Here are the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Friday, December 18, 2020:
- There have been 148,967 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, an increase of 2,432 (or 1.7 per cent) from the previous day. There are 127,425 people recovered from the virus while 4,058 people have died. The number of Ontario people tested is 7,166,667 of which 78,631 have pending results.
- Canada’s coronavirus case total is 488,638. The country has 13,916 deaths from the virus – one in the Yukon, 713 in British Columbia, 790 in Alberta, 105 in Saskatchewan, 537 in Manitoba, 4,058 in Ontario, 7,635 in Quebec, eight in New Brunswick, four in Newfoundland & Labrador and 65 in Nova Scotia.
- The Eastern Ontario Health Unit region added 11 cases Thursday to bring the total confirmed cases to 1,164, of which 302 are active (27 fewer than Wednesday) and 830 are resolved (38 more than Wednesday). There were seven in Prescott-Russell, two in SD&G and two in Cornwall. The number of deaths is 32. Five people are in hospital, one fewer than Wednesday, and two are still in ICU. There are 11 active outbreaks (includes nursing and retirement homes, lodging homes, group homes, schools and daycare), down two from Wednesday. Testing increased by 268 to 89,804. The breakdown of cases is: Prescott-Russell 696 cases (153 active), SD&G 232 cases (92 active), Cornwall 197 cases (55 active) and Akwesasne (ON/QC) 39 cases (two active).
- As expected, EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis has issued an order requiring multi-department retail to control shoppers within the store to prevent clustering of people close together. More specifically, stores will have to have maximum shopper counts “clearly marked for each department” and those departments are staffed to control crowds. The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 19. Violations will result in fines up to $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 per day for corporations.
- The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit added three new cases on Thursday to bring the regional total to 616 confirmed cases, of which 52 are active (10 fewer than Wednesday) and 511 are recovered (13 more than Wednesday). The number of deaths to date is 53. There is one active institutional outbreak (child care at St. Edward’s School). The community case breakdown is: Leeds-Grenville East (five active), Leeds-Grenville Central (six active), Leeds-Grenville West (29 active), Lanark County West (eight active) and Lanark County East (three active).
- The province has unveiled a long-term care staffing plan. The Ontario government plans to spend up to $1.9 billion over the next five years to create up to 27,000 positions, including personal support workers (PSW), registered nurses (RN) and registered practical nurses (RPN). The staffing is meant to boost the amount of individualized care to four hours per day.
- A person at South Edwardsburgh Public School in Johnstown has tested positive for COVID-19. The school remains open and there’s no change to the school timetable.
- People in Ottawa who have COVID-19 and are in crowded housing conditions looking for a safe place to isolate will now have a new option. The federal and provincial government are giving Ottawa Public Health $4.7 million to set up a safe, voluntary isolation site. The funding will cover seven months of operation.
- A Pfizer Canada spokesman says the vials of COVID-19 vaccine may have more doses in them than expected. Depending on how the vial is handled, the little bottles could yield six doses instead of the expected five.
- Alberta had a new daily record Thursday with 30 new deaths in the province. South of the border, California had a one day record with 379 dead. The state had 52,000 newly confirmed cases in one day.
- Don’t worry boys and girls, Premier Doug Ford has declared Santa Claus an essential service provider, paving the way for the annual delivery of gifts. “As children across Ontario count down the days to Christmas with excitement, I want to reassure all the boys and girls out there that Santa is still coming this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ford said. The nine reindeer are also deemed essential transportation service providers and permitted to pull Santa’s sleigh across every part of Ontario.
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