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COVID-19: Here's the situation in the Sault this week

Delta variant confirmed in the Sault this week
20200526-APH summer stock-DT-03
Algoma Public Health. Darren Taylor/SooToday

New daily cases in the province this week ranged between 411 and 744.

The Ontario government is moving the province into Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen today, a few days ahead of schedule.

Step 1 reopening plans are focused on low-risk outdoor activities with small crowds. It will also permit more limited indoor settings to be open, all with restrictions in place.

In consultation with the chief medical officer of health, the Ontario government has amended Step 1 to also permit indoor religious services, rites and ceremonies, including wedding and funeral services limited to 15 per cent capacity.

Click here to see exactly what city facilities are opened and closed as enter Stage 1.

Wondering what is open at the Station Mall as the province reopens? Click here.

Here's the latest on new cases in Algoma

Over the last week, APH has reported three new case of COVID-19.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers from Algoma Public Health, updated at 1:30 p.m. yesterday:

  • 147,962 tested
  • 396 confirmed 
  • 6 (1)* active cases
  • 2 (2)* currently hospitalized
  • 390 resolved
  • 6 deceased
  • 106 cases screened positive for variants of concern

This week, the health unit added the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of concern, first detected in India, to its list of variants of concern found in the region.

Algoma Public Health is reporting that recent results from additional laboratory testing have detected the following VOCs in Algoma:

  • B.1.1.7 (Alpha), first detected in the UK
  • B.1.617.2 (Delta), first detected in India
  • P.1 (Gamma), first detected in Brazil

According to data on howsmyflattening.ca, a University of Toronto-led website which collects and analyzes data from Ontario's COVID-19 cases, 62 per cent of ICU beds in Algoma Public Health's jurisdiction are currently occupied, one of which is a COVID-19 patient.

The data also describes the community risk level for COVID-19 in our region as 'low.'

Total confirmed cases by area of residence: 

  • 310 in Sault Ste. Marie and area
  • 51 in central and east Algoma
  • 31 in Elliot Lake and area
  • 4 in north Algoma

Comparatively, in Chippewa County, which covers Sault Ste. Marie Mich. and surrounding area, the COVID-19 data as of Wednesday states:

  • 2,500 cumulative positives
  • 2,416 cumulative recovered
  • 33 deaths
  • 0 cases currently hospitalized

Here's the latest on COVID-19 vaccinations in Algoma

Algoma Public Health is continuing in phase two of Ontario's 3 Phase Vaccine Distribution Program. As of 9:40 a.m.:

  • 82,605 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered
  • 58,135 people have received their first dose only (40.6 per cent of youth 12-17 have received at least one dose and 71.3 per cent of the adult population (18+) have received at least one dose)
  • 12,235 people are fully vaccinated (12 per cent of eligible population)
  • 70,370 people have received at least one dose (61.5 per cent of the population or 69.3 per cent of the eligible population)

It's now mandatory for long-term care home homes to have COVID-19 vaccine policies

The Ontario government said it is mandating that long-term care (LTC) homes should have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff and to set out the minimum requirements that need to be included in these policies.

Staff members will be asked to provide proof of vaccination of each dose, provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated; or participate in an educational program about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not being vaccinated.

The province says long-term care homes must have their COVID-19 staff immunization policies fully implemented by July 1.

Trudeau says government looking at plan for return of international tourists

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government plans to take a phased approach to welcoming back international visitors as pandemic restrictions loosen.

Trudeau says he expects high interest from overseas travellers who wish to come to Canada because of vaccination uptake rates and case counts that are better than peer countries.

He says anyone coming to Canada needs to be fully vaccinated before arriving because the country can't risk another wave of COVID-19.

Feds to lift 14-day quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers

A federal government source says fully vaccinated Canadian travellers will no longer need to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arrivinf home. The change is expected to go into effect in early July.

It will apply to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As Canada debates its plan to reopen the border, a union representing 9,000 Canadian Border Service Agency personnel says Canada-U.S. border reopening plans are in jeopardy as their workers prepare for strike votes starting next week.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says 5,500 border services officers, 2,000 headquarters staff and other workers at Canada Post facilities and in inland enforcement jobs will begin strike votes on June 16 and continue them throughout the month.

Sault Airport still feeling impacts of COVID-19

The Sault Airport says 1,616 passengers passed through the airport in May 2021, a significant decrease from the 17,364 reported at pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Drastic reductions in flight options at the Sault Airport continue as Bearskin Airlines offers up to two flights Sunday and up to four daily flights Monday to Friday, and Air Canada Express is offering one flight daily.

Meanwhile, Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees as it prepares for an increase in demand for flights, while also extending the deadline for COVID-19 refunds.

The airline said the employees being recalled will include various roles, including flight attendants, and will be brought back in stages in June and July.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline moved to recall the workers because it is seeing vaccinations increase, COVID-19 cases decline and governments ease restrictions.

He said the recall is part of its efforts to rebuild the airline's network and meet the expected demand for travel.

School boards likely to hold virtual grad ceremonies this year

Local school boards and post-secondary institutions are preparing graduation ceremonies for their students with COVID precautions in mind. The Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board has said it is planning "meaningful, dignified, and personalized virtual graduation masses and ceremonies for all Grade 8 and Grade 12 students."

Algoma District School Board also confirmed today it will be going the virtual ceremony route.

Sault College will be showcasing its grads on its graduate website later in June. Algoma University will be holding a virtual ceremony for its grads Saturday, along with the formal installation of Mario Turco as chancellor.

Sault employment numbers expected to rise with easing of COVID-19 restrictions, arrival of summer

There is a consistent demand in Sault Ste. Marie for health care workers as well as essential retail and delivery workers according to May 2021 data released Friday by the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation (AWIC).  

Because the Sault is now into the summer months (typically a period of higher employment) and with COVID restrictions scheduled to ease up, it is hoped there will be a great deal of demand for local businesses and the unemployment rate should fall in the coming months, AWIC says.

Temporary wage increase for support workers extended until August

Personal support workers (PSWs) will see their temporary wage increase extended to Aug. 23, 2021.

 

The wage increase was extended on March 18 and was slated to expire on June 30. It will now run until Aug. 23 when it will be re-evaluated by the provincial government.

One charged under Reopening Act during last weekend's Bellevue Park rally

Police have charged one person under the Reopening Ontario Act following a rally at Bellevue Park this past weekend. An organizer from Springwater Township was charged.

Police say investigation is continuing.

Ontario resumes road tests for driver's license applicants on Monday

The province announced on Wednesday it will be resuming in-person road tests starting Monday, June 14 at DriveTest centres across Ontario. 

In anticipation of a bottleneck of appointment bookings resulting in the backlog of road tests cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, the province will be hiring 167 additional examiners (on top of 84 announced in the fall of 2020). 

Province unlikely to balance budget by 2030 despite post-pandemic growth, report says

Ontario's fiscal watchdog says the province's economy will rebound over the next two years but the government is unlikely to reach its goal of a balanced budget by the start of the next decade.

The Financial Accountability Office released a report on the province's spring economic and budget outlook today, assessing the financial picture as the province starts to emerge from the pandemic.

If COVID-19 vaccine distribution goes ahead as planned and the pandemic subsides, the report projects real gross domestic product will rise by 5.8 per cent this year and four per cent next year. 

Splash pad, Canal, Fort St. Joseph all reopening with social distancing measures in place

The Sault's one and only splash pad reopened for the season yesterday, and the city reminded residents to practice physical distancing and avoid overcrowding the splash pad in order to adhere to public health measures.

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site and Fort St. Joseph are both scheduled to open for the 2021 season next week, stated a news release issued by Parks Canada.

Visitors are reminded to follow all public health guidelines and protocols.

Feds, province announce funding for Prince Township COVID infrastructure updates

Prince Township has been allotted $100,000 in funding – $80,000 from the federal government and $20,000 from the Ontario government – for municipal COVID infrastructure renovations and updates.