Ontario sees 3,436 new COVID-19 cases as vaccine appointments open to 18+ in hot spots

Ontario reported another 3,436 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as eligibility for vaccines opened to all residents aged 18 and older in hot-spot areas.

Adults living in the 114 specific postal codes designated as hot spots were able to start reserving appointments as of this morning, though some on social media reported long wait times or technical difficulties with the provincial booking website.

The province’s full list of hot spots can be found here.

Minutes after bookings opened at 8 a.m. ET, the site showed an estimated wait of more than an hour, with tens of thousands of users in the queue.

This week and next, the province will send half of its vaccine supply to the hot spots, based partially on recommendations from the government’s science advisers.

Adults in some hot-spot neighbourhoods had already been able to make vaccine appointments, but not through the province’s online booking portal.

Eligibility expands further across Ontario on Thursday, when online bookings through the government portal open up to residents aged 50 and over. People with high-risk health conditions and some groups of people who can’t work from home will also become eligible.

Ontario has said it expects everyone aged 18 and over to be able to book a vaccine by the end of May.

Public health units collectively administered 53,880 doses of vaccines yesterday, the fewest on a single day since April 5. The drop may in part be due to pharmacies running out of available AstraZeneca doses, which was expected to happen over the weekend.

Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force said last week that while the federal government is working to secure more AstraZeneca doses, it is still not clear when or how many may actually arrive in the province.

As of 8 p.m. Sunday, a total of 5,378,249 people had had at least one dose, while 375,905 had gotten both shots.

Ontario has used just over 95 per cent of the 5,644,975 doses of vaccines it has received to date. 

Millions more doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are scheduled to arrive throughout May, including 786,240 this week.

The province also anticipates some percentage of 300,000 doses the federal government is expecting from Johnson & Johnson to land in the coming weeks. Members of the task force said they haven’t yet heard exactly how much of the single-dose vaccine Ontario will get, but based on a per capita allocation it should be about 116,000. 

The anticipated quickening of the immunization campaign comes as many of the province’s hospitals face overwhelming demand for critical care of COVID-19 patients. 

As of yesterday, there were 889 people with COVID-related illness being treated in intensive care units, according to the Ministry of Health, and 611 people were on ventilators. 

Critical Care Services Ontario, a government agency that does a daily tally of patients in critical care, said that 54 more people with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs yesterday. Patients with the illness are spending on average 11.4 days in intensive care, the agency reported, and their median age is currently about 62.

The overall number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dropped to 1,925 from 1,961, but the ministry said that about 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data for its daily census. That number is likely to rise again as “compliance increases,” the ministry said.

WATCH | Ontario ICUs have reached a breaking point, front-line health professionals say:

There are now 900 patients in intensive care units in Ontario, a figure that experts have called the breaking point for capacity. Medical staff are taking extraordinary measures to reduce the pressure on ICUs as they deal with a possible strike of Ornge paramedics. 2:15

16 more COVID-linked deaths

The new cases in today’s provincial report include:

  • 985 in Toronto
  • 714 in Peel Region
  • 351 in York Region
  • 271 in Durham Region
  • 194 in Hamilton
  • 159 in Halton Region
  • 130 in Ottawa
  • 127 Niagara Region
  • 106 in Waterloo Region
  • 101 in Simcoe Muskoka

The infections come as labs completed 33,179 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and Public Health Ontario logged a provincewide positivity rate of 9.7 per cent. Reported testing levels have commonly been lowest on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the pandemic. 

While daily positivity rates fluctuate based in part on how many tests are processed, the seven-day average has been in decline for several consecutive days. 

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of daily cases dropped to 3,577. That indicator has been trending downward since its peak at 4,370 on April 17.

Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table said that as of the end of April, about 93 per cent of all new infections in the province were caused by variants of concern, especially the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The Ministry of Health also reported a further 16 deaths of people with COVID-19, pushing the official toll to 8,118. The seven-day average of deaths stands at 26.1, down from the third-wave high of nearly 30. 

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