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Ontario premier to ‘take the advice’ of medical officers on whether to put Hamilton in lockdown

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WATCH: Ford says he'll take mayors, health officials advice on changes to COVID-19 measures – Mar 18, 2021

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he’ll “take the advice” of the medical officers when deciding whether Hamilton should go into another lockdown amid rising COVID-19 epidemiological data from public health.

Ford was in Hamilton on Thursday getting a tour of the new mass vaccination clinic at FirstOntario Centre.

When asked whether he would consider a lockdown for the city amid key indicators rising above the limits set with the COVID-19 response framework, the premier said he’ll wait for advice from Dr. David Williams and the local medical officers.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,553 new coronavirus cases, 15 more deaths

“We act on on that,” said Ford.

“I’ve always said from from day one, I’ve been so fortunate to have some of the greatest medical minds here in the province. I consider them the best in the world, and I’ll never waver from listening to them.”

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On Monday, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said the city’s 30 outbreaks, seven-day moving average on cases and weekly incidents per 100,000 have had  “concerning trends” in recent days.

As of Thursday, Hamilton’s weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 population checked in at 84, which is 44 above the 40 per 100,000 threshold set by the province for a move out of the ‘red’ category.

Also of concern is the percentage of positive cases among all COVID-19 tests in the city over the last seven days, which checked in 2.9 — above the province’s recommended maximum of 2.4 per cent to advance into the restrict category.

Read more: ‘God bless America’: Doug Ford reacts to report U.S. plans to send Canada 1.5M vaccine doses

Ford also touched on the city’s efforts to ramp up vaccinations and called them “absolutely amazing” particularly the booking of 9,000 appointments during the launch of the province’s online booking portal Monday.

As of Thursday, the province had booked over 400,000 appointments through the system.

Ontario is expected to see 113 large-scale clinics in 26 of 34 public health units set for mass vaccinations in the Phase 2 plan.

Hamilton public health will launch the first of its two large-scale COVID-19 vaccination clinics at FirstOntario on Monday. Rosedale arena is also being prepared for a clinic with an opening date yet to be announced.

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The FirstOntario clinic is expected to have the capacity to administer 3,000 vaccine shots per day.

Hamilton reports 60 new COVID-19 cases, four new outbreaks

Hamilton reported 60 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and four new outbreaks which include multiple cases at a hospital and a school.

The outbreak at Hamilton General’s short stay medical unit involves three patients, while the surge at Mountview elementary is tied to a student and a staff member.

Additional outbreaks on the Mountain are at Rygiel Supports for Community Living and the Elmhurst Place clinic, which each involve just a single staffer.

Outbreaks at a pair of schools were declared over on Wednesday: Orchard Park Secondary in Stoney Creek and Hillfield Strathallan College on the Mountain.

There were two others closed at seniors homes: St. Elizabeth Retirement Residence and The Meadows long-term care.

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Hamilton has 30 outbreaks as of March 18 which include 95 cases tied to 6 hospitals, 82 cases among seven shelters and eight cases at three public schools.

The city saw 55 newly screened-positive variant cases as of Thursday which puts the city’s total cases to 326. Of all cases, eight have been identified as the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the U.K.

Read more: Doug Ford says he is open to loosening some dining, gym rules in Toronto and Peel Region

The city’s two hospitals have a combined 106 patients being treated for COVID-19, 89 at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) facilities and 17 at St. Joe’s.

Active cases are up by 59 to 586 as of Thursday.

Public health says 39 per cent (239) of the city’s 614 new cases in the last 10 days involve people under the age of 29.

Halton reports 49 new COVID-19 cases, expands vaccine eligibility to 75 and over

Halton Region reported 42 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and a bump up in active cases day over day.

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Active cases went up by 18 from the 267 recorded on Wednesday to 285.

Public health says there are now 287 possible variant cases adding 26 new cases to the list on March 18.

The region has had 10,204 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Halton has 17 active outbreaks as of Thursday but only three tied to health facilities in Oakville and Halton Hills. The outbreaks, at a retirement home and LTCH in Oakville plus the Georgetown hospital, account for a combined 32 coronavirus cases.

Read more: 96% of Canadians who test positive for coronavirus aren’t using COVID Alert app properly

The hospital has had five virus-related deaths since the surge which began on Feb. 13.

Starting Friday, people 75 years and older can begin booking appointments to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines at the five regional clinics. Indigenous adults 55 and over have also been added to the next round of vaccine eligibility.

Public health says the appointments need to be booked through the Halton’s online booking system or calling 311. Bookings through the province’s new online portal is currently only for residents 80 years of age or older.

Public health had administered 40,922 COVID-19 vaccines as of Thursday. Close to 11,000 doses have been given out by mobile teams, while at least 28,000 were administered at fixed clinics and about 1,200 at community sites as of March 11.

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Niagara reports 22 new COVID-19 cases, 57 new variant cases

Niagara public health reported 22 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and a significant jump in variant cases day over day.

The region added 57 new variant cases on Thursday and has 176 total variant cases. Four of the cases have been identified as the B.1.1.7 variant. There are no confirmed cases for any of the other subtypes of the coronavirus.

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After going up 13 days in a row, Niagara’s active cases dropped by eight on Thursday to 297, with St. Catharines and Niagara Falls having the most at 56 and 52 cases respectively.

The region has had 9,071 total coronavirus cases and 373 deaths since the pandemic began.

Read more: Indigenous clinics lead off-reserve COVID-19 vaccine efforts as Ontario develops plan

Niagara’s seven-day average number of new cases per 100,000 dropped for a second day in a row from 49.04 on Wednesday to 47.16 as of March 18.

Public health says there are 24 active outbreaks with three at health facilities, a pair of retirement homes and a long-term care home.

Public health has administered close to 14,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Niagara as of March 18.

Haldimand Norfolk reports two new COVID-19 cases

Haldimand Norfolk reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday with a drop in active cases to 48.

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Both counties have accounted for 1,518 total COVID-19 cases amid the pandemic and 39 deaths.

There are no outbreaks involving health facilities as of March 18.

Read more: ‘New direction’ from Ontario puts COVID-19 vaccinations in Haldimand Norfolk on hold

More than 14,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in both counties combined as of Monday, with more than 1,600 people having completed their required two shots.
As of Thursday, individuals aged 70-74 can now sign up for the regions online waitlist. Those eligible will be contacted should extra doses become available.

A provincial order has put some COVID-19 vaccinations in Haldimand Norfolk on hold for up to four months.

On Monday, the health unit (HNHU) used social media to reveal that a “new direction” from the Ford government has changed the region’s COVID-19 vaccination schedule.

Brant County reports 10 new COVID-19 cases, outbreak at autobody shop

The Brant County Health Unit reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and a slight increase in active cases day over day to 90 total as of March 18.

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Public health revealed another outbreak at a workplace on Thursday at CSN Collision on Lynden Road in Brantford. The surge involves just a pair of workers at the autobody shop.

The region is now managing six active outbreaks in the community: at three schools, a nursing home, and two workplaces.

The county has had 1,652 coronavirus cases and 12 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began last year.

Read more: Brant County starts COVID-19 vaccine waitlist for ages 70 to 74

The region added no new variant cases on Thursday. The county has 30 variant cases with none having their lineage classified.

Public health says close to 18,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Brant County with more than 2,500 people having completed their vaccinations as of March 18.

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