A look at local COVID-19 numbers …
Monday saw a big jump in the numbers of positive cases out of the Greater Sudbury area.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts is reporting 34 more COVID-19 cases, all in the city.
Considering resolved cases, the agency now has 204 cases.
Only six have been reported as close contact with testing underway for the rest.
The agency is also advising the public of a potential high-risk of exposure to COVID-19 specifically for anyone who attended Urban Air Adventure Park at 1066 Barrydowne Road in Greater Sudbury on Saturday, February 27th.
Anyone who attended the park that day should seek testing as soon as possible.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe from Public Health Sudbury says the main reason for the rise in numbers is not the schools, but community spread in the city.
She says people have to follow the COVID-19 protocols, wearing masks, staying apart, staying within social circles, and not going out unless they must get essentials.
Sutcliffe says it is crucial at this time to acknowledge there is a possibility the region could be moved into the grey zone if the numbers continue to escalate.
Health Sciences North has nine admitted patients, one with a positive result and eight others waiting for test results.
None are in intensive care.
To the west, Algoma Public Health has had no new cases over the last four days.
Considering resolved cases, there are five active cases with one person hospitalized.
The next step in vaccinations
Health Minister Christine Elliott says people won’t have to provide proof of their pre-existing medical condition to receive their COVID-19 vaccination.
Starting next month, those with medical issues, such as transplant patients, stroke victims, and those living with obesity, will be offered their first inoculations.
But Elliott says, while some health units may check with family doctors, it won’t be mandatory in order to get the shot.
She believes most people won’t take advantage of the honour system to jump the queue.
Meanwhile, Elliott says teams have completed the first round of vaccinations at 31 remote communities only accessible by air across northern Ontario.
Vaccinations preventing elderly deaths
A report from the province’s Science Advisory table says COVID-19 vaccinations have prevented hundreds of deaths and illnesses in Ontario’s long-term care homes.
The report says, between mid-December and mid-February, the number of coronavirus infections dropped by 89 percent among residents, and by 79 percent among staff.
Deaths among residents were down 96 percent over the same period.
More than half the fatalities blamed on COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care facilities.
Members of the group say their report shows the importance of rolling out the vaccines as quickly as possible.
Paid time to inoculate?
Ontario’s New Democrats are again pressing the Ford government to provide paid time off so workers can get their COVID-19 vaccination without losing income.
Their proposal is similar to the provision in the Ontario Elections Act, which requires employers to grant three paid hours so employees can cast their ballots.
The Ford government argues that federal programs, such as the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, are already available.
But the program’s rules say the funding is only available to those who fall ill or must self-isolate, because of COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford says he might make paid time off available to front-line health care workers.