COVID-19: The week in review (August 10-14)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Aug 14, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:40 p.m.

TVO.org reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 92 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 40,459 since the pandemic began; 41 people are in hospital, 17 of them in intensive care and 9 on ventilators. To date, 2,788 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 14 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 3 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 33 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,847 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • Bill Blair, Canada's minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said today that Canada-US border restrictions have been renewed for another 30 days, until September 21. 

  • Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced yesterday that the province will be providing more than half a billion dollars in supports to school boards. "We have demonstrated throughout this outbreak that we will deliver the strongest and safest plan in Canada for Ontario students, with a recognition that we will continuously strengthen it over time," Lecce said in a press release.

  • On August 11, the province announced that a new long-term care home will go up at Humber River Hospital's Finch site within months. "Now, with our experience of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that we realize our government's vision to build a 21st century integrated long-term care system that provides our most vulnerable with safe, high-quality, resident-centred care and a dignified place to call home," Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton said in a press release. 

  • The province announced Wednesday that municipalities will receive up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. "Through the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, $695 million will help municipalities address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the first round of emergency funding, and over $660 million will support transit systems," a press release states. "The province is also providing an additional $212 million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help vulnerable people find shelter."

  • Finance Minister Rod Phillips provided an update Wednesday on spending and the deficit. TVO.org's John Michael McGrath breaks it down here.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of August 13, there are 18 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 15,566 cases in Toronto since the pandemic began; 61 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,164 people have died.
  • Toronto Public Health said today that one employee at the Brass Rail Tavern has tested positive and that 550 individuals might have been exposed to the virus.
  • The City of Toronto reported Wednesday that one camper at the Barbara Frum Community Centre has tested positive. Programs at the centre — one of the city's 120 CampTO locations — will close for the rest of the week.

  • The City of Toronto has introduced an online reservation option for its weight rooms, fitness centres, and indoor drop-in lane-swim program.

  • While many city councils met virtually throughout the pandemic, Niagara Falls' met almost entirely in person. The mayor says that physical meetings are better but that new changes to the laws governing municipalities will likely lead to more virtual meetings in the city's future. Local leaders and city staff tell TVO.org's Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler that virtual meetings have imposed new limits on council meetings but also made them more accessible.

  • On Monday, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board released an executive report that states it would need $76 million to limit elementary classes to 15 students, as some parents have requested. CBC Hamilton reports that the school-board document lacked answers to questions about how the board would deal with COVID-19 outbreaks.

  • Parents of students at the District School Board of Niagara have until August 17 to let the board know whether their children will return to school in person or online. As the St. Catharines Standard reports, elementary students who return in person will go to school five days per week, while high-school students will be split into two cohorts and attend on alternating days in class sizes of about 15.

  • Reflecting on Thursday's announcement by the province that school boards may pay for necessary changes using their reserve funds, the heads of Hamilton's Catholic and public school boards told the Hamilton Spectator that doing so would be a risky financial move. 

  • A West Lincoln food bank told Niagara This Week that it's preparing for students returning to school by collecting donations to supply children in need with new backpacks filled with supplies and snacks. The West Lincoln Community Care food bank says the pandemic has resulted in greater demand and fewer donations.

  • Business owners in St. Catharines' downtown are criticizing the local downtown association's pandemic response. According to an email obtained by Niagara This Week, merchants say the association has ignored feedback and failed to provide leadership strategies. The downtown association chair says that change is needed but that drastic change could jeopardize the organization's long-term budget.

Indigenous

  • As of August 6, the percentage of people living on First Nations reserves who have tested positive for COVID-19 was one-quarter that of the general Canadian population, reports Jolene Banning for the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Of a total of 422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on reserves, more than 80 per cent have recovered. Six people have died — a fatality rate one-fifth that of the general population. According to Indigenous Services Canada, “First Nations communities are flattening the curve.”
  • On August 12, the Government of Canada announced an additional $305 million for the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This fund can be used for a wide variety of measures, such as supporting Elders and vulnerable community members, addressing food insecurity, educational and other supports for children, mental-health assistance and emergency response services, preparedness measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and more.

  • Starting September 22, the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle and Anishinabek Nation will be offering a “Traditional Parenting and Family Wellness Virtual Workshop Series” for front-line workers. 

  • As forest-fire evacuees from Red Lake and Eabametoong First Nation arrive in Thunder Bay, Janet DeMille, the city’s medical officer of health, says that the health unit has taken a number of steps aimed to protect, reports the CBC. Evacuees are being screened when they arrive in the city and are given information about what to do if they have symptoms. They're also being given face masks to wear when they go into indoor public places. In addition, they're being housed in two hotels in the city. Family groups and other members of social bubbles are being housed together.

Northern

Eastern

  • The City of Ottawa's Before and After School programs will start on September 3. "The COVID-19 modified activities will include creative physical-distancing games, sports, and arts and crafts," a press release states.
  • Kingston is slated to receive $12.5 million in emergency funding from the provincial and federal governments, the Kingston Whig Standard reports.
  • City offices at 1211 John Counter Boulevard, in Kingston, will reopen to the public on August 17.
  • Peterborough Public Health reported a new case on Thursday, bringing the total to date for Peterborough city and county, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation to 100.
  • Peterborough is seeing a wedding boom, the Peterborough Examiner reports: "Weddings have resumed at City Hall in Peterborough with new pandemic safety protocols — and the demand is so strong that council chambers are booked for nuptials until November."

Southwestern

  • Windsor-Essex entered Stage 3 this week. Some municipal services in the City of Windsor will resume, but "due to the logistical challenges of operating some amenities within the updated regulations, not all services will return to pre-pandemic levels at this time," a press release states.
  • By order of Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens, as of August 19, "a mask that covers the nose and mouth will be required in all indoor public spaces."
  • Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that a plan to reopen Caesars Windsor and other Ontario casinos is “not far away at all,” the Windsor Star reports.
  • Four London Public Library branches are opening this week.
  • Lambton Public Health and Chatham-Kent Public Health, in partnership with local school boards, have released a letter containing guidance for families about the decision to send children back to school. 

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