COVID-19: The week in review (July 27-31)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Jul 31, 2020

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This article was last updated at 2:58 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 134 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 39,209 since the pandemic began; 78 people are in hospital, 29 of them in intensive care and 15 on ventilators. To date, 2,775 people have died. 
  • According to July 30 data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 17 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 9 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 37 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,845 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the COVID Alert app, developed jointly by Canada and Ontario with assistance from the private sector, is now available for download. When installed on an Apple or Android device, the app, via a Bluetooth signal, anonymously tracks close contacts of other people with the app installed. If someone alerts the app of testing positive for COVID-19, the software is able to anonymously notify other people who may have been infected.

  • Trudeau also announced $59 million in spending to ensure the safety of migrant workers on farms, and specific efforts to address the outbreaks in Windsor-Essex.

  • The prime minister today promised that current recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will not be left without support as the federal government winds down its costly COVID-19 financial support. The federal government will transition people either to Employment Insurance or to a parallel system designed to support people who don't currently qualify for EI.

  • Ontario has unveiled its plan for school reopening: read the plan here.

  • The province today announced new measures for bars and restaurants: patrons must  seated at all times, in both indoor and outdoor areas, with limited exceptions; and bars and restaurants must keep client logs for a period of 30 days in order to support case and contact tracing.

  • Yesterday, the province announced that licensed child-care centres will be able to open at full capacity starting September 1.

  • The Ontario government has launched an independent commission into COVID-19 and long-term care. "Three commissioners will investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes, how residents, staff, and families were impacted, and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the virus," a press release states. "The commission will also provide the government with guidance on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks."

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to today's report, there are 20 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 15,371 since the pandemic began; 84 of them are in hospital and 21 in intensive care. To date, there have been 173 institutional oubreaks. In total, 1,158 people have died.
  • This week, Toronto city council passed more stringent measures for bars and restaurants as the city (along with Peel Region) enters Stage 3. Restaurants will need to keep logs of their patrons and their contact information for 30 days, and ensure that customers stay seated except when using the washroom or paying. The Ontario government announced Friday that it will apply similar rules provincewide for any regions in Stage 3 — which now includes the entire province, except for the Windsor-Essex public-health unit.
  • Yesterday, Toronto Public Health "released the findings and trends from recently collected individual-level COVID-19 case data on reported ethno-racial identity, household income, and household size," a press release states. "This information is key to understanding who is being impacted by the outbreak, and to inform public health actions." Among its findings: 83 per cent of people with reported COVID-19 infection identified with a racialized group; 51 per cent of reported cases in Toronto were living in households that could be considered lower-income; and 27 per cent of COVID-19 cases were among individuals who live in households with five or more people.
  • City of Toronto staff presented a report to council on Wednesday about the financial impacts of the pandemic. Council voted to adopt the report’s recommendations, "including $513.7 million in mitigation strategies through anticipated cost savings from workforce restraints, spending constraints and cost avoidance," a press release states. "An additional $34.1 million in added offsets is also available from budget variance."

  • Toronto city council has voted in favour of a temporary bylaw that requires the wearing of masks or face coverings in common areas in apartments and condominiums.
  • Ten City of Toronto early-learning and child-care centres will reopen by August 4.
  • Adult beachgoers in St. Catharines will now be required to prove they reside in Niagara or risk being denied entry. The city says this locals-only policy will be temporary and is an attempt to reduce crowding as people flock to beaches. In a Wednesday news conference, Premier Doug Ford said he does not think locals-only rules are fair and that he doesn't recommend them: "There'll be one day those regions are begging for people to come."

  • On Tuesday, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna told CBC Hamilton that public-transit investments will be key to getting cities back on their economic feet following the pandemic and that, in Hamilton, the only shovel-ready transit proposal is a light-rail transit project that was scrapped by the province in December.

  • A McMaster School of Nursing review of research says that children are not big spreaders of the COVID-19 virus and will therefore be unlikely to cause spikes in infection when they return to school. "Analyses of infection clusters revealed that for children who were infected, transmission was traced back to community and home settings or adults, rather than amongst children within daycares or schools," the review reads. "The quality of evidence is moderate, and findings are consistent." The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and the Catholic board told CBC Hamilton on Wednesday they had no comment on the report.

  • On Thursday, CBC Hamilton broke down what the newly announced provincial plan for reopening schools means for Hamilton students.

  • The Hamilton Spectator reports that, following a similar decision by the local Catholic board, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will review its relationship with ME to WE and WE Charity. The announcement came prior to the prime minister testifying before a parliamentary committee about the decision to award WE with a contract to administer a student-grant program. The program was intended to be part of the government's pandemic relief plan, but members of Trudeau's family have worked for WE, leading to accusations of conflict of interest.

  • Comic conventions are a key source of sales for writers and artists. They’re also notorious for spreading sickness. This week, cons in Hamilton and Niagara Falls were postponed until 2021. But others, like Toronto's Fan Expo, are still set to take place this year. TVO.org's Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler talked to members of the comics community about what this means for them.

Indigenous

  • The Ontario government is investing $800,000 to support the creation of a one-year pilot project with the Kenora Bear Clan Patrol. "It is our hope Indigenous-led projects such as this can be a positive step towards addressing the concerns COVID-19 has brought to the forefront," tweeted Francis Kavanaugh, Ogichidaa (Grand Chief) of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 represented by Grand Council Treaty #3.
  •  Six Nations of the Grand River has opted to remain in Stage 2. “We want to be sure we are watching what’s happening here on the territory and in the surrounding communities, and not wanting to move too quickly,” Lori Davis Hill, director of Six Nations Health Services, told the Hamilton Spectator.
  • The non-profit True North Aboriginal Partnership is raising funds to send Summer Camp Kits to children in Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
  • First Nations communities and organizations that deliver community-based public-health services related to COVID-19 are eligible for additional financial support from the federal government.
  • Walpole Island First Nation will be restricting entry for at least another month, the London Free Press reports.

Northern

  • Fort William Historical Park has reopened with additional health and safety measures. TBNewswatch reports.
  • The City of Greater Sudbury's Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex will partially reopen on August 3.
  • In one week, the Sudbury health unit reported 12 new cases. "I was very disappointed to learn of the surge in new COVID-19 cases in Greater Sudbury," Mayor Brian Bigger wrote in a press release. "Those who put themselves at risk of catching the virus also put others in the community at risk — that's not acceptable. This is irresponsible and I would please ask all residents of Greater Sudbury to take COVID-19 more seriously, and follow the guidelines that have been put in place to protect all of us."

Eastern

  • Ottawa has recently seen a spike in cases, the CBC reports. On June 30, there were 40 active cases; yesterday, there were 248. "These numbers are concerning," Vera Etches, the medical officer of health, said yesterday. "They don't appear to be linked to the implementation of Stage 2 and Stage 3; rather, what we're seeing is primarily linked to our social behaviours and indoor gatherings."
  • The City of Ottawa will reopen its museums and historic sites starting August 5, and nine of its cardio and weight rooms on August 4.
  • Peterborough Public Health reported two new confirmed cases on Thursday, the first  in its area since June 20. 

  • Face coverings will become mandatory on Peterborough Transit buses as of August 1, 2020.
  • Peterborough city hall will reopen August 4. "Visitors are asked to wear a non-medical face covering while inside City Hall and use hand sanitizer as they enter and exit the building," a press release states. "There will be information on self-screening, including asking visitors to not enter City Hall if they are not feeling well or have been in contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19."

Southwestern

  • Officials in Sarnia and Lambton want the Lambton Health Unit to publicly share information about the location of COVID-19 cases, but the region's medical officer of health tells the Sarnia Observer that there is too great a risk that individual identities of people with the virus will become known.

  • Some people crossing over to Pelee Island are resisting a requirement to wear masks, and the ferry operator is warning that those who refuse may be banned from boarding, the Windsor Star reports.

  • Residents of a Kitchener long-term-care home that had to be moved to local hospitals as the home battled an outbreak have begun to return to the facility, the Waterloo Region Record reports.

  • Expecting a busy August 1 long weekend, South Bruce council has called for staff to create a pedestrian mall at Sauble Beach to ensure that physical distancing can take place, the Owen Sound Sun Times reports.

  • With their off-shore worker crew numbers down 25 to 30 per cent, some farmers in Norfolk county are telling a newly formed economic-recovery task force that their businesses won't survive, the Simcoe Reformer reports.

  • This week, Ontario Divisional Court judges heard an appeal of an Ontario Health Services Appeal and Review Board judgment that Haldimand-Norfolk's medical officer of health overstepped his authority when he ordered farmers to limit the numbers of migrant workers who could stay in a bunkhouse while quarrantining on arrival into the country, according to the Simcoe Reformer. No date was given on when the judges will issue a final decision.

  • Public-health units have identified Low German-speaking groups across southwestern Ontario as being another community at risk of widespread COVID-19 outbreaks, the Windsor Star reports.
  • The Ontario Camps Association is asking for federal money to help bail out its members. “All camps are in dire straits in terms of trying to figure out how they are going to survive so that they can open up next summer,” Mark Diamond, vice-president of the OCA, tells the London Free Press.
  • The Windsor-Essex region is once again left behind as the rest of the province moves to a new stage in the reopening process, the Windsor Star reports.
  • A beach in Windsor and a local marina opened this week for the summer, the Windsor Star reports.
  • Sarnia, Woodstock, and St. Thomas join London in requiring people to wear masks while in indoor public spaces, the London Free Press reports. Meanwhile, according to the Sarnia Observer, some Sarnia residents are protesting the mask order.

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