Toronto data suggests COVID-19 disproportionately impacting lower income residents and immigrants John Tory says don’t bet on the CNE happening this year

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Top COVID-19 stories and news


Follow the latest Toronto news on coronavirus


4:19 pm Toronto has more than 6,000 cases of COVID-19

There are 6,448 people infected with COVID-19 in Toronto, including 5,809 confirmed and 639 probable cases, medical officer of health Eileen de Villa reported today.

There are 394 people in hospital, with 104 in intensive care units. In total, 469 people have died in the city.

She added that it’s too early to ease lockdown measures because Toronto is continuing to see daily increases in new infections.

“In Toronto, we have not yet seen a steady decrease in the number of new cases each day, nor in the number of new hospitalizations each day,” she said, noting that Toronto is a month behind British Columbia, which is now loosening restrictions. “The reality is that COVID-19 does not impact all communities in exactly the same way.”


4:10 pm COVID-19 might be disproportionately impacting lower income people and new immigrants: de Villa

The COVID-19 outbreak might be disproportionately impacting Torontonians living in low-income areas or with the highest proportion of recent immigrations, the city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said today.

In April, Toronto Public Health began analyzing race-based and socio-demographic data related to COVID-19.

De Villa said during the city’s daily news conference today that preliminary findings suggest people in areas that have the highest proportion of lower income earners or areas that have the highest proportion of recent immigrants and high unemployment rates are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“These preliminary findings suggest that COVID-19 might be disproportionally affecting certain people in our city,” she said, adding that the data analyzed based on small geographic areas and not at individual level. “It is difficult to get a complete picture using area-level data.”

Toronto Public Health now plans to add socio-demographic questions to its case-management process. People who test positive will be asked about their race, income, household size, Indigenous identity and First Nations status once TPH has made changes to its database.


1:30 pm Ford: Half of regional medical officers need to “pick up the pace” on testing

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said half of the province’s 34 regional medical officers need to “pick up the pace” when it comes to COVID-19 testing.

Yesterday, Ford touted that the province had exceeded its goal of conducting more than 16,000 tests per day by May 6. However, today’s daily public health report showed less than 11,000 tests were conducted since the previous report.

At his daily press conference, Ford put the blame on regional medical officers of health for the lag in testing.

“There’s certain medical officers in certain jurisdictions… some just aren’t performing,” he said. “I’m calling them out right now. You’ve got to pick up the pace. You have half of them exceeding expectations and you have others that aren’t even putting the work, in as far as I can see.”

Ford said he would to centralize Ontario’s health system – similar to Alberta – rather than have 34 jurisdictions overseeing testing.

“I’m disappointed in the chief medical officers in certain regions. I’m not going to name them. They know who they are,” he said, adding that 17 officers “need to pick their socks up.”


1:27 pm Hot Docs film festival moves online

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival will happen online this year. After initially announcing an intention to reschedule due to coronavirus, organizers are now making over half of the 2020 festival’s titles available to stream online starting on May 28.

Read more here.


12:50 pm Toronto Western Hospital reports COVID-19 outbreaks

The Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) has reported that 19 patients and 76 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

The outbreak has affected four units, including two COVID-19 units. The Western declared an outbreak in Unit 4B on April 18 and outbreaks in units 3B, 8A and 8B on April 30.

“All patients and all staff on these units have been tested. We have repeatedly deep cleaned the units and from abundance of caution are now going to test all clinical staff on the TWH site, starting today,” University Health Network (UHN) spokesperson Gillian Howard wrote in an email to NOW.  

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have had between 70 and 85 COVID-positive patients in the hospital every day – almost entirely between Toronto General and Toronto Western – for the care required for their illness with COVID-19,” she added.

UHN runs Toronto Western, Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, as well as several rehab centres.

As of May 4, UHN had tested 2,028 staff members across the whole organization since the beginning of the pandemic and 79 tested positive. Of those people, 63 have fully recovered, Howard said.


11:09 am Ottawa announces $252M aid package for food processors

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced “an initial investment” to help farmers and food processors get through the COVID-19 crisis.

The $252 million package includes $77 million to help food processing plants adapt safety protocols and increase domestic production a $125 million “national recovery initiative” for pork and beef farmers that are raising more animals than can be processed a $200 million increase to the Canadian Diary Commission’s credit line to prevent a backlog of products from being thrown out and a $50 million fund that will see the federal government buy surplus food and donate it to food insecurity organizations.

Meat processors have been hit hard by the pandemic. The largest outbreak has been in the Cargill plant south of Calgary, which reported 921 cases of the virus among 2,000 workers and one death.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has asked for $2.6 billion in federal aid to maintain food security in Canada in response to COVID-19.


10:47 am Ontario reports 387 new COVID-19 cases, 61 deaths

Ontario’s new COVID-19 cases have gone up by 387 – or 2.2 per cent – bringing the provincial total to 18,310. That’s up slightly over yesterday’s 2.1 per cent increase, but down from higher numbers reported last week.

The downward trend in Ontario’s cases comes as testing is ramped up. There were 10,654 tests conducted since the previous report and 6,023 cases are under investigation.

Public health officials reported that 61 more people have died, bringing the total number of people in Ontario who have died since the outbreak began to 1,361.

There are 218 outbreaks outbreaks in long-term care homes, up by six from the previous report.

On Monday, Toronto’s medical officer of health said the city is seeing the epidemic curve flatten, but that cases are still increasing daily. She added that lockdown measures will ease when the number of cases decrease.

Greater Toronto Area public health units account for 60.4 per cent of Ontario’s cases.


9:30 am Canadian Music Week cancels September festival

After rescheduling from May to September due to the coronavirus pandemic, Canadian Music Week is now cancelling this year’s event.

“It is with great regret and overriding concern for the safety of all participants, that Canadian Music Week is abandoning efforts to present our annual festival and conference in 2020,” organizers of the multi-venue event said in a statement.

The even attracts international artists and conference delegates who may not be free to travel come September. Some have already declined to attend, organizers said.

“Even in a best-case fall scenario, wherein the spread of COVID-19 has been mitigated and limited public gatherings allowed, high-attendance events such as concerts, sports and conferences will likely be the last public activities to resume,” CMW’s statement said. “The fallout is huge, for events like ours and for the entire music industry.”

The festival will announce a 2021 date pending government directives. In the meantime, concert tickets have been refunded or are in the process of being refunded.Badges and wristbands will be honoured on the new dates.


9:20 am John Tory says CNE likely not happening this year

Mayor John Tory said the fate of this year’s Canadian National Exhibition is under “very active discussions.”

In an interview with CP24 on Tuesday morning, the mayor was asked about the status of the annual fair, which takes place at the end of August at Exhibition Place. Will it happen? Tory said he “wouldn’t bet on it.”

“We’ve been in discussions as to the consequences of cancelling the fair because it isn’t just cancelling it and saying it won’t happen,” Tory told the news network. “It sort of finances itself on the basis of last year’s success.

“I think the notion that we are going to go back to big crowd scenes like that… seems unlikely,” he added. “But I guess we haven’t made that judgment yet.”

Toronto has cancelled all city-run events and city-permitted events through June 30. Although city hall has not given official word on whether events scheduled later in the summer will go ahead, a number of high-profile festivals have cancelled, including Caribbean Carnival, Fringe Festival, Canada Day and all outdoor events at Harbourfront Centre.

In a statement, Harbourfront Centre said “live outdoor events will not be able to take place as planned” based on the Ontario government’s roadmap for safely reopening the province from lockdown measures.


9 am Canada has over 60,000 cases of COVID-19

There are 60,772 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 3,854 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.

@nowtoronto

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