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Top COVID-19 stories and news Canada's.
7 pm Libraries team with food banks to distribute food
The Toronto Public Library is teaming with North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and Second Harvest to distribute food from branches across the city.
“Since the implementation of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 transmission, there has been a dramatic decrease in access to food banks, with over a third closing in recent weeks,” the library said in a statement.
Nine food banks are open or are scheduled to open at libraries. The first opened on March 25 in partnership with North York Harvest Food Bank. Five more will open over the next two weeks in partnership with Daily Bread Food Bank. Three more sites will begin setting up next week.
4:49 pm GO Transit to reduce service again
GO Transit is reducing service further in the wake of a 90 per cent drop in ridership due to the coronavirus pandemic. Effective April 8, the provincially owned regional transit system will operate GO train lines every 60-90 minutes at times of day they generally have service and bus routes will be reduced to align with train service.
“Most stations will continue to be served – just less frequently,” GO Transit operator Metrolinx said in a statement.
UP Express trains will continue to run every 30 minutes.
“The further reduction will ensure GO Transit has a sustainable plan for the duration of this emergency, including enough staff on hand to keep customers moving to the essential places they need to be,” the statement continues. “Less equipment to clean, fuel and maintain makes it easier for us to offer reliable services over the weeks to come, as well.”
4:40 pm Toronto’s physical distancing enforcement: by the numbers
Today, Toronto fire chief and general manager of emergency management Matthew Pegg provided some numbers on city residents caught breaking physical distancing rules during the weekend enforcement blitz:
4:15 pm Toronto working to boost food access for vulnerable residents
Mayor John Tory said the city is working with community and corporate partners to meet emergency food needs of vulnerable Torontonians. Companies like Sobeys and Loblaws are donating food to be supplied to food banks, multi-service centres, home delivery programs and meal drop-ins. The city is also working with organizations such as Second Harvest and Daily Bread Food Bank to address food access issues.
Residents can help by donating non-perishable food to food banks or dropping off food donations at local fire halls. Restaurants or food businesses with surplus food are encouraged to donate to Second Harvest’s FoodRescue program.
4 pm Toronto’s COVID-19 cases rise to 1,301
There are 1,301 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto as of 1 pm today, including 1,078 confirmed cases and 223 probable cases, the city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said today. She added that there are 145 in hospital and 60 in intensive care units. There have been 32 deaths from COVID-19 in Toronto.
She also noted that the city has started experiencing outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes. Of the city’s cases, 135 confirmed cases are in long-term care and retirement homes and there have been 15 deaths in those settings.
2:21 pm Doug Ford: province might run out of PPE within a week
Premier Doug Ford said at his daily news conference that the province risks running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health-care workers within a week.
“Our supplies are strained at this moment. Getting supplies from other countries is increasingly difficult,” he said. “The hard truth is our supplies in Ontario are getting very low, and the more new cases we get and the more demand is placed on our resources.”
An interview with CityNews earlier in the day, Ford said a shipment containing 500,000 N95 masks that was stopped at the U.S.-Canada border has been released.
Ford said today that the province is relying on the U.S. and the federal government for equipment like medical masks and he’s optimistic that Canada will get an exemption from Donald Trump’s presidential order halting mask exports.
He said if the province has ordered more than three million masks, but only 500,000 have been released. If Ontario can get the remainder of the shipment, “it would take a lot of pressure off” the supply chain worries.
1:24 pm Ontario announces one-time direct payment to parents
The province is giving parents one-time payments of $200 per child (ages 0 to 12) or $250 per child with special needs (ages 0 to 21) to families with kids affected by school strikes. Starting today, parents and guardians in Ontario can go online at ontario.ca/supportforparents.
The goal is to provide families with support to purchase educational materials during the current school and child care closures due to COVID-19. Parents whose children are enrolled in a school or attending a school-based child care centre that is closed due to a strike are eligible. Full criteria is here.
12:55 pm Signs of “cautious optimism” in Canada’s fight against COVID-19: Tam
Theresa Tam said on Monday that there are 15,822 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 293 people have died.
Speaking during a news conference, the country’s chief public officer of health said that British Columbia has seen lower increases in the number cases compared with last week, which she called “good news.”
Although she said there is cause for “cautious optimism,” Tam added it’s still too early to relax physical distancing measures. She said there are concerning outbreaks in hospitals in long-term care facilities in several provinces and the government has received reports of young people being hospitalized and people in their 20s dying of the disease.
This morning, Ontario reported a 7.7 per cent increase in new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day increase in the province since March 31.
In all, more than 339,000 people have been tested in Canada and about five per cent have confirmed positive.
12:31 pm Theresa Tam says Canadians can wear non-medical face masks as a preventative measure
Canada’s chief public officer of health Theresa Tam said on Monday that Canadians can wear non-medical face masks in public as a way to protect others from COVID-19.
The move follows public health authorities in other countries, including the United States, that have advised people to wear non-medical masks as an additional preventative measure during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tam noted that more information is needed, but said it’s clear transmission is happening from infected people right before they become symptomatic and there has also been “some evidence” of asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19.
“The special advisory committee on COVID-19 has come to a consensus that wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms, is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you,” she said during a press briefing. “In situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transit or maybe at the grocery store, a non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets of coming into contact with others or land on surfaces.”
She noted that wearing a non-medical mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing – it is an additional way to protect others. Tam said physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces is still important and that the supply of medical masks should be reserved for health care workers.
11:27 am Ontario reports 309 new cases of COVID-19
Public health officials have reported 309 new cases of COVID-19 in the province. The 7.7 per cent increase is the lowest single-day increase in the past week. Ontario’s total number of cases is now 4,347.
There have also been 13 new deaths, bringing the provincial total to 132, and 1,624 cases have been resolved. The number of people tested in the province is 78,796 and 329 cases are under investigation.
There are 589 people in hospital with COVID-19, 216 in intensive care units and 160 patients are in intensive care on ventilators.
11:19 am 240,000 people have applied for the CERB: Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that 240,000 Canadians have already applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) since applications opened this morning.
Trudeau added that the government is planning to introduce new benefits for people who do not qualify for the CERB right now, including gig and contract workers working less than 10 hours per week people making less than they would normally make under the CERB, such as home care workers and university and college students worried about summer job prospects.
The prime minister added that the government is drafting legislation to enact the previously announced wage subsidy.
9 am Torontonians are getting the physical distancing message: city
City officials say Torontonians hanging out in parks seem to be following physical distancing rules. Enforcement staff conducting a blitz in parks and public squares over the weekend say the signs are “encouraging,” noting that many people in small groups were from the same household and those that officers spoke with “responded positively to education about public health recommendations an willingly adjusted their behaviour.”
On Sunday, the city said enforcement staff spoke with 780 people “to educate them on public health recommendations and closures” and cautioned an additional 373 people.
Police issued nine tickets while Municipal Licensing and Standards officers gave out one ticket related to park amenities and five to non-essential businesses that were operating in violation of provincial orders.
The news from the city over the weekend is marked shift in tone from last week when mayor John Tory and medical officer of health Eileen de Villa chastised residents who failed to follow physical distancing guidelines as “appalling” and “selfish.”
Two academics have recently launched an online map that tracks police charges across Canada related to COVID-19.
8:34 am CERB applications to open on April 6
Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will open today. Canadians who have stopped working due to COVID-19 are being asked to sign-up for based on their birthdays. People born January, February and March can apply today people born in April, May June can apply on Tuesday people born July, August and September can apply on Wednesday and people born in October, November and December can apply on Thursday.
The benefit provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks and is retroactive to March 15. If you apply for direct deposit, it will arrive in three-to-five days and if you choose to receive it by mail, you will get the money within 10 days, Trudeau said, adding that the government is working to ensure the IT systems are ready for “unprecedented demand.”
8:30 am Canada has more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases
As of Sunday, there are 15,512 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 4,038 cases in Ontario. The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized. According to the federal government, 690 cases have been hospitalized, including 202 in intensive care. There have been 258 deaths related to COVID-19 in Canada.
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.