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Ontario recorded its first coronavirus-related fatality yesterday as all levels of government continued briskly rolling out measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. A 77-year-old man who died on March 11 at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital was later found to have had COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford started the day by enacting a provincewide state of emergency. The declaration gives the government broad powers under the Emergency Management and Civil Preparedness Act in the name of keeping people safe during the pandemic. The emergency measures will be in place until March 31, when they will be reassessed and possibly extended. Under the measures, which took effect immediately, Ford prohibited all gatherings over 50 people and ordered the closing of:
facilities providing indoor recreational programs; public libraries; private schools and licensed child-care centres;
theatres, cinemas, concert venues; and
bars and restaurants, except to provide takeout food and delivery.
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Ford also announced a $300-million surge funding package to bolster health services, including five more critical-care beds, 500 acute-care beds, and 25 more special COVID-19 assessment centres. The funding will also help purchase much-needed ventilators and protective gear for health-care workers, and it will allow for 50 additional physicians to serve remote Indigenous communities.
In Toronto, Mayor John Tory announced the city was shutting down all non-essential services and sending employees home with pay. Essential services, including emergency services, sanitation, and public transit, are not affected. And recognizing that seniors are most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, stores such as Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws and Sobey’s are offering early hours exclusively to seniors to do their shopping before larger crowds appear. Check with your local store for details.
Number of new cases slows in Ontario
Ontario had only 12 new cases yesterday, the lowest increase of the past few days. But that may be due to a backlog of testing, according to Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe. The Ministry of Health is testing 2,000 samples a day and is working toward a capacity target of 5,000. More than 10,000 Ontarians have been tested so far. Of the 189 COVID-19 cases in Ontario, 92 per cent are from people travelling to infected areas, with 29 per cent from the United States. Three cases have been attributed to community spread.
Emergency-room doctor and health journalist Sahil Gupta speaks to Aisha Khatib, the clinical director of a travel-medicine clinic and a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, to clarify the difference between distancing, isolation, and quarantine. “The majority of people — up to 80 per cent — who get COVID-19 will not need hospitalization,” Gupta writes. “But about 20 per cent will, and 5 per cent of them will have severe infections that require intensive care. Unless we all adopt social distancing, Khatib says, ‘our capacity in hospitals won’t be enough’ to take care of everyone.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced a state of emergency for the province. The Tuesday announcement was followed shortly by news of the province’s first COVID-19-related death. Podcast hosts Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath discuss what a declaration of emergency means for Ontarians, as well as how politicians have handled the crisis so far.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a quickly evolving story, and all levels of government are working to contain the respiratory disease’s spread. On Monday night, Toronto Mayor John Tory talked to Steve Paikin about some of his priorities for the city, including supports for small businesses and renters.
A heartbreaking documentary on the history of housing discrimination in Portland — one of the least-diverse U.S. cities — and the personal impact it has had on residents, Priced Out explores gentrification’s complexities and contradictions.
Tonight on TVO
8 p.m. — The Agenda: COVID-19 facts and misinformation
Timothy Caulfield, a law professor at the University of Alberta, and journalist Jane Lytvynenko, a BuzzFeed News reporter who focuses on disinformation, security, and online investigations, help separate fact from fiction about the coronavirus — from claims of miracle cures to scams and bogus advice about how to boost your immune system.
10 p.m. — The Amazing World of Gravity
In the first episode of a two-part series, theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili seeks the true story of gravity and brings a fresh perspective to the ways in which Galileo, Newton, and Einstein revolutionized science.
There’s a brand-new literary award on the horizon. The Carol Shields Prize for Fiction will award $150,000 to a woman or non-binary writer in North America for a 2020 work of literature. Flash back to this 2002 episode of Imprint and see panelists Sandra Martin and Bronwyn Drainie discuss the work of the award-winning Canadian novelist and short-story writer whose name the new prize bears.