Toronto reports 638 new COVID-19 cases as Ontario's first doses of vaccine administered
Meanwhile, Toronto saw 14 COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend
Toronto reported 638 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday as Ontario's first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were administered in the city today.
This comes as the province reported an additional 1,940 cases of the virus — 1,219 of which are attributed to Toronto and its surrounding regions of York and Peel.
Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker at the Rekai Centre in Toronto, sat down for her first dose of the vaccine shortly before 12 p.m.
The shot was administered at a site in the University Health Network, a system of hospitals and health-care facilities throughout the city. The exact location is being withheld for security reasons, the province says.
Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said about 70 per cent of the city's population will need to be vaccinated to "make the kind of difference to make life feel more normal."
While health-care workers and the city's vulnerable populations will be initially prioritized, de Villa said she hopes all residents will receive the vaccine when the opportunity comes.
"After so long, it is a great thing that our hopes about vaccination have turned into justifiable expectations," she said.
"Finally it's COVID-19 on the defensive and not us."
Toronto saw 14 COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend
Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor John Tory highlighted a "particularly appalling" example of non-compliance that took place in city this past weekend after a "bar-type scene" was reported at a building along Queen Street West.
Tory said police were refused entry for an extended period of time when they arrived on scene.
When they finally got inside, Tory says officers discovered a crowd scene, with no one wearing masks.
"I would like to think this was an isolated incident that will be dealt with the court system, where I can only hope that the full weight of the law is applied ot this irresponsible behaviour," Tory said.
According to Toronto Fire Chief and head of emergency management Matthew Pegg, this was one of six instances this weekend in which a non-essential business was found to be in violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules. A total of six charges were laid as a result.
Tory said 14 people died of COVID-19 in the city over the weekend.
"Fourteen people died — fathers, mothers, grandparents," he said at Monday's news conference.
The answer to getting that number down to zero, Tory said, "rests with us ... collectively, all of us, without exception."
"This will become even more crucial over the holiday period," he added.
Other notable COVID-19 figures reported in Toronto on Monday include:
- 288 people currently in hospital.
- 74 people currently in intensive care.
9 TDSB schools closed until new year
Meanwhile, the Toronto District School Board announced Sunday evening that nine schools will be closed until Jan. 4, 2021, because of outbreaks of COVID-19.
Among those schools are Thorncliffe Park Public School and Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy in East York. Both were were set to re-open Monday after they were closed earlier this month.
The figure also includes Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, which was closed last week after 14 students tested positive for the illness. That number is now up to 18, according to the board.
The six other schools are:
- City Adult Learning Centre.
- Humewood Community School.
- R H McGregor Elementary School.
- David Lewis Public School.
- Grenoble Public School.
- Oakridge Junior Public School.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) said Monday that three of its schools — St. Aidan Catholic School, All Saints Catholic School and St. Conrad Catholic School — will also be closed for this week due to outbreaks of the virus.
Asked on Monday how the city plans to monitor cases once schools are let out for the holidays, de Villa said it starts with case management and investigating the level of risk associated with each positive case among school-age children.
And as "challenging as it is," de Villa said she hopes families will follow the COVID-19 protocols over the holiday season to reduce the risk of outbreaks once in-person learning resumes after winter break.
But, she said, there continues to be an "active conversation" among city health officials and the school board to determine whether or not there will need to be wider school closures in the new year.