Top COVID-19 stories and news
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- Coronavirus: Are the Afro-pessimists right?
- 22 face masks from Toronto brands and designers
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4:10 pm City to close parts of streets to increase space for pedestrians
Mayor John Tory has announced CurbTO, an initiative that aims to improve physical distancing in parts of the city seeing increased foot traffic due to lineups and curbside pickup.
The program will start at 10 sites and will expand to 100 locations across the city. The measure will include creating temporary parking for quick food and essential medicine pick-ups, which Tory said are at all time high.
He added that the program based on evidence so parts of the curb lane will be closed in areas where there is an obvious need and “pinch points” where there is crowding. These areas tend to be around essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and community agencies.
4:05 pm Toronto has nearly 5,000 cases of COVID-19
There are 4,973 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, including 4,093 confirmed cases and 480 probable cases, the city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said today. There are 308 people in hospital, with 104 in intensive care. There have been 297 deaths in the city.
She also said 2,670 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Toronto.
2:02 pm No concerts or sporting events will happen in Ontario for the “foreseeable future”
Ontario’s three-phased reopening plan doesn’t list specific dates for reopening or businesses that will reopen first, but there are a few details that suggest what life could be like through the spring and summer months.
Here are few points:
- In stage one, select workplaces that can “meet or modify operations to meet public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements” will open first.
- Some outdoor spaces like parks will also open in phase one and people can attend small events like funerals in the first phase
- Hospitals can start offering some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries and other health care services in the first phase.
- The second phase may involve reopening some service industries, office and retail workplaces as well as more outdoor spaces and allowing larger gatherings
- In stage three, all workplaces will reopen “responsibly” and restrictions on public gatherings will be relaxed but “large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.”
Read more here.
1:43 pm Ontario to reopen economy in three stages, but no hard date set
Ontario will reopen “slowly, methodically and gradually” through a three-phased approach, Premier Doug Ford said today.
“I won’t set hard dates until we’re ready because the virus travels at its own speed. We must ensure our plans for reopening the economy reflect Ontario’s unique situation,” Ford said.
Calling the plan a “roadmap,” the premier said the plan is based on meeting thresholds and targets for virus spread and containment, health system capacity, public health system capacity and incident tracking capacity.
Public health officials will monitor each stage for two to four weeks to determine if a change in course is necessary. No specific businesses are listed in the broad outline presented today.
The three stages are:
- Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
- Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
- Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.
The factors that will affect the rollout of the plan are the risk of the spread of COVID‑19 and the ability to implement protective and preventative measures in workplaces. Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams and health experts will advise the government on when the lockdown can be eased based on four criteria:
- a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID‑19 cases
- sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment
- approximately 90 per cent of new COVID‑19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread
- ongoing testing of suspected COVID‑19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly
The plan states that “large public gatherings such as concerts and sporting events will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future.”
12:05 pm Trudeau shoots down giving out “immunity passports”
The prime minister Justin Trudeau was again asked today about whether Canada would give out “immunity passports” to people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies protecting them from reinfection.
“That is even premature to speculate about,” he said. “There is no conclusive evidence right now that having contracted COVID-19 once protects you from contracting it again a few months later. This is too new a virus.
“Scientists are working very hard on exactly that: whether the presence of antibodies in someone will protect them from catching COVID-19 again. But we don’t know that yet.”
He added that a spike in cases this fall could be “devastating not just for our economy but for people who will have gone through all of these weeks of sacrifices and limitations for nothing.”
As lockdown measures ease in global jurisdictions, some countries have considered giving out so-called “immunity passports” so authorities can identify people who have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Over the weekend, the World Health Organization advised against the practice, stating that “there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate.'”
Canada has set up an immunity task force based in Montreal to study immunity and COVID-19.
11:48 am Trudeau says residential rent relief is up to the provinces
Last week, Premier Doug Ford said he would push the federal government on provide residential rent relief. When asked about that issue today, prime minister Justin Trudeau referred back to the wage subsidy and Canada Emergency Response Benefit as relief intended help Canadians cover essentials like rent.
He noted that residential leases are the jurisdiction of the provinces.
“If provinces… want to move forward with more help with residential rent they can of course do that,” he said. “We will focus on giving the benefits to Canadians that will replace much of their paycheque so that they can pay their essentials,” he said.
He explained that Canada is funding commercial rent relief because small businesses needed extra support for rent on top of the federal wage subsidy. The federal government and the provinces are sharing costs of the commercial rent subsidy with commercial landlords. Tenants are still expected to pay 25 per cent of their commercial rent costs.
11:42 am More than 10,000 businesses apply for federal wage subsidy
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that more than 10,000 businesses have applied for the federal wage subsidy since applications opened this morning. He also said more than 300,000 businesses have accessed the wage subsidy website since it went live last week.
The subsidy covers up to 75 per cent of an employee’s wages. He added that businesses will start getting payments for the first week of May and explained that people cannot get both the wage subsidy and Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
11 am Ontario reports 424 new cases of COVID-19
Ontario now has 14,856 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 424 – or 2.9 per cent – since the previous report. The provincial death toll has gone up by 57 for a total of 892 deaths since the outbreak began.
Long-term care homes continue to drive the mortality rate, with 497 deaths reported among residents/patients in long-term care homes – an increase of 42 deaths from the previous report. There are 170 outbreaks in long-term care homes, up by three since the last report.
The number of resolved cases went up from 8,000 to 8,525.
There were 12,550 tests conducted in the province since the previous report, bringing the total number of tests completed to 242,188. There are 5,001 cases under investigation.
There are 945 patients in hospital, with 241 in intensive care and 191 in intensive care on ventilators.
9:27 am Teenage patient at SickKids tests positive for COVID-19
A teenage patient at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, the hospital said in a statement.
The teen is in an isolation room and stable and all other patients in the same unit were tested and results were negative. Test results are pending for members of the patient’s clinical team, who are off duty until the results come back.
“SickKids is actively investigating how the virus was transmitted to the patient and is working closely with Toronto Public Health,” the hospital said. “At this time we believe the risk to patients, families and staff is low.”
9:05 am Doug Ford to announce reopening framework today
Premier Doug Ford will announce the province’s reopening framework at 1:30 pm today. He’ll be joined by the ministers of health, finance, economic development, job creation and trade. The premier has previously said the reopening will be a gradual process based on public health advice.
Ontario declared a state of emergency in mi-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, closing all businesses and workplaces deemed non-essential. The state of emergency has since been extended to May 12. Over the weekend, the province extended the closure of publicly funded schools to May 31.
9 am Canada has over 46,000 cases of COVID-19
There are 46,895 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 2,560 people have died.
The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized.
Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. People age 65 and over and people with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of contracting a severe case.