COVID-19: The week in review (September 21-25)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Sep 25, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:32 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 409 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 48,905 since the pandemic began; 87 people are in hospital, 25 of them in intensive care and 13 on ventilators. To date, 2,837 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 32 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 69 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 85 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,861 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • As of September 25, in publicly funded schools, there are 10 new school-related student cases (for a total of 110), 10 new school-related staff cases (for a total of 50), and nine new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 78); 198 schools have a reported case, and two are closed.

  • The provincial government has announced new public-health rules targeted at the growing number of COVID-19 cases among young people. Bars will be forbidden from selling alcohol after 11 p.m. and must close for business at 12 a.m., except for takeout and delivery customers. Strip clubs across the province must close altogether. And businesses must adhere to any guidance or requests made by the chief medical officer of health’s office. The new requirements will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on September 26.

  • The Ontario government announced today that it is investing $741 million "to help clear the backlog of surgeries and build more capacity in the health care system to effectively manage surges and outbreaks in COVID-19 cases."

  • The province unveiled a new COVID-19 testing plan yesterday. Read the full handout here.

  • During an address to the nation on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that "in our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn't just starting — it's already underway." He warned that "we're on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring," adding that "it's all too likely we won't be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas."

  • The Ontario government announced Thursday that it will be providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management. It will also dedicate an immediate $30 million to preventing and managing outbreaks in priority sectors, such as long-term-care homes, retirement homes. and schools. 

  • The province announced yesterday that the Ontario Community Support Program will be extended until March 2021. "This will ensure that low-income seniors and people with disabilities, many who are self isolating due to COVID-19, can continue to get meals and other essential supplies delivered to their homes in the upcoming winter months," a press release states.          

  • Up to 60 pharmacies are set to start offering testing by appointment as of today.

  • The province is launching a recruitment campaign to increase its team of front-line health and safety inspectors by 98 "and help ensure workplaces across the province are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

  • The Ontario government on Tuesday announced that it is investing in technology and online services for the justice system. "Throughout the COVID-19 emergency and recovery, we have worked with our partners to move Ontario's justice system forward by decades in a matter of months through game-changing modernization initiatives," Attorney General Doug Downey said in a press release. "This includes supporting innovative ways of conducting court proceedings, offering more remote proceedings, and adopting online methods for filing and interacting with the court to reduce the number of in-person visits to the courthouse."

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of September 24, there are 236 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 18,363 since the pandemic began; 41 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,178 people have died.
  • Toronto's medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, today confirmed an outbreak at Glen Park Public School, where two students have tested positive. She also announced that she is using her powers under provincial public-health legislation to close four businesses in the city after they were found to have breached numerous public-health rules, including by offering buffet foods and pressuring staff to work despite being sick. Villa also noted that the businesses had obstructed the  Toronto Public Health investigations. The businesses have not yet been named, as the legal orders were still being served as de Villa was speaking.
  • Toronto Public Health directed students from a kindergarten class at Swansea Junior and Senior Public School to begin self-isolating on September 18 after a staff member tested positive, CP24 reports.

  • Officer Randall Arsenault tweeted Wednesday that "14 people were fined $880 each last night in Scarborough under the Reopening Ontario Act," adding, "Blatant disregard of rules meant to protect us all. Large crowds of 40-50 people. House parties, please keep them under control."

  • Toronto has extended the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted outdoor major events until December 31 and launched the Cultural Festivals Recovery Program, which will provide $565,000 to support cultural festivals that have been affected by the pandemic.

  • On Wednesday, Toronto Public Health launched an enhanced COVID-19 data dashboard. "This updated dashboard will provide more detailed information to help residents better understand how this virus is affecting our community," a press release states.
  • According to the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Region surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Two days earlier, the Hamilton Spectator reports, the city recorded its first death due to the virus in two months.

  • Hamilton's board of health voted Monday to include apartment and condo common areas in the city's mandatory mask bylaw. If councillors ratify the change next week,  people older than five without medical exemptions will have to wear face coverings in spaces including elevators and laundry rooms, CBC Hamilton reports.

  • The Hamilton Public Library is projecting a budget surplus due to closures and secondments, the Public Record reports. The library also released data showing which branches saw the most outdoor Wi-Fi use during its pandemic shutdown.

  • The Spectator reports that Hamilton is now projecting a budget surplus of $400,000 after having projected a $62 million deficit prior to the announcement of federal and provincial aid.

  • TVO.org's Hamilton-Niagara reporter Justin Chandler looks at what the region is doing to make streets and sidewalks safe for children getting to class.

  • The Hamilton Wentworth-District School Board tells CBC Hamilton that about one in 10 public-school students are not wearing masks: out of the approximately 39,000 students registered for in-person classes, roughly 3,800 are exempt from wearing face coverings. 

  • Hamilton school boards announced Wednesday that they will cancel bus routes on a rotating basis to make up for a driver shortage that has caused significant delays, the Spectator reports.

  • As of Friday morning, two cases have been reported in Hamilton schools and four in Niagara schools

Indigenous

  • Red Lake’s COVID-19 Emergency Isolation Centre now has a family friendly isolation space that includes a sleeping area, a family room with a table for meals, and a craft area and play space. 
  • As of September 21, Muskrat Dam First Nation is on lockdown. Travel to urban centres and inter-community travel have been suspended. Essential travel remains permitted.

  • On September 19, Sandy Lake chief and council were informed of a positive case in the community. The individual, who was escorting a medical patient, arrived on September 15. She is now isolating with her partner, and contract tracing has begun. 

  • Sandy Lake First Nation announced Monday that the 24-hour curfew lockdown has been lifted. According to the community's Facebook page, some restrictions remain in place: for example, no inter-community travel (including to Keewaywin and Koocheching) and no public events or social gatherings, such as bingo, card games, or birthday parties, are permitted.

  • As of September 22, Indigenous Services Canada has shipped 1,184 orders for PPE — including hand sanitizers, N95 masks, isolation shields, and gloves — to First Nations communities; three orders are in progress.

  • New cases were reported in Sandy Lake, Pikangikum, and Kasabonika First Nations on September 19.

  • As of September 24, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 116 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities across Canada. It is also reporting 11 COVID-19 related deaths, in total, across all First Nations reserves in Canada.

 Northern

  • An outbreak was declared at the F.J. Davey long-term-care home in Sault Ste. Marie on September 19.
  • Moose Factory Health Centre reports that one case has been resolved, leaving two active cases on Moose Factory Island.

  • Timmins and District Hospital has expanded hours at its COVID-19 assessment centre: the centre will now be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. 

  • As a result of new provincial regulations, all upcoming Thunder Bay ward meetings will be held in an online/virtual format.

  • On Wednesday, a student at Ecole Gron Morgan Public School, in Thunder Bay, tested positive; as a result, that student’s cohort must quarantine for 14 days. The next day, Lakehead Public School Board announced that teachers and other school staff must wear face shields or goggles when interacting with students, TBNewswatch reports.

  • David Wright, superintendent of business at Lakehead Pubic Schools, yesterday spoke about the recent positive COVID-19 test in a student. "Very quickly the Health Unit stepped up and worked closely with us throughout the day," he said. "We learned that the system we put into place worked as it should, and we were well prepared."

  • Parents of elementary students at Lakehead Public Schools will have until the end of the day on October 2 to switch between virtual and in-person studies, TBNewswatch reports.

  • The Thunder Bay Public Library has donated $250,000 in savings (resulting from the COVID-19 shutdown) to the City of Thunder Bay to fund emergency services.

  • The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is working with local school boards in an effort to open a second community assessment centre, as demand for COVID-19 tests increase due to students returning to school, TBNewsWatch reports.

Eastern

  • As of Thursday, Ottawa Public Health had declared outbreaks at five area schools, the Ottawa Citizen reports. "Over the last couple of weeks, OPH is starting to see that some students and staff are now getting sick from interactions at school," reads a statement from the agency. "These are situations when OPH declares an outbreak." Montford Hospital, Bruyère’s St. Vincent Hospital, and the Cité Parkway and the Robertson Home retirement residences have also reported outbreaks.
  • Ottawa paramedics are now beginning to use Powered Air Purifying Respirators. "The PAPR replaces the disposable N95 face masks and face shields, which need to be discarded after each use," an article on the city's website says. "Currently, Ottawa’s paramedics dispose of 600 N95 masks and 1,300 face shields every day. The PAPR, including the face shield, is reusable – and it has a lifespan of five to 10 years. They just need to replace the filter every six months."
  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre's community COVID-19 assessment centre will relocate to the Beechgrove Complex on September 26.
  • This year's Santa Claus parade in Kingston has been cancelled. "We’ve heard that the elves are busy working on a few surprises that will add fun to the season in safe way," Michèle Langlois, Downtown Kingston’s interim executive director, said in a press release.
  • The union representing trainers at a GoodLife Fitness in Peterborough has filed a grievance after a member tested positive, the Peterborough Examiner reports. "The personal trainers have been expressing concerns to the union that the safety measures put in place for members to adhere to aren’t being enforced by GoodLife management and members are violating these safety rules," union representative Connor Power told the paper.

Southwestern

  • Many people across southwestern Ontario are having to wait more than 24 hours to get the results of their COVID-19 tests because of equipment troubles at London Health Sciences Centre, Blackburn News reports.
  • The culture editor of the Gazette, Western University's student paper, is calling for London to be rolled back to Phase 2 in order to curb student partying.

  • Local hardships created by the pandemic have prompted the Huron Perth Public Health Board to call for the introduction of a basic-income program, Blackburn News reports. A report the board is reviewing shows that half of the area's households earn less than the living wage, which, in the area, is calculated to be $17.55 an hour.

  • Chatham-Kent Council has decided to continue meeting virtually until at least the end of the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chatham Daily News reports.

  • With students headed back to school, the Lambton County Health Unit is expanding the number of testing centres in Sarnia and the county, Blackburn News reports.

  • Forget traditional door-to-door trick or treating for Halloween this year, Waterloo public health officials tell the Record.

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