TIMELINE: How the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in York Region
The novel coronavirus hit the region in late February 2020 and it soon became a hot spot in Ontario with outbreaks in Aurora, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, and Vaughan
July 29, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions of people and is taking a massive toll worldwide, hit York Region in late February and began to snowball within a few weeks. It has gone on to infect more than 50,000 residents and claimed more than 700 lives.
Here's a timeline of how the pandemic unfolded in York Region:
Canada's first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was an Ontario man --from the Toronto area --who returned from travelling in Wuhan, China where the virus first erupted in late December. By this point, it had infected more than 4,600 people and led to at least 106 deaths in China. On Jan. 27, two days later, the wife of the first confirmed case becomes the second “presumptive positive” case of novel coronavirus in Canada.
Those numbers set off alarm bells in Markham, which has a high percentage of residents with close ties to China, many of whom may have travelled to the country for New Year's celebrations.
York Region reports its first presumptive case of coronavirus --a 34-year-old Richmond Hill woman who returned home Feb. 25 after travelling to Iran. She had developed symptoms prior to her return and was symptomatic during her flight home.
MARCH 4 --MARCH 10
Despite more coronavirus cases popping up in York Region, Dr. Karim Kurji, York’s medical officer of health, says the risk to residents remains low and there’s no evidence of community spread within the region. Programs continue to run and facilities remain open.
Many people planning to travel outside the country for March Break, seem to be sticking to their plans.
Premier Doug Ford encourages people who are planning to go away for March Break to go and enjoy themselves, but announces schools will be closed for two weeks after the break.
MARCH 13 --MARCH 16
On March 13, one day after Ford's announcement, the federal government urges Canadians not to leave the country. York Region's three hospitals begin opening dedicated assessment centres for rapid screening of COVID-19 as the number of cases continues to rise. Meanwhile, events start being cancelled in droves and municipalities start announcing facility closures and temporary staff layoffs.
York Region reports its first two cases of non-travel related transmission --a woman in her 20s from East Gwillimbury and a man in his 80s from Vaughan. They contracted the virus through close contact with other people who were infected with the virus. By this point, the number of cases in the region has climbed to 22.
MARCH 18 --MARCH 22
As the number of COVID-19 cases starts to snowball, an outbreak is reported at a Markham seniors home and the region reports its first death due to the virus March 22.
There's also a rise in panic buying, while more municipalities declare a state of emergency, close their doors to the public and continue cancelling events and activities.
The provincial government orders all non-essential businesses to close, though the list of what businesses are deemed essential is quite long. Public health announces that a front-line health-care worker at Markhaven Home for Seniors in Markham has tested positive for the coronavirus, the beginning of a trend that will start to play out elsewhere in the region.
MARCH 25 --MARCH 28
Municipalities take more drastic measures to ensure physical distancing rules are followed to slow the spread of the virus within its parks, while employees at two Longos stores test positive for COVID-19.
MARCH 29 --MARCH 31
The death toll from the virus climbs more rapidly amid reports of more outbreaks at two gyms in Woodbridge, a home for people with developmental disabilities in Thornhill, another long-term care home in Markham and at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.
At the same time, front-line health-care workers are sounding the alarm about the growing shortage of personal protective equipment leading some local companies and individuals to take action.
APRIL 1 --APRIL 4
In a bid to help struggling businesses as well as residents laid off as the economy slows to a crawl amid widespread shutdowns, many local municipalities implement tax relief measures. At the same time, the number of cases and local deaths continues to climb.
APRIL 5 --APRIL 7
Students and parents begin the learning at home journey while municipalities start getting tough on people not physical distancing and continue to lay off staff as the death toll climbs to 16 and the number of daily cases surges.
APRIL 10 --APRIL 13
An outbreak at Participation House, a home for adults with physical and developmental disabilities, triggers a call for emergency support. Meanwhile, the situation across the region worsens as health-care workers, many of them staff in long-term care homes, fall ill.
APRIL 15 --APRIL 18
As the situation at Participation House becomes more dire, the number of long-term care homes facing outbreaks rises again. Amid this backdrop, more municipal workers are handed layoff notices.
APRIL 20 --APRIL 23
The number of coronavirus cases in York Region tops 1,000 amid a dramatic rise in the number of health-care workers infected with the deadly virus, including 16 at a Newmarket seniors home, and a surge in outbreaks at long-term care homes. Many business owners worry whether or not they will survive despite substantial government financial aid packages.
APRIL 24 --APRIL 27
Sensing hope that the outbreak may have reached its peak and the number of new cases may soon start to decline, some municipalities start discussing when facilities and business might be able to reopen. The provincial government, meanwhile, has extended school closures until May 31.
Vaughan's mayor releases detail about an outbreak at Costco in Woodbridge as the city and neighbouring Markham see the number of cases continue to rise more than in other parts of the region. The number of health-care workers testing positive also keeps climbing.
APRIL 28 --APRIL 30
Municipalities begin trying out new methods for addressing residents questions and concerns about the pandemic and expand financial relief packages to help those impacted most severely. New Leaf: Living and Learning Together, which operates 13 residences for adults with intellectual disabilities, has seen 50 COVID-19 cases between six residences in East Gwillimbury and Georgina.
MAY 1 --MAY 4
York Region's medical officer of health strikes a more optimistic tone and is starting to talk about a return to normalcy --albeit a new normal. Meanwhile, Southlake Regional Health Centre becomes the first hospital in York Region to declare an outbreak after two patients and one health care worker tested positive for the novel coronavirus and more grocery store employees in Vaughan contract the virus.
MAY 5 --May 8
Organizers of the Markham Fair announce the cancellation of the annual fall festival, for the first time in the event's 176-year history, amid uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
York Region public health releases details of outbreaks at FreshPoint Canada and Saputo facilities in Vaughan and later notes that workplaces outside the health-care field are becoming the new front in the local battle against the virus.
Garden centres, hardware stores and other businesses begin to prepare for reopening as the provincial government eases restrictions, but they must follow health and safety guidelines.
May 9 --May 12
The provincial government announces the reopening date for 500 Ontario parks and conservation reserves.
York Region Public Health re-categorizes several confirmed COVID-19 cases, resulting in a spike in the number of infected health-care workers on May 11. A total of 247 health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in York Region, including one fatality, as the region's number of confirmed cases climbs to 1,905.
With much less traffic on the roads, York Regional Police report a steep rise in speeding and stunt driving charges being laid. In the overnight period for May 11 to 12, officers impounded nine vehicles after drivers were caught speeding in excess of 50 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit.
May 13 --May 14
After 58-days under a state of emergency, Premier Doug Ford prepares to reopen more sectors of the economy as the Victoria Day long weekend approaches. Mackenzie Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak May 13 after five staff test positive.
May 15 --May 18
A COVID-19 outbreak is declared at Markham Stouffville Hospital after seven health-care workers tested positive. Several long-term care homes across York Region continue to struggle with outbreaks among residents and staff members.
May 19 --May 22
Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announce schools across Ontario will remain closed until the end of June and that overnight camps will not be allowed to open in the summer. Some York Region municipalities begin reopening of local parks.
Good news emerges as long-term care homes in Markham declare outbreaks over. Meanwhile, reports surface of large outbreaks at two companies in Vaughan. The City of Markham says it will be awhile before any of the 1,571 part-time staff who were temporarily laid off are rehired.
Nurse Sarah Wizawski waits for supplies at the entrance of the COVID-19 medical assessment field tent at Southlake Regional Health Centre. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
May 23 --May 25
York Region, and the province, see a surge in positive cases with some officials speculating it may be due to people gathering to celebrate Mother's Day back on May 10. The number of health-care workers who have contracted the virus climbs to 291, with two deaths.
MAY 26 --MAY 29
As the provincial government forges ahead with reopening more sectors of the economy, some hospitals in York Region expand testing for coronavirus and municipalities start to announce the cancellation of summer camps.
York Region continues to see outbreaks at local stores and businesses including a large manufacturing plant in Vaughan. The region's medical officer of health tells councillors that the fight against COVID-19 is not yet won. But some good news emerges out of Aurora as an outbreak at a long-term care, which claimed 11 lives, is declared over.
MAY 30 --JUNE 1
York Region continues to see outbreaks in workplaces, particularly at retail outlets and large warehouses, as well as long-term-care homes as the provincial government forges ahead with plans to reopen sectors of the economy. The number of health-care workers infected with the virus also continues to climb.
Meanwhile, more municipalities announce plans to cancel summer camps and recreation programs.
JUNE 2 --JUNE 4
The provincial government, on June 2, extended the state of emergency until the end of the month, prompting some experts to warn that the lockdown is starting to harm people's health more than it's helping. As the battle against COVID-19 rages in York Region long-term care homes, more and more residents with loved ones in these facilities are expressing concerns about the level of care they are getting.
JUNE 5 --JUNE 7
The struggle to contain an outbreak at a Woodbridge longterm-care home leads officials to put the for-profit facility under the management of a nearby hospital and send in the military to help.
Businesses, unions, community groups, agencies and associations across York Region continue to show a generosity of spirit by donating to local food banks and other organizations by supporting those in need during the pandemic.
JUNE 7 --JUNE 10
The provincial government announced June 8 that effective June 12 it will lift some restrictions on bars and restaurants in areas outside the GTA --not in York Region --where the number of cases are lower.
The government also announced it is moving to increase the size of social gatherings of people from outside the same family from five to 10 people and allow places of worship to reopen at reduced capacity.
Vaughan has become a COVID-19 hot spot in York Region, but it’s difficult to determine exactly how and why that happened. | Ryan Imgrund Graphic
JUNE 11 --JUNE 14
In the wake of the provincial government's announcement that places of worship can reopen, many in York Region say they won't be rushing to resume services. Local farmers' markets are also grappling with how to carry on amid new restrictions and safety protocols.
JUNE 15 --JUNE 18
As the number of new daily COVID-19 cases across Ontario continues in a downward trend, the provincial government forges ahead with plans to allow more communities, including York Region, to move to Stage 2, allowing more businesses to reopen. Meanwhile, York Region continues to see outbreaks at some local retailers.
JUNE 19 --JUNE 22
Several York Region hair salons, barbershops, restaurant patios and malls opened for business June 19 as the region entered Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan. At the same time, the provincial government directed school boards to plan for three possible reopening scenarios in September.
JUNE 23 --JUNE 26
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti struck a nerve with many residents when he tabled a request asking the Region of York to consider making masks or face coverings mandatory in most businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the Town of Georgina announces two of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus adding yet another workplace with infected employees to the growing list in York Region.
JUNE 27 --JUNE 29
The Ontario government rejects a request from several big city mayors in the GTA to make it mandatory to wear masks while indoors in public spaces across the province. The move means local municipalities will be forced to implement their own bylaws on mandatory masks, which York Region will debate July 9.
JUNE 30 --July 2
As York Region residents wait to find out if masks will be made mandatory at indoor public spaces, new rules for transit users come into effect requiring drivers and riders on York Region Transit to cover up. Meanwhile, families across the region are figuring out ways to keep their kids busy and active given that many summer camps and recreation programs have been cancelled.
JULY 3 --JULY 5
Just two weeks after Markville Mall reopened an employee at the Rogers store is reported to have tested positive for coronavirus in what later turns out to be a false positive test. Over at Vaughan Mills, shoppers lined up for hours to get into a store in the outlet mall.
The number of health care workers that have contracted the virus has reached 347 with two deaths as of July 5. These cases represented about 11 per cent of the region's total confirmed COVID-19 cases, which reached 3,076.
JULY 6 --JULY 9
York Region, following the lead of other Ontario municipalities, announced July 9 masks will be made mandatory at indoor public spaces as of July 17. At the same time, concerns are being raised some private labs have been reporting false positive tests including in the case of an employee of a store at Markville Mall.
As the number of new COVID-29 cases shows signs of steady decline, the province announces many regions of the province --outside the GTA --can move to Stage 3 of the reopening plan, which means larger outdoor gatherings as well as the opening of indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and cinemas as of July 17. But York Region, Toronto and Peel remain in Stage 2.
JULY 16 --JULY 17
As many communities outside the GTA move into Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan, York Region’s mandatory mask policy came into effect July 17. The region also continues to see outbreaks at local businesses including one at a Wendy's restaurant in Newmarket and First Markham Place indoor mall.
The provincial government announced that York Region will join several other Ontario communities in moving to Stage 3 of the reopening plan on July 24. That means indoor restaurants, bars, and gyms and outdoor playgrounds, closed since the March 17 state of emergency was declared, will be allowed to reopen.
York Region Public Health says Vaughan, the area hardest hit by COVID-19 in region, could soon see mobile testing sites touring the city.
JULY 21 --JULY 23
Schomberg joins a growing list of communities that have seen a troubling trends of young people gathering at large parties as the pandemic drags on leading to a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The number of active cases continues to rise as York Region is poised to enter Stage 3 of the province's recovery plan.
JULY 24 --JULY 27
York Region officially enters Stage 3, July 24, meaning indoor restaurants, bars, and gyms and outdoor playgrounds can reopen, but Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan remains closed. On July 27, Newmarket's South Lake Hospital announces that for the first time since March 16 it has no COVID-19 positive patients.
The province unveiled its plans to have schools reopen safely in the fall, including mandating masks for students in Grade 4 and up, and limiting how often some high school students will actually be in the classroom. | Metro Creative Service
JULY 30 --JULY 31
The provincial government, on July 30, lays out its plan for students returning to school in September. A short time later, the York Region District School Board releases more detailed information about what school will look like for its students. There was swift backlash from parents across the province following the announcement that school is going to resume.
The Ontario government, on July 31, also introduced new rules for bars and restaurants, mandating they keep records of their clients to help track any possible spread of COVID-19.
AUGUST 1 --AUGUST 3
The Region of York announces that effective Aug. 7 masks or face coverings will be required in common areas of condominium buildings, apartment buildings and other multi-residential buildings. In Georgina, residents are raising concerns about the high number of visitors flocking to town to beat the heat and enjoy the Lake Simcoe waterfront.
York Region's real estate market is making a strong come back after a slowdown when the pandemic first hit.
The City of Vaughan announces that many facilities, including city hall, will remain closed until 2021.
AUGUST 10 --AUGUST 12
As the deadline looms for York Region families to decide whether to send their kids to school or have them learn from home, many parents and teachers voice their concerns about Ontario's plan for reopening schools.
AUGUST 13 --AUGUST 15
Amid growing concerns from parents and teachers, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s top doctor, hold a virtual town hall to provide more information about what the return to school plans might look like.
York Region District School Board announces it will spend up to $30 million from its $62-million in reserves to help implement measures to safely reopen its schools amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, municipalities are learning how much funding they will get from the federal and provincial governments to help with reopening.
AUGUST 18 --AUGUST 20
Survey results show most parents of students in York Region's public school want their kids back in the classroom in September, but they are also seeking more information about safety plans including what will happen if there is an outbreak in a classroom.
Connie Goldman, a teacher and parent, helps her daughter, Maddy, 16, prepare for high school. Sister Abbie, 13, (back) will be schooled online. | Susie Kockerscheidt/Metroland
AUGUST 21 --AUGUST 23
After days of reporting single-digit increases, York Region Public Health reported 18 new COVID-19 cases, but the cause of the spike turned out to be a database error.
AUGUST 25 --AUGUST 27
A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Union Villa seniors home Aug. 25 due to a staff member testing positive. Throughout York Region the number of new cases swings between single digits and the mid to high teens.
York Region Public Health officials try to calm the concern of parents, teachers and school board trustees as the return to classes looms.
AUGUST 28 --AUGUST 30
While the province's case numbers start to climb over 100 daily, York Region saw just seven new cases, four of them in Markham, on Aug. 28.
A Newmarket pub became the first restaurant in York Region to be fined for COVID-19 rule violations and was handed an $880 ticket.
SEPTEMBER 1 --SEPTEMBER 3
York Public Health announces that an employee who worked at three Markham gas station tested positive for COVID-19 but the overall number of reported new cases in York Region remains low.
Teachers heading back to school to set up classrooms across Ontario begin sharing photos of what they will look like when students return as anxiety among some parents continues to climb.
SEPTEMBER 4 --SEPTEMBER 6
Public health officials in York and Toronto issued a request Sept. 4 asking people who attended church events in North York and Vaughan to contact them for help with tracing after 15 people tested positive for COVID-19.
The same day, York Region Public Health issued a public notice to assist with contact tracing for individuals riding a Viva bus north from Finch Avenue in Toronto to Bernard Avenue in Richmond Hill.
School bus drivers share some of their concerns about what the return to school will look like for them and students riding buses.
York Region Public Health announced Sept. 6 it received laboratory confirmation that 23 people attending a series of wedding events in Markham, Whitchurch-Stouffville and Toronto between Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 have tested positive for COVID-19.
SEPTEMBER 7 --SEPTEMBER 9
More details start to emerge about what the return to school will look like as parents plead for information.
A City of Vaughan employee tests positive for COVID-19 as the region sees a sharp rise in the number of new cases, with 27 reported.
SEPTEMBER 10 --SEPTEMBER 12
Several long-term-care facilities in York Region are experiencing a second COVID-19 outbreak including Markham’s Participation House. The centre for adults with developmental and physical disabilities went through a 59-day outbreak in April that led to 95 per cent of residents being infected and seven deaths.
The outbreaks come as the province is seeing the number of new cases climb above 200 with hot spots in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. Meanwhile, York's chief medical officer is growing concerned about the number of “reckless” residents trying to skirt the safety rules.
SEPTEMBER 13 --SEPTEMBER 15
As Ontario sees the number of new cases climb over 200 for a third day and school resumes in earnest, a staff member in the before and after school program at a Catholic school in Woodbridge tests positive for COVID-19.
Then, on Sept. 15, a Markham elementary school reports the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in York Region's two largest school boards.
The same day two employees at a Richmond Hill McDonalds are reported to be presumed positive for COVID-19 and the restaurant was shut down for cleaning.
SEPTEMBER 16 --SEPTEMBER 18
An entire class at Markham’s Little Rouge Public School is being advised to self-isolate for 14 days after a student tested positive for the virus.
A Vaughan woman is leading COVID-19 class action lawsuit against Villa Colombo long-term-care home.
The York Catholic District school board closed school libraries and laid off 30 library technicians amid the pandemic, sparking a protest outside the board offices.
York Region hospitals, like those in many large urban areas around Ontario, appear to have been caught off-guard by an onslaught of people wanting to be tested for COVID-19 this week as the number of cases continue to rise.
SEPTEMBER 19 --SEPTEMBER 21
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces tightened restrictions on private gatherings, reduced to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors with higher fines for violations as case counts soar to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic.
The rise is being fuelled, in large part, by parties and social gatherings, causing public health officials to sound the alarm.
Parents are reporting wide ranging experiences with online schooling, much different from in the spring when many were unhappy with virtual learning.
SEPTEMBER 22 --SEPTEMBER 24
The provincial government announced up to 60 pharmacies across Ontario, but only one in York Region, will begin offering free COVID-19 tests starting Sept. 25.
A person who used York Region Transit routes in Richmond Hill and Vaughan Sept. 15 has tested positive, York Region Public Health announces.
York Region is seeing an average of 32 new cases a day, not as steep as an in April, but the second wave was not expected until November when the cold weather and flu season set in. That’s not how it worked out.
SEPTEMBER 25 --SEPTEMBER 28
Yet another York Region Transit Rider tests positive for COVID-19 and Markville Mall reveals another outbreak, this time involving three people.
Public health officials announce a staff member from Stouffville District Secondary School has tested positive for COVID-19.
SEPTEMBER 29 --OCTOBER 1
Employees at a Tim Hortons near Stouffville and the Keg restaurant in Newmarket test positive. As of Sept. 30, there have been 25 cases reported in York Region schools and four in child-care centres.
Many indoor playground owners across the region are struggling to keep their doors open.
OCTOBER 2 --OCTOBER 4
After Ontario records its highest ever number of daily new cases, 732, Oct. 2, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti says ramped up restrictions being applied to current hot spots should extend into York Region.
The popular Unionville Arms pub announces it will close temporarily after an employee tests positive.
Two McDonald’s restaurants in Newmarket reopened following a temporarily closure after an employee who worked at both outlets tested positive for COVID-19.
OCTOBER 5 --OCTOBER 7
York Region is seeing around 70 new cases daily, with the majority of them in the southern municipalities of Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill. Vaughan, in particular, has been a hot spot with nearly half the 71 new cases reported Oct. 6 coming from the city.
York Region Public Health received a report Oct. 5 that a student at Glad Park Public School in Stouffville tested positive for COVID-19. As of Oct. 7, there have been 47 confirmed cases at York Region schools and child-care centres.
Doug Ford elbow bump
Premier Doug Ford elbow bumps Liberal MP Francesco Sorbara at a news conference in Vaughan, a hot spot for COVID-19 cases. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
OCTOBER 8 --OCTOBER 10
Ontario sets a new one-day record for new cases on Oct. 8 with a total of 797 prompting public health officials to recommend the provincial government impose new pandemic restrictions.
That same day York Catholic District School Board announced it shut down eight classes at Vaughan’s Our Lady Of Fatima Catholic Elementary School after five confirmed cases.
Then, on Oct. 9, Premier Doug Ford slaps new restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, theatres, weddings and more in the COVID-19 hot spots of Toronto, Peel and Ottawa after the province set a daily record with 939 new cases.
Despite seeing case numbers rise significantly, York Region escapes having new restrictions put in place.
OCTOBER 11 --OCTOBER 13
York Region continues to see a high number of new cases, recording 76 Oct. 13 across eight of the region's nine municipalities.
The consistent rise in case numbers causes people to start wondering will Thanksgiving weekend prove to be the weekend that COVID-19 came home to roost in York Region?
OCTOBER 14 --OCTOBER 16
York Region reports 128 new cases of COVID-19 Oct. 14, a record high for the region. The following day 66 new cases and two deaths were reported.
Premier Doug Ford says in an Oct. 15 news conference that the steady rise in COVID-19 cases has York Region on the verge of joining Toronto, Peel and Ottawa in modified Stage 2 status with bans on indoor dining and closures of gyms and movie theatres.
Then on Oct. 16, Ford announced York Region is heading back to Stage 2 effective Oct. 19.
OCTOBER 17 --OCTOBER 19
As cases of COVID-19 increase in York Region, the provincial government announced Oct. 17 that new restrictions are being imposed on long-term care homes.
The hospitality sector, especially banquet halls, is reeling from the impact of pandemic restrictions.
York Region joined Toronto, Peel and Ottawa in modified Stage 2 status Oct. 19, for at least 28 days, amid rising case counts.
The same day, Premier Doug Ford, based on advice from public health experts, recommended kids in those areas should not go trick-or-treating this Halloween.
OCTOBER 20 --OCTOBER 22
York Region recorded 79 new infections Oct. 22, down from 103 cases Oct. 21 --the same day Sobeys announced three employees at a Thornhill store tested positive for COVID-19.
Several local gym owners are frustrated they have been forced to shut down as York Region is back into Stage 2 despite the fact, they say, their facilities strictly adhere to COVID-19 procedures.
Given the high case counts in York Region, 28 days will probably not be long enough to get the region out of its modified Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions, Dr. Kurji told York Region council Oct. 22.
Dimitri Giankoulas, owner of Pure Motivation Fitness Studio in Vaughan, is frustrated his gym and many others have been targeted by closures despite strictly adhering to COVID-19 safety and sanitation procedures and policies. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
OCTOBER 23 --OCTOBER 25
York Region remains a hot spot for new COVID cases as Ontario continues to see numbers climb including a record 1,000, cases Oct. 25, two weeks after Thanksgiving.
Vaughan, one of the hardest hit cities, saw a cluster of cases related to a Thanksgiving family get-together. That announcement by public health came a day after they released information about a person who travelled on several public transit routes tested positive.
OCTOBER 26 --OCTOBER 28
A large wedding at a Vaughan banquet hall sparks at least 44 cases as numbers in York and in Ontario remain high. Also in Vaughan, a long-term care home is one of several across the province being hit hard by the second wave of cases.
Event organizers and parents across York Region are scrambling to figure out how to celebrate Halloween safely amid Stage 2 restrictions and public health officials recommending that kids forgo trick-or-treating.
Meanwhile, some parents of students in York's Catholic school board say the hybrid learning model, set up due to a high number of students opting for online learning, isn't working.
OCTOBER 29 --OCTOBER 31
Tim Hortons in Stouffville closes temporarily after two employees test positive. Elder’s Mills Public School, a French-immersion elementary school in Woodbridge, closed its doors after seven cases were confirmed.
Another Woodbridge retirement home, Villa Da Vinci Retirement Residence, has been rocked by a fast-spreading outbreak as the number of daily new cases across Ontario continues to stay above 900.
NOVEMBER 1 --NOVEMBER 3
Local small business owners continue to question why York Region was pushed back into Stage 2, warning they may not survive if restrictions continues.
Premier Doug Ford announces Nov.3 that the province is moving to a new colour-coded system for COVID-19 restrictions and that York Region, along with Peel and Ottawa, will move to the Orange, or "Restrict" category, allowing businesses that were closed under Modified Stage 2 to reopen with "intermediate measures."
NOVEMBER 4 --NOVEMBER 6
A Woodbridge elementary school was closed Nov. 2 following an outbreak involving at least nine people. Public health authorities have stepped in to help gain control over a massive outbreak of COVID-19 at a Vaughan retirement home, where almost two thirds of residents have been infected.
York Region recorded 123 new COVID-19 cases Nov. 5 and two additional deaths in Markham.
NOVEMBER 7 --NOVEMBER 9
As Ontario continues to see record-setting numbers of new cases, schools across York Region record a combined total of 100 COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 9 affecting classes in Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughan and Whitchurch- Stouffville.
NOVEMBER 10 --NOVEMBER 12
York Region along with Toronto and Peel remain hot spots as Ontario continues to see record new daily COVID-19 cases, outpacing numbers seen during the first wave back in the spring. New modelling shows the province could see as many as 6,000 daily cases by mid-December.
York Region public health reports two late October weddings in Vaughan have been linked to at least 17 positive tests for COVID-19. Meanwhile, schools in Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan closed classrooms due to outbreaks.
COVID-19 is being acquired in everyday activities, York Region’s medical officer of health said in mid-November amid rising case counts. | Gisele WintonSarvis/Torstar
NOVEMBER 13 --NOVEMBER 15
Amid rising cases, the provincial government announced Friday, Nov. 13 York Region will be placed in the new Red/Control zone starting Monday, Nov. 16 --meaning that while most businesses will be allowed to remain open there will be stricter restrictions.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, York Region reported 138 new cases and 179 new cases on Sunday, Nov. 15.
NOVEMBER 16 --NOVEMBER 18
As York Region enters a heightened level of COVID-19 restrictions amid consistently high new case counts, Dr. Karim Kurji warns that increasingly people are catching COVID-19 through close prolonged contact with an infectious person and through "everyday activities."
The public health department, on Nov. 17, issued another warning after 16 coronavirus cases were linked to a wedding in York Region. The same day, Markham Stouffville Hospital declared an outbreak in the hospital's transitional care unit.
NOVEMBER 19 --NOVEMBER 21
York Region politicians, on Nov. 19, pleaded with the province not to include the region in an anticipated lock down expected to be announced Nov. 20 targeting hot spots such as Toronto and Peel Region.
On Nov. 20, the region reported a 157 new cases, and later in the day, public health issued an alert about a cluster of coronavirus cases connected to fitness classes held in Aurora.
NOVEMBER 22 --NOVEMBER 24
York Region announces Nov. 22 that effective Nov. 23 it will charge businesses that don’t take steps to prevent or stop the spread of COVID-19. The same day a long-term care home in Richmond Hill is issued an order by the health unit for inadequate staffing levels and failure to comply with infection, prevention and control practices during a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.
As of Nov. 23, there are 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in York's public school board and 36 cases in the Catholic board.
On Nov. 24, York Region surpassed 10,000 positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started.
NOVEMBER 25 --NOVEMBER 27
The owner of a King Township property linked to the spread of COVID-19 has been charged for failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
The Region of York announces Nov. 26 it plans to crack down on businesses violating COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the busy Black Friday shopping weekend. The same day six cases of COVID-19 are confirmed at the Richmond Hill Costco.
At least six businesses across York Region --including Vaughan Mills and a Costco --are charged and fined after a special Black Friday “blitz” Nov. 27 by the region’s COVID-19 enforcement task force. The charges come the same day that Ontario smashes its daily record of new infections with 1,855.
NOVEMBER 28 --NOVEMBER 30
Mackenzie Health takes over management of a Richmond Hill long-term care home grappling with an outbreak.
Several businesses, including Vaughan Mills mall again, face charges as York Region continues its crack down on those violating restrictions.
York Region's confirmed case count climbed to 10,634 with 305 deaths on Nov. 29 as the region sees a spike of 251 new infections.
DECEMBER 1 --DECEMBER 3
York Region Public Health continues to lay charges against businesses across the region for violating COVID-19 safety rules.
Some schools in York Region began asymptomatic COVID-19 testing this week. So far, the region's hospitals appear to be weathering the second wave, but the situation is "fluid," Dr. Kurji says.
Despite continuing high case counts, York Region avoids being moved into lockdown as the provincial government moves three other public health regions into zones with stronger safety measures.
DECEMBER 5 --DECEMBER 7
As Ontario sets a new daily record high with 1,924 cases Dec. 6, York Region records 200 new infections, down from 262 Dec. 5. There have been 12,205 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the region as of Dec. 6 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health.
Following a crack down by York Region Public Health Inspectors, Newmarket Mayor John Taylor enacts an emergency order allowing bylaw officers to ticket businesses not complying with COVID-19 measures.
Meanwhile, a Catholic High School in Vaughan is closed until the new year effective Dec. 7 due to COVID-19.
Dr. Karim Kurji shares the news that a vaccine could soon be available in York Region.| Steve Somerville/Metroland
DECEMBER 8 --DECEMBER 10
As schools continue to see cases popping up and businesses continue being fined for violating safety rules, York Region politicians appeal to the province to not put York Region into lockdown.
Dr. Kurji shares the news Dec. 10 that a vaccine could be available in the region within a couple of weeks.
DECEMBER 11 --DECEMBER 13
The province announces Dec. 11 that York Region and Windsor are heading into lockdown Dec. 14 as case counts fail to come down.
Some local malls respond to the news by extending shopping hours while several municipalities issue pleas to residents to do their part to halt the spread of COVID-19.
DECEMBER 14 --DECEMBER 16
Local grocery stores and restaurants keep seeing COVID-19 cases crop up in employees.
School closures also continue across the region as case counts in the GTA reach new heights prompting concerns among provincial public health officials that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.
DECEMBER 17 --DECEMBER 19
Eleven people, including a three-year-old, contracted COVID-19 at a birthday party in Vaughan.
The province announced Dec. 18 that over the next two weeks, it will be distributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 17 hospital sites in Ontario, including Southlake hospital and Mackenzie Health.
DECEMBER 20 --DECEMBER 22
York Region hospitals join other GTA hospitals Dec. 20 in calling for "stronger" lockdown measures from the province as new cases of COVID-19 reach record heights of over 2,000 daily.
The following day Premier Doug Ford announces all of Ontario is heading into lockdown starting Boxing Day (Dec. 26) with southern Ontario communities, including York Region, staying in lockdown until Jan. 23.
The region releases data from asymptomatic testing done at selected schools in early December that shows only 17 of 3,105 tests were positive.
The crackdown on COVID-19 rule violators results in an $880 fine for a Vaughan homeowner and charges against dozens of businesses.
DECEMBER 23 --DECEMBER 25
Southlake hospital and Mackenzie Health begin immunizations with the new COVID-19 vaccine.
York Region public health is looking at options for providing an isolation centre for people living in multi-generational homes, homes with multiple residents or people living together in small spaces.
DECEMBER 26 --DECEMBER 29
Southlake hospital confirms Dec. 29 an outbreak was declared Dec. 21 and since then 22 patients and staff in one unit have tested positive. York Region residents are adopting dogs and purchasing pets in droves during the pandemic.
DECEMBER 30 --JANUARY 1, 2021
York Region reports 480 new cases Dec. 30, up from 263 the day before, as Ontario's numbers continue to climb.
Outrage erupts across the province, after it is revealed Ontario's finance minister ignored provincial pandemic guidelines and went on a Caribbean holiday over the Christmas break.
York Region public health begins to rollout the Moderna vaccine to residents and staff in the region's long-term care homes in early January. | Canadian Press Photo
JANUARY 2 --JANUARY 4
York Region public health begins to rollout the Moderna vaccine to residents and staff in the region's long-term care homes.
A Vaughan long-term care home facing its fourth outbreak is ordered to improve COVID-19 care or pay fines.
JANUARY 5 --JANUARY 7
The first case of the fast-spreading COVID-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has appeared in York Region.
A Newmarket store is forced to close after repeatedly violating safety protocols.
Grocery stores across the region continue to see cases pop up in employees.
A new study shows York Region is consistently at the bottom of the list when it comes to ICU bed capacity, not a good sign as the number of people being hospitalized rises.
JANUARY 8 --JANUARY 10
As in other communities across the province, a growing number of York Region long-term care homes are struggling with surging COVID-19 infections.
A 91-year-old Aurora woman died due to COVID-19 on Jan. 8.
As of Jan. 9, there are 20 new cases in the town bringing the number of active COVID-19 cases in Aurora to 104.
Then, Jan. 10, York Region reported 522 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest number reported in a single day. The same day, the province sets a record with 3,945 cases and also logs 61 deaths.
JANUARY 11 --JANUARY 13
For the first time, York Region's COVID-19 incidence rate is now higher than those in Toronto --and second highest in the province, according to data published Jan. 11.
With cases doubling in the past two weeks, Ontario issues a provincewide stay-at-home order, with some exceptions such as grocery shopping and medical appointments, Jan. 12.
As part of the announcement, students in York Region and other hot spots will continue learning from home until at least Feb. 10.
The more contagious strain of COVID-19, which originated in the United Kingdom, appears to be spreading in York Region without ties to travel.
A Richmond Hill councillor says he travelled outside of Canada amid the provincewide lockdown, when health officials advised against non-essential travel throughout the pandemic, for "health reasons."
JANUARY 14 --JANUARY 16
A Fortinos grocery store in Vaughan has been hit hard by COVID-19 with 14 employees testing positive.
To heed the provincial stay-at-home order, Vaughan announced Friday, Jan. 15 that it’s closing all of its skating rinks, its toboggan hill and dog parks.
JANUARY 17 --JANUARY 19
Five employees at three different T&T Supermarkets tested positive for COVID-19 as of Jan. 17.
The province announced Feb. 18 Vaughan’s new hospital will be temporarily repurposed to help take the load off other hospitals during the pandemic --the first hospital in Ontario to be dedicated to COVID-19.
JANUARY 20 --JANUARY 22
Vaughan councillors discuss the possible return of outdoor skating rinks following pushback from the community.
Potential treatments for COVID-19 in patients hospitalized with the virus are currently in clinical trials at Markham-Stouffville Hospital, including what some have called the "Holy Grail" of treatments.
York Region mayors are among those pushing the provincial government to “level the playing field” for retailers by allowing big box stores to sell only essential items during the lockdown.
Hope is rising that the number of daily new cases of COVID-19 in York Region is heading down, and businesses may soon be opening up.
JANUARY 23 --JANUARY 25
The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has temporarily laid off 19 full-time staff due to revenue shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force laid 26 charges against businesses and residents found to be in noncompliance with public health restrictions and measures for the period including Jan. 18 to 24.
The UK variant of COVID-19 appears to be circulating widely in communities north of Toronto, including York Region.
Premier Doug Ford tours the Southlake COVID centre at Ray Twinney Sports Complex accompanied by Southlake President and CEO Arden Krystal, Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott and MPP Sylvia Jones. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
JANUARY 26 --JANUARY 28
Premier Doug Ford toured the COVID-19 vaccination centre at Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex Jan. 27 as long-term care workers, essential caregivers and hospital workers received their second doses of vaccines against the virus.
The City of Vaughan, on Jan. 28, spelled out details of new safety measures to which residents must adhere to enjoy ice skating.
York Region council is calling on the federal government to immediately put a lid on international travel amid concerns the region may have the highest concentration of COVID-19’s U.K. variant in the province --and, possibly, the country.
JANUARY 29 --JANUARY 31
Case counts in York Region have fallen but eight new deaths were reported Jan. 29. Two days after Premier Doug Ford called Southlake's vaccine centre "absolutely incredible," it closed due to a lack of vaccines.
Canada's Wonderland announces it is hoping to reopen May 14 sparking backlash from some and jubilation from others.
FEBRUARY 1 --FEBRUARY 3
York Region is in a race to stem the spread of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant of COVID-19, with 39 cases of the highly contagious variant now confirmed.
Owners of a small restaurant ticketed $880 for COVID-19 infractions says the guidelines are unclear. Meanwhile, the York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force announced Feb. 2 it laid 30 charges against businesses and residents found to be in noncompliance with public health restrictions and measures from Jan. 25 to 31.
Markham Public Library has one of the highest number of laid-off staff for the longest period of time in response to pandemic closures with no plan to recall workers or restore service, says the vice-president of the union representing library employees.
The provincial government announced Feb. 3 that schools across southern Ontario will open their doors to students for in-person classes starting Monday, Feb. 8 --but kids in Toronto, Peel and York won’t be back until Feb. 16, after Family Day.
FEBRUARY 4 --FEBRUARY 6
York Region councillors said Feb. 4 it’s too soon to argue for an end to the lockdown after hearing the latest details about the spread of U.K. variants from the local medical officer of health.
The Town of Georgina is offering tax relief as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
FEBRUARY 7 --FEBRUARY 9
The Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital officially opened Feb. 7 with an exclusive focus on creating additional ICU and acute care capacity to help address the surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
There have been 26,689 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in York Region, as of Feb. 8 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health. The region recorded 125 new infections on Feb. 8, down from 136 cases the day before.
York Region Public Health is now tracking and reporting virus variants --including the “lineage” (U.K., South African, Brazilian etc.), how many cases, and which municipality they were located in. As of Feb. 8, the region has detected 64 variants of concern.
It was a disappointing day for many people expecting to receive their second dose of COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 8 in Newmarket.
A nurse at a GTA long-term-care home hit hard by COVID-19 is speaking out after she says she was tasked with giving vaccine doses to the chair of the board and a handful of friends and family of management who had been called in because there was no other plan for a vial set to expire.
Despite being cleared by York Region Public Health as no longer contagious after contracting COVID-19 in December, two women say they are being denied medical treatment.
FEBRUARY 10 --FEBRUARY 12
York Region Public Health issues a notice the evening of Feb. 10 that there have been 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to a workplace outbreak at FedEx Ground in Vaughan.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Feb. 11 students and teachers will need to wait another month to take their usual March break.
Case counts are trending downward in York Region, but seven more deaths were announced Feb. 11.
FEBRUARY 13 --FEBRUARY 15
The spread of COVID-19 variants has seen rapid growth in York Region, more than doubling in a week.
York Region plans to set up drive-thru vaccination clinics at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan and at the Markham Fairgrounds.
Amid supply uncertainty, York Region is aiming for a benchmark of 10,000 daily vaccinations starting in March. | Metroland file photo
FEBRUARY 16 --FEBRUARY 18
The return to in-class learning for elementary and secondary school students, scheduled for Feb. 16, was delayed until Feb. 17 because of a snowstorm that dumped between 15 centimetres and 20 centimetres of snow across the GTA.
This year’s Lake Simcoe Championship Ice Fishing Derby was cancelled --yet, another victim of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Four schools in Vaughan report new cases of COVID-19 after the first day of in-class learning.
York Region is aiming for a benchmark of 10,000 daily vaccine doses, delivered across seven centres, starting in March, the region’s chief of vaccine operations said Feb. 18.
FEBRUARY 19 --FEBRUARY 21
The provincial government announces Feb. 19 that York Region will move to the less restrictive red zone as of Feb. 22 touching of a wide range of reactions from applause to distress.
FEBRUARY 22 --FEBRUARY 24
With in-class learning now in its second week the number of COVID-19 cases in schools continues to climb with a Vaughan Catholic elementary school being forced to close.
York Region announces Feb. 23 the COVID-19 enforcement task force laid 22 charges against businesses and residents found to be non-compliant with public health restrictions and measures from Feb. 15 to 21.
FEBRUARY 25 --FEBRUARY 28
York Region announces Feb. 26 residents over age 80 can book an online appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine Mar. 1.
On Feb. 28, the region announces it's opening more clinics to speed up delivery of vaccinations for residents aged 80 and over.
MARCH 1 --MARCH 3
Shortly after York Region opened its online portal for vaccines for those 80 and older, all the appointment times were booked.
St. James Catholic Elementary School in Vaughan reported another case of COVID-19 on March 1 and is now closed until March 8.
Following York Region moving into the COVID-19 red zone, Newmarket starts to reopen facilities.
The first day of vaccinations for those aged 80 and older got downright ugly for some seniors struggling with tech issues or huddled in windy lineups, but York Region managed to book vaccine appointments for almost half of its residents in that age bracket.
York Region’s COVID-19 enforcement task force announced March 2 it laid 34 charges against businesses and residents found to be non-compliant with public health restrictions and measures from Feb. 22 to 28.
York Region Public Health issued a new order March 3 requiring anyone in York Region diagnosed or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate immediately and co-operate fully with public health, including participating in phone calls to confirm isolation, monitoring health and providing information regarding contacts who may have been exposed.
MARCH 4 --MARCH 6
Elderly residents booked to get vaccinated at Ray Twinney Complex March 4 were forced to stand in long lines, outside in the bitter cold, an experience one person called “an epic failure.”
After a disastrous day on March 4, Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex vaccine centre appears to have ironed out the kinks and residents are reporting 'night and day difference' as they roll up their sleeves March 5.
Two schools in Vaughan reported new cases of COVID-19 on March 5.
The region announced it has administered 66,420 vaccine doses as of March 5.
MARCH 7 --MARCH 9
A total of 976 health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in York Region, including three fatalities, as of March 8.
Northern Lights Public School in Aurora has been closed to students, as it has three cases of COVID-19, York Region District School Board reported March 8.
nurse with vaccine
Daniel Shvarts, a clinical co-ordinator at the Georgina Ice Palace's vaccination centre, prepares a needle with the vaccine March 12. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
MARCH 10 --MARCH 12
Woodbridge College in Vaughan closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak that saw the number of infections surge by 12 on March 10.
Hopes York Region would move out of the Red Zone into Orange were dashed after Dr. Kurji revealed the incidence rate remains at about 58, well above the 40 per 100,000 required to further ease restrictions.
Four schools in Markham reported new cases of COVID-19 Mar. 12, according to York Region District School Board.
MARCH 13 --MARCH 15
Woodbridge College saw its COVID-19 cases jump from 20 to 29 on Saturday, March 13.
York Region opens 19,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for residents older than 80 and very high priority health care workers March 15.
Schools in East Gwillimbury, Georgina and Vaughan closed due to COVID-19 cases.
MARCH 16 --MARCH 18
More health care workers can get their COVID-19 vaccinations after York Region expanded eligibility to include all front-line health-care workers who interact with patients or clients in community care.
The York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force announced March 16 it laid 48 charges at a private residence in Vaughan during its crack down on those not complying with safety measures the week of March 8 to 14.
Stouffville announces that it is going to have a drive-thru vaccine site as soon as mid-April, depending on vaccine availability.
A Newmarket long-term care home battling its fourth COVID-19 outbreak has been issued an order by the medical officer of health due to "inadequate staffing levels and insufficient infection prevention and control practices."
As of March 17, 10 schools have been closed in York Region District School Board and York Catholic District School Board.
York Region Public Health announced March 17 effective March 18 those aged 75 to 79 can now book an appointment for the vaccine.
MARCH 19 --MARCH 21
Restaurants, bars and other food and drinking establishments in York Region can open at up to 50-per-cent capacity of the indoor dining area starting March 20, the provincial government announced March 19.
There are 107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in York’s public school board and 37 cases in the Catholic school board as of March 19.
MARCH 22 --MARCH 24
York Region reported 155 new cases March 22. while the province saw 1,699, as the third wave is underway Ontario driven by a rising tide of variant cases.
Four schools in Markham and Vaughan closed March 22 due to COVID-19.
Citing escalating levels of community transition of COVID-19 and its new variants, the teachers' union is urging Dr. Kurji to intervene for safer schools.
York Region residents aged 70 and older can start getting vaccinated against COVID-19 March 23 and the region announced that a drive-thru site at Canada’s Wonderland will open March 29.
MARCH 25 --MARCH 27
COVID-19 variants account for about 45 per cent of the active school cases in York Region, the public health unit said Thursday, March 25.
Aurora Coun. Rachel Gilliland is hoping to convince the Region of York to set up a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in town.
The province is reporting 244 new cases in York Region March 25 as case counts continue to soar across Ontario.
The use of hookahs inside businesses, including patios, is now prohibited in York Region as of March 26.
York Region residents are being asked to "be kind" after an alarming increase in abuse directed at the region's public health staff.
MARCH 28 --MARCH 30
Five more schools in Vaughan, Markham and Aurora are closed due to COVID-19.
The GTA's first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at Canada's Wonderland March 29.
On the same day the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Canada’s Wonderland opened, the Region of York announced it is forced to temporarily close it and two other clinics from April 2 to April 5 due to a lack of vaccines.
MARCH 31 --APRIL 2
With contagious new variants fuelling a third wave, the Ontario government announces it is imposing severe COVID-19 restrictions provincewide for 28 days starting April 3.
A party host in Vaughan received a $750 fine after police crashed a party March 27 at his house, York Regional Police announced March 31.
As of April 1, there have been five confirmed cases and two probable cases of the virus among staff at Café Landwer in Vaughan
There have been 373 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 2 at 5 p.m., according to the Region of York.
APRIL 3 --APRIL 5
York Region Public Health issues a notice about a potential exposure to COVID-19 at a Vaughan restaurant between March 19 to 24.
Positive COVID-19 tests continue at grocers and retailers in York Region as the province heads into an emergency "shutdown" due to soaring case counts driven by highly contagious variants.
York Region Public Health is not following the lead of Peel Region Public Health and Toronto Public Health, which are closing schools to in-person learning due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Howard Barmash, 69, had mild symptoms for nine days after catching aggressive COVID-19 variant, soon after, he was dead. | Lauren Barmarsh-Viater photo
APRIL 6 --APRIL 9
As positive COVID-19 tests in Ontario skyrocket, the numbers are increasing in grocery stores in York Region.
York Region residents aged 45 to 59 in four areas in Vaughan and one in Markham can now book COVID-19 vaccines.
Several more York Region schools close as COVID-19 variants surge.
The U.K. COVID-19 variant rips through a Vaughan home killing a father and leaving a mother disabled.
APRIL 10 --APRIL 12
New supply issues of the COVID-19 vaccine force York Region Public Health to announce the pending closure of four vaccination clinics.
The incidence rate for cases of COVID-19 in the region has reached the highest level of the pandemic to date.
The province adds 700 new pharmacies to the vaccine roll out for hot spot areas including York Region.
APRIL 13 --APRIL 16
A Vaughan restaurant has been linked to more than 100 high-risk contacts associated with exposure to COVID-19.
The York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force lays 30 charges against businesses and residents found to be non-compliant with public health restrictions.
A CBC news investigation shows residents in three York Region neighbourhoods in PC ridings are getting vaccinated even though other areas have higher numbers.
York Region residents in the 18-plus age group who booked vaccine appointments are expressing frustration and confusion after learning the immunization clinics may have jumped the gun.
Employees of a Vaughan drywall company are fired after an “extremely inappropriate” maskless party, with a stripper, held at an unfinished home in Milton during the height of the pandemic.
Premier Doug Ford April 16 orders random police checks for motorists, closes playgrounds and golf courses, and puts checkpoints at the Quebec and Manitoba borders as he extends the emergency stay-at-home order for another four weeks, until May 20.
APRIL 17 --APRIL 19
A day after announcing strict new measures aimed at curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19 for the third time, Ford changes direction and allows parks to remain open and reverses course on sweeping new police powers.
Nineteen people gathered at a gaming house are charged by York Regional Police with multiple offences including not complying with public health regulations related to COVID-19.
Vaughan residents are expressing concerns about social distancing violations as York Region Public Health's complaint line gets really busy.
A York Region immunization clinic apologizes after injecting six people with saline instead of the Pfizer vaccine.
York Region residents who are 35 and older and live in one of five high-priority areas can book their appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.
APRIL 20 --APRIL 22
Members of the York Region COVID-19 enforcement task force laid 24 charges against residents and businesses across the region found to be non-compliant with Reopening Ontario Act.
The latest big-box retail store to have a large number of positive tests is Costco in East Gwillimbury, just north of Newmarket.
One-third of all eligible residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to data released April 20 by the Region of York.
York Region won’t be following the lead of Toronto and Peel and ordering businesses closed that have five or more COVID-19 cases.
York Region council calls on the provincial government to open outdoor recreation facilities, citing mental health concerns.
Sports enthusiasts speak out after several York Region municipalities bag up basketball nets and close soccer fields in a bid to flatten the number of COVID-19 cases.
APRIL 23 --APRIL 25
The third wave of the pandemic, being driven by variants of concern, is hitting younger people harder than the two previous waves.
York Region updates its COVID-19 dashboard following a renewed focus on workplaces throughout Ontario and the role they play in the spread of COVID-19.
Local residents appear to be pushing back in some municipalities where basketball nets were bagged up and soccer fields were closed by ripping down the bags.
APRIL 26 --APRIL 28
York Region is offering rooms in a four-star hotel where people with COVID-19 unable to isolate at home can rest and recover.
York Region’s COVID-19 enforcement task force laid 54 charges against businesses and residents found to be non-compliant with public health restrictions and measures from April 19 to 25, the region announced April 27.
York Region is making 25,000 vaccines available to residents aged 35 and older and pregnant women living in six hot spots in Markham and Vaughan starting April 27.
York Region identified its first two cases of the so-called “double mutant” variant of COVID-19 and it appears to have been acquired at a quarantine hotel.
APRIL 29 --MAY 1
York Region announces April 29 that, starting next week, anyone who lives or works in 16 York Region hot spots and is over the age of 35 will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine.
Local residents continue to rally behind front-line workers, saying gestures of support are more important than ever amid a devastating third wave of COVID-19 cases.
York Region Public Health is piloting an end-of-day wait list for people currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine but who have been unable to book an appointment during appointment releases.
A vaccine shortage will close three COVID-19 vaccination clinics May 3, the Region of York announced May 1.
MAY 2 --MAY 4
York Region announces May 2 it will be opening about 78,000 new COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
York Region Public Health says the Ontario government messed up its COVID-19 hot spot selection and that led to a vaccine shortage in the region.
After listening to anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and others about COVID-19 at several council meetings throughout the pandemic, members of York Region council voice frustration over comments coming their way.
Nearly half of the 39 tickets issued by the regional COVID-19 enforcement task force team under the Reopening Ontario Act for the period from April 26 to May 2 were issued by York Regional Police, the task force announced May 4.
Suzanne Paes, with son Noah Paes-Embury, is glad she got vaccinated. | Steve Somerville/Metroland
MAY 5 --MAY 7
York Region District School Board announces May 5 it will implement a hybrid model of learning for elementary and secondary schools for 2021-22. The model was first introduced as a result of the pandemic.
Many expectant women are weighing the risks to their baby of contracting the virus versus those associated with the vaccine, especially in light of months of shifting advice.
A “crisis in confrontations” looms over York Region’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex immunization centre, Newmarket Mayor John Taylor says.
MAY 8 --MAY 10
York Region Public Health announces May 9 vaccine eligibility is expanding starting May 10 to include residents age 40 and over, individuals age 18 and over who cannot work from home, individuals living with at-risk health conditions and moderate-priority health-care workers.
The positive COVID-19 tests at grocery stores in York Region are coming fast even as vaccine deployment ramps up.
York Region is seeing a "disturbing" increase in cases of COVID-19 among children younger than five, the region's medical officer of health says.
MAY 11 --MAY 13
The Ontario government, May 13, announced a second extension of the province's current COVID-19 lockdown to June 2.
Five employees at Stouffville Walmart test positive for COVID-19.
A Richmond Hill councillor took to social media to share her personal story of how COVID-19 infection has affected her family and urge people to remain cautious and get vaccinated.
Aurora's long-standing Omar's Shoes announces it is closing amid the pandemic.
MAY 14 --MAY 16
York Region Public Health said May 15 it is on track to open vaccination eligibility to all residents 18 years of age and older by the week of May 24.
The positive tests at grocery stores across York Region continue at a rapid pace as 12 grocery stores have reported recent positive tests.
MAY 17 --MAY 19
More than 50,000 new appointments for COVID-19 vaccines are available as of May 17 for everyone 18 and older living or working in York Region.
York Region’s COVID-19 enforcement task force team members issued 33 tickets under the Reopening Ontario Act for the period from May 10 to May 16, according to data released May 18.
Premier Doug Ford is getting gang-tackled for his pandemic prohibition on outdoor sports.
Positive COVID-19 tests continue at grocery stores across York Region, even as total case numbers dip, with eight stores reporting recent positive tests.
As of May 19, York Region had 35 active workplace outbreaks, 27 of which are in Vaughan.
MAY 20 --MAY 22
The Ontario government announces it will be reopening outdoor recreation facilities this May 24 weekend and unveiled a new provincial reopening plan, which includes a "gradual three-step road map."
Anyone 12 years of age and older living, working or going to school in York Region is eligible to book an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccination as of May 21.
Lake Simcoe visitors face restrictions due to the pandemic this Victoria Day weekend.
University of Waterloo students, both from Markham, teamed up three weeks ago hoping to help streamline the often-confusing and time-consuming process of booking a COVID-19 shot.
MAY 23 --MAY 25
The Region of York is offering youth-friendly clinics at its COVID-19 vaccination sites starting May 27.
York Region offers up 49,000 new appointments for COVID-19 jabs starting May 25.
Ontario has posted a list of pharmacies now offering a limited number of early second doses of AstraZeneca to a select group of residents.
York Region's COVID-19 enforcement task force team members issues 52 tickets under the Reopening Ontario Act for the period from May 17 to 23.
MAY 26 --MAY 28
The positive COVID-19 tests at grocery stores in York Region are dropping as cases drop across Ontario. There have only been five grocery stores that have reported positive tests in the last week.
The Ontario government appears poised to move ahead with earlier timing for those awaiting their second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
York Region is celebrating a “significant milestone” in the fight against COVID-19 as more than 70 per cent of York Region’s adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine
York Region public health is advising anyone who shopped at Concord Food Centre April 8 to May 21 to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 after 23 confirmed cases of the virus have been linked to the Vaughan supermarket.
The date for Ontario to move ahead with reopening may still be weeks away, but York Region’s mayors and regional councillors don’t want to wait.
Families of Woodbridge Vista Care held a vigil last year after many of their loved ones died in the pandemic. The home is currently undergoing its fifth outbreak | Steve Somerville/Torstar
MAY 29 --MAY 31
As more than 70 per cent of adults living in York Region have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, the region is opening second-dose appointments for those 80 years and older.
The province of Ontario is requiring all long-term care homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff.
JUNE 1 --JUNE 3
York Region residents 70 years of age and older are able to book second-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments as of June 2, earlier than initially expected.
Positive COVID-19 tests at grocery stores are dipping in York Region with only 4 stores reported positive tests in the past week as case numbers drop across the province.
York Region is leading the way across the province on vaccination rates, Dr. Kurji said, and is aiming to have 85 per cent of residents vaccinated.
JUNE 4 --JUNE 6
Second-dose appointments for COVID-19 vaccines are being pushed ahead starting June 7, York Region announced, for individuals who live, work or attend school in York Region and received their first dose on or before April 18.
Newmarket is offering a free outdoor ceremonial space to all Grade 8 and 12 students, acknowledging it has been an “exceptionally challenging year for all students” due to the pandemic.
After opening in February only to COVID-19 patients, Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital officially opens as a full-service hospital June 6.
JUNE 7 --JUNE 9
The Ontario government announces June 7 the province will be moving into Step 1 of its reopening plan June 11, three days earlier than expected, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to drop.
York Region residents can expect ServiceOntario renewal extensions to continue, despite the province moving into Step 1 of its reopening plan later this week.
More Ontario youth are being hospitalized as the pandemic creates a ’perfect storm' for eating disorders.
York Region’s mayors and regional councillors are urging the Ontario government to allow personal services and small indoor gyms to open June 18 as part of Step 1 in the province’s reopening process.
JUNE 10 --JUNE 12
Ontario expands second dose COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to more people in Delta variant hot spots.
Municipalities and businesses across York Region prepare for Step 1 of the province's reopening plan, which takes effect June 11 amid falling case counts.
Ontario shortens wait time for second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to eight weeks from12 weeks.
JUNE 13 --JUNE 15
Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan is set to open July 7, for the first time since being shutdown last year, the amusement park has announced.
Eight charges, five in Vaughan, were issued to businesses and residents for the period June 7 to 13 by the Region of York’s COVID-19 enforcement task force team.
JUNE 16 --JUNE 18
York Region aims to boost first-dose vaccinations as the COVID-19 Delta variant looms.
Crowds of Vaughan soccer fans gathered in Woodbridge to celebrate Italy's success despite the threat of the quick spreading Delta variant.
York Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji announces his retirement effective Sept. 30.
Markham residents are "furiously angry" over York Region’s rollout of COVID vaccine second doses.
JUNE 19 --JUNE 21
York Region announces it will open 27,000 new vaccine appointments beginning June 21.
The region recorded 17 new COVID-19 cases June 21. To date, there have been more than 730 deaths, including 153 deaths related to a variant of concern.
As Ontario wobbles its way out of the pandemic’s third wave, attention is turning to fence-sitters and anti-vaxxers.
JUNE 22 --JUNE 24
York Region's COVID-19 enforcement task force team members issues three tickets under the Reopening Ontario Act for the period from June 14 to 20, the region announced.
Premier Doug Ford announces June 24 that most of Ontario will move to the next stage of COVID-19 reopening on June 30, two days ahead of schedule.
Youth ages 12 to 17 are advised by York Region Public Health to hold off on second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for at least eight weeks after the first dose, as more assessments are done on the risk of heart conditions among young males.
When it comes to vaccination rates, York Region is leading the pack.
JUNE 25 --JUNE 27
York Region Public Health reports that, as of June 24, 797,670 residents have received at least one dose and 356,047 have received two doses of vaccine. That amounts to 77.6 per cent of adults 18-years and older have received one dose, while 36.8 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated with two doses.
York Region Public Health announces June 27 that it is opening 31,000 new COVID-19 vaccine appointments on June 28 at 8 a.m., for individuals aged 12 and up who live, work or go to school in the region.
York Region council is exploring ways to sway people who are vaccine hesitant.
JUNE 28 --JUNE 30
There are increasing calls to axe the hybrid learning model for students next fall.
Southlake hospital is handing over the management and operations of the Ray Twinney vaccination centre to the Town of Newmarket and York Region Public Health as vaccine rates increase and the number of COVID-19 cases in ICUs across Ontario decrease.
A whole of slew of previously prohibited activities and even more businesses opened up June 30 as the province entered Step 2 of its reopening plan, two days early.
JULY 3 --JULY 5
York Region announces July 3 it is opening up 58,000 new appointments for COVID-19 vaccines next week as Ontario's case counts continue to drop.
There have been 52,654 positive cases of COVID-19 including 19,195 variant cases of concern reported in York Region, as of July 5 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health. The region recorded 12 new infections July 5, up from 8 cases added July 2.
JULY 7 --JULY 9
Despite Ontario's declining COVID-19 case numbers and death rates, the province does not currently plan to move into Step 3 of its reopening plan early, primarily due to concerns over the Delta variant, Health Minister Christine Elliott said July 7.
Despite suggesting numerous times earlier in the week the province wouldn’t rush into Step 3 of its reopening plan due to concerns over the Delta variant, the Ministry of Health confirms July 9 Ontario will enter into Step 3 on July 16 --five days ahead of schedule.
York Region recorded nine new COVID-19 cases July 9, according to the region's public health department.
JULY 12 --July 14
There have been 52,692 positive cases of COVID-19 including 19,231 variant cases of concern reported in York Region, as of July 12 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health. The region recorded five new infections July 12, down from nine cases recorded July 9.
York Region's COVID-19 non-compliance team doled out eight tickets, six of them to Vaughan businesses, between July 5 and July 11, the region reported July 13.
JULY 16 --JULY 20
As Ontario enters Step 3 of the province's reopening plan, York Region municipalities release their plans for reopening local facilities such as libraries, pools and recreation centres.
As of July 19, 843,375 York Region residents have received at least one vaccination dose and 692,033 have received two doses for a total of 1,535408.
There have been 52,745 positive cases of COVID-19 including 19,311 variant cases of concern reported in York Region, as of July 20 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health.
JULY 21 --JULY 23
York Region 18 new cases July 22 up from 10 on July 21 as the number of eligible Ontarians with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine nears 80 per cent while around 65 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
York Region District School Board is urging students to get vaccinated ahead of the return to classes in the fall.
JULY 24 --JULY 26
There have been 52,819 positive cases of COVID-19 including 19,329 variant cases of concern reported in York Region, as of July 27 at 5 p.m., according to York Region Public Health. The region recorded 28 new infections July 27, up 3 cases reported the day prior.