More than 40 per cent of Toronto residents who are eligible have now had at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, Mayor John Tory announced Monday, as people aged 18 and older from hot-spot neighbourhoods became eligible for vaccination at immunization clinics run by the city.
Tory said the target was reached ahead of the May 5 date initially set by Premier Doug Ford across the province.
He said the city now looks forward to setting a new objective for May as the Team Toronto Sprint Strategy enters its third week.
“Latest data indicate that the vaccination gap has now been closed in the 13 hottest hot spots and the rest of the city,” Tory said at a news conference.
He said an additional 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be going to the hottest hot spots this week alone for pop-up and mobile clinics.
“We know from our public health officials that these doses will make a difference in our fight against the virus,” Tory said.
“These are shots in the right arms, in the right neighbourhoods in order to meaningfully stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Thousands book vaccine appointments
The mayor is also urging residents all across the city to get registered and to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
“We know more and more vaccine doses are on the way so there will be more and more chances to get vaccinated in the coming weeks,” Tory said.
“We are moving out of the vaccine valley that we were in for a while due to uncertain supply, and thanks to some local and provincial decisions, based on public health advice, we are moving into a period of much more robust vaccine supply to a city which needs it to combat a very significant and dangerous third wave.”
Effective today, the city is urging anyone over the age of 18 living in one of Toronto’s 53 hot-spot postal codes to book an appointment through the dark blue Book a Vaccine button on the city’s website, or on the provincial website.
City-run clinics are part of the Toronto vaccination network that includes hundreds of clinics operated by hospitals, pharmacies and other health-care and community partners.
Tory said 41,144 people had booked appointments between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
People can also book their vaccination appointment by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900.
Significant expansion of vaccine access
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eileen de Villa said access to the vaccines is on the verge of significantly expanding in the city.
“The mobile sprint strategy … is making an important difference and the pop-up clinic campaigns were vital to it,” de Villa said.
“Nothing matters more than people coming out for vaccination.”
Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, the city’s emergency management and COVID-19 incident commander, said on Twitter that Toronto is about to open another 20,000 at appointments the clinics it operates for the week of May 17.
In total, between May 3 and June 6, there are 332,502 first-dose vaccine appointments available in city-operated clinics, Pegg said at Monday’s news conference.
“As additional vaccine is provided to the city by the province of Ontario, we are both able and ready to expand our clinic operations to match.”
A total of 985 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Toronto on Monday.
The city has altered the way it reports COVID-19 numbers on weekends. As a result, de Villa said, the figure for new cases is cumulative for the past three days.
De Villa said the average across those three days is 1,037 cases, while the total number of cases for that three-day period is 3,111.
There are currently 1,142 people in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 272 are in intensive care.
A total of 31 deaths linked to the virus have been reported over the last three days.
COVID-19 cases at quarantine hotel
De Villa said Toronto Public Health is aware of COVID-19 cases in individuals linked to a government-authorized quarantine hotel near Pearson Airport.
“Staff have been assigned to initiate an investigation there,” she said.
“As we do in all these cases, we’re working with the facility to identify those who are impacted, to review and advise on all the appropriate infection prevention and control measures, and to review and advise on what is needed further to protect public health in the circumstances.”
De Villa said Toronto Public Health has to balance information released to the public with the individuals’ right to privacy.
221 charges laid for breaking COVID-19 rules
Meanwhile, 221 people were charged over the weekend under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), Toronto police said Monday.
Police say in one instance on Saturday, officers responded to a warehouse party in the Warden and Eglinton Avenue East area.
Officers found a large number of people but the crowd dispersed immediately after police arrived.
Officers were able to gain entry and identify five people, according to police.
Enforcement teams have responded to 515 calls since the introduction of the EMCPA and have laid a total of 449 charges.