COVID-19: What you need to know for March 31

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 31, 2020

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This article was last updated at 5 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

  • The latest numbers from the province indicate that there are 1,966 COVID-19 cases in Ontario, an increase of 260 since the previous report: 534 have been resolved, and 33 people have died. The backlog of tests has declined once more and now stands at 4,280. At a press conference this afternoon, Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of health, indicated that there are 291 patients in hospital, 125 of them in intensive care; of those in the ICU, 82 are on ventilators. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, emphasized that restrictions on business operation and public gatherings need to be maintained during the next two weeks because hospitalizations are expected to increase rapidly in that time.
  • At a press conference this afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that the government has extended the order to close publicly funded schools until at least May 1 for teachers and May 4 for students. It's also extended the closure of private schools and child-care centres for another two weeks. The province announced the second phase of its Learn at Home program.
  • At a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government has signed contracts with three Canadian companies to produce medical supplies such as ventilators, surgical masks, and test kits. It has also signed letter of intent with five other companies. Ottawa is also committing $2 billion to bulk-purchase such personal-protection equipment as gloves, gowns, and masks for health-care workers that will be shared with the provinces.
  • Ontario has formally extended the current state of emergency for 14 days. The state of emergency now extends until April 13. The government has also issued a new order closing all outdoor amenities, such as playgrounds, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, and more. The order mirrors moves made by multiple cities, including Toronto. 
  • The Ontario government has finalized an agreement with eCampusOntario to make digital tools available to provincial colleges and universities to ensure that post-secondary students can complete their academic year. The government made the announcement while reiterating the previously announced interest moratorium on OSAP loans, which will allow student borrowers to avoid interest payments until September 30.

  • The Canadian Association of Retired Persons is concerned about a recent provincial emergency order that loosens the restrictions on who can assist with residents of long-term care facilities. In a news release on Monday, the association's chief policy officer says, “Now is not the time to gamble with the welfare of vulnerable seniors in long-term care.”

Greater Toronto Area

  • Toronto Mayor John Tory said today that, mirroring the provincial closure of schools until May 1, city facilities will continue to be be closed for the month of April. Essential city services, including garbage collection and water and sewer, have been unaffected. Tory also announced that all city-led and city-permitted events are being cancelled through June 30. This would include, among others, Pride Toronto (previously scheduled for June 26-28).

  • Pride Toronto has cancelled its June Pride weekend festivities. "Our team is working hard to deliver Pride celebrations in new,creative, and unique ways that ensure safety and physical distancing," the organization says in a news released issued today.

  • Toronto's medical officer of health, Eileen De Villa, said this afternoon that, as of 1 p.m., there are 793 cases in Toronto: 628 are confirmed; 165 are considered proable by Toronto Public Health. There are 65 cases in hospital; 33 are in intensive care. In total, there have been eight deaths.

  • TVO.org reports that an employee at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre has tested positive. A spokesperson told TVO.org via email that "the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) can confirm that an employee at Toronto’s Immigration Holding Centre (IHC) has tested positive for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. We can also tell you that there are no confirmed cases of detained persons with COVID-19 at the Toronto IHC.”
  • According to CP24, more than 500 civilian and uniformed officers are now in self-isolation
  • Toronto today opened four emergency licensed child-care centres for the children of essential and critical-service workers. 
  • The City of Toronto has opened a COVID-19 recovery centre for its homeless population, in a converted 200-room hotel. "We have on-site medical staff, as well as shelter staff," Mary Anne Bedard, the general manager of shelter with the city's support and housing administration, told CBC Toronto. "Meals, laundry cleaning will all be provided." The city's board of health says the site is the first of its kind in the country.

Indigenous

  • Sachigo Lake FIrst Nation has declared a state of emergency and is prohibiting all but emergent medical travel and banning gatherings of more than five people.

  • Six Nations, Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point, and Akwesasne have confirmed their first COVID-19 cases: two people have tested positive in Six Nations of the Grand River, one person in Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and one in Akwesasne.

  • Neskantaga First Nation has declared a state of emergency and lockdown. 

  • Aamjiwnaang First Nation band council has asked tobacco and cannabis shops to close as of midnight tonight. A shopkeeper in the First Nation tells the Sarnia Journal that the closure is to reduce traffic to the reserve to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Sarnia-Lambton region currently has 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • Mushkegowuk Council, which represents Cree First Nations in northern Ontario, is calling for a suspension of passenger-train service from Cochrane to Moosenee.

Northern

Eastern

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health has confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in the region. It is the eighth local case, and the first to be confirmed as having been acquired through community transmission.  

  • Ottawa Public Health is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the city's total to 144. There have been three deaths and two "institutional outbreaks" related to the virus. 

  • There are nine new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston area, bringing the total to 43; 832 patients have been approved for testing by Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health.

  • A group of restaurant workers in Kingston has started a relief fund for fellow industry workers. The group was inspired by a similar effort in Montreal to help restaurant workers cover the cost of essentials during the crisis. 

  • Peterborough has introduced emergency property-tax relief for its residents and businesses. Council made the decision on Monday evening, in its first virtual meeting since a state of emergency was declared in the province. Homeowners and businesses will be able to defer their taxes for two months without penalty. 

  • Peterborough is extending the closure of most city facilities until April 13. This includes city hall, the library, the art gallery, all playgrounds, and outdoor recreational facilities. 

  • The Peterborough Regional Health Centre is reportedly asking their staff not to wear scrubs in public, after an employee was prohibited from entering a store because they work at a hospital.

  • Twelve residents at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon have died of COVID-19; a resident's wife has also died. Twenty-four staff members have tested positive.
  • Prince Edward County is funding an expanded tax-filing program to help people access COVID-19 related government funding. PEC mayor Steve Ferguson says it will help the county's most vulnerable residents by offering free online support to people filing their taxes. 

Southwestern

  • Middlesex-London public health is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 in its region today, bringing the total number of cases in the area to date to 52; the London Free Press is reporting 52 new cases in southwestern Ontario that includes, and extends west from, Oxford and Elgin counties.

  • Mitch Twolan, the Mayor of Huron-Kinloss, has ordered that no water services for seasonal properties be turned on in the municipality. This comes as both local and provincial leaders have urged urban-living Ontarians not to retreat to their cottages during the pandemic, for fear of overwhelming rural health systems.

  • The Region of Waterloo has announced the first death related to COVID-19 in that region, a man in his forties. Southwestern Public Health has also confirmed the first death in its region, a woman in her late eighties at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital.

  • London Health Sciences Centre reports that, as of today, it is treating four COVID-19 patients at its university campus and three at its Victoria campus. All three patients at Victoria are in critical care; one of the university campus patients is in ICU.

  • Windsor Regional Hospital is providing public data on COVID-19 patients and other related issues. The data will be refreshed daily, time permitting, a hospital news release says. Currently, the hospital has had 14 patients who tested positive for the virus while in hospital and has 28 presumptive cases awaiting testing results.

  • This week, Windsor council will consider whether the city should continue to pay 600 workers who have been sent home and are not working because of COVID-19-related precautionary closures, the city's mayor tells CBC today.

  • The Thames Valley District School Board has announced that it will share school computer equipment with families that don't have any, so that their children can access online learning.
  • Owen Sound's dog park is among the latest city facilities to close. The closure was prompted by concerns about COVID-19's ability to survive in current outdoor weather conditions, a city news release on Monday said: "As weather conditions change, the City will consult with Grey Bruce Public Health respecting the effect on the virus on outdoor facilities."

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