045, which is down slightly from last week’s average of 1,051.
- The seven-day average of daily deaths is approximately 24, which is unchanged from last week.
- There are 646 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 280 in intensive care, compared to 739 and 293, respectively last week.
- The average percent positivity over the last seven days is 2.7%, up slightly from last week’s average of 2.6%.
- To date, 400 variant cases have been confirmed in Ontario, 390 of which are the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in the U.K.).
Dr. Williams and Dr. Yaffe also responded to questions from media, including a question on whether Ontario would consider prioritizing the administration of first doses of mRNA vaccines (e.g. Pfizer and Moderna), rather than the completion of both doses for priority populations. In response, Dr. Yaffe confirmed that this issue is being discussed at federal/provincial/territorial meetings of chief medical officers. She added that Ontario is “open to seeing evidence from other jurisdictions” that have opted to prioritize the first doses of these vaccines for a wider population. According to Dr. Yaffe, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to make a recommendation on the issue this week.
Re-Classification of Public Health Units Under COVID-19 Response Framework
On Friday, the government announced the re-classification of the following nine public health units (PHUs) at new levels of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework:
- Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit;
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
- Niagara Region Public Health.
- Chatham-Kent Public Health;
- Middlesex-London Health Unit;
- Southwestern Public Health.
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Huron Perth Public Health.
- Grey-Bruce Health Unit.
Friday’s re-classification was made in consultation with Dr. Williams and local medical officers of health, and based on the trends of key public health indicators.
This is the first time since the announcement of the revised COVID-19 Response Framework that Ontario has activated the “emergency brake” measure, in order to move a region immediately into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission. This step was taken in the Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka regions due to rapidly worsening public health trends. The decision in Simcoe-Muskoka was also based on the observation of a high proportion of variant cases.