COVID-19: What you need to know for March 17 — evening edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 17, 2020

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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

  • Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, David Williams, and Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of health, say the province can now test nearly 2,000 patients a day and is working on increasing that to 5,000 per day. Williams and Yaffe briefed the press at Queen’s Park this afternoon. The province has tested 9,514 people so far; there have been 186 positive cases so far. More than 90 per cent of positive cases are related to travel in other jurisdictions.

  • The National Post is reporting that Canadians will have an additional month to file their taxes — the new deadline will be June 1.

Greater Toronto Area

  • Mary-Anne Bedard, of Toronto social services, says that, while there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city's shelter system, they are unveiling a three-part strategy to protect Toronto's homeless population. 

  • Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg says there have been a number of scams related to COVID-19; people have, for example, reportedly been going door to door selling testing kits. The city is urging residents looking for more information to visit toronto.ca/COVID19.

  • There are now 108 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, which includes four people who have recovered. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said at a press conference that, while social distancing measures are disruptive — and it will take time to see the results —  "they work."

  • Toronto mayor John Tory announced that Toronto is suspending non-essential city services and sending workers home; they will still be paid. Effective tomorrow, all city of Toronto buildings — including city hall, Metro Hall, and civic centres — will be closed to the public.

Indigenous

  • The Six Nations Family Health Team has decided to limit in-person appointments to a telemedicine approach to care.  The office can be reached Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but assessments will be made over the phone unless an in-person appointment is deemed necessary. 

  • The National Association of Friendship Centres has offered a work-from-home option and says it will support friendship centres and provincial/territorial associations in whatever decisions they make during this time. It calls upon the government to ensure that friendship centres and provincial/territorial associations have access to the $1 billion dollar fund announced to combat the coronavirus.

  • Grand Council Treaty 3 staff have been requested to work remotely for a period of two weeks. During this time, all office locations will be closed. Grand Council Treaty 3 staff will continue to be available to leadership and will continue supporting the coordination of emergency response measures within the territory. 

  • Moose Cree First Nation released an update on preventative measures for Moose Factory.

  • Chief Don Maracle has declared a state of emergency on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, after band council determined that the community may not have adequate supplies to slow the spread of the virus.

  • Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na announces that Kawenna’ón:we and Totáhne immersion schools are closed in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

Eastern

  • Kingston has its first confirmed cases of COVID-19. Two women (ages 44 and 62) and one man (48) tested positive. All three of them had recently travelled internationally.

  • Peterborough announces additional measures to slow the spread of the virus, including the closure of City Hall, the Peterborough Day Care Centre, and the community-services administration office.

  • Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk made a "personal commitment" that part-time arena workers for the Ottawa Senators and Belleville Senators (the team's AHL affiliate) will be paid for scheduled shifts until April 4 and 11, respectively.

Northeastern

  • North Bay municipal facilities — including city hall, public works, and parks — will all close, except by appointment, on March 18.

  • North Bay Regional Health Centre is not allowing visitors "except under exceptional circumstances." 

  • North Bay Hydro's office is closed indefinitely. CEO Matt Payne says that Hydro "will work with anyone experiencing hardship over payment as a result of COVID-19."

Northwestern

  • The Regional Food Distribution Association will now become "Food Bank Central." 

  • The Thunder Bay District Social Services Board will be suspending all non-essential meetings with clients.

Southwestern

  • Guelph transit may be reducing service, as are many transit services across the province, but those who ride the bus won't have to pay any fares until April 15.  "Thank you @guelphtransit and to our frontline drivers/staff!" Cam Gruthrie, the city's mayor, said today on Twitter.

  • The Blue Water Bridge international crossing in Sarnia is going cashless, requiring those crossing the border into Port Huron, Michigan, to pay using debit, credit or commercial account cards. The change takes effect midnight Wednesday and affects Canadian booths only.

  • Waterloo Region announced today the closure of all upper- and lower-tier municipal facilities save those deemed critical, including emergency services. Facilities — city and township halls, administrative offices, and regional headquarters — will remain closed until April 6. The region's cultural and recreational facilities have already closed. London has also announced that its facilities, with the exception of essential services, will be closed until further notice.

  • Ontario fruit and vegetable farmers are worried about a worker shortage after learning a ban on international visitors to Canada will apply to workers under the seasonal-agricultural-worker program. Dusty Zamecnik, chair of the Norfolk County Advisory Board, said today on Twitter that workers won't be able to enter the country as of Wednesday.

  • The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Guelph have asked students to vacate residences, if they can. All three universities have also temporarily suspended classes and afterwards plan to move as many classes as they can online for the rest of the term.

  • Western University, in London, aims to reopen on Thursday in virtual mode for students.

  • The future of a municipal by-election in Ward 7 of Windsor is up in the air as some candidates announce plans to halt canvassing and the city's mayor says the city's clerk may declare an emergency to pause the election. The election is scheduled for April 27. Twelve candidates have put their names forward.

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