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Office of the Mayor and Council update
March 17, 2021


Halton indicators trending towards Orange zone today


A positive change is shown in today’s Halton COVID-19 indicators that have us headed towards numbers that could put us into the Orange - Restrict zone of the Province’s Framework for reopening should they continue. These include the seven-day average for new cases below 40 per 100,000, an Effective Reproduction number of approximately 1 to 1.1 and a percent positivity rate below 2.5 per cent.

While this is a positive sign, there is still more we can all do to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and make it a solid Orange. The first, and easiest, is to download and use the Canadian COVID-19 alert app – that means logging a positive result in the app should you receive one to notify others about possible exposure to the virus. Statistics from new public health data shows that only 3.8 per cent of more than half a million Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 since the app went live have actually used it so that it currently has almost no effect on slowing or limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Other ways to help slow the spread of coronavirus include following all public health guidelines and get tested if you have any symptoms. Stay home if you feel unwell and only go out for essentials such as school, work and medical appointments. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, keep a distance of two-metres from anyone outside your household and wear a mask when you can’t, even outside, and where mandated.

Please avoid all social gatherings, particularly today as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and choose to celebrate with those in your household or virtually with others.

When you do have to go out, keep my three Cs of COVID-caution in mind: Avoid crowded places, closed spaces and prolonged contact.
March is Irish Heritage Month in Oakville

While most people claim to have some Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, the latest available census data shows 14 per cent of Canadians actually lay claim to an Irish ethnic connection. Much of that is thanks to the many Irish settlers who came to Canada fleeing the famine in their homeland, bringing with them their values of hard work, devotion to family, service to the community and hope for a better future.

As such, I’ve proclaimed March Irish Heritage Month in Oakville and the Canadian government has done the same for the country.

To see today’s updated COVID-19 statistics for Oakville from Halton’s Public Health Unit CLICK HERE
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Halton COVID case counts

There are currently 107 Active Cases in Oakville and 7 COVID-19 patients being cared for at OTMH (this number includes transfers from facilities outside of Halton Region).

Confirmed cases in Halton increased by +34 from 9790 to 9824, with +8 new confirmed cases in Oakville from 3117 to 3125.

There were +10 new reported recoveries in Oakville, from 3067 to 3077 and +47 new recoveries in Halton from 9642 to 9689.

Ontario is reporting 1,508 new cases today, bringing the total to 321,956. Of those, 302,257 are resolved with 7,187 deaths. Currently there are 741 patients in hospital, 300 of whom are in ICU with 190 of those on ventilators.

Source: Public Health Ontario
Halton COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard
The indicators are based on the Ontario Public Health Unit Core Indicators for COVID-19 Monitoring, with targets adapted to the local Halton context and population. Together the indicators are intended to provide an overall snapshot of current local data on the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep the community informed and assist with local decision-making.

Canada COVID case counts

As of this morning, Canada had recorded more than 915,868 cases of COVID-19 and 22,519 deaths. 861,832 Canadians have recovered from COVID-19.

As of this morning, more than 120.971 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 68.572 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a COVID-19 case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.674 million.

COVID-19 vaccine tracker

Halton's COVID-19 vaccination program

COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario


As of Wednesday at 10:06 am CST, more than 
3,360,286 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.

Oakville & Halton

Halton Region - What to expect during your COVID-19 vaccination visit

Halton’s Medical Officer of Health walks residents through a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in this new video from Halton Region Public Health.

Watch here.


Regional Chair Gary Carr: Making it easier to share your feedback

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for virtual engagement for all residents to continue to provide feedback in a convenient way while protecting everyone’s health and safety. To help support this, I’m pleased to share our new Opportunities to Participate webpage on makes it easier for you to get involved and provide feedback to help shape Regional programs and services! The webpage features all Regional initiatives that are currently accepting feedback in one convenient online location.

To get involved and have your say on Regional initiatives like major infrastructure projects, surveys or multi-year plans that enhance our community, simply visit the webpage and provide your online feedback! This webpage will be updated with new projects and surveys as they are available. We will also continue to communicate about these public engagement initiatives through our social media channels, dedicated webpages, media releases and editorials based on the type of work underway.

Engaging with residents, businesses and community stakeholders is a priority for Halton and helps inform the development and delivery of our high-quality programs and services. We have recently updated our public engagement framework which includes the development of guiding principles for public engagement to ensure effective and inclusive engagement, transparency and accountability. 

While this new centralized webpage offers a one-stop location for all Regional engagement initiatives, the Region will continue to provide numerous ways for you to share your input on important Regional work using both online and offline options from surveys and feedback forms to online public information sessions, and workshops. Your feedback is valuable and I encourage you to share your input with us!

To find your next opportunity to participate, please visit


Oakville Beaver - Oakville residents invited to enjoy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hot Chocolate for a good cause

Oakville residents are being invited to try a cup of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hot Chocolate for a good cause.

March is ‘Giving Back Month’ at Tribeca Coffee Co., 174 Lakeshore Rd., E., and to celebrate the local business is offering a special beverage to raise funds for Kerr Street Mission.

Read the full story.


Small but valiant group keeps St. Patrick's Day walk tradition alive

It's the 99th year and a small group of valiant supporters are keeping the annual St. Patrick's Day walk from Toronto to Oakville alive, despite the pandemic.

Watch here.

Small but valiant group keeps St. Patrick's Day walk tradition alive



Government of Ontario Announcements

Ontario Businesses Making Workplaces Safer

TORONTO - The Ontario government is seeing a greater number of small businesses complying with COVID-19 safety requirements. During follow-up visits for educational workplace safety campaigns, provincial offences officers found that approximately 73 per cent of businesses were in compliance with public health measures and compliance increased by 20 per cent.

"The overwhelming majority of small business owners are protecting their workers and customers from COVID-19. Sometimes they just need a bit of help, which we're here to provide," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "With inspectors out every day across the province, this balance of education and enforcement is ensuring businesses of all sizes follow the rules. Our government's education-focused workplace safety blitzes have demonstrated that businesses are learning to operate safely during COVID-19 and appreciate the support and guidance from the province."

From February 25 to 28, 110 provincial offences officers conducted over 1,000 COVID-19 related workplace safety visits in Durham Region, Eastern Ontario and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. The majority of the visits were made to small businesses, with fewer than 25 employees, which had been closed during the provincial shutdown. Follow-up visits in early March have shown significant improvement, especially in the areas of masking, screening and using COVID-19 workplace safety plans.

Workplace inspections continue to focus on educating small businesses across the province to help them reopen safely. Where needed, follow-up visits were conducted with a focus on enforcement. Follow-up visits are currently taking place in Eastern Ontario, Durham Region and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and are scheduled for York Region, Waterloo Region and Windsor-Essex.

"Throughout the pandemic, local business owners have really appreciated the collaborative efforts made by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU)," said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU medical officer of health. "We have been working diligently with local business owners and operators to ensure they are aware of the role they play in maintaining public health measures and ultimately protecting the public. When employees and employers work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, they are doing their part to support the local economy and their community."

Occupational health and safety inspectors and multi-ministry teams of provincial offences officers have conducted more than 15,800 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province since the beginning of 2021. During those visits, they've issued over 11,900 orders and 410 COVID-19 related tickets, and stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 20 times.

These initiatives, in consultation with local public health units, include targeted blitzes of big-box stores, small businesses and the farming sector, with a particular focus on areas of high transmission such as breakrooms.


Ontario Making it Easier to Administer Rapid COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace

TORONTO - The Ontario government is making it easier for businesses to test for COVID-19 in the workplace by providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual. Based on the success of the initial deployment of rapid antigen testing, the government is also expanding the program to more sectors including first responders, emergency medical services, trucking and transportation, wastewater management, and post-secondary institutions.

"By expanding rapid testing in the workplace and making it easier to administer, we will be able to maintain critical infrastructure and keep people working," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "These measures are essential to further protect Ontario's workforce as we work together towards a swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, stronger and more resilient before."

Rapid antigen testing can provide an additional layer of safety in workplaces and provide reassurance to employers and employees alike. By clinically endorsing supervised, voluntary self-swabbing for asymptomatic individuals, Ontario is helping businesses reduce the administrative costs of using antigen tests by allowing staff to consider the option of taking their own swabs under the supervision of a trained individual.

"Business owners know best what their businesses need to thrive. These changes will make rapid antigen testing a particularly viable option for the small- and medium-sized companies critical in keeping our province's manufacturing and supply chain moving," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.

The province has also removed regulatory barriers governing the use of COVID-19 tests that are approved by Health Canada for point-of-care use to make it easier for organizations to offer onsite testing and support a safe return to work. This change will especially benefit rural and remote communities including Northern Indigenous communities where health professionals required to administer testing are limited.

Although point-of-care rapid test devices currently deployed in Ontario are easy to use, their safe and appropriate usage is supported through additional clinical and public health protocols outlined in the updated provincial testing guidance and training materials and webinars that are freely available

"Our government is committed to providing greater flexibility and innovative testing options for additional sectors to help stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "By providing guidance for voluntary, supervised self-swabbing, frontline and essential workers can have quicker and easier access to testing and have an additional layer of protection. Until vaccines are widely available, I strongly urge everybody to continue following public health measures."

Initially launched in November 2020 as a pilot, the Provincial Antigen Screening Program deployed rapid antigen point-of-care tests to essential workplaces and sectors in order to quickly identify and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Ontario has since expanded the Program to provincial scale and has deployed over three million rapid antigen point-of-care tests to priority sectors to date, including but not limited to long-term care and retirement homes, congregate care settings such as adult correctional facilities, and essential industries such as food processing, manufacturing, and construction sites. Rapid antigen point-of-care tests have also been deployed to support asymptomatic testing of staff and students in schools across the province to support safe reopening.

As the Provincial Antigen Screening Program continues to expand in the coming weeks, it will see the deployment of over one million tests per week across these and other priority sectors.

The province continues to ensure that anyone who needs a test can get a test and receive their results as quickly as possible. Anyone who falls within the current Provincial Testing Guidance should continue to seek publicly funded laboratory-based testing, available at participating pharmacies, specimen collection centres, and assessment centres. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or been exposed, you should get tested at an assessment centre or participating specimen collection centre, including mobile and temporary sites.


Ontario Investing in the Sport and Recreation Sector

TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing more than $15 million to support grassroots activities, sport and recreation organizations and high-performance athletes. This funding will encourage even more children, youth, families and athletes to get active and return to play safely, as the sector continues to follow COVID-19 restrictions and reopening regulations.

Details were provided today by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
"While we work towards recovery, we want to ensure Ontario's sport and recreation sector is strong, vibrant and remains a source of pride for our province, with a positive impact on the lives of Ontarians," said Minister MacLeod. "We are committed to supporting the sector during the pandemic and ensuring that, through programs like these, sport and recreation remains at the heart of Ontario's communities."
This $15.3-million investment will support four initiatives:
  • $3 million in 2020-21 for SPORT4ONTARIO to deliver a pilot program that helps kids and families regain confidence in sport and recreation activities. The program will support grassroots physical activity and recreation programming. It will promote mental wellness and safety in sport that is free from harassment, abuse and discrimination. 
  • $3.6 million for 63 recognized Provincial Sport Organizations to support their member community sport clubs who provide access to sports such as soccer, volleyball, skiing, etc. A portion of the funding will support their administration costs with the remainder being used to support member clubs. 
  • $6.36 million in 2020-21 for Quest for Gold Canada to support approximately 550 Ontario athletes who have reached national competition level, as part of Quest for Gold's Canada Card program. This initiative provides direct financial assistance to high-performance athletes, enhancing their ability to train by reducing financial burden. This amount represents a one-time increase of up to $8,400 for national-level athletes. 
  • $2.35 million for the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s post-secondary education scholarships for athletes on 17 Ontario-based teams. This investment provides approximately $138,000 to each of the 17 teams to help them meet their player scholarship commitments. 

Three-week lockdown needed to stop explosive COVID-19 variant growth, Ontario science table says

A three-week lockdown in certain regions of the province is necessary to blunt the explosive growth of the variants of concern, Ontario’s COVID-19 scientific advisory table says.

Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of the advisory table, believes Ontario could see between 2,500 to 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day in a few weeks, if the current trends continue. 

Ontario recorded more than 1,500 cases on Wednesday, the highest single-day total since early February, owing in large part to the variants of concern which account for more than half of the new cases. 

“What we're talking about here predominantly is the Golden Horseshoe, the Golden Horseshoe has a major problem, and we need to tackle this,” Juni told CTV News Toronto. 

Cases from Toronto to Niagara Falls have been steadily increasing over the past few days triggering alarm among health experts and health-care advocates who have warned that the rise in transmission rates will lead to the third wave. 

Read the fully story.


Every day of the COVID-19 pandemic in all 34 Ontario health units, in one image

A year ago today, the threat of COVID-19 in Ontario still seemed hypothetical.

“This is changing hour by hour, day by day,” Premier Doug Ford said declaring Ontario’s first state of emergency at a March 17, 2020, news conference, hours after the province reported its first fatal case — a 77-year-old Barrie man who tested positive after his death in hospital.

Even as the Premier declared the pandemic an emergency, the worst of it was still happening overseas, wreaking havoc in places like northern Italy, where hospitals were overwhelmed and thousands were dying.

In the 365 days that followed, the pandemic has reached every corner of this province in waves. And, on each one of those days, the Star has been there to track and analyze the situation, compiling a day-by-day record of the virus’s local

This image — every day of the COVID-19 pandemic in all 34 of Ontario’s local public health units, based on the Star’s data — reveals a pandemic that can’t be summed up as one provincewide event.

Read the full story.


Tracking the COVID-19 vaccine: Where Ontario stands as mass vaccination sites open

The latest data from the province shows a slow but steady ramp-up of COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario as mass vaccination sites start to open and larger vaccine shipments start to arrive

According to the latest provincial numbers, more than 30,000 doses a day have been handed out in the province for 13 of the past 14 days. More recently Ontario has hit 50,000 doses per day on three of the past five days.

That rate will still need to increase dramatically in order to reach the goal recently set of offering every Ontarian a first vaccine dose by June 20. At the rate of 50,000 doses per day, it would take the better part of a year to offer everyone a first dose.

Still, the data shows a steady increase over the previous two-week period when the province didn’t hit 30,000 daily doses once.

Read the full story.



Man in his 30s dies after large COVID-19 outbreak at student residence in Peterborough, Ont.

A man in his 30s has died from COVID-19 after a large outbreak was declared at a privately operated student residence in Peterborough, Ont. last month, marking the area's youngest disease-related death.

Peterborough Public Health (PPH) says the fatality is the first connected to an outbreak at Severn Court, an off-campus student housing site primarily for Fleming College students.

The man was diagnosed with a COVID-19 variant of concern and hospitalized outside the region last week before he died yesterday, according to PPH.

“As the youngest person to die locally from COVID-19, it reminds us how serious this pandemic is, that youth are not immune from its worst outcomes, and that we all have a role to play in ending it to prevent future tragedies,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra said in a press release issued Tuesday.

Read the full story.




Government of Canada Announcements

Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 17, 2021 

As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing Canadians with regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administeredvaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 915,868 cases of COVID-19, including 22,519 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. As vaccination programs continue to expand across Canada, there is cause for optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. We now have multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines with unique advantages that are authorised for use in Canada.

However, nationally, COVID-19 activity has levelled off at a high level since mid-February and average daily case counts are now on the rise. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 3,194 new cases daily (Mar 10-16). Currently, there are 31,517 active cases across the country. While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are highest among those aged 20-39 years of age. Circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially-connected adults presents an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings. The emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants heightens this concern. As of March 16, a total of 4,086 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 3,777 B.1.1.7 variants, 238 B.1.351 variants and 71 P.1 variants. With the continued increase of cases and outbreaks associated with more contagious variants, maintaining public health measures and individual precautions is crucial to reducing infection rates and avoiding a rapid reacceleration of the epidemic and its severe outcomes.

Nationally, the rate of decline in severe outcomes is slowing or levelling off. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,048 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Mar 10-16), including 550 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 31 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.

While vaccine programs begin to accelerate, it will be important to maintain a high degree of caution. Any easing of public health measures must be done slowly with enhanced testing, screening, and genomic analysis to detect variants of concern. In particular, there must be sufficient contact tracing capacity and supports for effective isolation, given increased transmissibility of variants of concern.

Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptomsthink about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancinghand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).

Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible, while wearing the best-fitting mask is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, as vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians.

Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.


Government of Canada welcomes interim report from the COVID Alert Advisory Council 

The COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council was established to ensure the COVID Alert app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy and technology. The Council members reflect Canada’s regional and cultural diversity, and possess a wide range of expertise, including health, privacy, data governance, science and innovation.

Today, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Digital Government, the Honourable Joyce Murray, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, welcomed the Council’s Interim report on the Social and Economic Determinants of App Adoption, Retention and Use.

The report highlights that the Government of Canada has worked quickly on many of the recommendations of the Council such as the features to narrow the exposure window, allowing users, specifically health care workers, to turn the app on and off, and allowing users to clear the exposed state following a negative test result.

As noted in the report, the number of one-time keys currently being entered into the app is low compared to the number of positive COVID-19 cases across Canada. For the app to be an effective tool, it must be easy for users to receive and upload a one-time key following a positive diagnosis.

The Government is committed to urgently resolving this issue. Currently, provinces and territories are responsible for issuing one-time keys, as they are the ones that can confirm positive diagnosis and the process can be different in each jurisdiction. The Government in partnership with provinces and territories is now exploring mechanisms to issue the one-time keys automatically to all persons who test positive for COVID-19, in a privacy-preserving manner.

As well, Canadians can help by asking for a one-time key from their local public health authority if they do not immediately receive one from their public health unit following a positive diagnosis. Individuals can also consult the app or contact their local health authorities to find out how to get a one-time key.


Canada confirms receipt of Iran’s Accident Investigation Final Report on downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, today issued the following statement:

“The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of the Islamic Republic of Iran has published its final accident investigation report into Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was shot down on January 8, 2020. 

“The report makes no attempt to answer critical questions about what truly happened. It appears incomplete and has no hard facts or evidence. Our government, along with the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on PS752, has repeatedly called for a comprehensive and transparent investigation according to international standards to answer all the critical outstanding questions. We remain deeply concerned about the lack of convincing information and evidence, despite the publication of this investigation report.

“The Government of Canada will soon disclose the results of its own investigations. In the coming days, the Transportation Safety Board will provide its review of Iran’s report, and in the coming weeks, the Forensic Examination and Assessment Team will issue its report.

“When Flight PS752 was shot down by Iran, 176 innocent people—including 138 with ties to Canada—were killed. Their families deserve answers to important questions, including on the series of events that led to these missiles being launched in the first place, and why the airspace was allowed to remain open during a period of heightened hostilities. Upon preliminary review of the investigation report, it is clear we still do not have answers as to why Iran did not put in place the necessary measures, such as a full closure of their airspace, to prevent such a tragedy.

“We reiterate Canada’s commitment to seeking answers and justice by holding Iran accountable and by ensuring it takes full responsibility and makes full reparations for the harm caused to the families and loved ones of the victims of Flight PS752.”


National decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths starting to level off: Tam

Canada’s top public health doctor says a national decline in severe COVID-19 outcomes, such as hospitalizations and deaths, is starting to level off.

Dr. Theresa Tam says provincial and territorial data show an average of 2,048 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals every day over the seven-day period that ended yesterday.

She says that includes 550 people who were in intensive care units. An average of 31 COVID-related deaths was reported each day during that same period.

Tam has also warned in recent days that average daily case counts of COVID-19 are now on the rise again across the country after plateauing for several weeks.

The public health doctor says infection rates are highest among those between the ages of 20 and 39, who may then spread it to more vulnerable populations.

 Read the full story


96% of Canadians who test positive for coronavirus aren’t using COVID Alert app properly

The Canadian government said the COVID Alert app was the next great hope in the struggle against the novel coronavirus.

But new statistics suggest so few people are using the app correctly that it has almost no effect on slowing or limiting the spread of COVID-19.

The public health data shows just 3.8 per cent of roughly 535,000 Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19 since the app went live have actually used it to warn others about possible exposure to the virus.

That means 96.2 per cent of people who could have used the app to warn close contacts either don’t have the app, failed to use it, or couldn’t use it properly.

Read the full story


Should I be worried about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered

As Canada announced it is recommending the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, some countries overseas are suspending its use over safety concerns.

More than a dozen countries in the European Union — including its largest members Germany, France and Italy — have halted AstraZeneca inoculations pending the outcome of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) into isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts.

Non-EU countries, such as Indonesia and Congo, have also suspended use of the vaccine.

With such divergent guidance on the vaccine, many are asking if it's safe.

Here's what you need to know.

Read the full story


International news

Why home-produced Covid vaccine hasn't helped India, Russia and China rollouts

The day India started coronavirus vaccinations, Amit Mehra’s name was on the priority list. But he never made an appointment. “I’m not inclined to get vaccinated just because it’s available,” says the 47-year-old Delhi hospital worker.

Two and a half thousand miles away, strolling past a popup inoculation centre near Red Square in Moscow, Magomed Zurabov is similarly reluctant. Suspicious that the pandemic was deliberately engineered, he has no intention of being vaccinated, he says. Instead, he is “taking the necessary precautions”: wearing a mask and using disinfectant.

As vaccinations rates soar in Israel, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and other countries that have monopolised supply, and poorer nations make do with a trickle of doses, a third category are beginning long climbs. Supply is less of an issue in Russia, China or India, all of which produce their own vaccines. But their respective government programmes have had slow starts, and there has been little public clamour to speed things up.

“People have not shown that eagerness and urgency to be vaccinated,” says Ajeet Jain, a doctor at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital in Delhi. “India is going through that phase where the disease is no longer prevalent except in a few states. People are relaxed that the disease is over from their point of view.”

Read the full story


As Vaccinations Speed Along in Serbia, the Country Basks in the Glow of a Successful Campaign

Stained for years by its brutal role in the horrific Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, Serbia is now basking in the glow of success in a good war: the battle to get its people vaccinated.

Serbia has raced ahead of the far richer and usually better-organized countries in Europe to offer all adult citizens not only free inoculations but a smorgasbord of five different vaccines to choose from.

By contrast, the European Union has stumbled badly in providing shots, with a disjointed procurement and distribution strategy that bet big on the AstraZeneca vaccine. That strategy hit a roadblock this week after key members of the bloc, including Germany and France, suspended inoculations with the vaccine over concerns it might increase the risk of blood clots, compounding delivery problems that stemmed from a production shortfall the company announced in January.

Serbia’s unusual surfeit of vaccines has been a public relations triumph for the increasingly authoritarian government of President Aleksandar Vucic. It has burnished his own as well as his country’s image, weakened his already beleaguered opponents and added a new twist to the complex geopolitics of vaccines.

Read the full story


Trump assures supporters that COVID-19 vaccination is safe

Former U.S. President Donald Trump again urged people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, saying he would recommend vaccination to "a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me."

In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Trump acknowledged that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works," he said.

 Read the full story


In other COVID news

NY Times - 14 Lessons for the Next Pandemic

One year. More than 500,000 dead. What did the United States do wrong in handling Covid-19? What needs to be rethought? We asked scientists, public health experts and health advocates to tell us about mistakes, missed chances and oversights — and how to prepare for the next pandemic.

Read the full story


Wedding dresses never worn, pets surrendered: Kijiji sales show people's pandemic losses

As the World Health Organization prepared to declare COVID-19 a global pandemic last March, online classified platform Kijiji was inundated with high-priced listings for hand sanitizer, face masks and other panic-buy items.

With packages of toilet paper listed for up to $80, Kijiji decided to temporarily ban the sale of these products.

A year later, the site is once again swamped with pandemic-related ads. But this time, prices are low, and the listings reveal a portrait not of greed, but of shattered dreams, loneliness and financial despair.

Behind each ad is a story of something lost. Here's a look at what some Torontonians are selling:

  • Beloved Canon photography equipment: "COVID killed my business." 
  • Limited-edition Epiphone Les Paul Nightfall guitar: "never gigged, thanks COVID." 
  • Ikea table and 3 chairs: "because no one's dining with me."

And on it goes.

Read the full story


The U.S. Is Opening Up. For the Anxious, That Comes With a Cost.

A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent saw no change in stress and 7 percent felt less stress.

Mental health experts said this fraction of the population found the quarantine protective, a permission slip to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And the experts warn that while quarantine has blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.

“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”

Read the full story.


Food Banks experiencing record demand

Oakville's food banks are in record-breaking demand. If you can donate anything, please do. Your help is needed.

Fareshare Food Bank Oakville:

Kerr Street Mission

The Salvation Army Oakville


Oakville Meals on Wheels continues to operate 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakville Meals on Wheels continues to operate under increased safety measures.
Learn more 

Oakville Fare Share Food Bank new hours

The demand for service at the Oakville Fare Share Food Bank have almost doubled over the last nine months and as a result, hours will increase to serve everyone.

The new hours are:
Monday 9.30 am to 2.30 p.m.
Thursday 2 to 7 p.m.

This is an increase of two hours per week and will continue until at least the end of February 

Upcoming events

United Way Women United campaign runs through March

In honour of International Women’s Day, United Way Halton & Hamilton is hosting a month full of events. Visit
Have your say on new $5 bill

Sign the petition to have Terry Fox as the finalist for the next great Canadian to be honoured and featured on the back of the newly proposed $5 bank note.

Help save Glen Abbey

The Town of Oakville faces a number of issues. Learn about some of the hottest topics and how they might affect you.

Glen Abbey
Milton Hub
Lakeshore Erosion
Regional Official Plan Review
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