Ontario reports 2,864 new COVID-19 cases and 25 new deaths on Saturday

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Registered nurse Sarah Moslehi prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary clinic at the Woodbine racetrack and casino, in northeast Toronto, on May 5, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Registered nurse Sarah Moslehi prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a temporary clinic at the Woodbine racetrack and casino, in northeast Toronto, on May 5, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Ontario reported an additional 2,864 new COVID-19 cases along with 25 more deaths linked to the illness on Saturday.

Saturday marks the third day this week that new daily case counts have dipped below 3,000.

The new cases include 803 in Peel Region, 684 in Toronto, 285 in York Region, 133 in Hamilton and 125 in Durham Region.

The seven-day rolling average for cases, which helps clarify trends in the data, dropped to 3,193 from 3,266 reported the day before.

Ontario's network of labs processed more than 47,800 tests in the past 24 hours. The daily positivity rate in the province stands at 6.8 per cent.

The new deaths reported Saturday bring the province's official virus-related death toll to 8,261.

All adults eligible for vaccine at select pharmacies

These figures come as younger Ontarians in some COVID-19 hot spots can now book vaccine appointments at pharmacies as of Saturday.

The province says 78 pharmacy locations in Toronto and Peel Region are now offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 18 and older.

In Durham, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor and York Region, a total of 58 pharmacies are now offering the Moderna shot to anyone aged 18 and up.

Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said people won't be asked to provide proof of their residence in a hot spot, but pharmacists will need to verify recipients are at least 18 years old at the time of the shot.

People are pictured lined up to receive COVID-19 vaccines at a Loblaws pharmacy in Ottawa.
People are pictured lined up to receive COVID-19 vaccines at a Loblaws pharmacy in Ottawa.(Francis Ferland/CBC)

Participating pharmacies will receive 150 doses per week, Bates said, with plans to use waitlists and possibly accept walk-ins to ensure supply doesn't go to waste. He said the goal is to have all pharmacies distributing the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines by mid-June, though the timeline depends on supply.

Prior to this announcement, pharmacies had only been cleared to administer doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to those 40 and older.

Earlier this week, the province said it was on track to administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 65 per cent of adults by the end of this month, according to provincial health officials.

Further expansion of vaccines in pharmacies will continue throughout the month, Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a news conference Wednesday.

ICU admissions steadily declining

Meanwhile, according to Ontario's health ministry, 1,832 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday morning.

Of those in hospital, 851 are in intensive care, marking a straight week of dropping ICU admission numbers. Some 588 patients require ventilators to breathe.

Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, told CBC News Wednesday that it appears the third wave of the virus is cresting. But he says the downward trend of the data has only been made possible by the hospital system's "superhuman effort."

On Thursday, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe was asked whether Ontarians can expect any loosening of public health restrictions in late May heading into June. She said no decision has been made, but the province is having "active discussions" about it.

However, Yaffe said she would be "surprised" if the province opened up as scheduled at the end of May. A stay-at-home order was first imposed on April 8 for four weeks, but was later extended until May 20 in an effort to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases amid the third wave of the pandemic.

"We don't want to open prematurely and end up with a fourth wave," Yaffe said.

The province reported that it has administered 138,125 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since Friday. That means more than six million doses have been administered in Ontario to date.

Another 3,596 cases have been marked as resolved, bringing the total of resolved cases of COVID-19 in the province to 447,938.

Toronto opens 17,000 more vaccine appointments

The City of Toronto says an influx of vaccines means it can offer even more appointments than expected next week.

Officials say they're opening up 17,000 extra slots, and they anticipate administering 98,000 doses between May 10 and 16, according to a Friday news release.

That's just at the nine city-run clinics, and doesn't include hospital vaccination clinics or pharmacies that are offering AstraZeneca.

The new appointments are available in the provincial vaccine booking system

The new appointments for next week are available at five city-run clinics: the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto Congress Centre, Mitchell Field Arena, The Hangar and Cloverdale Mall. The slots are available in the province's booking system.

Eligible groups include:

  • People age 50 or older.

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals.

  • People who are pregnant.