As Delta spreads in Ontario, here’s what we know about the risks to kids, and how to limit them

For nine-year-old Rosalie Byrne, the first sign of trouble was an ache inside her belly. “I’m feeling yucky,” she told her parents. When Rosalie tested positive for , her parents were told she’d likely feel better in a couple of days. But her symptoms worsened; food started tasting off, the humid air smelled repulsive, and she began to cough and struggle for breath. When she started vomiting uncontrollably, her parents knew it was time to go to hospital. So at 3 a.m. on Aug. 3, Nathalie Byrne comforted her terrified, crying daughter on the bathroom floor as her husband, David, grabbed what they needed. On the drive to Lakeridge Health, the closest hospital to their Oshawa home, David realized his five-year-old son never got to say goodbye. What if he never saw Rosalie again? Back home, Nathalie wondered the same. “I was just so scared,” she said. “You don’t know what this thing is going to do.” After 17 months of living cautiously — virtual schooling, masking at playgrounds, minimizing contacts — Rosalie joined a tiny but growing number of Ontario kids who have been hospitalized with Delta, the variant now driving Canada’s fourth wave. In Canada, relatively few kids have been hospitalized since the pandemic began — 1,429 as of Aug. 13, just 1.9 per cent of total COVID hospitalizations, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Even with Delta, infected kids are far less likely to suffer sever […]

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Ontario sends vaccines for people aged 60-64 to some doctors and pharmacies

Ontario is casting a wider net with , arming a small number of family doctors with AstraZeneca shots for adults in their early 60s in addition to 327 in the Toronto, Windsor and Kingston areas. But the retired general in charge of Ontario’s vaccination task force warned demand will exceed supply for now with about 1 million people in the 60-64 age category across the province and 194,500 doses available. “Clearly we don’t have nearly enough to do all of them or even close to it yet,” Rick Hillier said Wednesday. He urged residents of the three areas not to book appointments or go on wait lists at multiple pharmacies, fearing that will “clog up the system.” Critics warned the lack of a one-stop booking system for shots across the province creates a “free-for-all” that could lead to frustration in trying to get through to pharmacies, no-shows for appointments and wasted doses. “This is exactly why we needed the online booking portal ready by March 1,” Green Leader Mike Schreiner said of the system slated to open Monday with a phone hotline. Both services are opening only to those 80 and older before moving to younger age groups. There was confusion over who, exactly, qualifies for shots in what a government news release called the “60-64” age category “as defined by year of birth between 1957-1961.” This prompted the government to release a statement to clarify eligibility, adding flexibility. & […]

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Documents reveal the Trudeau government warned Donald Trump not to cut off Canada’s supply of critical COVID-19 masks — or else

OTTAWA— Or else. New documents show the Liberals warned the U.S. that if it did, important Canadian exports to the U.S. would also be on the line. In April, Canada was caught off-guard when then-president Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order a to American exports of 3 million much-needed specialized medical masks made by 3M and other medical supplies like ventilators to Canada and Latin American markets. Publicly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would not retaliate, that his government was working to ensure the U.S. understood trade in essential medical supplies goes both ways across the border. However previously unreported emails among a massive pile of documents tabled with the Commons show senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and Canada’s ambassador in Washington, Kirsten Hillman, worked out a hardline strategy for a key phone call between chief of staff Katie Telford and “JK” — Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. It was Friday night, April 3, just hours after Trudeau had publicly reminded everyone that nurses and health professionals co-operate across the border at Windsor and Detroit. But in private, the message delivered to Kushner was punchier, not just how “highly integrated” the cross-border supply chains are. There was an implicit warning. Brian Clow, head of the Canada-U.S. policy team at the PMO, in an email to Telford said she needed to make clear to K […]

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Elections Canada lays out plan for pandemic voting

Canada is headed for an unprecedented pandemic election on Sept. 20, and with COVID-19 case numbers across the country on the rise, voters are anxious to know what their experience at the polls will look like. Chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault has laid out what Canadians can expect from Elections Canada in the 44th general election and said on Aug. 18 that election day preparations are already underway. At the polls, voters can expect mandatory masking, physical distancing, physical barriers and single-use pencils. Voters may also bring their own pens and pencils. As a result of the pandemic, Perrault said this election will be more expensive — with an estimated cost of $612 million — and take longer to call. Elections Canada expects to receive between two and five million mail-in ballots, compared to the usual 50,000 for a federal election. “If the volume of mail in ballots is high, as we’ve seen in other jurisdictions during the pandemic, it will take longer for returning officers to count those ballots.” Perrault said. The counting of mail-in ballots won’t begin until after election day and could take between two and five days to complete in some ridings.  If you’re still not sure what all of this means for you, we’ll try to address your queries here:  How strict will safety measures be at polling stations?  Perrault said the measures at polling stations, such as mandatory masking and physical di […]

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Georgian College in Barrie receives $400,000 grant to deepen equity, diversity and inclusion

Georgian College in Barrie will create a Centre for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Georgian and 11 other post-secondary institutions across Canada will share close to $4.8 million through the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Institutional Capacity-Building Grant. The objective of the grant is to help identify and overcome systemic barriers that impede the career advancement, recruitment and retention of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. “This is an excellent opportunity to augment the good work we’re already doing, reaffirm our commitment about the type of organization we are striving to be, and set a clear vision and action plan to ensure the entire Georgian community of students, employees and stakeholders feel and are being treated equitably and are being included,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, president and CEO of Georgian College. “We’re continuing to seek out and welcome diversity across the college, and this exciting project is aligned with our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in our strategic plan.” This project aims to create structural and cultural change by using equity lenses, decolonization and anti-oppression frameworks to review, assess and plan training, as well as recruit and retain faculty and staff who identify in the target groups. The centre will be focused on the staff and their exper […]

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Barrie-area residents list wait times, seniors’ issues among top health-care concerns

More doctors. Reduced wait times. Improved care for seniors. These are the issues identified by Barrie-area residents as the most pressing in the local health-care sector right now, preliminary results from an ongoing public survey being conducted by the show. The survey is being conducted in more than 600 communities across the province, and 7,400 Ontarians have responded so far. Locally, 387 Barrie and Muskoka District-area residents have participated. Twenty-five per cent identified seniors’ health, including home and long-term care, as the top priority for the sector. Another 25 per cent listed reduced wait times as being of the highest urgency, while 20 per cent relayed the need for more doctors as the greatest need. Residents were also asked for input on the “single most important thing that can be done to improve health-care services in your community today,” to which 41 per cent mentioned investment to improve access to hospitals, clinics and medical facilities. Twenty-seven per cent want easier access to doctors’ appointments, Dr. Sohal Goyal, chair of the association’s local district, said. “These findings are incredibly important in helping us develop a plan to improve health care and create a more integrated and sustainable system for all Ontarians,” Goyal said. “This is a huge province, and health-care priorities here can be very different from those in other regions like Toronto. By completing this public surv […]

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Ontario reports 650 new COVID cases and nearly 200 in hospital, the most since Step 3 reopening

Ontario is reporting another 650 cases and two more deaths, released Friday morning. Ontario has administered 45,748 , with 20,386,811 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night. According to the, 10,686,526 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 82.0 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 71.9 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province says 9,700,285 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 74.4 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 65.3 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine. The province is now including new data that reflects. Ontario is warning that the new process may cause discrepancies between other hospitalization numbers being collected using a different process, and that the data may not match daily COVID-19 case counts. The province’s new data reports 426 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 64 were partially vaccinated, and 103 cases in fully vaccinated people. Again, the province warns the data may not match daily COVID case counts because records with a missing or invalid health card number can’t be linked. The seven-day average is at 518 cases daily, or 24.9 weekly per 100,000. Ontario’s seven-day average for deaths is at […]

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Some Blue Jays fans cry foul over lax COVID-19 rules at Rogers Centre

Baseball fans say they’re glad to be attending live games again, but some of them are questioning the effectiveness of provincial COVID-19 measures governing stadiums like the Rogers Centre. Some Blue Jays fans say social distancing and masking protocols aren’t being well followed at the Rogers Centre during games, creating an opportunity for the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant to spread. “I probably haven’t been in a crowd that big since COVID — I felt very uncomfortable,” said Tyler Partridge who attended a Blue Jays game two weeks ago with his wife. Partridge said they were not actively screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the gate and that a significant number of people weren’t wearing masks. He was also concerned about the lack of social distancing in his seats, though a Dedicated Blue Jays game day staff are trained to ensure fans are following health and safety protocols. “The Toronto Blue Jays worked closely with all levels of public health to ensure the Rogers Centre reopening plan provides a safe ballpark experience for Blue Jays fans, staff and players,” according to a spokesperson. Other measures include digital game tickets that include details for contact tracing purposes and a Know Before You Go email sent to every attendee 24 hours before the game. Partridge added that in many areas indoors at Rogers Centre, people weren’t maintaining proper social distance. He was also concerned that fans were be […]

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Taking it to the street: How a mobile team bringing COVID-19 vaccines to the Danforth is coaxing the last 20 per cent to get their jabs

Jim Marrelli eyes the small, friendly crew clad in bright green and blue T-shirts pushing two metal carts, one with a large grey YETI cooler, down Danforth Avenue on a sweltering August day. No, he hasn’t had his yet, he tells them. He gets off his bike, dips his hands into a pail filled with soapy water hanging off his handlebars, puts on a mask, and takes a seat on a nearby planter. Yes, he would like to get one now. But first he needs to know, “I’m not a sheep, am I?” As the province tries to avoid a fourth wave and politicians debate requiring vaccines to get into venues like bars and restaurants, all eyes are fixed on the 19 per cent of eligible Ontarians who have not yet had a first dose and what it will take to change their minds. A new mobile street team from Michael Garron Hospital and East Toronto Health Partners, is focused on what many consider the hardest part of the rollout, reaching those last people. They started on July 30 and the plan is to alternate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday along Danforth Avenue, Queen Street East and Gerrard Street, says Shabina Rangarej, Manager of COVID-19 Vaccination Program at Michael Garron Hospital. They bring about 30 doses in a cab from the hospital to Coxwell subway station before heading out to nearby businesses, and usually reach at least 18-20 people a day. “We came out of the gate running and that was great but now it’s slow and steady,” says Rangarej of the rollout. “Slow […]

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Ontario to rollout COVID-19 vaccine clinics in schools

With a fourth pandemic wave underway in Ontario — on the heels of schools reopening for a new academic year — the province has announced it will host COVID-19 vaccine clinics at or near schools this September.  The Government of Ontario said it will work with public health units and school boards to rollout vaccine clinics in the days leading up to the start of the school year, continuing for the first few weeks of school. The clinics will operate either at schools or at off-site locations nearby, and may operate before, during, or after school hours.  Clinics will target youth over age 12, their families, and education staff who have not received a first or second dose.  “As part of the last mile campaign to reach as many students and staff as possible and to keep schools as safe as possible, we are requiring school boards and public health units to roll out clinics in or close to schools,” Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in a media release announcing the rollout. “By making vaccines more accessible, and with a cautious reopening in September following the expert advice of the chief medical officer of health, we will further bolster our fight against COVID-19 and variants.” As of Aug. 15, more than 69 per cent of youth ages 12 to 17 have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 56 per cent have received a second dose. On Aug. 16, the province reported 526 new COVID-19 cases, 67 per cent of which were in unvac […]

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