COVID-19: The week in review (October 5-9)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Oct 09, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:53 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 939 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 57,681 since the pandemic began; 225 people are in hospital, 47 of them in intensive care and 29 on ventilators. To date, 2,997 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 56 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 145 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 178 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,880 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of October 9, in publicly funded schools, there are 32 new school-related student cases (for a total of 482), nine new school-related staff cases (for a total of 149), and 15 new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 245); 429 schools have a reported case, and four are closed.

  • The government announced today that, as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Ottawa, Toronto, and Peel will be heading back into what it is calling a “modified Stage 2” set of public-health measures for a minimum of 28 days. This means that the limits on public gatherings will been reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors (that limit had previously applied only to private gatherings) and indoor dining and drinking will be prohibited once again at bars and restaurants. The government will also temporarily close indoor gyms and fitness centres, casinos, movie theatres, and other performing-arts spaces. Any kind of personal service that requires the removal of a mask will also be prohibited. "It was the single toughest decision I've made since taking office, bar none," Premier Doug Ford said today of the move to reintroduce restrictions.

  • The government is reducing the allowed size of gatherings for tours, real-estate open houses, and in-person classes not held at a public school, college, university, or child-care centre; the rules around schools and places of worship are unchanged.

  • Wedding receptions will get a small reprieve: the public-gathering limits will apply to them starting October 13: weddings scheduled for the Thanksgiving long weekend can proceed as planned.

  • The Ontario government announced today that it "has planned to and will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills."

  • At a press conference today, Ford said that "all trends are going in the wrong direction" and that, if this continues, hospitalizations in ICUs will more than triple in less than 30 days. 

  • Dirk Huyer, chief coroner for Ontario and the coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response, said yesterday at a press conference that "we are continuing to see more and more outbreaks and the vulnerable sectors — retirement homes, long-term care homes, group homes — are increasing in their proportion which is incredibly distressing due to the fact that they are more vulnerable not only to infection but the complications of infection." David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, noted that virus transmission is "starting to spill over into older age groups" and said, "As the number of cases pick up and as the positivity rate picks up and the reproductive rate picks up the alarm bells go off more and more because once it starts to spill over to vulnerable age groups it starts to impact on our systems and our hospital systems start to get impacted — the alarm bells are ringing louder and louder."

  • The Toronto Star reported today that Ontario's testing system is in "upheaval," with "assessment centre volumes dropping, positivity rates rising, and other provinces bailing out Ontario’s backlog."

  • The province announced Thursday that it is investing $9 million to support municipalities and event organizers during COVID-19. It will be go toward maintaining public-safety requirements and support online and drive-thru events, and more. "Organizers will be developing creative programs such as virtual Remembrance Day events, reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year's Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings," a press release states.

  • The Ontario government is providing an additional $176 million for mental-health and addictions supports during COVID-19. "The increased funding will help address urgent gaps in care, enhance access to mental health and addictions services, create new supports and expand programs in several priority areas," a press release states.

  • Prabmeet Sarkaria, associate minister of small business and red-tape reduction, on Wednesday announced Ontario's Main Street Recovery Plan and indicated that the government intends to introduce the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020. "If passed, the act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment," a press release states.

  • The province on Monday updated its visitor policy for long-term-care facilities. As of October 7, general visitors were no longer allowed in LTC homes in Otttawa, Peel, and Toronto: "Only essential visitors, including up to one caregiver per resident, will be allowed to visit. If the home is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 the local public health unit will provide direction on further visitor restrictions and other measures."

  • The Ontario government on Monday announced it would be allocating $35 million "to provide additional immediate school board supports in the communities of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto and York Region to enhance public health measures and protection strategies as they confront higher rates of transmission in their communities."

  • A Canadian Federation of Indpendent Business survey indicates that another COVID-19 shutdown would mean the end of half of Ontario's small businesses, the Windsor Star reports.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of October 8, there are 350 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 21,919 since the pandemic began; 95 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,313 people have died.
  • The City of Toronto is suspending some of its indoor recreational programs, including group fitness classes, swim instruction, and skating instruction. Other programs, including recreational swimming and after-school care, will continue with their current capacity restrictions.

  • On Monday, Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa asked Torontonians to limit their Thanksgiving celebrations to the people they live with. On Wednesday, de Villa and Mayor John Tory "again urged residents to not hold big Thanksgiving gatherings and to limit celebrations to only the people you live with, in the same household, under the same roof," a press release states. "For those who live alone, the safest option is to join others virtually."
  • The Ministry of Long-Term Care has helped to put in place a new management agreement between Unity Health Toronto and Norwood Nursing Home in Toronto. "This voluntary agreement will provide enhanced support to Norwood Nursing Home to address the spread of COVID-19 in the home," a press release states. "This will help stabilize the home and return it to normal operations."

  • The Ontario government is investing $500,000 to assist 92 Niagara-area residents in training for careers as personal support workers. 
  • The Hamilton Spectator reports that, while food security is a growing concern in the city, the pandemic has made it harder for volunteers to get food to hungry children. 

  • As viral transmission surges in Hamilton, the Spectator found out how the city's emergency services are preparing.

  • Thursday saw Hamilton's highest spike in new COVID-19 cases (24) since the first surge of the virus. As CBC Hamilton reports, city and health officials are urging residents to get together only with people who live under the same roof this Thanksgiving.

  • On Thursday, Hamilton Public Health announced that 100 members of a downtown spin studio community might have been exposed to the virus. Officials confirmed 11 cases in an outbreak at the studio, the Spectator reports.

  • As the St. Catharine Standard reports, Mustafa Hirji, Niagara's acting medical officer of health, says that how people behave on Thanksgiving weekend may be a deciding factor in whether the region faces another pandemic lockdown. In the latter half of September, Niagara went from reporting one to three new cases per day to an average of 11.

  • TVO.org's Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler spoke to a McMaster University medical student who has created a picture book that teaches children about the pandemic. (Author Nicole Crimi will be interviewed on The Agenda tonight.) 

Indigenous

  • Six Nation Health Services has released information about COVID-19 in communities under drinking-water advisories: "In case of Boil Water Advisories, you can still wash your hands with soap even before you have boiled the water because it is the soap that kills the germs. Note: unless it is a Do Not Use Advisory."

  • Six Nations of the Grand River is reporting its 23rd confirmed case, raising the community's number of total active cases to four. Chief and council are urging community members to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings. "We must remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19 and save gatherings for safer times to do so," says Elected Chief Mark Hill.

  • "A new machine about the size of a microwave that tests for COVID-19 and provides results within an hour is already making a difference in Sandy Lake First Nation, a remote community about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay," the CBC reports. Four First Nations have GeneXpert machines in place, and more are on the way, the health authority says.

  • As of October 7, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 123 active cases in First Nations communities across Canada. It is also reporting 13 COVID-19 related deaths, in total, across all First Nations reserves in Canada. On October 2, ISC released a COVID-19 update for Indigenous communities. In the last month alone, the statement says, ISC was made aware of more than 200 new cases in First Nations communities. In the same timeframe, the number of active cases went from 23 to 129. Last week, 68 new cases were reported.

  • ISC released a statement last week announcing the 34 Indigenous organizations in Northern Ontario that received approximately $3.6 million in funding through the Indigenous Community Support Fund's off-reserve and urban stream to address the  pandemic. The funding will aid with food security, mental-health support services, homelessness, and required emergency supplies. The Ontario Native Women's Association received $1.8 million in funding; Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services received $17,595 in funding to help address mental-health and addictions needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Indigenous Community Support Fund, the Government of Canada is distributing a total of $90 million to Indigenous organizations and communities providing services to Indigenous people living in urban areas and First Nations people living off-reserve.

Northern

Eastern

  • The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that staff at Ottawa’s West End Villa — where 47 workers have tested positive — are too afraid to come to work, creating staff shortages.
  • According to Ottawa Public Health, after an individual with mild symptoms attended a wedding in September, 207 people were required to self-isolate and get tested. 
  • As of yesterday, Kingston residents can book tests at the Community COVID-19 Assessment Centre, operated by Kingston Health Sciences Centre, on the internet or by phone.

  • KFL&A Public Health yesterday released a COVID-19 transmission model that "estimates the potential impact Thanksgiving celebrations may have on disease transmission within the Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington region.

  • Bollards that were installed on some downtown Peterborough streets in June to create additional space for pedestrians to physically distance will be removed over the next two weeks in preparation for winter maintenance.  

  • According to Trent University, a member of its community has tested positive, the Peterborough Examiner reports. The person was last on campus on September 29.

Southwestern

  • Of 59 active cases in the London–Middlesex County region, 41 are in the 40 and under demographic, according to the London Free Press. Four of those cases are in local schools.
  • The Art Gallery of Windsor will reopen next week, the Windsor Star reports.

  • Staff shortages and burnout at long-term-care facilities in Chatham-Kent are matters of concern for health-care advocates and union officials, the Chatham Daily News reports.

  • Norfolk-Haldimand's medical officer of health wants the federal government to foot the bill for a mandatory 14-day isolation program for migrant workers next year that would use a central isolation facility, an approach the federal government used for Canadians returning from cruise ships early on in the pandemic, the Simcoe Reformer reports.

  • A bus driver in the Waterloo Region has tested positive for COVID-19, the Record reports.

  • Double bookings at testing sites in the Waterloo Region have resulted in more than 100 no-shows per day at one of its testing centres, the Record reports.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is excerbating an already existing shortage of ocassional teachers in the Huron-Perth region, the Beacon Herald reports.

  • The Tillsonburg Thunder senior men's hockey league has cancelled its season because of pandemic-related restrictions, the Woodstock Sentinel Review reports.

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