COVID-19: The week in review (November 23-27)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Nov 27, 2020

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This article was last updated at 2:15 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 1,855 new cases in Ontario, for a total of
    111,216 since the pandemic began; 541 people are in hospital, 151 of them in intensive care and 101 on ventilators. To date, 3,595 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 106 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 516 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 422 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 2,202 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of November 27, in publicly funded schools, there are 99 new school-related student cases (for a total of 2,769), 23 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 614), and no new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 1,087); 671 schools have a reported case, and six are currently closed.

  • The Ontario government today called on the federal government "to immediately lay out its plan to allocate COVID-19 vaccines across the country as the province continues to prepare for the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccine doses, which will be the largest vaccine rollout in a generation."

  • Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that, on November 30 at 12:01 a.m., five public-health regions will be moving to different levels of the the province's COVID-19 framework: Windsor-Essex will move to Red/Control; Haldimand-Norfolk to Orange/Restrict; and Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton, and Northwestern to Yellow/Protect.

  • The province announced Thursday that it is providing $13.6 million for school boards to hire more teachers and staff in regions that have shifted to the Red-Control level and will provide stabilization funding for school boards, if necessary. Ontario will also expand testing in school communities and launch new online-learning resources. "These initiatives will enhance safety measures for schools and alleviate potential budget shortfalls during COVID-19," a press release states.

  • The Ontario government is launching a streamlined online application process for social assistance. It will come into effect first in Hamilton, York Region, Chatham-Kent, District of Parry Sound, Durham, Greater Sudbury, and County of Renfrew. “We know COVID-19 is continuing to have a significant economic impact on people, and that many Ontarians face the possibility of longer-term unemployment,” Minister of Children Community and Social Services Todd Smith said in a press release. “Providing critical supports for people in need more quickly is our top priority. By modernizing the system we can make the application process easier for people to use, while easing the administrative burden on our caseworkers so they can spend more time with clients.”

  • As of November 23 in-vehicle road tests have been cancelled in regions in the Grey/Lockdown level.

  • The government announced Thursday that it will introduce the Supporting Local Restaurants Act, 2020, to cap fees charged by food-delivery companies in areas where indoor dining is prohibited.

  • The Ministry of Long-Term Care issued a mandatory management order on November 25 naming Joseph Brant Hospital to temporarily manage Tyndall Nursing Home in Mississauga. "This order was issued to the home as it has an increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and staff," a press release states. "Enhanced management is necessary to return the home to normal operations and protect residents."

  • Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk this week released a report on Ontario's pandemic preparedness and response. Read analysis from John Michael McGrath here.

  • "I know there are many people looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted," Premier Doug Ford said in a Wednesday press release. "We're asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season."

  • The province announced Tuesday that it is deploying new COVID-19 rapid tests in areas with high transmission and in rural and remote areas. They will also be used to screen staff in certain workplaces, including long-term-care facilities. 

  • On Monday, the Ontario government announced the creation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. Led by Rick Hillier, former chief of defence staff for the Canadian Forces, it will "advise the province's development and implementation of an immunization program, including the ethical, timely and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario."

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of November 25, there are 347 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 39,414 since the pandemic began; 202 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,564 people have died.
  • The City of Toronto will reopen registration for CurbTO temporary parking pick-up zones while Toronto is in lockdown.

  • Toronto’s medical officer of health ordered Adamson Barbecue closed Tuesday under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. "Despite Ontario regulations requiring all restaurants to be closed, except for takeout, delivery and drive-through, this establishment opened its doors to patrons for dine-in eating in contravention of the law that is designed to protect people from the spread of COVID-19," a press release states. An investigation was launched after the restaurant was found to be contravening the Reopening Ontario Act, and the City is also investigating it for compliance with business licensing, zoning, public health, Ontario Building Code, and Ontario Fire Code requirements. The city issued a release outlining additional next steps after the restaurant continued to flout public-health guidelines.

  • Toronto launched its Welcome T.O. Winter plan on November 25 to provide "safe ways for people to get outside in Toronto’s parks, including at our 54 artificial ice rinks and five golf courses."

  • On Monday, the day Toronto moved into the Grey/Lockdown category, the city announced it would take additional action — expand testing sites, intensify community outreach, and introduce new measures for those who test positive and are unable to work — in targeted neighbourhoods.
  • Two employees at grocery stores in Brampton — a Food Basics and a FreshCo — have tested positive, the Brampton Guardian reports.
  • Hamilton has seven outbreaks involving 14 or more cases in long-term-care homes. The Hamilton Spectator reported Wednesday that 30 residents died in outbreaks at LTC homes between November 2 and 23. Two area homes are under orders from the city's medical officer of Health, Elizabeth Richardson, to ensure that safe practices are being observed. Outbreaks have also been reported at an orthadontics office, an auto-service shop, and a service that helps people with disabilities.

  • A worker in Hamilton's Lime Ridge Mall tested positive for COVID-19 days after a city councillor and other workers said they were concerned about potential spread in the shopping centre. CBC Hamilton reports that workers and shoppers at the mall told them people did not always wear masks properly or practise physical distancing.

  • CBC Hamilton also reports that, according to Hamilton city councillor Jason Farr, some restaurants in the city are asking to be shut down, saying they'd be better off than they are operating under the current restrictions and stay-at-home recommendations.

  • According to Niagara This Week, a Grimsby gym is being regularly visited by Hamiltonians attempting to circumvent that city's stricter regulations. In Niagara, 50 people can be in a gym at once. In Hamilton, that number is 10.

  • Niagara Police say that fraudsters are using illegally obtained credit-card information to make purchases by email or over the phone, a more common practice due to the pandemic. As CBC Hamilton reports, police say businesses should collect as much customer information as they can and question orders shipped outside their region.

  • Brampton residents can now get tested at an indoor site at the Ebenezer Community Hall. Appointments are available between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.

Indigenous

  • Six Nations of the Grand River is expanding its existing wireless network by 30 per cent with a new internet-towers project aimed at helping residents working and learning from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Wireless coverage on the reserve, the largest in Canada by population, is expected to increase from 68 per cent to 98 per cent, reports the Hamilton Spectator.
  • As of November 25, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 1,400 active cases in First Nations communities across Canada. It is also reporting 29 COVID-19-related deaths in total, across all First Nations reserves in Canada.

  • The Six Nations assessment centre will be closed November 27 for winterization. Six Nation Paramedic Services will provide testing during the closure. Asymptomatic and visitor testing will be deferred until, November 30 when the centre will reopen and resume regular testing.

  • Medical equipment manufacturer Dent-X Canada, in partnership with FN Procurement Inc., is setting up operations in the new light industrial park, reports the Manitoulin Expositor. The facility will help Canada meet the increasing demand for personal protective equipment. “I am very pleased to support the partnership of Dent-X Canada and FN Procurement Inc. in bringing significant employment opportunities to Wiikwemkoong,” said Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier.

  • The “Safe Travels in Ontario” Sagamok Anishnawbek COVID-19 Risk Dashboard published by Sagamok Communications for November 25 offers a breakdown of COVID-19 travel-risk destinations in northern Ontario near the Sagamok Anishnawbek community.

  • Federal officials say that, if all goes well, Canada could receive its first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine in January. This initial shipment would go to candidates in high-priority groups, including people with health conditions, essential workers, and Indigenous communities, reports APTN.

  • Grand Council Treaty #3 and Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh are advising citizens of the Anishinaabe Nation to limit social gatherings and avoid travel within the province and across the Ontario-Manitoba border.

Northern

  • A second person has died of COVID-19 in Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has reported 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, for a total of 67 active cases in the region, with two people in hospital. The health unit recommends that residents avoid all non-essential travel outside the region and self-quarantine for 14 days if they do travel.
  • The Northwestern Health Unit is reporting 22 active COVID-19 cases and advising residents who get tested for COVID-19 to self-isolate until they receive their results.

  • The Lakehead District Public School Board has extended its travel advisory to students. Students who travel outside of the region are not permitted to attend school until 14 days after they return, and they must be asymptomatic.

  • Sixteen residents and four staff members have tested positive in an outbreak at Thunder Bay’s Southbridge Roseview Manor long-term-care home, reports TBNewswatch.

  • Public Health Sudbury and Districts is reporting 18 new cases; 24 cases resolved between November 19 and 26.

  • An outbreak has been declared at Nipissing University after six members of the athletic community tested positive, according to the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit. The people who've tested positive attended the R.J. Surtees Student Athletics Centre gym.

Eastern

  • Guides to the City of Ottawa's COVID-modified winter recreation and arts activities will be available online as of November 30; registration will open on December 7.
  • Ottawa's Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink opened on November 25, and the Lansdowne Park Skating Court opens November 27. City hall’s Rink of Dreams and Centrepointe’s Ben Franklin Skating Rink will open next week, if weather permits. "When using the rinks, think about other skaters by practicing COVIDwise etiquette and limiting your ice time to 30 minutes during busy times so everyone can get a chance to skate," a press release states.

  • Ottawa Public Health has released a new report entitled COVID-19 and Racial Identity in Ottawa. "There has been a disproportionate impact on people who are racialized, particularly Black communities," Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, said November 24 in a special statement. "Females appear to be over-represented in most racial groups. Only half of people diagnosed with COVID 19 reported English or French as a first language, and among people who are racialized, most are immigrants."

  • The Mayor’s 20th Annual Christmas Celebration, originally scheduled for December 5 at Ottawa city hall, has been cancelled — but the holiday lights will be turned on from December 1 until January 7. 

  • Peterborough's overnight overflow-shelter-bed program will be converted into a 24/7 emergency shelter in a former City administrative office building. The new Wolfe Street location is expected to open on January 4. 

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health is reporting an outbreak at Extendicare Kingston after a staff member tested positive.

  • Tour-boat operators in the Kingston are asking local public health to provide a letter supporting their request that Ontario reconsider its tourist-boat guidelines before summer 2021, the Kingston Whig-Standard reports.

Southwestern

  • Police in London, Aylmer, and Chatham-Kent have charged organizers of rallies in the three communities that have protested COVID-19 safety orders, the London Free Press reports. The charges are related to limits on the number of people in gatherings under the Reopening Ontario Act. In Waterloo, police will be monitoring another anti-mask rally scheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon, the Record reports.
  • University Hospital in London is struggling with an outbreak of COVID-19 that, by Thursday, was responsible for 43 cases of the virus and two deaths, the London Free Press reports.

  • The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce wants the federal government to provide more support to businesses in border communities. A chamber spokesperson tells the Windsor Star that the ongoing border closure has meant an extra 25 to 30 per cent loss in revenues for these businesses.

  • COVID-19 is surging in old-order Mennonite communities, the Record reports.

  • Waterloo Regional Council has voted to establish a voluntary COVID-19 isolation centre in a Kitchener hotel for people in neighbourhoods where it might be hard to isolate, the Record reports.

  • After attending a church in Blenheim, in Chatham-Kent, 40 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 500 people ended up in isolation, according to an explanatory graphic developed by the local health unit, the CBC reports.

  • There has been an outbreak at the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo; five  two staff and three patients have so far tested positive the CBC reports.

  • Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University are aiming to create a drug that could put an end to people catching any coronavirus, the CBC reports. The vision is to create a drug that would work on viruses ranging from Ebola and influenza to COVID-19.

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