COVID-19: The week in review (November 30-December 4)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Dec 04, 2020

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This article was last updated at 2:38 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 1,780 new cases in Ontario, for a total of
    123,526 since the pandemic began; 674 people are in hospital, 207 of them in intensive care and 116 on ventilators. To date, 3,737 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 112 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 680 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 544 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 2,265 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of December 4, in publicly funded schools, there are 102 new school-related student cases (for a total of 3,425), 27 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 753), and no new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 1,088); 776 schools have a reported case, and eight are currently closed.

  • As of December 7 at 12:01 a.m., Middlesex-London Health Unit and Thunder Bay District Health Unit will be moving to the Orange/Restrict level of the COVID-19 framework, and Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will be moving to Yellow/Protect.

  • On Friday, the Ontario government announced the appointment of nine members of the new Ministers' COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. Chaired by Rick Hillier, former chief of defence staff for the Canadian Forces, it will "oversee the delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines."

  • The Ontario government announced December 3 that it is investing nearly $4.4 million to support the province's tourism industry. "This funding will help deliver innovative, safe experiences, like virtual festivals and events, and support tourism operators as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19," a press release states.

  • As part of the province's COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, it is investing more than $115 million to support 850 patients access services from home and to expand virtual-care options. 

  • The province announced December 1 that it is working with experts in such sectors as pharmaceuticals, health care, and logistics to create a plan for vaccine distribution.

  • Through the Ontario Together Fund, the province is investing $550,000 to help local manufacturers retool their operations and increase capacity in mask manufacturing . 

  • As of November 30, parents or guardians residing in Ontario can apply online for the government's new Support for Learners program, will provides direct one-time payments to help cover learning costs. "Funds can assist with additional education expenses during COVID-19, such as workbooks, school supplies, technology and developmental resources," a press release states. "The funding also assists with additional childcare costs, whether the child is in child care or at home." 

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of December 2, there are 421 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 43,112 since the pandemic began; 240 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,630 people have died.
  • Toronto Public Health released an updated COVID-19 school screening tool Friday. "The updated screening tool includes a new requirement that if a student has even one COVID-19 symptom, they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested," a press release states. "And if they live with siblings in the same household, they must all self-isolate."
  • After asymptomatic testing conducted at Toronto's Thorncliffe Park Public School revealed positive cases in 18 students and one staff member, three teachers walked off the job, CP24 reports. Jennifer Brown, the president of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, said they “don’t feel safe," adding, “They don't necessarily have the answers from Toronto Public Health regarding why the school is still open." According to the Toronto District School Board, as of December 3, there had been 23 cases in students and three cases in staff. On Thursday, Toronto Public Health advised that the school should close until at least December 9. 

  • The Ontario government announced today that is providing the Niagara Parks Commission with up to $12.81 million "to help ensure the region remains one of the top tourism destinations in the world during the COVID-19 outbreak." 

  • The Ministry of Long-Term Care has approved a new voluntary management agreement that will see Southlake Regional Health Centre provide support to King City Lodge Nursing Home; it has also approved such an agreement allowing Lakeridge Health to provide support to Sunnycrest Nursing Home in Whitby.

  • The St. Lawrence Market Saturday farmers' market will resume full operations on December 5.

  • After Toronto reported 761 new cases on December 1, Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer health, issued a statement indicating that data from the newly launched Source of Infection Survey shows that "1 in 5 (21 per cent) of responding COVID-19 cases confirmed that they have had people visit inside their home, or went inside someone else’s home, where there were 10 people or less during the period they acquired the infection." That day's case counts were "a blunt warning," she wrote: "COVID-19 continues to spread easily and widely. It is a warning that everyone at every age shares the risk of infection, just as all of us have the ability to reduce the risk through the actions and choices we take in the next several weeks."
  • As of December 7, 1,100 part-time employees at Mississauga facilities including pools and arenas will be temporarily laid off. "This decision is especially difficult given the hard year we have all had," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. "The City is facing significant financial pressures as a result of this second lockdown. In order to be fiscally responsible, we must take action to respond to the facility closures and their impact on our operations."

  • Mississauga reports that 4,500 inspections were conducted in the first seven days of the lockdown, resulting in 57 charges and 51 notices of contravention.
  • With Hamilton reporting a record of 536 new COVID-19 cases this week (as of Thursday), local officials are wondering whether the province will impose a lockdown on Friday. As the Hamilton Spectator reports, the city has outbreaks in 10 long-term care homes, seven workplaces, three community organizations, two schools, and one daycare.

  • The Spectator also reports that teachers' unions in the city are unhappy about a snow-day announcement from the public school board. The board says remote classes will continue through snow days, but the union says it was informed only hours before the announcement and thinks the plan is unfair for families who lack the technological resources for online learning. The Catholic board told the Spec that it's leaning in the same direction. That board's union also told the paper it was surprised by the position.

  • Protesters advocating that Hamilton defund its police service to fund supports for people in need of housing or experiencing homelessness were forcibly removed from outside city hall on Monday. On Wednesday night, the Spectator reports, police forced protesters out of city hall. Police arrested and charged 18 protesters, including Toronto journalist and activist Desmond Cole. People throughout Ontario are raising concerns about increasing homelessness and growing evictions, as TVO.org has reported.

  • A Hamilton woman has been named Canada's top YouTube creator of 2020. Maddie Lymburner has specialized in at-home and apartment-friendly workout videos throughout the pandemic. As CBC Hamilton reports, she's quintupled her following to 5 million subscribers since March.

  • In Niagara region, the acting medical officer of health, Mustafa Hirji, says that what appears to be a flattening of the curve in cases is at least partially attributable to a decline in cases linked to groups dining in restaurants and bars. This comes after Niagara was moved into the orange stage of pandemic restrictions, and Hirji implemented much maligned local rules limiting dining groups to people from the same household. Both changes occurred in November, and Hirji told the St. Catharines Standard that it will not take much for cases to surge again.

Indigenous

chart
(Indigenous Services Canada)
  • According to Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, there are five new cases in Attawapiskat. A high-risk exposure warning has been issued for a Thunder Air flight from Timmins to Attawapiskat on November 23.

  • A new manufacturing facility in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory will produce FN95 masks and create 50 employment opportunities for residents.
  • Members of the Six Nations Emergency Control Group have adapted Ontario’s COVID-19 colour-coded system "to meet the unique needs of the Six Nations territory, with more strict measures to enhance community safety, using a coloured and numbered scaled system instead of using words like 'Protect, Prevent, Restrict, Control, and Lockdown,'" according to a December 1 press release. Green Level 1 is the lowest risk level of transmission; Black Level 5 is the highest. The community is currently at the Yellow Level 2; as of December 1, there was one active case.
  • On December 1, Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy, of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, provided a COVID-19 update on Wawatay Radio.

Northern

  • The Porcupine Health unit is warning of low-risk exposures at East Side Mario's in Timmins on November 20 and Siva's Family Restaurant on November 22.
  • Two residents at Southbridge Roseview Manor, a long-term-care home in Thunder Bay, have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the region to four. Thirty-three residents and 24 staff members at the home have tested positive.

  • As of Friday morning, there are 108 active cases in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s catchment; 5 people are currently hospitalized. There are three outbreaks in the region, including 57 cases linked to Southbridge Roseview Manor, three cases linked to the Barrick Hemlo, Williams Mine, near Marathon, and one staff member at the Walford retirement home. Janet DeMille, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s medical officer of health, expects that the region will move from the yellow stage to the orange stage of Ontario’s COVID-19 framework.

  • The Northwestern Health Unit is reporting 10 active COVID-19 cases.

Eastern

  • As of Thursday, 17 cases have been linked to a Procter & Gamble plant in the Belleville area, according to Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
  • On Thursday, there were seven new cases in the Kingston region, at least one of which was linked to travel, according to Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health. There were 31 active cases in the region, the health unit reported.

  • In the Peterborough area, two new cases were reported on Thursday. An outbreak continues at Fairhaven, a long-term-care home, where two people remain in isolation at the facility, the Peterborough Examiner reported.

  • Rosana Salvaterra, Peterborough Public Health’s medical officer of health, has urged Peterborough area residents to stay home, noting that more cases are being linked to travel, as MyKawartha.com reports.

  • In Ottawa, 41 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public Health’s medical officer of health, referred to the COVID-19 situation in the city as “pretty stable,” according to CTV News.

Southwestern

  • Eleven people have now died in a COVID-19 outbreak at London Health Sciences University Hospital, the London Free Press reports. Most surgeries there are now cancelled as hospital officials try to contain the spread of the virus.

  • The Stratford General Hospital has also declared an outbreak, the Beacon Herald reports, but most hospital services continue.

  • Twenty-three people are now ill in an outbreak at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Blackburn News reports.

  • An increase in demand for testing in Windsor has contributed to a wait of up to three days for results, the CBC reports. The city and Essex County have been under the province's red designation since November 30.

  • Public officials are criticizing a Thames Valley District School Board trustee for taking his family on a road trip into the United States, the CBC reports.

  • An outbreak of COVID-19 at Grand Valley Institution, a federal prison for women, has led to a lockdown of inmates. "It's very, very restrictive," a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies tells the CBC.

  • A new report from the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor says that local service, manufacturing, and supply businesses are losing millions because of the U.S.-Canada border closure, the Windsor Star reports. The study recommends expanding the list of businesses allowed to cross the border. Last summer, TVO.org interviewed Bill Anderson, the institute's director, about this issue.

  • Waterloo Region is asking the provincial and federal governments for help to avoid a full-blown lockdown as COVID-19 pandemic numbers in the region begin to climb, the Record reports. The region has been under the province's red designation since November 23.

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