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COVID-19 Update: Singh Urges Trudeau to Fix Long-Term Care; New Poll Blasts Federal Vax Rollout

Posted: January 6, 2021

(January 5, 2021)

By: Tara Losinski and Peter Muggeridge, Zoomer

Long-Term Care Outbreaks Worsen

Ontario is reporting 35 new deaths in long-term care and a record number of  nursing homes are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. Today, provincial data shows that that 219 homes are dealing with an outbreak, smashing the mark of 190 set during the first wave. This means that over a third of the province’s 626 homes are now in outbreak. St. George Care Community in Toronto has become an epicentre for the infection, reporting 94 active cases with six deaths while Tendercare Living Centre in Scarborough, one of the worst-hit homes, is reporting  85 active cases and over 64 total deaths. “There are so many homes with outbreaks that are growing extremely quickly, the death counts are mounting, and the hospitals are overstretched now,” says Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, which has recently called on Premier Doug Ford to call in the army to help deal with the situation.

6 Alberta MLAs Resign Amidst Travel Scandal

Six United Conservative Party MLAs have been forced to resign after in the wake of revelations that they took non-essential trips outside the province while people were urged to stay at home in lockdown. Tracy Allard resigned her post as municipal affairs minister after admitting that she took a trip to Hawaii during the holidays. Five other MLAs also stepped down from their posts, including Jeremy Nixon, Pat Rehn, Jason Stephan, Tany Yao and Tanya Fir. In a Facebook statement, Premier Jason Kenney chastised his UCP colleagues for demonstrating “extremely poor judgement” in taking the foreign trips and said that Albertans “have the right to be angry about people in positions of leadership vacationing outside of the country.” He hoped that the resignations would send a clear message that politicians will be held to a “higher standard of conduct during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Airborne Warning

A group of scientists have written an open letter to federal and provincial health officials sounding the alarm on the airborne spread of COVID-19. While the science behind airborne spread of the infection is not entirely settled, the Public Health Agency of Canada says that the virus “spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks.” In light of this, the letter’s signatories are urging provincial governments to combat airborne transmission of the virus by upgrading ventilation systems in all public buildings, such as schools and long-term care homes, as well as mandating stricter ventilation standards in other buildings, such as bars, gyms and restaurants. “With winter upon us, our activities are moving indoors and it is therefore imperative that workplaces, public institutions and individuals understand the risk of aerosol transmission as well as the actions that can be taken to combat it,” the letter contends.

Vax Rollout Too Slow

Health-care providers are criticizing provinces for failing to distribute their supply of vaccinations in a timely fashion. While each province has received shipments of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, they have so far struggled to inoculate front line workers and at-risk seniors, suggests the Globe and Mail. “Why are they not treating the vaccine administration like the emergency that it is?” asks Dr. Nathan Stall, a geriatrician at Toronto’s Sinai Health System. Data shows that the province with the best vaccine rollout numbers, P.E.I., has only distributed 38 per cent of its doses. Still, its rollout far exceeds that of many provinces, like Saskatchewan, which has only administered 28 per cent of its available doses, Ontario (25 per cent) and Manitoba (17 per cent). Overall, Canada has inoculated 121,000 people, a dose-per-100 rate of only 0.31. This lags far behind world leaders like Israel, which has an inoculation rate of 14.14 per 100, the U.K. (1.39 per 100) and the U.S. (1.28 per 100).

—Peter Muggeridge

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