The City of Hamilton has been moved to “Grey-Lockdown” as part of the Province’s COVID-19 framework. It will go into effect Monday.
Ontario made the announcement Friday (Dec. 18).
“In Hamilton, the number of cases and hospitalizations are trending upwards and further action is required to help stop the spread of the virus,” said the Province in an official statement.
“The case rate increased by 25.8 per cent, to 103.3 cases per 100,000 people and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region have more than doubled in the last two weeks. In addition, the positivity rate is well above the high alert threshold and is at 4.2 per cent.”
The Grey zone includes widescale measures and restrictions.
No indoor organized public events or social gatherings will be allowed, except with members of the same household.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, as long as physical distancing is maintained.
Food or drink establishments can only offer takeout, delivery, and drive-thru services.
Retail stores can only offer curbside pick-up and delivery.
“Essential services” will remain open, but at 50 per cent capacity.
According to data supplied by Hamilton Public Health Services (PHS) there were 86 newly confirmed cases Friday and one new death. The day before there were 162 newly confirmed cases (a new record) and four new deaths.
The total number of cases has reached 4,653, including 128 deaths.
Meanwhile, outbreaks have been declared at two of Hamilton’s long-term care facilities as well, bringing the total number of active outbreaks in those settings to 18 and 25 total active outbreaks in various settings throughout the city.
Hamilton Public Health announced Friday the city will be receiving the first shipping of the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine “in the coming weeks.”
“The doses in this shipment will be reserved for people who are at higher risk for COVID-19, as identified by the Government of Ontario,” according to public health.
The effort will be a collaboration between Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Primary Care Physicians, and Hamilton Paramedic Services to establish the city’s first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for long-term care employees.
“All of us at HHS are proud to take part in this effort. It perhaps marks the beginning of the end of this difficult period for our hospital and the communities we serve. It’s a ray of light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Bruce Squires, President, McMaster Children’s Hospital and Co-Chair of HCRT Vaccine Logistics Planning.
“Those identified to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be contacted,” said public health.
More details are expected to be rolled out next week as planning gets underway with the help of the Province.
Public health is expecting that the vaccines will become available for more people in the winter and spring of 2021 and available to everyone, free of cost, by the end of 2021.
“The news that was announced today by the Province that Hamilton would be receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is very uplifting,” said Michelle Baird, Director, Hamilton Public Health Services and Co-Chair of the HCRT Health Promotion and Immunization Working Group and Logistics Planning.
“It has come at a pivotal time in our community when we are seeing a high number of outbreaks in our congregate care settings, an unfortunate number of deaths, and rising daily case counts. We are looking forward to working with our hospital partners on getting this momentous project off the ground with hopes of having a positive impact on the health and wellness of our community.”
Premier Doug Ford is keeping Toronto and Peel Region under lockdown and says it will reveal new measures to fight the pandemic on Monday.
Ontario reported 2,290 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 40 new deaths due to the virus.
The Province said 877 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 261 in intensive care. Of those, 168 people are on ventilators.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said the province’s COVID-19 caseload is headed in the wrong direction and he’s made new recommendations for Ford’s cabinet to consider.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed Ford for not announcing new pandemic measures sooner.
“The guy drags his feet, he’s not prepared to make urgent decisions,” she said Friday. “Ford has no urgency, he doesn’t get what’s happening and I think it’s pretty clear that he has to get his act together and do something.”
Meanwhile, Ontario provided details on Friday about the 17 hospitals that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.
The facilities, which include hospitals from Windsor to Thunder Bay, Ont., will join the University Health Network in Toronto and the Ottawa Hospital in giving the vaccine to health-care workers.
The hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa began administering the shots Monday, and the government said Friday that they have given over 2,300 doses to health-care workers thus far.
The province expects to receive an additional 90,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of the month.
With files from The Canadian Press