A day after announcing Ontario is returning to a state of emergency, Premier Doug Ford today reiterated the importance of residents obeying the lockdown order that takes effect at midnight tonight. In a 30-minute media briefing, Ford said the phrase “stay home” at least a dozen times.
Joining Ford was Gen. Rick Hillier, head of the province’s vaccine task force, who reiterated that Ontario is on track to begin phase 2 of inoculations in late March or early April.
Federally, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced more funding for Indigenous communities struggling to contain the COVID-19 virus.
Stay Home While Ford implored Ontario residents to respect the stay-at-home order (“You must, you must, I’m going to repeat that, must, stay home. It’s the law and it will be enforced.”), he also declined to define what exactly would be considered an essential reason for leaving home, citing that there are 15 million people in Ontario each with their own individual circumstances. But he did stress that these “extraordinary” measures are required to save Ontario hospitals and long-term care homes.
Vaccination Program Ramping Up Gen. Hillier likened Ontario’s vaccination plan to a transport truck, saying we are currently in second or third of 24 gears — but every day it is ramping up some more. More than 140,000 vaccinations have been administered as of this morning, and Hillier remains confident that all of the Phase 1 priorities – vulnerable populations and front-line health care workers – will be able to get the first shot by February 15.
Hillier added that Ontario’s vaccination “machine” will be able to administer 50,000 doses a day when running full tilt. By the end of summer, this plan is expected to inoculate 8.5 million Ontarians against COVID-19.
See the provincial media release here.
Additional COVID-19 Support for First Nations
Earlier today, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced an additional $1.2 billion to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. This includes $380 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund and $186 million for increased supports in Indigenous long-term care and home settings.
The funding announcement comes at a time when COVID-19 case rates in Indigenous communities have surpassed the national average.
More details are available here.