Toronto to consider creating quarantine facility for people with COVID-19

Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa recommended the move based on data that shows higher cases among people living in overcrowded housing

Toronto’s top doctor wants to establish a quarantine facility for people living in overcrowded households who test positive for COVID-19.

Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa recommended the move in a report that was presented to the Toronto Board of Health at a virtual meeting on Thursday. The board subsequently approved a motion calling on all three levels of government to support the measure in order to curb virus spread in the city.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has done new data analysis of geographic neighbourhoods hardest hit by the virus that shows the infection rate is almost as four times as high among people living in  overcrowded housing.

In the report, de Villa said the facility would be for people “who live in large, crowded households where adequate space is not available to follow isolation or quarantine guidelines.” She notes that Chicago and New York have created a similar programs using thousands of hotel rooms.

Toronto has already created self-isolation sites for people experiencing homelessness and have become infected.

“The risk of COVID-19 shouldn’t depend on where you live, how much you make, or how many bathrooms you have in your home,” Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said in statement. “We need to do everything we can to mitigate vulnerabilities to this virus, and to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to reduce transmission and protect their loved ones. In this case, that means working with our government partners to make sure people have somewhere to go if they can’t safely self-isolate at home.”

De Villa also presented updated data from interactive maps breaking down the number of cases by neighbourhood. She said the northwest corner of Toronto has seen higher sporadic case counts and outbreaks over the past three weeks.

Hospitalizations and outbreaks institutions are continuing to decline overall, as are day-over-day increases in new infections. Most of the city’s new cases are transmitted through community spread, she added.

As previously reported, areas with lower income people, newcomers and people with housing needs have higher rates of infection and hospitalization. 

The city’s data shows the most common occupations in hard-hit areas are factory workers, retail/sales customer service representatives, long-term care home workers, nurses and personal support workers.

Toronto Public Health covid-19 race data

Toronto Public Health

Public health officials are in the midst of doing individual-level analysis on COVID-19 data based on ethno-racial identity, household income and household size that will be released later this month.

As such, race-based data related to COVID-19 is not yet available for Toronto. However, TPH’s geographic analysis shows Black people, South Asian people, Southeast Asian people and Latin American people are over-represented in areas with higher case rates.

East Asian and white people are under-represented in those areas and there is no difference for Middle Eastern people, according to data presented at today’s meeting.

Indigenous people are underrepresented in the data sources used by public health officials in Ontario so TPH is unable to track how Indigenous people are affected by the pandemic based on available evidence.

There haven’t been enough deaths among community cases to draw conclusions about people who have died in Toronto.

The city is also developing a strategy to collect COVID-19 data for sexual orientation, gender identity and newcomer status.

To date, there have been 14,468 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and 1,100 people have died. Of the total cases, 12,574 cases are recovered.


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