March 13 2021 COVID-19 report


Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Saturday, March 13 report during this thirteenth 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 pandemichere. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC can be found here. As always, feel free to share this report and links with anyone interested.Scroll down for information on several webinars.


RNAO leads dozens of organizations in candlelight vigil

This past Thursday, March 11 marked the one-year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. What a year it has been for nurses, other health-care workers, and millions and millions of people affected by this extraordinary and life-changing event! Individuals at home and around the world have experienced loss and disruption in their lives during this trying time. March 11 was a day to reflect on the tragedy that rippled across the globe. It was also a day of hope as vaccinations advance and we prepare to navigate our way out of this disaster.

35 health organizations across Ontario responded to RNAO’s invitation to join in solidarity to commemorate the anniversary through a tribute event and candlelight vigil. We were honoured to have Canada's parliamentary poet laureate Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer – join us virtually. She read an emotional and reflective poem titled “Fasting and Feasting” paying tribute to those who died from the virus. Her poem was deeply moving and truly encapsulated the feeling that there’s been “no room to breathe, yet too much room to ruminate”.

Following the poetry reading at 7 pm, we took a few moments to pause and light a candle to remember the lives, smiles, moments, days and hugs we lost this past year. Our coming togetherhighlights the suffering, the hardship, and the silver-linings of this pandemic.

Much like Florence Nightingale’s lamp, we also lit candles to symbolize the light of tomorrow. We aspire to a future different than the one before the pandemic – and will use the lessons learned to build a better and just future for all.

Taking this moment to light our candles collectivelyonce again demonstrated the power of together-we-can-do-it. Poet Louise Bernice Halfe said it best in the comments: “What is occurring here brings me to tears. Thank you for this honor.”

Thank you to everyone who joined virtually and shared on Twitter (here is one thread). Many health organizations, politicians and members of the public recognized the anniversary using#Candle4COVID and #TogetherWeCanDoIt. Ontario’s Ministry of Health, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton were among the many who shared posts using the hashtags.

This tribute was part of RNAO’s #TogetherWeCanDoIt campaign, which was launched on March 19, 2020 with our #Cheer4HealthWorkersinitiative.

We spoke to many media outlets prior to the tribute event, including CTV News Toronto (22:27 mark) and Global News 980 CFPL. My message: we experienced the many tragedies of this past year together, and it is important for every person anywhere to take a moment to feel together in our pain, to reflect and look ahead with hope.

RNAO’s flame will keep shining bright as we advocate for a just recovery for all.We must tackle longstanding issues in our health system and society that contribute to ill-health, inequality and an endangered planet. That is the way to honour the lives lost to COVID-19. Let us look forward and keep our light shining bright and strong in voice and in deeds.


Getting it right

The Ontario government must remain focused on vaccinating all Ontarians as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

As I write this article, I think about how much nurses and other healthcare workers have given to our province. I think about how many hours we all owe back, at some point, to our families. And I think about the lives lost, including those of our own loved ones. March 11 marked the first anniversary of the declaration of the pandemic by the World Health Organization. Such a sobering moment. So much has happened.

For RNAO, it has been 14 months of standing side-by-side with our nursing colleagues, advocating for their needs and supporting them in their challenges. It has been 14 long months of continuous, strong, evidence-based advice to the Ontario government. The latest urging: to maintain stringent public health measures to mitigate the spread of new variants and to accelerate the vaccine rollout plan. In mid-January RNAO raised important concerns about the vaccine rollout.Our Feb. 10 letter to the premier and minister of health got much attention. In it we detailed the priority areas the government must focus on, including: transparent and detailed plans on how the rollout will unfold; engagement of community providers to administer the vaccine; a focus on the elderly; and targeted efforts to vaccinate vulnerable populations.

Since sharing this letter on social media and issuing action alerts involving RNAO members and others, we have seen promising developments. We also received reassurances directly from the premier and minister of health during our Feb. 25 Queen’s Park Day. They promised the vaccine rollout will not distract us from public health measures that save lives. We insisted strong measuresmust continue if we are to preempt a catastrophic third wave.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these developments, and the work that remains ahead.

On March 3, the government announced it had signed an agreement with the province's pharmacists' association to have vaccines administered in pharmacies. Like nurses, pharmacists are among the community providers RNAO has been urging the government to rely on.  More than 35,000 nurses, physicians and pharmacists working in community care provide every year routine vaccinations through public health, primary care, pharmacies and home care. These established infrastructures use tried-and-true distribution systems. Home care nurses can also provide vaccination to clients who are home bound. These nurses and other community providers must be utilized fully to deliver vaccines 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

On Feb. 28, just a few days before the agreement with the pharmacists was announced, the province unveiled its plan to prioritize the vaccination of people experiencing homelessness, fast-tracking them ahead of other priority groups in the second phase of the rollout. This is an important and often forgotten group of vulnerable individuals for whom RNAO continues to advocate. 

Studies identify older people, men, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions among the most likely to die of COVID-19. These groups have higher levels of co-morbidities and face higher rates of hospitalization and death due to the virus. Vulnerable groups may face difficulty or hesitancy getting the vaccine due to language barriers, misinformation, lack of access to or difficulties using technology, historical injustice, mistrust of government and medical institutions, mobility restrictions, financial constraints, employment concerns and more. These barriers are not mutually exclusive and are often exacerbated by one another.

These barriers must be squarely addressed early in the second phase of the rollout. Targeted plans for each community need to fit the needs of these communities. This is the only way vulnerable populations will get what they require. The plans should be developed with leading involvement and active participation of members of the communities affected.

Also in March, the government announced it would accelerate the vaccination of individuals 60 to 64 following a decision to extend the time from three weeks to up to four months between the first and second dose of the vaccine, as well as the use of AstraZeneca for this age group. RNAO has been clear and strong in its advocacy for older Ontarians to receive the vaccine first. A top insight from science is clear: Age is the primary determinant of mortality.

Persons who are 80 or older are at least 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in their fifties. They are also hundreds of times more likely to die than those 40 or younger. Canadian data finds 96 per cent of those who died from COVID-19 by Feb. 9 were 60 years or older, and 71.2 per cent of hospitalizations had been in that age range. Elderly Ontarians are most likely to be hospitalized, admitted to ICU and/or to die from COVID-19. Vaccination of those 60 and older is vital to save their lives and to diminish the pressure on critical care in our province.

We have also seen movement on our call for an open and transparent plan on how Ontario’s rollout will unfold. The province is ramping up and preparing for large‐scale immunization starting this month. As of March 13, Ontario had administered 1,116,496 doses of 1,457,005 doses delivered to Ontario so far. That means that about 76.6% of the doses delivered have been administered while 23.4% sit in fridges. The proportion sitting in fridges has been falling so the effort is having results. There is a substantial ramping up in the 7-day rolling average of doses administered each day, reaching 36,600 today. Ontario is expected to receive about 1.66 million doses in March, so there is an urgent need to double, within days, the number of doses administered daily to 100,000. The rate of immunization must scale up even more in April and beyond, when five million doses are expected in Ontario each month– requiring us to deliver 160,000 doses per day -- until the campaign is over. Although recent developments are promising much work remains – in terms of logistics –to deliver speedily on this large-scale immunization.

Success will come only through an all-hands-on-deck approach and that means utilizing every available public health nurse (4,482), primary care nurse (10,905), and home care nurse (7,346) in the province – as well as family physicians and pharmacists.  Yet, at the moment, nurses and others are far from being fully utilized, despite our eagerness to help. 

Premier Ford, we want to lend our expertise to this profound, once-in-a-lifetime challenge.




Webinar: Impacts of racism on the mental health of Black nurses

Monday, Mar 15, 2021, 6:30pm - 8:00pm ET


  • generate awareness of the emotional toll overt and covert racism can have on Black nurses and nursing students;
  • explore how systemic anti-Black racism and discrimination affects the mental health and wellbeing of Black people;
  • discuss the ways in which Black nurses’ experiences of racism impacts their educational and career trajectories;
  • identify strategies to address, cope with and build resilience against racial microaggressions; and 
  • review opportunities for advocacy related to increasing mental health supports and services within academic institutions and workplaces of Black nurses.


  • Dr. Oluremi Adewale, RN, BScN, MScN, EdD, President, CEO and Founder of Women Focus Canada Inc. and Mental Health Consultant
  • Aaliyah Hoo Kim, RN, BScN, Clinical Nurse Educator at S.R.T. MedStaff


For more on the Let’s Talk about Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing webinar series and RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force, go here.



Continuing the conversation – An open forum for nurses to share how they're feeling during COVID-19

Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021, 2:30pm - 4:00pm

RNAO is aware nurses across Ontario – especially those working on the frontlines of COVID-19 – are experiencing tremendous levels of physical and emotional stress and burnout. We know this affects your mental health and well-being and that you have less time to devote to your own self care.

RNAO hosts a biweekly virtual open forum series for nurses to share how they're feeling during COVID-19. During these forums, RNAO holds breakout sessions for participants to discuss themes identified in the previous forums, such as dealing with multiple losses, taking care of yourself and more.

All Ontario RNs, NPs, RPNs and nursing students – in all roles and sectors – are invited to take part and share or simply join in to listen to your nursing colleagues.

The next session is on March 17, 2021, 2:30pm - 4:00pm.Register here.

Learn more about the open forums here.

You can find RNAO’s page on Psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemichere.


Watch webinar: Understanding wellness in Indigenous wisdom traditions for caregivers

This webinar was held on March 2, 2012 in partnership with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), Nishnawbe Aski Nation(NAN), Chiefs of Ontario (COO), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), ShkaabeMakwa and the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA).

Target audience: registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and nursing students across care settings, primary care providers, public health and health promotion professionals, allied health-care providers and policy makers. 

Note: this webinar will focus on nurses and health-care providers supporting First Nations communities and organizations; however, all are welcome to attend.

During this presentation, participants will:

  • share the importance of language and what your language says about being well;
  • discuss how your culture helps maintain being well;
  • discuss the vision of a healthy community/healthy peoples; and 
  • discuss the importance of the caregiver role and how much they are appreciated and valued by communities.


  • Theresa Redsky Fiddler (Elder)
  • Ka’nahsohon Kevin Deer (Elder)
  • Perry McLeod-Shabogesic (Elder)
  • Mary Deleary (Elder)

Click here for full bios.

Webinar program at-a-glance

Watch various recorded segments of the webinar here(scroll down the page).


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 more detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can always go here.

Here is a segment from the Situation Report #385 for March 12 (no report on March 13):


Case count as of March 12, 2021 / Nombre de cas le 12 mars 2021

Area / Région

Area / Région

Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier

Deaths / Décès

Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier


+ 899 757

+ 3 018

+ 22 371

+  36


+ 314 891

+ 1 371

+ 7 127

+  18



  • The vaccine tools and resources have been updated and are posted to the HCP website. Highlights of changes are captured within documents, and include information for AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine. Descriptions of each document are also now indicated on the website.


Staying in touch       

Keeping in touch is now more important than ever. Feeling that you are part of a community and that we have your back will help you get through this challenging time. We are also eager to hear from you how we can best support you. Send to us your questions, comments, and challenges. Feel free to also recommend ideas for future webinars. Send these to me at and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten email: RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

Thank you all for being there for our communities – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger and more resilient.These continue to be tough times and we have to reach out to one another in solidarity! Our government, the public and indeed all health professionals – must keep focused. There is hope at the end of this long tunnel. Vaccines are being delivered in large quantities and now we need to fasten the rollout! Hugely important is to continue fighting the spread of the virus to preserve lives. To everyone and most especially our colleagues working in the front lines here at home and in countries around the world hit hard by evil COVID-19 – THANK YOU, and please take care of yourselves and know that RNAO always stands by you!

As we have said before, the silver lining of COVID-19:  Coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!

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



6 Mar - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The February report – go here.

6 Mar - Communication during a Pandemic: How we can endure the pandemic togethergo here.

6 Mar - Webinar: Understanding wellness in Indigenous wisdom traditions for caregivers – go here.

27 Feb - RNAO celebrates Black History Month 2021 – go here.

27 Feb - RNAO’s 21st annual Queen’s Park Day goes virtual – go here.

27 Feb - RNAO’s NP Task Force releases groundbreaking report – Vision for Tomorrow – go here.

20 Feb - Are you struggling with substance use and/or mental illness? – go here.

20 Feb - RNAO hears about COVID-19: A heart-to-heart dialogue for nurses – go here.

20 Feb - With new variants growing, concerns mount about the premature lifting of restrictions – go here.

18 Feb - Anti-Black racism and discrimination in nursing: The power of mentorship in nursing education – go here.

13 Feb - RNAO’s letter to the premier on the vaccine rollout and the current context – go here.

6 Feb - Use community care providers to ramp up vaccinations! – go here.

6 Feb - RNAO’s continuing media profile: The January report – go here.

30 Jan - The PrOTCT plan for nurses: Counseling vaccine hesitant patients & colleagues – go here.

30 Jan - Please sign action alert urging Premier Ford to suffocate COVID-19, NOW!go here.

23 Jan - Mitigating the spread in Toronto shelter settings – go here.

23 Jan - Home care nurses are #ReadyToVaccinate – go here.

23 Jan - Hurtful comments about law enforcement – go here.

15 Jan - The escalating catastrophe of the COVID-19 second wave in Ontario – go here.

15 Jan - Progress in vaccine distribution: Updates, issues and concerns – go here.

8 Jan - RNAO raises its voice in the media: Media coverage in December 2020 – go here.

8 Jan - A practicum experience at RNAOgo here.

8 Jan - RNCareers: Help during the holidays and help for next phases of this pandemic – go here.

29 Dec - Public health nurses in schools – go here.

29 Dec - Government failing Ontarians as virus runs rampant and endangers livesgo here.

29 Dec - We need your help in addressing urgent staffing needs in health facilitiesgo here.

29 Dec - Best wishes for the holidaygo here.

18 Dec - Providing compassionate nursing care in an age of artificial intelligence – go here.

18 Dec - RNAO continues to express grave concern regarding the second wave – go here.

18 Dec - Long-term care staffing plan lacks urgency and legislated action – go here.

11 Dec - RNAO gravely concerned about the second pandemic wave – go here.

11 Dec - Health organizations plead for Ontarians to celebrate holiday season safely – go here.

4 Dec - Continuing the conversation: Mobilizing collective action for LTC reform – go here.

4 Dec - Nurses urge dedicated funding for infection prevention and control in LTC – go here.

27 Nov - RNAO, once again, plays major role in the media during November – go here.

27 Nov - COVID-19 in long-term care: A nurse’s witness statementgo here.

20 Nov - Government’s measures too late and insufficient; calling for a COVID-Zero strategy – go here.

13 Nov - Mobilizing collective action for long-term care reform in Canada – go here.

13 Nov - RNAO’s media conference to address the crisis in long-term care – go here.

6 Nov - Fall 2020 provincial budget once again leaves vulnerable populations to fend for themselves – go here.

6 Nov - Elections in the US: A path to healing and respect for sciencego here.

30 Oct - 2S-LGBTQ+ Seniors: Our Existence is Our Resistance! – go here.

23 Oct - Responding to the second wave of COVID-19: RNAO continues to speak out – go here.

16 Oct - RNAO advocates for national long-term care standards in Canada – go here.

16 Oct - Reta’s Story  (a contribution of Judy Smith, Reta’s daughter-in-law) – go here.

9 Oct - RNAO relieved that Premier Ford engages late, but essential, action – go here.

9 Oct - Patient-centred-care – the dream and the reality – go here.

2 Oct - RNAO urges stricter measures to combat rapidly rising number of COVID-19 infections – go here.

25 Sept - Nurses say throne speech advances A Just Recovery for All – go here.

18 Sept - Is Your Hospital Using Blood Wisely? – go here.

18 Sept - RNAO calls to Delay Action on CNO Council Decision to Expand RPN Scope – go here.

11 Sept - International Overdose Awareness Day: Statement from RNAO – go here.

11 Sept - RNAO joins global movement: A Just Recovery for All – go here.

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


Information Resources

Public Health Ontario maintains an excellent resource site on materials on COVID-19. This is an essential resource for Ontario health providers. 

Ontario’s health provider website is updated regularly with useful resources.

Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.

Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.

Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.

The World Health Organization plays a central role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. See here and here.

You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns HopkinsCSSE.