February 2 2022 COVID-19 report


Dear Colleagues: Welcome to my Wednesday, February 2 blog during this twenty fifth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. You can find earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in Doris’ COVID-19 Blog. And, for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 Portal where you will also find RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic here. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario’s MOH EOC can be found here. Feel free to share this report and links with anyone interested. Scroll down for upcoming RNAO webinars.

To commemorate Black History Month, the Black Nurses Task Force will be releasing their full report on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. We invite you to attend. For details and registration, please check the RNAO website.

Great news: After strong advocacy and direct dialogue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the job of Chief Nurse Officer of Canada is posted! Please help us thank the prime minister here. Now, we need awesome leaders to apply!  

This week we share: 1) honouring Black History Month 2022; 2) RNAO calls out extremist and hateful actions driven by far-right on display in Ottawa; and 3) let's not play Russian roulette with Omicron and embrace it as inevitable.

Honouring Black History Month 2022

RNAO recognizes the continued importance of sharing stories and perspectives from the Black community and is celebrating Black History Month in February. 

This past year, RNAO has remained dedicated to its advocacy and work to bring awareness to and end anti-Black racism and discrimination, especially in the nursing profession. In partnership with its members, RNAO has made progress in addressing the systemic racism within nursing, as well as all health-care sectors and academic settings. 

Black Nurses Task Force

Members of RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force met regularly in 2021 and hosted their webinar series: Let’s Talk about Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing

In January, the Black Nurses Task Force published two peer-reviewed articles in Nursing Inquiry’s special issue on anti-racism: Black nurses in action: A social movement to end racism and discrimination and Tackling discrimination and systemic racism in academic and workplace settings. RNAO shared the news on Twitter

To commemorate Black History Month, the Black Nurses Task Force will be releasing their full report on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. We invite you to attend. For details and registration, please check the RNAO website.

Black Nurses Leading Change (BNLC) interest group

RNAO recently introduced its BNLC interest group to support the work of the Black Nurses Task Force and continue to inform RNAO on issues affecting Black nurses and nursing students. The group has begun meeting virtually. As a reminder, please visit MyRNAO To become a member of the BNLC interest group.

In focus: Black nurses and RNAO

To highlight how RNAO is taking action in partnership with its Black members, colleagues and their allies to mobilize change, RNAO published its “Black nurses and RNAO” in focus webpage. 

RNAO is committed to celebrating the accomplishments of Black nurses, as well as highlighting the work of its Black Nurses Task Force and BNLC interest group members. Explore and share RNAO’s in focus webpage and stay tuned for updates on its advocacy and action.

You’re invited to join RNAO in honouring Black History Month: share a message on Twitter using #BlackHistoryMonth and tag @RNAO

RNAO calls out extremist and hateful actions driven by far-right on display in Ottawa

Media release, Toronto Jan. 31, 2022.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) condemns the racist and extremist behaviour that unfolded in Ottawa and led by far-right groups this weekend.

“Our association deeply believes in people’s rights to demonstrate peacefully and to express themselves in a democratic society. However, what we and Canadians right across this country are witnessing does not fall into that category,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO. “Instead, what we are witnessing is an event that started as a convoy of truckers but was hijacked by far-right groups using disinformation and preying on fears around a pandemic,” adds Grinspun.

RNAO urges all of us “to call out any and all racist symbols such as the Confederate flag and swastikas, and the wearing of yellow Stars of David, carried by some protesters. These are symbols of hatred against Black people, Indigenous people, Jewish people, Muslims and other communities targeted by white supremacists. Some protestors also danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and draped a statue of Terry Fox with an anti-vaccine mandate sign and an upside-down Canadian flag. These actions are ignorant and reprehensible, and authorities must not allow them to continue,” Grinspun says.

While most protesters have not engaged in hateful action, almost all demonstrated passivity and indifference toward the many instances of such events. In the words of the late Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, ‘the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.’ “If we do not call out hatred, it will spread,” adds Grinspun.

RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth echoes Grinspun, saying hate cannot and must not be tolerated. “These actions are also endangering Canadians. Masks and vaccines are essential tools in the struggle to regain some normalcy during this protracted pandemic. It is hugely irresponsible to continue to promote anti-mask and anti-vaccine misinformation that is feeding the fifth wave – a wave driven mostly by those who are unvaccinated and do not take precautions.”

Hoffarth says RNAO is also concerned that the occupation of downtown Ottawa prevented local health-care workers from getting to and from their jobs. “Nurses had to work double shifts when their replacements were unable to arrive. There have also been reports that rocks were thrown at an ambulance and racial slurs uttered towards a paramedic. Health providers must be able to carry out their work free from abuse and intimidation. This is one more stressor on top of everything else they have been dealt. They are doing their utmost to care for people, in the name of science and the evidence we have to fight COVID-19.” 

RNAO notes that protestors openly contravened the public health measures put in place to protect people’s health. Some protestors entered a homeless shelter demanding food while others walked into a downtown mall without masks. “This kind of behaviour is beyond insulting,” says Hoffarth. She implores people to “get vaccinated as soon as possible, including getting a third booster to make sure they can protect themselves, their families and friends.”

RNAO calls on politicians, community and faith leaders and everyone else who cares about a healthy and democratic society to condemn the reprehensible actions in Ottawa, and on police forces to put an immediate stop to them. “We are deeply upset with politicians who have been promoting the events in social media, who are minimizing the widespread expression of hate as the actions of ‘a few bad apples,’ and even meeting with them to cater to their most extreme supporters,” add Grinspun. RNAO supports a statement made on Monday, Jan. 31 by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he reminded Canadians that that they must remain true to their values, stand up for what is right and stand up for each other.

Let’s not play Russian roulette with Omicron and embrace it as inevitable

This variant may be less severe, but here's why we should remain vigilant. This column is an opinion from Dr. Cory Neudorf, an interim senior medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. The article appeared in CBC.CA on January 18. The original article is here.  

Waves of COVID-19 keep coming with disturbing frequency, wearing down even those who have followed public health advice up to now. Despite warnings that the pandemic would likely last two to three years with multiple surges requiring an ebb and flow of restrictions, many people feel we should be back to normal with the availability of vaccines, and are feeling something akin to buyer's remorse at this stage.

More transmissible COVID-19 variants have poked holes in our layers of defence, finding ways to get around masks and vaccines in some cases and taking advantage of our need for increased social connection. Due to its billing as a less severe form of COVID-19, is it any wonder that the Omicron variant wave is tempting us to just "get it over with already" and resign ourselves to getting sick?

Unfortunately, science and sober second thought shows us that is likely not a good idea. Eventually, we hope to be able to live with COVID-19 in a more endemic state, with some combination of a less severe variant and sufficient population immunity but we aren't quite there yet.

Here are a few reasons why it may not be a great idea to "get it over with" and catch the Omicron variant of COVID-19:

  • Omicron may be less severe, but it's not mild. Just like previous variants, the risk of complications increases with extremes in age, or in those with other medical conditions, but it also increases with less prior immunity. Omicron doesn't appear to be much different than previous variants in the unimmunized. Its relatively milder effects may be partly due to less severe outcomes in the immunized population.
  • Even if you manage to avoid hospitalization, you can still have long-term symptoms from this viral infection. The so-called long-COVID symptoms, which can last weeks or months for many people, include memory, concentration or sleep problems, aches and pains, fatigue, headache, depression and anxiety, shortness of breath, and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.
  • If you manage to avoid these problems, you can still end up spreading COVID to others even before you know you are contagious, contributing to a runaway growth in cases, including in those who are more vulnerable.
  • Too many cases at once leads to staff shortages in many essential services and adds to hospital overcapacity since a fixed percentage of these people will require hospital treatment and ICU care. This increases the number of COVID deaths and deaths due to other health issues that can't be handled. We all need to do our part to keep numbers low, or at least spread them out over time to allow the system to cope.
  • Also, any immunity you gain from contracting COVID is short term and may be less robust than vaccine-acquired immunity. Infection also carries with it much higher risks of complications than any side effects the vaccine can produce. Catching this strain doesn't actually mean you are done with COVID personally. You will still be at risk from future variants.

Intentionally exposing yourself to any disease is like playing Russian roulette. You don't know if you or those more vulnerable around you will get complications. While it is more transmissible, the Omicron variant is still stopped by the measures that have worked for previous waves, we just need to be more vigilant.

In addition, we are fortunate to have vaccines that are effective and safe against all current COVID variants with a booster dose, protecting many against infection and protecting most from severe disease if they happen to get breakthrough illness.

There is no need for returning to the full lockdowns that were required prior to vaccines, as long as people adhere to public health measures during these resurgences and get booster doses as needed.

Eventually, these waves will recede. They will resolve faster if we continue to use common sense, and think beyond ourselves for the good of our community, especially as more of the global population is immunized. We have come too far to quit before we get to the finish line.


COVID-19 Webinar Series

Feb 14, 2022, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

When: Every second Monday of the month

RNAO's CEO Doris Grinspun will be hosting COVID-19 webinars for health providers.

Topics include:

  • updates on COVID-19 and the health system: latest news and pressing issues
  • guest speakers (as available)
  • questions and answers
  • calls to action

Health providers from Ontario, Canada, and anywhere in the world are welcome to join at no cost.

We are here with you in solidarity. Together, we will continue to tackle COVID-19 with the best tools at hand, including accurate information, calmness, determination and swift actions!

Upcoming webinars:

Feb. 14, 2022, 2 - 4 p.m. ET

Details coming soon. 


Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series: Pressure Injury, Wound Bed Preparation and Debridement Options

Feb 16, 2022, 12:00pm - 12:45pm

The Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series offers 12 monthly, 45-minute webinars hosted by RNAO and facilitated by wound care experts in Ontario. The webinar series will cover best practices in relation to acute and chronic wound prevention, assessment and treatment. 

The mission of the webinar series is to reduce the physiological, psychological and the fiscal burden of wounds throughout Ontario by building clinical expertise using best practices related to wound care. 

For details and registration, go here.

Caring for Residents with Vision Loss: Reducing Falls and Increasing Independence

Feb 16, 2022, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Join RNAO’s Long-Term Care Best Practices Program and Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) for an informative webinar.

This presentation with a panel of speakers will explore the impact of falls on long-term care (LTC) homes.

For details and registration, go here.

MOH EOC Situational Report

We are posting each day the Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC at RNAO’s website. That way, you can access the Ministry’s guidance at any time.

For a detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can go here.

According to the latest Situation Report #607 for February 1, the case count was as follows: 1,035,916 total, + 2,622 change from yesterday; 11,504 deaths, 60 change from yesterday.

Staying in touch          

Keeping in touch and being part of a community helps us get through challenging times. Keep telling us how we, at RNAO, can best support you. Send us your questions, comments, and challenges. Recommend ideas for articles and webinars. Write to me at <dgrinspun@rnao.ca> and copy to < ceo-ea@rnao.ca>. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

Thank you for continuing to be there for your community, everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger. Thanks for encouraging your colleagues, their loved ones and your communities to be fully vaccinated – including booster shots. Keep reminding them that COVID-19 is aerosol and that proper ventilation and N95 masking is not just preferred but necessary.

Let’s also be thoughtful and remember Dr. Tedros when he said that “#VaccineEquity is not an act of charity; it’s the best and fastest way to control the pandemic globally, and to reboot the global economy.” Canada has purchased more vaccines than what it needs, while the poorest countries in the world have almost nothing. Like with other challenges we face – systemic discrimination and climate change – we are not safe until everyone is safe. Vaccines for all – literally for all, across the world – must guide policy in the upcoming months. Let’s learn from the 22-month pandemic and take real action to build a better world.

To everyone – THANK YOU! Please take care of yourself and know that RNAO always stands by you!

Here’s one constant throughout the pandemic. The silver lining of COVID-19 has been to come together and work as one people for the good of all. Let’s join efforts to demand that political leaders protect patients, students, and workers – and secure #Vaccines4All.

Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO


26 Jan - Listening to internationally educated nurses living in Ontario and eager to nurse – go here.

26 Jan - RNAO’s letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario regarding IENs – go here.

26 Jan - Prioritize health system pressures ahead of lifting public health measures – go here.

18 Jan - TousAntiCovid - France's contact tracing tool and health pass – go here.

18 Jan - RNAO’s submission to the Toronto Board of Health on return to school – go here.

12 Jan - A message as we begin 2022 amid a fifth wave – go here.

12 Jan - A health system on the verge of total collapse – An open letter to Premier Doug Ford – go here.

12 Jan - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The December 2021 report – go here.

12 Jan - Canada isn’t responding with foresight when it comes to COVID-19 – go here.

21 Dec - RNAO addresses nursing crisis, Omicrom-led wave and preventing health-system collapse – go here.

14 Dec - What we know about Omicron two weeks after it became a variant of concern – go here.

14 Dec - Omicron variant caseload expected to 'rapidly escalate' in the coming days, Tam says – go here.

14 Dec - Repeal Bill 124 – RNAO asks for pledge of support from Members of the Provincial Parliament – go here.

14 Dec - Ontario’s nursing crisis: Next steps in #RepealBill124 campaign – go here.

7 Dec - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The November 2021 report – go here.

7 Dec - South African envoy calls on Canada to support waiver on COVID-19 vaccines – go here.

7 Dec - RNAO welcomes expansion of boosters and says Omicron is the #VaccineInjusticeVariant – go here.

28 Nov - Omicron edition: Uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty – go here.

28 Nov - The NHS staffing crisis is killing people – and this winter it will be even worse – go here.

28 Nov - A note to Premier Ford: Repeal Bill 124! – go here.

21 Nov - I’m an infectious disease doctor. Yes, I’m vaccinating our 5-year-old against COVID-19. Here is why you should too – go here.

21 Nov - Rich countries only shared 14% of COVID-19 vaccine doses promised to poorer nations – go here.

21 Nov - Nurses gather in Toronto to rally: Recap of #RepealBill124 rally and next steps – go here.

14 Nov - Nurses celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week and call for scope expansion to improve access to the health system – go here.

14 Nov - Congratulations to all NPs during National Nurse Practitioner Week – go here.

14 Nov - Ontario nurses discuss the crisis in the profession during RNAO’s Fall Tour – go here.

14 Nov - Ontario’s RN understaffing crisis: Impact and solution – go here.

6 Nov - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The October 2021 report – go here.

6 Nov - Ontario’s economic statement signals government’s concerns with nursing human resources – go here.

6 Nov - RNAO deeply disappointed with Premier Ford’s decision on mandatory vaccination – go here.

We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. I invite you to look.