This article was last updated at 2 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.
- Per today's government report, there are 732 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 52,980 since the pandemic began; 167 people are in hospital, 38 of them in intensive care and 21 on ventilators. To date, 2,927 people have died. ("There were 74 deaths reported for cases that occurred in the spring or summer and are now being recorded as part of a data review and data cleaning initiative.")
According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 44 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 96 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 137 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,870 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.
As of October 1, in publicly funded schools, there are 30 new school-related student cases (for a total of 263), two new school-related staff cases (for a total of 84), and five new cases in "individuals not identified" (for a total of 137); 318 schools have a reported case, and three are closed.
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The Ontario government announced today that it is tightening public-health measures. Assessment centres will discontinue walk-in testing on October 4 and transition to appointment-based testing beginning October 6. More pharmacies will offer testing for people with no symptoms. Testing guidance for children will be updated. The province also indicates that it plans to increase testing and processing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by mid-October and 68,000 tests per day by mid-November.
The Ontario government will now also mandate the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings (with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services); targeted measures will be implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto "as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission."
- The goverment has extended the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days and is also pausing social circles and "advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household."
Ontario on Thursday introduced changes to its COVID-19 school and child-care screening guidance. "The school and child care screening guidance is being updated with two sets of questions about symptoms and information to help parents make informed decisions about whether their children should attend school or child care, need to consult a health care provider, or get tested for COVID-19," a press release states. The province is now asking that children with sore throats or runny noses remain home for at least 24 hours.
On October 1, the provincial government announced that it would be using $461 million in funding to temporarily enhance wages for personal support workers and direct-support workers in home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services.
The Ontario government on Wednesday announced plans "to build a more responsive, efficient and person-centred social assistance system that will get people back to work and help the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis."
The province presented a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall-preparedness plan — Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 — on Wednesday. It also unveiled new COVID-19 modelling: read the full update here.
On September 28, the Ontario government announced it would be dedicating $52.5 million to recruiting and retaining health-care workers. "It's the thousands of nurses, personal support workers, and other frontline workers who have made the difference in the fight against COVID-19," Ford said in a press release. "Today's significant investment will allow us to recruit, retain, and quickly deploy a militia of health care heroes, caregivers, and volunteer professionals to care for our seniors and most vulnerable and ensure our health care system is prepared to deal with any outbreaks or surges in cases." The next day, the government announced $540 million "to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes from future surges and waves of COVID-19."
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area
- According to data as of September 30, there are 280 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 19,837 since the pandemic began; 75 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,182 people have died.
- Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Eileen de Villa, today wrote to the David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, "with strong recommendations to significantly reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Toronto." She recommends that indoor dining be prohibited, that individuals leave their homes only for essential trips, and that all indoor group classes in gyms and indoor sports-team activities be discontinued.
- Eight cases of COVID-19 have been linked a wedding held in Oshawa on September 19, the Durham Region Health Department reports.
The Ministry of Health says that 34 residents and eight staff members at Toronto's Fairview Nursing Home have now tested positive, CP24 reports.
- Toronto city council voted Wednesday in favour of new temporary bylaw amendments. As October 8, establishments serving food and drinks will be required to: limit the total number of patrons permitted inside at any one time to 75 (down from 100); maintain a customer log for each patron; limit the maximum number of people at each table to six (down from 10); and, with the exception of certain live performances, keep background music and any other background sounds no louder than the volume of normal conversation.
- A class at Toronto's Bowmore Road Junior and Senior Public School is self-isolating after a student tested positive, CP24 reports.
- As of October 5, the City of Toronto’s long-term-care homes began restricting entrance to staff members and essential visitors and caregivers.
- The City of Toronto announced Tuesday that ActiveTO road closures will be extended into October.
- Nuit Blanche Toronto will be held virtually this year on October 3.
Hamilton hospitals are working through a backlog of about 5,200 surgeries, the Spectator reports. Overall in Ontario, fewer people are receiving surgeries, procedures, and screening due to the pandemic.
Students in Hamilton's public-school board will have to wait until November before switching from remote to in-person learning. That's three weeks later than was originally planned. According to the Hamilton Spectator, the school board attributes the delay to staggered start times, high demand for online learning, and the need for more time to assess school space, student, and staff assignments.
CBC Hamilton reports that, on October 6, Hamilton city council's planning committee will discuss the possibility of extending its outdoor-districts program until October 31, 2021. The program allows business owners to temporarily erect patios to allow for better distancing and a safer dining environment. Thus far, 111 businesses have installed patios on private property, and 39 on sidewalks. An extension through the winter would likely mean no patios on streets, unless those streets were closed.
As the Niagara-on-the-Lake Advance reports, wineries and restaurants in that town are also seeking to keep outdoor parts of their businesses open into the fall. Andrea Kaiser, chair of Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, says that some wineries are hoping to host snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in vineyards.
In a move wineries have been clamouring for, Niagara MPP Wayne Gates introduced a bill on Wednesday to exempt VQA wines and 100 per cent Ontario wines from the 6.1 per cent tax on each bottle sold at winery retail stores. As Niagara Falls Review reports, the bill passed first reading and must now be accepted for debate and voted upon before it can pass. On Monday, Gates told TVO.org that the bill should help provide relief to wineries whose revenues have dropped during the pandemic due to a lack in tourism. Gates said that foreign wineries do not pay this tax and added that he thinks that gives them an unfair advantage over Ontario businesses.
- Nipissing First Nation Health Services will be offering drive-in flu clinics starting October 16.
On September 30, Ohsweken Public Health reported three new lab-confirmed positive cases and two probable cases within 24 hours. Six Nations of the Grand River is urging the community to follow public-health directives.
"Smart Classrooms" will be installed in selected Matawa First Nations to provide faster more comprehensive distance learning. High-speed satellite internet, large screens, and new tablets will help create an interactive learning environment in the participants' home communities, removing the need to relocate for educational and training purposes.
As of September 30, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 120 active cases in First Nations communities across Canada. It is also reporting 12 COVID-19-related deaths, in total, across all First Nations reserves in Canada.
Neskantaga First Nation cannot open its school because of COVID-19, but Chief Moonias tweets that, even without COVID-19, it would not have been able to, because of water-distribution-system issues. The community has been under a boil-water advisory for 9,375 days.
The pandemic has put some of the Liberal government’s key deadlines for its reconciliation agenda in jeopardy, including a promise to end all long-term boil-water advisories on First Nations by next March, the CBC reports. Last week’s throne speech indicated a shift in language around the commitment to eliminate the long-term advisories. It made no reference to the 2021 deadline — which had been mentioned in the previous throne speech in 2019. A senior government source told CBC News that the Liberals are comfortable with the March 2021 target date, as it had been established before COVID-19 hit.
Maggie Wente writes in The Lawyer's Daily that at a minimum, a safe return to school in person depends on classroom space, adequate teachers, and classrooms with good ventilation — and that, for many First Nations, that kind of infrastructure has long been a distant dream.
- On September 28, the Ontario government announced the creation of the Northern Ontario Recovery Program — a short-term program that will "help businesses adapt to new COVID-19 public health guidelines and protect employees and customers."
Because of an increase in cases in Manitoba and southwestern Ontario, the Northwestern Health Unit is urging residents to stay within the region and avoid non-essential travel. There are currently six active cases in the Northwestern Health Unit’s catchment, three of which are in Kenora-area schools, according to TBNewsWatch.
Greater Sudbury's Santa Claus parade, originally scheduled for November 21, has been cancelled.
Three new cases have been confirmed in Sudbury-Manitoulin districts, putting the total number of active cases at four as of September 30.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie is inviting public feedback on its 2021 budget. "Considering COVID-19, the City is asking residents and property owners to share their priorities and input virtually."
A number of drive-thru testing sites — run by Superior EMS paramedics and the Lakehead Nurse Practitioner Clinic — are now operating in Thunder Bay in order to help meet demand for testing in the city.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is reporting two active COVID-19 cases in the region.
Algoma Public Health reported its 33rd case on September 30. There are currently three active cases in the district.
Confederation College will host a new COVID-19 testing site, TBNewsWatch reports.
- Our health care system is in crisis," Ottawa Public Health tweeted today. "Labs are working beyond capacity causing dangerous backlogs, which affects our contact tracing & case management. Hospitals are nearing capacity, and we're seeing more outbreaks in LTC homes. Our system can't handle much more of this." It noted that labs and hospitals are increasing capacity, that more case managers are being trained, and that additional LTC rules are being implemented but added, "These things take time. And time is a luxury we can't afford. That's where you come in."
- In a moved endorsed by Ottawa's economic-recovery task force, the city's agriculture and rural-affairs committee on October 1 approved changing the definition of minor zoning amendments in the planning fees bylaw.
- Ottawa's 14th annual Trick or Treat with the Mayor event, originally scheduled for October 24 at city hall, has been cancelled.
- Data from Ottawa Public Health released Wednesday indicate that one in two people who test positive have been exposed to the virus through their household; that one in four people who test positive have been exposed to through members outside their household; and that, of people over 40 who test positive, one in three has been exposed through an outbreak.
- Kieran Moore, medical officer of health at Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health, confirmed Thursday that five recent cases have been linked to a party held on September 18 on Johnson Street in Kingston.
- On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Kingston Health Sciences Centre tweeted that its assessment centre had reached capacity.
- The Peterborough Curling Club will reopen on October 19 with public-health measures in place, the Peterborough Examiner reports.
Three pharmacies in Windsor have been approved to test people for COVID-19 who are asymptomatic, the Windsor Star reports.
So far, the second wave of COVID-19 has yet to reach rural areas in southwestern Ontario, the London Free Press reports.
Five students at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, have tested positive for COVID-19 so far this school year, the Record reports.
Demand for COVID-19 tests is high at local pharmacies that began to offer the tests this week, the Record reports.
The COVID-19 assessment centre in Chatham-Kent is moving to a larger building at St. Clair College in anticipation of larger demand in the coming months, Blackburn News reports.
One of London's COVID-19 assessment centres is switching to appointment only.
The number of people seeking COVID-19 testing in the Grey-Burce region is increasing after the region's health unit reported a cluster of exposure that has resulted, so far, in five people testing positive, Blackburn News reports. According to the Sun Times, in Owen Sound, out-of-town residents are generating the demand.
Lambton public health is investigating a cluster of five COVID-19 cases linked to crew from a commercial ship that is docked in Sarnia harbour, Blackburn News reports.
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