Ontario reports 210 new COVID-19 cases as more adults now eligible for an accelerated 2nd vaccine

Ontario reported another 210 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the fewest on a single day since mid-September, as all adults in the province who got a first shot of an mRNA vaccine were able to try to book an appointment for an accelerated second dose.

More than 33% of Ontarians 12 and older have had both shots

A total of 26,771 doses of COVID-19 were administered at a one-day immunization clinic held at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on Sunday. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Ontario reported another 210 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest new daily case count since mid-September, as all adults in the province who got a first shot of an mRNA vaccine became eligible to move up their second dose.

The expanded eligibility means another 1.5 million people could get their second shots weeks ahead of the government's initial schedule.

Those who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a subsequent dose as soon as 28 days after their first. Those who had the AstraZeneca vaccine need to wait eight weeks before getting a second, and can choose to stick with AstraZeneca or opt for an mRNA vaccine instead.

The changes come as public health units collectively administered 180,369 shots yesterday, the most-ever on a Sunday.

Nearly 15 per cent of those total doses were given out at a temporary mega-clinic at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena, which saw nearly 27,000 vaccinations over the course of the day. Officials in the city called it both a North American and world record. 

More than 76 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and older have now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while about 33.4 per cent of have both shots.

Today's case count is the lowest in the province since Sept. 13, 2020, and also down from last Monday's total of 270.

The cases were confirmed through 13,071 tests, while Public Health Ontario reported a test positivity rate of 1.8 per cent, down from last week's 2.5 per cent on roughly the same number of samples.

At an infrastructure announcement in Bracebridge, Ont., Premier Ford was asked when the region would enter Step 3 of the province's reopening plan, given that case levels are as low as they were in September 2020 — when restaurants were open for indoor dining in the Muskoka region and beyond. Gyms and other indoor sports facilities were also open at the time.

"I want to get things open as quickly as possible," Ford said in response. "The only few things that aren't open are indoor dining, which is going to happen, and really outside of the casinos and strip joints, they're the only two things that aren't open now."

"Everything else seems to be moving forward, but we have to be confident about the delta variants."

The premier also added at the end of his response that gyms too were not open yet.

"We gotta get those gyms open," Ford added.

While Ontario is set to enter Step 2 of its reopening plan on June 30, indoor dining, and other indoor-based activities and venues remain closed until then.

Once the province moves into Step 3, the following will reopen:

  • Indoor dining, including buffets
  • Large indoor gatherings
  • Larger indoor religious services with increased capacity
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces
  • Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including gyms, with some restrictions
  • Theatres, cinemas, and other live performance venues
  • Indoor attractions and cultural amenities like museums and galleries
  • Casino and bingo halls
  • Strip clubs

The seven-day average of daily infections fell to 267.

In its latest update, Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimated that the delta variant of concern accounts for about 69 per cent of all new infections.

The effective reproduction number — a measure of how many other people, on average, a person with COVID-19 will go on to infect — for delta stands at .99, the table said. Any value above one would mean the variant is spreading exponentially. 

Provincial public health officials have said the reproduction number for delta will be a key indicator to watch as most of Ontario moves to Step 2 of the government's reopening plan on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, as of yesterday, there were 287 people being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units, according to the Ministry of Health. Of those patients, 191 needed a ventilator to breathe.

The ministry also recorded the deaths of three more people with COVID-19, raising the official toll to 9,129.

With files from Lucas Powers and Ali Raza