New COVID-19 cases in the province this week ranged between a low of 958 and today's high of 1250.
This morning, Health Canada approved Johnson and Johnson's vaccine against COVID-19. Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, with options to buy another 28 million. This is the fourth vaccine to be approved in Canada and the first and only one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose.
Fourth area death reported by Algoma Public Health this week
On Monday, the health united reported the area's fourth COVID-related death. It was later confirmed that the death took place at. St Joseph's General Hospital in Elliot Lake.
Also on Monday, the North Shore Health Network's (NSHN) Blind River site confirmed that a staff member tested positive for the virus. NSHN has advised that this is the first case involving an employee, and COVID restrictions will remain unchanged at the hospital.
APH reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday in the Elliot Lake area. On Thursday evening, another positive case was confirmed in the Sault area, linked to a March 1 flight from Montreal to Toronto and Toronto to the Sault.
Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers from Algoma Public Health, updated at 1:55 p.m.:
- 100,955 tested
- 200 confirmed
- 5 active case
- 1 currently hospitalized
- 195 resolved
- 4 deceased
According to data on howsmyflattening.ca, a University of Toronto-led website which collects and analyzes data from Ontario's COVID-19 cases, 64 per cent of ICU beds in Algoma Public Health's jurisdiction are currently occupied, and one COVID patient is in the ICU in the region.
There are no active cases in non-Algoma residents temporarily in the region.
The data also describes the community risk level for COVID-19 in our region as 'very low.'
Total confirmed cases by area of residence:
- 147 in Sault Ste. Marie and area
- 35 in central and east Algoma
- 12 in Elliot Lake and area
- 3 in north Algoma
Comparatively, in Chippewa County, which covers Sault Ste. Marie Mich. and surrounding area, the COVID-19 data as of Tuesday states:
- 1,767 cumulative positives
- 1,693 cumulative recovered
- 27 deaths
- 0 cases currently hospitalized
In terms of vaccinations, efforts are continuing in Chippewa County, with the health department now advising those 50 or older in the district that they will be eligible to receive vaccinations beginning on March 22.
Vaccination process continues in Algoma as second doses get administered this week
Long-term care home residents and First Nations elder care lodges are receiving their second doses of the vaccine while long-term care staff, essential caregivers and other high priority health care workers begin receiving their first doses this week.
Once first doses have been provided to all staff, essential caregivers and residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes, APH will be working with partners to make vaccines available to the remainder of Phase One populations, including adults over the age of 80.
Read more about APH's vaccine plans here.
Batchewana First Nation elders registered to take the COVID-19 vaccine received doses of the Pfizer vaccine at Rankin Arena on Thursday.
Delivery of the vaccine arrived at Batchewana First Nation approximately two weeks ago, first and second doses having already been administered at the community’s 10-unit Elders Complex and to other elders within the Home and Community Care program.
Read more about Thursday's vaccination clinic here.
Porter pushes back flight restart date
Porter Airlines is again pushing back the date of its plan to resume flights. The plan is to start offering service on May 19.
Initially, the airline planned to renew service on March 29, which would have been just over one year since it first suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other airline news, Air Canada has announced it will be making Jazz the sole operator of Air Canada Express flights. The airline says it is consolidating its regional flying with Jazz due to the ongoing pandemic, and the need to reduce costs.
Local doctors make new COVID-19 contact tracing app
A group of Sault Ste. Marie doctors, with the help of a local information technology expert, has launched a new COVID-19 contact tracing app for cell phones called CommunityPass.
The app was introduced into the community last week. You can read more about it here.
City receives additional pandemic relief
The City of Sault Ste. Marie will receive an additional $1,176,131 in government funding to help address the financial impacts on its transit system caused by the pandemic, local MPP Ross Romano announced in a media release issued on Tuesday.
The latest instalment of this Safe Restart Agreement funding brings the total amount in Sault Ste. Marie over $3.9 million.
The City also received $1,050,639 in provincial funding to help with ongoing COVID-19-related operating costs, including the delivery of critical services and keeping capital projects on track.
Reservations for Northern Ontario provincial parks has nearly doubled so far this year
COVID-19 and travel restrictions has made more people eager to explore their own backyard, so it should come as no surprise that the number of reservations at Ontario Parks in the north has nearly doubled compared to last year.
From Jan. 1 to Feb. 25, Ontario Parks reports there were 28,538 reservations for provincial parks in Northern Ontario. During the same period in 2020, there were 14,497 reservations.
Federal, provincial vaccine update
Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday that Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, since there is limited data on its effectiveness in older populations.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has cited concern about limited information on how the vaccine will work in seniors.
Otherwise, the province has extended COVID-19 vaccine intervals to up to four months after a change in federal guidance. The provincial government is hopeful this will help to speed up the vaccine rollout.
The province also expects more than two million vaccines to be available in Ontario before the end of March.
Nationally, Health Canada is preparing for the quick approval of boosters for COVID-19 variants to help slow the spread of the virus and potentially help stop it from mutating even further.
Trudeau also expects 3.5 million doses of Pfizer to arrive over the spring. In total, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the country will receive 36.5 million doses of vaccines by the end of June and 117.9 million doses by the end of September.
Wage, rent subsidies to remain in place until June 5
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on Wednesday that it will be extending pandemic wage and rent subsidies through to June 5.
Province lacked updated pandemic response plan before COVID-19 hit, commission hears
A public commission investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the province's long-term care homes was told that Ontario had no updated plan for dealing with a pandemic when it first hit last spring.
The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, denied responsibility for the shortcoming in a panel released last Thursday.
Williams said pandemic preparation drifted down the priority list because things had been relatively quiet for several years. Historically, he said, planning focused on influenza A, a situation that hadn't changed as late as 2019 when the World Health Organization said the world is not ready for a pandemic.
Meanwhile, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton told the commission that she and her ministry advocated for stronger measures than what the government was willing to putin place, and earlier than they were willing to act.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Fullerton should have made her concerns public when she became aware of the dangers of the novel coronavirus.
Premiers, territorial leaders call for Canada Health Transfer payments to rise to meet mounting costs
All of Canada's provincial and territorial leaders came together on Thursday to call on the federal government to increase the amount of the Canada Health Transfer to meet continually rising costs.
The leaders called on the federal government to increase transfer payments to 35 per cent from 22 per cent and lessen the burden on the provinces and territories, as well as build in a yearly “accelerator” of five per cent to cover cost increases.
Premier Doug Ford said Ontario spends $76,000 a year for each person in long-term care, but under its latest funding proposal, the federal government proposes to provide just $2,500 per person.
For Ontario, a Canada Health Transfer of 35 per cent would translate into more than $10 billion in additional health care funds.
Michigan Senator asks Biden for clarification on U.S.-Canada land border restrictions
United States Senator Gary Peters has issued a request to President Biden for clarification regarding land border crossing restrictions and protocols.
The Canadian government announced earlier this month that starting on Feb. 15 anyone arriving in Canada by land will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken in the United States within 72 hours before arrival. Exceptions to these regulations include students and essential workers such as healthcare professionals and truck drivers.
Read the full letter addressed to President Biden here.
Curious about this year's Brier in the age of COVID?
The Sault's Team Brad Jacobs is representing Northern Ontario at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary.
This year's Brier is being played in a bubble, with strict protocols in place for the event, including regular COVID screening.
Read more about how this year's event is operating amid a global pandemic here.
One year of COVID-19 is approaching. What have you learned?
As we approach the one year anniversary of COVID-19, we at SooToday find ourselves reflecting on what the last year has meant for us personally.
And, with a little hope, maybe some of the lessons we've learned during COVID-19, we will carry on with us post-pandemic, making us a better and more united society.
So SooToday wants to know, what life lessons have learned over the last year?
Email your responses for publication to email@example.com.