COVID-19: The week in review (September 14-18)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Sep 18, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:05 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 401 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 46,077 since the pandemic began; 58 people are in hospital, 20 of them in intensive care and 10 on ventilators. To date, 2,825 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 22 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 54 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 67 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,856 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of September 18, in publicly funded schools, there are five new school-related student cases (for a total of 25), no new school-related staff cases (total of 22), and six new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 25); 60 schools have a reported case, and one is closed.

  • Premier Doug Ford today called for increased federal funding for health care and infrastructure. "To meet the challenges we face, we need a modern health care system that can effectively respond to the potential surges and waves of COVID-19, while addressing issues such as hallway health care and the need for more long-term care beds," he said in a press release. "Ontario is at the table with $67 billion for health care this year, but we need the federal government to step up with its share to better protect the people we serve."

  • Ford said today that the province plans to restrict the size of social gatherings in areas other than Ottawa and Peel and Toronto regions, the Toronto Star reports — and that testing will soon be available through Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, and Walmart.

  • The Ontario government yesterday announced a new limit on the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in Ottawa and Peel and Toronto regions. As of today, indoor events and gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people, and outdoor events and gatherings are limited to 25 or fewer people.

  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark yesterday introduced Bill 204, the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, which, if passed, would freeze rents in Ontario for most rental units for all of 2021 and extend the current moratorium on commercial evictions. The bill also gives police, special constables, and First Nations constable the power to immediately close any premises where officers have reasonable grounds to believe that people are gathering in numbers not permitted by current public-health orders. Hosts of prohibited social gatherings could be fined up to $10,000 if convicted.

  • On Wednesday, the government launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool "to assist parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors that is required before attending school."

  • The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million in Guelph-based Linamar Corp. to "support the retooling of its assembly line to manufacture ventilator components to produce 10,000 Ontario-made e700 ventilators."

  • On September 14, the Tories announced $50 million in funding for "COVID-19 related and other urgent projects" at 129 hospitals.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of September 17, there are 142 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 17,259 cases in Toronto since the pandemic began; 24 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,178 people have died.
  • Brampton, the Region of Peel, and Ontario Health have launched a testing site for "those who have no symptoms of the virus but require a test for travel or return to work/school."
  • The Toronto District School Board yesterday reported the first case in a student. The student attends York Memorial Collegiate Institute.
  • ShowLoveTO, a city-wide temporary public art initiative, lauched on September 16. 
    “BigArtTO provides residents with opportunities to safely explore city neighbourhoods while supporting local businesses and artists," Mayor John Tory said in a press release. "I know these past six months have been challenging and we are not through it yet, but together, following Toronto Public Health’s direction, we can safely re-engage with our city and be a part of rebuilding it even better than before."
  • Tory indicated on Wednesday that Toronto Public Health had advised that social-gathering limits be reduced, mask requirements be expanded, and the enforcement of existing restrictions be enhanced. He also said that the city would be taking action on all three issues and working to co-operate with the province. (The Ontario government announced new restrictions on Thursday.)

  • On September 15, the City of Toronto issued the COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Recovery Response Plan, "an urgent appeal to the federal and provincial governments to create 3,000 permanent, affordable homes, within the next 24 months, for homeless, vulnerable and marginalized residents."
  • Toronto on September 14 announced the launch of ShowLoveTO, an intiative that will "encourage local tourism and foster community engagement and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."
  • Metrolinx reported on September 14 that an employee working in bus operations has tested positive.
  • Starting September 17, the wearing of face coverings or masks became mandatory for all TTC employers.
  • Monday was the first day of class for students in Hamilton's public-school board. CBC Hamilton reports that the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has added 80 new classes to its virtual school and hired 90 new educators after a late uptick in students opting for online learning.

  • CBC Hamilton also reports that school buses started consolidated routes on Wednesday to try to improve an unprecedented local bus-driver shortage. Each day since schools opened on Monday, Hamilton Wentworth Student Transportation Services has reported over60 delays of anywhere from 15 minutes to more than one hour. On Thursday afternoon, the service reported 101 delays.

  • Hamilton teachers and unions tell CBC Hamilton that they're concerned about the number of students exempt from masking requirements. According to the Hamilton-Wentworth Elementary Teachers' Local, there have been reports that, in one school, a quarter of students are not wearing face coverings.

  • McMaster University, in Hamilton, announced Monday that it will continue to hold online-only classes until the end of the school year. On September 13, the university announced that an employee last on campus September 8 had tested positive.

  • Niagara This Week is tracking COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, and closed classrooms in Niagara schools. As of September 17, there were no confirmed cases in any Niagara board.

  • On Thursday, Niagara Region voted to extend its mandatory mask bylaw, originally set to expire in October, until April. As the St. Catharines Standard reports, Niagara's top public-health official, Mustafa Hirji, told council that the risk of COVID-19 spread in the area is the same as it was when the bylaw was passed in July.

  • On TVO.org, Rob Csernyik reports that cities such as Niagara Falls, which rely on casinos for revenue, are now trying to figure out how to balance their budgets. 

Indigenous

  • The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority today reported a second case on Moose Factory Island. 

  • On September 15, the federal government announced close to $609,000 in funding to support Indigenous organizations in the London area that address the critical needs of urban Indigenous populations. The funding will help address food security, mental-health services, homelessness, and required emergency supplies, says Indigenous Services Canada. Organizations that will receive funding include Atlohsa Family Healing Services, Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre, Four Feathers Housing Cooperative, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Mnaasged Child and Family Services, Caldwell First Nation, Southern First Nation Secretariat, and First Farms & Forests Centre for Indigenous Food.  

  • Ryerson University, in Toronto, will hosting a virtual powwow on September 25. The live-streamed video will feature dancers, drum groups, and more.

  • Attawapikskat First Nation Council met on September 14 and agreed to a partial lockdown for a period of two weeks, effective September 15 to September 29. "Due to a positive case of COVID-19 in the region, council is being proactive in this shut down to protect our community," a press release states.

  • Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health will be offering onsite COVID-19 testing at 299 Montreal Road, in Ottawa. 

  • The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority on Thursday reported five new cases among residents of Kasabonika Lake First Nation, TBNewswatch reports.

Northern

  • Thunder Bay’s Centennial Conservatory reopened on September 15.
  • Thunder Bay has released a list of facilities — including child-care and community centres — that are currently open or expected to open in September and October.
  • The Canada Games Complex, in Thunder Bay, is set to reopen on September 23, pending a successful public-health inspection. Visitors will be prescreened, and the number of users per room will be limited.

  • The Thunder Bay District Health Unit on Thursday reported a new case, the first in the area in more than three weeks, according to TBNewswatch

  • The Porcupine Health Unit yesterday declared an outbreak at Glencore’s Kidd Operations Mine Site, north of Timmins, after two employees tested positive.

Eastern

  • The Renfrew County District School Board announced today that one student and four staff members at Fellowes High School, in Pembroke, have tested positive. The school has been closed since Wednesday, after the third case was confirmed. "The closure is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice," a press release states. "The school will reopen only with public health approval." 

  • Lisa MacLeod, the minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries and the MPP for Nepean, said Thursday that three pop-up testing centres will open in Ottawa today.

  • The Queensway Carleton Hospital and Foundation tweeted today that the West COVID-19 Care Clinic has reached maximum capacity and will not be taking additional visitors for the day. (It also reached maximum capacity yesterday.)

  • Ottawa By-Law and Regulatory Services indicated yesterday that the "warning phase for the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law is ending" and that "tickets will be issued in cases where a warning is not deemed sufficient or when repeat offenders are encountered." Individuals who fail to wear a mask run the risk of a $250 fine; business or property owners who fail to comply will get a fine of $490.

  • The Ottawa Hospital, CHEO and Ottawa Public Health issued a joint statement on Monday on "record-setting volumes at the Brewer Assessment Centre in recent days." More staff are being trained and hired, the statement says, and hours of operations will be extended at the centre and at the drive-thru assessment centre on Coventry Road.

  • "Our recent rise in cases is concerning. Very concerning," Ottawa Public Health tweeted Wednesday, adding, "In terms of spread within the community (i.e. not from institutional outbreaks like hospitals or LTC homes), most of our recent cases are coming from private gatherings (parties and get-togethers) & close contacts of confirmed cases. This tells us that our cases are manageable if we can all agree to get on the same page."

  • Kingston's INVISTA Centre reopened Tuesday with four ice pads and fitness-centre access.  

  • A COVID-19 assessment centre operated by Kingston Health Sciences Centre opened this week at Queen’s University. "Providing on-campus testing to students is vital to the quick identification of cases, quick treatment, and immediate isolation to prevent spread of the virus," said David Pichora, KHSC president and CEO.

  • A Tim Hortons in Kingston has temporarily closed after an employee tested positive, the Kingston Whig Standard reports.

  • Peterborough city council received an update Monday on estimated COVID-19-related financial impacts until December 31. It "shows projected net financial impact of $10.3 million with potential funding sources of $7.7 million to offset the impact, leaving about $2.5 million to be funded."

  • The City of Peterborough’s Downtown Youth Space, a free after-school program, will reopen September 22 with public-health measures in place.

  • Peterborough’s drive-thru testing centre for people without symptoms will be relocated to the parking lot at Eastgate Memorial Park on Monday, the Peterborough Examiner reports, "after problems with lineups and traffic backups at its current location at the former Northcrest Arena parking lot on Marina Boulevard."

Southwestern

  • Middlesex London Health Unit has released a visual contact-tracing map that shows how a COVID-19 outbreak spread to several Western University students, the CBC reports. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has released a similar map detailing how the virus spread among a number of people in the Windsor area, the Windsor Star reports.

  • Bars and clubs in downtown London are virtually empty after news early this week of an outbreak among COVID-19 students brought warnings from local leaders about large gatherings, the CBC reports.

  • Only dispatch operators accessed a provincial database that contained personal health information of people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, London's deputy police chief told the service's board, the London Free Press reports. Over a period of four months, the police services accessed the database, which was made available to first responders across the province, 10,475 times — making it the fifth-highest user in the province.

  • The University of Windsor will be sticking with online classes for the winter semester, the CBC reports.

  • Fanshawe College is facing a $24 million deficit because of a drop in foreign enrollment, the London Free Press reports.

  • Lambton County council has voted to allow the release of some geographic information about COVID-19 outbreaks, Blackburn News reports.

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