COVID-19: The week in review (October 12-16)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Oct 16, 2020

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This article was last updated at 2:40 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 712 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 62,908 since the pandemic began; 261 people are in hospital, 67 of them in intensive care and 36 on ventilators. To date, 3,031 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 72 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 158 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 203 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,901 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of October 16, in publicly funded schools, there are 55 new school-related student cases (for a total of 690), 12 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 195), and 31 new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 357); 485 schools have a reported case, and five are closed.

  • Premier Doug Ford announced today that, on Monday, modified Stage 2 restrictions will be introduced in York Region. "York Region will join Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health regions in a modified Stage 2, as a result of their trends in public health indicators, including higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission," a press release states.

  • The province announced today that Greenfield Global is investing $75 million in its  Johnstown facility to produce medical-grade alcohol for hand sanitizer. The Ontario government will investing $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund .

  • As of today, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be permitted at long-term-care homes in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto. "Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed," a press release states.

  • The province announced Wednesday that it has hired 100 new contact tracers and will be hiring up to 500 more by mid-November. 

  • Porter Airlines has announced that its planes won't be flying again until December 15."We want to see our planes in the sky as soon as possible and are actively working to prepare for our resumption of service," a press release states. "However, the ongoing uncertainty presented by government travel restrictions, including border closures, is impacting our ability to operate flights."

  • Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli announced Tuesday that the Ontario government is investing more than $1.4 million in Mississauga-based Microbix Biosystems "to expand production of COVID-19 testing supplies and further support the province in the ongoing fight against COVID-19."

  • The Ontario government announced Tuesday that customers eligible for the Ontario Electricity Rebate will receive a 33.2 per cent reduction on their energy bill when new electricity rates for Regulated Price Plan customers come into effect on November 1. Customers paying time-of-use rates under the RPP will also be able to switch to tiered-rate pricing. "As we recover from COVID-19, our government remains focused on supporting Ontarians by keeping the cost of electricity affordable," Greg Rickford, minister of energy, northern development and mines, in a press release.

  • The Ministry of Long-Term Care has appointed Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre to temporarily manage Simcoe Manor Home for the Aged in Beeton.

  • Ontario and the federal government on Tuesday announced an additional $11.6 million for the province's agri-food sector. "Actions such as building physical barriers for worker separation, upgrading HVAC systems and enhancing hand-washing facilities will be eligible for this funding," a press release states.

  • Ontario University Athletics has cancelled all OUA-sanctioned sport programming and championships until March 31, 2021.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of October 14, there are 254 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 23,572 since the pandemic began; 101 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,330 people have died.
  • After a TTC rider on Tuesday tweeted "Curious as to how we're supposed to social distance here? Can you help @TTChelps?" along with a photo of a packed bus, TTC Customer Service responded with "As the city re-opens, social distancing will no longer be possible on our vehicles. As such, if you feel that a vehicle you are on is overcrowded, I would suggest getting off and boarding the next one. Apologies for the inconvenience." On CP24, Mayor John Tory said that was "not a sensitive answer," adding, "I am not saying it's an ideal situation at all – but we cannot materialize buses out of nowhere overnight."
  •  Tory announced yesterday that the City of Toronto will be partnering with Ritual and DoorDash on Open for Business, an iniative "to help local businesses across Toronto increase their commission-free online sales."
  • A McDonald’s on Keele Street, near St. Clair Avenue, in Toronto, closed temporarily after an employee tested positive, CP24 reports

  • Holy Name Catholic Elementary School in King City and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School in Woodbridge will be closed until October 26. A YCDSB spokesperson told CP24 that, as of Tuesday, public-health officials had found "multiple confirmed cases associated with each school, across several classes and grades." 
  • A report from Toronto city manager Chris Murray outlining his recommendations for COVID-19 recovery will go before the City’s executive committee on October 21. "The COVID-19 emergency has created financial pressures that were unimaginable in previous years," the report states, and "staff are estimating a preliminary, opening pressure for the 2021 Operating Budget of $1.5 billion."
  • The City of Toronto on Tuesday issued a call to action against anti-East Asian racism. "Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in incidents of racism against all East Asian communities in Toronto," a press release states. The City has partnered with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice and other community partners to develop a campaign "that focuses on confronting harmful stereotypes and myths, and challenges Torontonians to reflect on how they may be – consciously or unconsciously – participating in anti-East Asian racism and encourages them to speak up to prevent racism when they see it."
  • As of Thursday, about 70 COVID-19 cases had been linked to an outbreak at SpinCo, a Hamilton spin studio. The outbreak is being called one of the biggest at a fitness centre in Canada. Of those confirmed to have the coronavirus, 45 are riders at the gym, two are staff, and 25 are connected to the facility through exposure to their contacts, CBC Hamilton reports. On Wednesday, the Globe and Mail reported that the province will look at whether new rules are needed for fitness centres.

  • Another outbreak has been confirmed at a Hamilton restaurant, CBC Hamilton reports. According to the Hamilton Spectator, the restaurant owners say the outbreak is linked to SpinCo's, but public-health authorities say it is too soon to tell.
  • Hamilton has confirmed its first outbreak in the city's public-school board. The Catholic board has also confirmed an outbreak, CBC Hamilton reports. Two new school cases were confirmed in Niagara this week.
  • People without COVID-19 symptoms can now get tested for the virus at some Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies in Hamilton, Brantford, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines.

  • All cases of COVID-19 in Pikangikum First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation, and Kasabonika Lake First Nation are resolved, and there’s no evidence of further spread in the communities, reports Kenoraonline.ca.
  • As of October 15, there are five new cases in Six Nations of the Grand River, for a total of 23 active cases. 

    "Concerning upsurge in cases coming to fruition over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend," a press release states. "Concerns were ignored, advice not heeded and now Ohsweken Public Health has confirmed fourteen active cases and thirty-three probable cases. The spike in cases are associated with private gatherings, members travelling from one gathering to the next which is very saddening when local public health measures stressed against doing exactly this."

  • Keith Mason, pandemic lead for Kasabonika Lake First Nation, tells the CBC that infrastructure deficits are making it difficult for community members to quarantine according to public-health guidelines.  

Northern

Eastern

  • Wastewater testing in Ottawa suggests that cases could be growing exponentially there, the CBC reports: "At the current rate of transmission, Ottawa Public Health forecasts more than 600 new cases per day by December."

  • Two employees from Ottawa's Elgin Street courthouse have tested positive, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

  • Both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board the Ottawa Catholic School Board are cancelling year-end exams, the CBC reports.

  • Starting October 19, Ottawa councillors will be holding a series of Zoom sessions at which residents can provide input on the city's draft 2021 budget.
  • Homecoming weekend will be held virtually at Queen’s University, but police are concerned that students will nevertheless choose to gather in large numbers — and warning that enforcement will be in effect. "This weekend we will have an enforcement-based approach," Sergeant Steve Koopman Koopman told the Kingston Whig-Standard. "We believe the education has been in effect for a very long period of time, in terms of not only the history of Homecoming but now adding the pandemic on top of that. It creates additional safety and public health hazards."



Southwestern

  • Western University will be holding a virtual homecoming this weekend. 
  • London has seen its first COVID-19-related death in four months, the London Free Press reports. "Additional restrictions are definitely front of mind," said Chris Mackie, the medical office of health. "But what we really need right now is to move toward clear criteria, and we plan to do that over the coming days.”
  • The October 19 Windsor city council meeting will be held virtually. "Council and administration tested a combination of virtual and in-person meetings over the past few weeks," a press release states. "However, with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19, the benefits of in-person attendance for council meetings simply aren’t there right now. This will be re-assessed on a meeting by meeting basis."

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