COVID-19: The week in review (June 29-July 3)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Jul 03, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:04 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 165 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 35,535 since the pandemic began; 155 people are in hospital, 40 of them in intensive care and 25 on ventilators. To date, 2,682 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 44 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 167 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 287 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,817 confirmed resident deaths and seven confirmed staff deaths.

  • Premier Doug Ford announced today that the government will be providing free online health and safety training for up to 100,000 job seekers through Employment Ontario.

  • The Ontario government has announced that the final Canadian Armed Forces team still supporting a LTC facility in the province will be concluding its work today.

  • The federal government will no longer be partnering with the WE Charity to distribute around $900 million in student grants, the CBC reports, noting that "the decision to outsource this work to a third-party with ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family was criticized by some in the charitable sector and by the opposition Conservatives."

  • The Royal Society of Canada's COVID-19 task force has released a policy briefing report on long-term care that "outlines profound, long-standing deficiencies in the long-term care sector that contributed to the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis" and "articulates principles for action and recommendations for urgent action."

  • The Ontario government announced today that it has issuing a new emergency order and amended another under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to "allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws for the creation and extension of patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas to serve customers."

  • Ontarians hoping to download a new COVID-19 contact-tracing app will have to wait a bit longer, the Canadian Press reports. Officials originally said that COVID Alert would be available July 2. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health now says that the province is still working with the federal government on the app and that it is expected to be released soon, although no specific date was provided.

  • The union representing Crown attorneys is seeking an injunction to stop the province from reopening courthouses, CBC News reports. The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association says there aren’t sufficient health and safety measures to reopen next week as planned. A spokesperson for the attorney general says that new measures include Plexiglas barriers, hand-sanitizer dispensers, and mandatory face coverings.

  • Peter Donnelly has resigned as CEO of Public Health Ontario, CTV News reports. Before going on medical leave in April, Donnelly had been heavily involved in the province’s response to COVID-19. “Having experienced cardiac symptoms over a number of weeks, it is now clear that it is important for me to return to the United Kingdom where all of my family are based,” he said in a news release. Colleen Geiger, the agency’s acting CEO, will continue in her role until a permanent replacement is hired.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to today's report, there are 80 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 14,548 since the pandemic began; 185 of them are in hospital and 43 in intensive care. To date, there have been 173 institutional outbreaks. In total, 1,102 people have died.

  • On July 2, the City of Toronto finished moving about 200 homeless residents who'd been staying in community centres into hotels.

  • As of July 2, face coverings became mandatory on the TTC. 

  • Brampton buses began operating at increased capacity on July 2.

  • Maple Leaf Foods workers in Hamilton say they're upset to see their $2 per hour pandemic pay bump ending. In protest, they've returned shirts the company gave them that say "Not all heroes wear capes," CBC Hamilton reports

  • Leaders in Ontario can’t agree whether wearing masks in indoor public spaces should be mandatory — and, if so, who should give that order. TVO.org's Justin Chandler asked public-health officials, politicians, a physician, and a lawyer about the province's patchwork approach to face covering.

  • Niagara Falls city councilor Carolynn Ioannoni plans to bring a motion forward during council’s July 14 session asking her colleagues to support making masks mandatory inside stores and other businesses. Niagara Falls Review reports that Mayor Jim Diodati does not support the idea but says he looks forward to hearing what councilors think.

  • Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger said Tuesday that he expects "something" related to mandatory masking will come before city council soon, the Hamilton Spectator reports. On Monday, the mayor was part of a group of other GTHA mayors and chairs who called on the province to make masks required within indoor public spaces.

  • The St. Catharines Standard reports that at least six of the 12 St. Catharines city councilors say they support making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. There will be a special meeting on the issue Monday.

  • According to new data released by Niagara’s public-health department, 38.5 per cent of recent COVID-19 infections in the area have no known source that can be traced. Medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji told the St. Catharines Standard that that means there is community spread of the virus within the region.

Indigenous

  • The Ontario government announced yesterday that it will be providing municipalities and urban Indigenous community partners with an additional $150 million "to continue to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19 by improving homeless shelters and creating opportunities for longer-term housing."
  • A memo put out by the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority on July 2 reports that a member of Sachigo Lake First Nation has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was in Sioux Lookout for care. The positive result was discovered while the individual was in transit to their community, and the plane was re-routed back to Sioux Lookout. The individual is now self-isolating in Sioux Lookout.

  • Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority put out a memo on July 2 confirming a positive COVID-19 case in Pikangikum First Nation. The individual is a construction worker and not a member of the First Nation. The individual and construction team have been asked to leave the community to self-isolate elsewhere. 

  • Frustration is mounting at Beausoleil First Nation as non-residents continue to defy orders to stay off of it territory, which includes Christian, Hope, and Beckwith islands, reports Midland Today. Former chief Jeff Monague says that boaters are ignoring no-trespassing signs posted near the islands’ beaches. The First Nation has had no confirmed COVID-19 cases. Monague said that reinforcements should be arriving with the expected launch of the Anishinabe police boat to complement the compliance officers and OPP marine presence. 

  • The Matawa Chiefs Council is requesting that the federal government provide emergency supplementary funding to support ongoing costs and new measures to ensure the safe return fo students in September, reports the CBC. Chief Harvey Yesno, from Eabametoong First Nation, says that many of the educational needs of the Matawa First Nations have been longstanding and that the pandemic has exacerbated issues such as small classrooms, a lack of consistent internet connectivity, and high turnover of teachers. The Matawa Chiefs Council is completing an emergency education-response plan, which they expect to be completed by July 20. 
  • The broadband proposal that the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs Ontario developed with the assistance of Knet, Western James Bay Telecom Network, and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in response to the increased reliance on internet connectivity during the COVID-19 has been approved. The proposed work will increase broadband and improve network performance in 16 remote NAN communities.

Northern

  • COVID-19 restaurant regulations are affecting business for truck stops and roadside restaurants in northern Ontario, creating difficulties for essential truck-transport services, TVO.org's Nick Dunne reports.
  • There are six active COVID-19 cases, linked to Sioux Lookout’s Meno Ya Win Health Centre, in the Northwestern Health Unit.

  • A woman in her 60s has tested positive for COVID-19 in Thunder Bay. She is one of only two active cases in the district.

  • While northern Ontario hunting and fishing lodges struggle without targeted assistance, an editorial in the Kenora Daily Miner & News calls on senior levels of government to subsidize northern experiences for southern Ontarians.

  • In an effort to bolster tourism, the Rainy River Future Development Corporation has tagged a bass in Rainy Lake and is promising $5,000 to the angler who catches it.

  • There is currently only one active case in Sudbury and Manitoulin Districts, according to Sudbury.com.
  • The Sudbury Art Crawl is accepting artist submissions and will be changing its setup for COVID-19, according to the Sudbury Star. Art will be displayed in business windows downtown over the course of July and into early August.

Eastern

  • The Food Sharing Project and Isthmus Kingston, both programs that provide families with healthy meals throughout the school year, will run into the summer, the Kingston Whig Standard reports.
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health reported three new cases on Thursday. According to the Kingston Whig Standard, Kieran Moore, the local medical officer of health, "said that only one of the three new cases was linked to the recent outbreak at Binh’s Nail and Spa in the west end of Kingston. One was connected to Georgia Nail salon in Amherstview and the other was linked to a returning traveller from Europe, which Moore said public health believes to be an independent case."
  • On Thursday, Ottawa Public Health reported seven new cases, 44 active cases, and 1,794 resolved cases, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Three patients are hospitalized, one of them in the ICU. Outbreaks are ongoing at the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre and Peter D. Clark long-term care homes.

  • There has not been a new confirmed COVID-19 case in Peterborough since June 20, the Peterborough Examiner reports.

  • This Saturday, Kawartha Downs, which is not allowing spectators this season, will be moving to a 4 p.m. post time, the Peterborough Examiner reports.

Southwestern

  • The Town of Wasaga Beach passed a motion yesterday to limit the number of beachgoers, after crowds flocked to the beach on Canada Day, CTV News reports. "We saw human behaviour at its worst, quite frankly," said Craig Williams, Wasaga Beach deputy fire chief. "Many visitors displayed a reckless disregard for public-health guidelines when ignoring physical-distancing recommendations."

  • Dave Epp, Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP, says he'd like to see improvements made in the temporary-foreign-worker program to discourage the use of undocumented workers, Blackburn News reports. On his website, the rookie Conservative MP notes that the lack of a single authority to direct pandemic response has compounded the issue. In a letter in May to the Ontario Greenhouse Growers chair, Epp, who is also a farmer, recognized the greenhouse industry's reliance on labour contractors that employ undocumented workers, as TVO.org reported on last week, and said that "the use of undocumented workers cannot be condoned at any time, let alone now during a period of extreme unemployment."

  • Ontario's heritage sites are struggling with the cleaning protocols required in order to reopen to the public. The curator of Annandale House National Historic Site in Tillsonburg tells the Woodstock Sentinel Review that government-mandated cleaners can ruin some of the house's historic and heritage features.

  • On Wednesday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit temporarily shut down Nature Fresh, a farm in Leamington, after 191 cases of COVID-19 were discovered among workers there, the Windsor Star reports. The farm grows tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

  • Windsor-Essex County's chief of emergency medical services asked the region's medical officer of health on May 14 whether there was a plan for testing migrant workers in place and was told no, the Windsor Star reports.

  • Sauble Beach reopens to the public today, the Owen Sound Sun Times reports.

  • With its beach eroded from high waters, a heat wave, and an influx of day visitors seeking relief in cool Lake Erie waters, residents and cottagers at Long Point fear the conditions are being set for a superspreader event of COVID-19, the Simcoe Reformer reports.

  • London-Middlesex Health Unit will require all riders of public-transit services to wear masks by July 20. Chris Mackie, the area's medical officer of health plans to issue the order on Monday. Masks are required for hair and nail salons and other personal services, which, as the London Free Press reports, reflects a provincial order issued June 11 that requires masks in these settings, as well as in tattoo parlours, tanning salons, and spas.

  • Active COVID-19 cases in the Waterloo Region have been mapped by neighbourhood, the Record reports.

  • Waterloo Regional council will consider a bylaw on Monday that would make masks mandatory for indoor settings and on public transit, the Record reports.

  • Holds on books and other material at libraries in Kitchener and Waterloo have jumped 86 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively, since libraries reopened in mid-May, the Record reports.

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