Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Wednesday:
Doug Ford calls Pfizer vaccine approval ‘phenomenal news’
Premier Doug Ford called Health Canada’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine “phenomenal news.”
“As soon as vaccines arrive on Ontario soil, we will be ready to deliver and administer them,” Ford said.
“Friends, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter.”
Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park Public School to stay closed until Monday
Three teachers walked out on Thursday but the board said their classes are being covered by other non-core staff in the school.
The TDSB announced last week it was closing the school until today, but officials announced an extension until Monday pending the outcome of a Toronto Public Health investigation.
Toronto teachers call for schools to stay closed for 2 weeks after New Year’s
Toronto teachers and education workers are calling on the provincial government to close schools in the city for two weeks following New Year’s Day.
“We are calling on Toronto Public Health and the provincial government to move all Toronto schools to online learning beginning Jan. 4, for at least the first two weeks after New Years’ Day, in order to ensure schools do not contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the post-holiday period,” an open letter issued Wednesday read.
The group is also calling for “regular, ongoing” asymptomatic testing at all TDSB schools.
Toronto church files constitutional challenge over coronavirus-related restrictions
A church in Toronto’s northeast corner has filed a constitutional challenge over Ontario’s COVID-19 health regulations.
The Toronto International Celebration Church says in court documents that it intends to question the constitutional validity of the Reopening Ontario Act.
Markham mayor calls on province to consider other measures before lockdown
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti is calling on the provincial government to consider other measures if they are contemplating putting York Region into a lockdown.
“These measures include switching big box retailers and shopping centres to curbside pickup only along with capacity restrictions in grocery stores,” Scarpitti said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“Restaurants and smaller retailers would continue to operate under current restrictions.”
Scarpitti said modelling data has concluded there would be “minimal value” to move York Region into lockdown.
On Tuesday, hospital CEOs in York said they have reached a “tipping point” in coronavirus admissions and added that they are concerned that the trend could impact access to other health care.
“As we continue on in this second wave, I urge Markham businesses to adhere to new protocols and ask residents to continue practicing physical distancing, wearing masks and adhering to public health protocols,” Scarpitti said.
Toronto buses join battle to make COVID-19 a fair fight with mobile testing
Through the pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that many areas of Toronto don’t have the same access to testing as others, which is why the city is attempting a new mobile approach with buses.
The midsections of six decommissioned TTC buses have seen the seats removed and swapped with the various tools of the trade used for coronavirus testing.
TTC not offering free service on New Year’s Eve
The TTC will not be offering free service this New Year’s Eve.
TTC spokesperson Stuart Green tweeted that “given current restrictions, partying is not an appropriate thing to encourage.”
Status of cases in the GTA
Ontario reported a total of 1,890 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday.
- 517 were in Toronto
- 471 were in Peel Region
- 187 were in York Region
- 75 were in Durham Region
- 96 were in Halton Region
Ontario reports 1,890 new coronavirus cases, 28 more deaths
Ontario reported 1,890 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 132,800.
The death toll in the province has risen to 3,836 as 28 more deaths were reported.
Resolved cases increased by 1,924 from the previous day. The government said 48,546 tests were processed in the last 24 hours.
Ontario long-term care homes
According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there have been 2,341 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario which is an increase of 15 deaths.
There are 115 current outbreaks in homes, a decrease of one from the previous day.
Ontario child care centres and schools
Government figures show there have been a total of 5,919 school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario — 3,966 among students and 865 among staff (1,088 individuals were not identified). This is an increase of 207 more cases over a 24-hour period.
There have been a total of 986 confirmed cases within child care centres and homes — an increase of 42 (26 child cases and 16 staff cases.)
— With files from Matthew Bingley and The Canadian Press