COVID-19: What you need to know for June 18

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

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This article was last updated at 3:03 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 173 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 32,917 since the pandemic began; 351 people are in hospital, 84 of them in intensive care and 60 on ventilators. To date, 2,553 people have died.
  • According to Public Health Ontario's daily epidemiologic summary, there are 74 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 5,360 confirmed cases in residents and 2,115 confirmed cases in staff. To date, there have been 1,636 confirmed resident deaths and six confirmed staff deaths.

covid chart
Data from the Province of Ontario; visualizations by John Michael McGrath.
  • The Ontario government is going to start gradually reopening its DriveTest facilities across the province. Some centres will reopen on June 22; provincewide services will be fully restored by September. The government closed DriveTest centres on March 23 to deal with COVID-19.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal Canadian Digital Service, Shopify, Blackberry, and the government of Ontario will begin testing a cellphone-based contact-tracing app. Premier Ford is expected to speak about this later today at Queen's Park.

  • Metrolinx has announced that a GO bus operator has tested positive for COVID-19. The operator was asymptomatic, wearing a mask and gloves, and worked behind a plexiglass barrier. Riders who took the 90A, 96, or 96B buses on June 11 in Oshawa may have been on the same bus as the operator in question, but Metrolinx says public-health officials have determined that the risk of infection is low and are not seeking to speak with passengers at this time.

  • At Queen's Park last night, MPPs voted in favour of the government's Bill 192, the Protecting Small Business Act. The bill protects commercial tenants from eviction until September 1 and retroactively back to May 1, unless landlords apply for and receive money through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assitance Program. Opposition parties allowed the government to speed the bill through the legislature even as some, such as the New Democrats, said it doesn't go far enough.

  • Also at Queen's Park, the government has tabled a motion to extend the current state of emergency until July 15; a Wednesday-night statement from the premier's office said that "the Premier is hopeful that this will the final extension." The province has been under a state of emergency since March 17, allowing the government to make extraordinary orders limiting the size of public gatherings and forcing business closures.

  • Nurses represented by Ontario Nurses' Association, Service Employees International Union Health Care, and Unifor demonstrated yesterday to demand that the province honour its promised $4 per hour pay increase for front-line health-care workers. The St. Catharines Standard reports that, at Queen's Park, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens said her office had been contacted by at least 112 front-line hospital workers who had not gotten that pay.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to today's report, there are 73 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 13,661 since the pandemic began; 276 of them are in hospital and 72 in intensive care. To date, there have been 163 institutional outbreaks. In total, 1,002 people have died.

  • Numbers compiled by real-estate research firm Urbanation suggest that Toronto’s normally tight rental market is becoming more affordable, in part because of various factors stemming from COVID-19. Such factors include post-secondary students choosing to stay home rather than rent, and a slowdown in immigration.

  • As Hamiltonians avoid taxis and public transit during the pandemic, the city's 10-year transit plan is being delayed for a year. To accommodate residents not using transit, the city plans to make streets more bicycle-friendly, CBC Hamilton reports. Plans include adding curbs and bumpers to existing bike lanes, and signs and temporary "traffic-calming measures" to some streets.

Indigenous

  • The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority has been notified of four new cases in two communities. "Consistent with good public health practices, and respecting confidentiality and privacy, we do not identify the community or community members in respect to confirmed cases," it says.

Northern

  • The Northern Policy Institute estimates that northern Ontario colleges and universities will lose $58 million in tuition fees due to falling international student enrollment.

  • The Kenora District Services Board and Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital are opening the Red Lake COVID-19 isolation centre today at the old Norseman Inn.

  • Timmins will be installing 10 pop-up patios downtown. “For some of these restaurants, this will help them survive,” Noella Rinaldo, executive director for Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Area, told the Timmins Daily Press. “Every time we lose a restaurant, it breaks my heart because that’s really what makes a downtown very livable and vibrant.”

  • Beginning today, the Pioneer Ridge and Jasper Place long-term-care homes, in Thunder Bay, will begin accepting visitors. "An appropriate outdoor visitation space has been set up at each facility to adhere to the strict rules and requirements, with protocols in place for safety precautions," a press release states. The city release also notes that the public can now access Victoriaville Centre and McKellar Mall and that front-door boarding and fare collection will resume on buses on July 20.

Eastern

  • According to Kawartha Lakes This Week, a women's shelter in Lindsay says it is bracing for a surge of women needing help after months of being isolated with abusive partners.

  • Ottawa Bluesfest and the National Arts Centre are partnering to produce a series of drive-in concerts in Gatineau, Quebec, the CBC reports. Headliners include Marie-Mai, Patrick Watson, and the Sam Roberts Band.

  • Video footage shared with CBC's The Fifth Estate shows "lapses in infection control" at Ottawa's Madonna Care Community, site of one of the worst nursing-home outbreaks in the province. 

Southwestern

  • Local mental-health agencies that provide counselling say they are receiving more requests for their services as COVID-19 emergency measures are lifted and tell the London Free Press that they anticipate a "significant" increase in calls for service.

  • Sun-Brite Foods, a processor of tomatoes and beans in Kingsville, Essex County, is working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on a pilot to introduce on-site testing of COVID-19, the CBC reports.

  • A temporary shelter in Kitchener, established to help house the homeless during the COVID-19 shutdown, will close on June 28, the CBC reports.

  • Lambton County's three long-term-care homes are now allowing outdoor visits, the Sarnia Observer reports.

  • A COVID-19 testing centre in Leamington intended to serve farm workers has shut down after less than two weeks of operation because it wasn't reaching its target population, the chairman of Leamington-based Migrant Worker Community Program tells the Windsor Star.

  • An outbreak of COVID-19 among migrant workers on a farm in the Grey-Bruce region, where two workers tested positive for the virus, has been contained, the area's medical officer of health tells the Owen Sound Sun Times.

  • Lambton County officials, preparing for a Stage 2 opening of the area on Friday, want the province to clarify what Stage 3 will look like so they can prepare its community for what to do to get to that stage, the Sarnia Observer reports.

  • Norfolk County councillors have taken their mayor to task for staging a haircut publicity event last week to protest the province's decision not to allow Norfolk and Haldimand counties to progress to Stage 2, the Simcoe Reformer reports.

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