COVID-19: The week in review (August 17-21)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Aug 21, 2020

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This article was last updated at 3:34 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 Friday's government report, there are 131 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 41,179 since the pandemic began; 35 people are in hospital, 13 of them in intensive care and 7 on ventilators. To date, 2,796 people have died. According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, today's number is an "overestimation of daily counts" due to a correction of Thursday's reporting glitch. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 12 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 4 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 23 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,847 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • Ontario has extended COVID-19 emergency orders until September 22. 

  • The federal government unveiled its $39 billion plan for unemployed Canadians, which includes extending the Canada Emergenct Response Benefit by four weeks and rolling out a "simplified" Employment Insurance scheme.

  • Retail sales across the country jumped more than 23 per cent in June for a total of $53 billion. According to StatsCan, that's higher than pre-pandemic levels for the first time. 

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of August 21, there are 41 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 15,729 cases in Toronto since the pandemic began; 50 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,165 people have died.
  • The Toronto District School Board will hire more than 350 new elementary teachers in the hopes of reducing class sizes in areas hardest hit by COVID-19. It is also seeking out more spaces to use as classrooms. 
  • The TTC is starting to issue refunds for monthly passes that went unused during the pandemic.
  • The federal government announced funding for two new safe-supply sites in Toronto — an effort to help curb the worsening opioid epidemic. The funding is for a one-year program. According to councillor Joe Cressy, opioid deaths are up 85 per cent since this time last year.
  • The Hamilton Police accessed a database that contains names, dates of birth, and addresses of Ontarians who tested positive for COVID-19 more than 10,000 times over a three-month period. The advocacy group Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion says it's one more reason for people not to trust police, according to the Hamilton Spectator. The Hamilton Police say only supervisors and communications staff could access the database, and did so during calls for service when someone's COVID-19 status was unclear.

  • Niagara Region Public Health is hiring 16 nurses to help schools open safely in September. In Hamilton, school boards are discussing a phased re-opening to schools. CBC Hamilton reports that could mean different grades starting at different times, or individual classes splitting up. The public board says it will have details on Monday.

  • The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board has mandated mask use for students of all ages and says it suspects 12 to 14 per cent of students will choose remote learning. 

  • Starting September 6, Hamilton's transit system will return to full capacity at summer service levels.

  • Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger says he will not allow drinking in public parks, after a public feud with Doug Ford. Ford criticized public-drinking tickets, saying he saw "no problem" with having a beer in the park. 

Indigenous

  • Georgina Island First Nation is using a drone delivery company for contact-free shipments of protective equipment and testing supplies, according to Newmarket Today. Drone Delivery Canada, a company based in Vaughan, will initially supply roughly 4.5 kilogram shipments during a pilot project funded by the federal government.
  • Wasauksing First Nation is hosting a virtual health fair via Zoom on August 26.

  • Nipissing First Nation is offering one free cloth mask to each member of its community.

Northern

Eastern

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford are announcing a deal that will see the 3M plant in Brockville supply up to 100 million N95 face masks each year. The federal and provincial governments are each providing $23.3 million to increase the plant's capacity and ensure Canada is no longer reliant on imported protective equipment. 
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health this week reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Kingston area since July 24, the Whig-Standard reports. The patient, a health-care worker in his twenties, has not been hospitalized.
  • Nearly all of Kingston’s bus routes will return to pre-coronavirus levels of service at the end of August. The city’s public-transit service will also begin collecting fares again at the end of the month.
  • The Peterborough Examiner reports that one in six Peterborough city and county residents — a total of nearly 24,000 people — has been tested for COVID-19, according to the local public-health unit. There remain two active cases in the area.

Southwestern

  • Starting August 25, Point Edward will adopt a bylaw mandating mask use in indoor public spaces. Such bylaws are already in place in Sarnia, Petrolia, and Lambton Shores, the Sarnia Observer reports.
  • The medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, Wajid Ahmed, says that students should keep two metres apart from one another when they return to school in September. This is in contrast to Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s call for students’ desks to be kept one metre apart, according to the Windsor Star.
  • London is enforcing its mask bylaw with a $500 fine. The London Free Press reports that the penalty “applies to customers or employees who don’t wear a mask and businesses that don’t post signs indicating masks are required.
  • Police in Guelph have accessed a provincial COVID-19 testing database “thousands of times,” according to the Guelph Mercury Tribune. Several groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Aboriginal Legal Services, and the Black Legal Action Centre, have put forward a legal challenge.

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