COVID-19: The week in review (August 24-28)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Aug 28, 2020

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This article was last updated at 11:01 a.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 122 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 41,935 since the pandemic began; 61 people are in hospital, 18 of them in intensive care and 12 on ventilators. To date, 2,809 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are nine outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, no confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 19 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,848 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • The Ontario government on Wednesday released its COVID-19 management plan for schools. Read more from John Michael McGrath here.

  • The federal government announced Wednesday that it will be providing Ontario with $381 million to support the province's back-to-school plan.

  • Through Grand Acts of Theatre, the National Arts Centre will be partnering with 11 theatre companies to stage large-scale new works outdoors in front of live audiences. 

  • The province will be investing $455,000 from the Ontario Together Fund in Dairy Distillery so that it can adjust its operations and increase its capacity to produce hand sanitizer; $294,000 will also go to New Ontario Brewing Co., which will now make PureNorth hand sanitizer.  

  • A new Statistics Canada report indicates that 36 per cent of people who live with a long-term condition or a disability have reported temporary or permanent job loss because of COVID-19 emergency measures, the CBC reports.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of August 26, there are 33 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 15,899 cases since the pandemic began; 44 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,167 people have died.
  • Some cities, such as Mississauga, have seen days with no new cases reported, but Toronto's medical officer of health says she does not expect Toronto to get that point in the near future. “In a perfect world we would see a decline until we have no new cases. This is not feasible right now given the size of our city, how contagious the virus is and because work is still underway to develop effective treatments,” Eileen de Villa said Wednesday. “The reality is that there are many months of this pandemic still ahead of us.”
  • The Toronto District School Board will be offering elementary-school students the opportunity to switch between remote and in-person learning at three points during the school year.
  • As of August 24, nurses from Toronto Public Health started to resume making in-person home visits as part of the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program.
  • The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton released a report Monday that found that Hamilton neighbourhoods with higher concentrations of racialized people and people living on low incomes have higher rates of COVID-19. The  neighbourhoods with the lowest concentration of racialized people have the lowest rate of COVID-19, at 81 cases per 100,000 people. Neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of racialized people have the highest rate, at 196 cases per 100,000 people (2.4 times as many).

  • The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board approved a motion Monday evening to mandate face coverings for all students. As CBC Hamilton reports, this follows a similar decision last week from the Hamilton Catholic board. Both Hamilton boards will be reducing class sizes for kindergartners and students in Grades 4 to 8. The Hamilton Spectator recapped their plans.

  • The District School Board of Niagara says that about 80 per cent of elementary-school students and 83 per cent of high-school students will return to school in person in the fall, the St. Catharines Standard reports.

  • Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati is pushing the province to allow casinos to open with more than the provincially mandated cap of 50 people. Diodati says there is a plan to safely open casinos, which are big business in the city. The Standard reports that Niagara’s acting medical officer of health says public health reviewed the plan and thinks it could be reasonable to allow casinos to have more than 50 people in the building at one time if they were sequestered in different areas.

  • In Port Colborne, beaches have remained open to out-of-towners, which is not the case in some Niagara municipalities. Councillor Angie Desmarais told Niagara This Week that locals have voiced concerns about overcrowding and a lack of cleanliness, including public urination.

Indigenous

  • On August 25, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller announced $82.5 million for mental-health and wellness supports to help Indigenous communities adapt and expand mental-wellness services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; on August 26, he announced $112 million to support a safe return to elementary and secondary schools on reserve.
  • Because of lack of funding to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19, two First Nations high schools in northwestern Ontario may not reopen in September, according to Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Pelican Falls education centre, in Sioux Lookout, and Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, in Thunder Bay, could push back their fall opening until the end of October, the CBC reports

  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox issued a statement Wednesday in response to the federal government's Safe Return to Class Fund. “We acknowledge the support, but we are discouraged that today’s announcement doesn’t provide details on specific resources, timelines, how to access the funding or how it will be allocated,” he said. “We are concerned that proposal-based funding will cause significant delays, and we call on the government to respect community needs.” 

  • Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service is requesting additional funding to relaunch its NAPS Survivor Assistance Support Program in order to deal with a rise in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC reports.

Northern

Eastern

  • A memo from Camille Williams-Taylor, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's director of education, and Mike Carson, its chief financial officer, contains responses to questions about the development of the 2020-2021 staff-recommended budget — and a risk assessment for COVID-related expenses.
  • On August 26, Ottawa city council extended a temporary bylaw requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces. It will be in place until the end of October.
  • Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Vera Etches, told city council Wednesday that “we see a different picture in August. We’re not seeing outbreaks playing the same role in people being exposed to the virus. The biggest risk factor for people is the close contacts that we have, and that’s all of us.”

  • OC Transpo on Thursday released its busing plan for 37 schools, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

  • Public and Catholic boards announced Wednesday that Kingston-area secondary schools will use octomesters rather than quadmesters for the 2020-21 school year, the Kingston Whig Standard reports.

Southwestern

  • Researchers in London have identified biomarkers that may be able to help predict who will become severely ill with COVID-19, according to a Lawson Health Research Institute news release.

  • Paramedics in London and the surrounding area have turned a former bus into a mobile COVID-19 testing centre, according to the London Free Press

  • Throughout much of the COVID-19 shutdown, rural employment rates have outpaced urban rates. According to statistics from the Rural Ontario Institute, that changed in July when urban employment rates increased by 1.6 per cent over the previous month — 0.5 per cent more than the 1.1 per cent rural rate increase for the same time period. 

  • A new plant that makes surgical masks and respirators will begin production this fall in Cambridge, the CBC reports

  • Windsor Regional Hospital is preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 cases as the region moves into Stage 3 of recovery and students prepare to head back to school, the Windsor Star reports.

  • A spokesperson for the Region of Waterloo Public Health tells the Record that precautionary measures taken at an area summer camp mean a low risk of virus spread after one camper tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. 

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