Ontario parks to start reopening on Monday Canada funds Toronto-based project to collect COVID-19 data in Indigenous communities

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Top COVID-19 stories and news


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4:30 pm Toronto reports 137 new COVID-19 cases, 35 deaths

As of May 8, there are 7,251 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, including 6,557 confirmed and 694 probable cases, Toronto Public Health reports. The number of cases increased by 137 since the previous report.

Of those cases, 5,024 have recovered. There are 424 cases in hospital, with 104 in intensive. There have been 35 more deaths. In all, 567 people have died from COVID-19 in Toronto.


1:17 pm Ontario provincial parks to reopen on May 11

As of May 11, Ontario will begin reopening provincial parks and conservation reserves for day use, Premier Doug Ford said on Saturday.

People will be allowed to walk, hike, bird watch and bike. However, camping sites, playgrounds and beaches will remain closed. Ford added people will be expected to follow public health measures including physical distancing, avoiding social gatherings and staying home if sick.

“We’re trusting people to be responsible and take this seriously,” Ford said.

More than 520 parks will reopen on May 11 and another 115 will reopen on May 15. Provincial officials are urging residents to only visit local parks and not travel to other areas of the province to visit parks.


12:47 pm Canada to collect more data on COVID-19’s impact on Indigenous people

Federal officials are concerned that COVID-19 is starting to spread to remote Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller reported on Saturday that there are 165 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities on reserve, as of May 8. There are also 16 cases in Nunavik in Northern Quebec.

However, the government does not have a complete picture of the pandemic’s impact on First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities because accurate data is only available for First Nations living on reserve and Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat.

During a press conference, Miller said the federal government is providing $250,000 to a project led by Toronto-based Métis research scientist Janet Smylie at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital to create a tracking and response platform that will allow for better understanding and data modelling of COVID-19 cases in Indigenous populations.

In the past week, there was a rise in cases in remote communities in northern Saskatchewan, particularly around the village of La Loche.

“The situation demonstrates that the onset of COVID in some Indigenous communities may have been delayed by remoteness,” Miller said. “As we are learning from past experience with responding to pandemics in Canada, and specifically in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities during H1N1, we need to understand that they have a higher risk of being disproportionately impact of COVID-19.”

For example, in La Loche there are 179 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 16 of which are people living on reserve. Since the majority of the population living in the La Loche are are Dene and Métis, Miller said the presumption is that all 179 cases are Indigenous people.

“That’s a gap in the data, frankly,” Miller said.


12:42 pm COVID-19 disproportionately impacting seniors in Canada

The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately impacting seniors, public health officials said on Saturday.

An estimated 20 per cent of Canada’s cases are linked to long-term homes and over 80 per cent of all deaths are among seniors residing in these settings, said Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

“The scale an impact on our seniors as a whole is nothing short of a national tragedy,” she added, noting that outbreaks in care homes drive up fatality rates, accelerate spread and continue to spill over into the general community.

Tam noted that the virus “takes advantage” of structural, social and economic weaknesses and caring for vulnerable populations, including better support for poorly compensated workers in retirement homes, will give public health officials a better chance of controlling the outbreak.

“We will be living with COVID-19 for some time. If we make it a priority to look after the most vulnerable in our society we can change the outcome of this pandemic,” she said.


10:46 am Ontario reports lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in a month

Public health officials reported a 1.8 per cent jump in new COVID-19 cases today, the lowest number of new cases in over a month.

Since the previous day’s report, there were 346 new cases, bringing Ontario’s total cases to 19,944. There are 14,383 resolved cases and 1,599 people have died, including 775 long-term care residents. There were new 59 deaths reported since yesterday. 

The low increase comes as testing capacity expands in Ontario. The province completed 19,227 tests since the previous report and a further 15,307 cases are under investigation.


10:28 am Second recovery site for homeless COVID-19 patients opens today

The city is opening a second recovery site for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19 today.

The new site – originally due to open yesterday – has a capacity of 250 and will be located downtown. It’s operated in partnership with the University Health Network (UHN), Inner City Health Associates (ICHA) and community health partners.

A news release notes that the site is not a hospital, because it does not offer acute care, or a shelter, because the infection control measures in place are similar to a health-care setting.

The program, which is funded by the province, offers clients hotel rooms and provides them with medical care, nursing, substance use care, mental health and overdose prevention services. Individuals are referred to the recovery program through an ICHA physician. Once a client has recovered, they will be offered a referral to a hotel-based shelter program or housing, the city said.

The first recovery site opened last month and has a capacity of 200.

Read more here.


10:23 am Closed comic book stores to host two-day fundraiser

Comic book shops across Canada are teaming with artists to launch a fundraiser for brick-and-mortar shops forced to close during the pandemic.

Running May 16 and 17  from 10 am-10 pm on Facebook Live, Be Hour Heroes, Canada is organized by the owners of Guelph’s The Dragon, Mississauga’s Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles, Markham’s Heroes World and Toronto’s Cyber City Comix.

Comic creators will appear in scheduled slots over the two days and the funds raised will be distributed to shops via non-profit Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund.

“What started as a conversation between four retailers on how we could cross-promote our shops turned into this idea of a national fundraiser to help preserve Canada’s unique comics landscape” said The Dragon owner Jennifer Haines in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to come together to support one another, and provide our respective communities with a way to stay connected, all while protecting retailers that might otherwise fall through the cracks of government funding.”

Current participants include Brendan Fletcher, writer for DC Comics and Image Comics Chip Zdarsky, artist and writer for Marvel Comics and Image Comics Ken Lashley, artist for Marvel Comics and Hasbro Seth, cartoonist for Drawn & Quarterly and Svetlana Chmakova, cartoonist of the Berrybrook Middle School series from Yen Press.


10:10 am Dundas West bar The Red Light closes

The Red Light is switching off. The Dundas West watering hole is the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, its owner said in social media posts.

“We’ve had some of the best times and the honor of hosting what we think are some of the best parties the west end has ever seen, but after 11+ years our doors are closing,” owner Nic Savage wrote. “In the midst of this this unprecedented shut down someone has bought TRL from us. Our love and deepest thanks goes out to all who were a part of this over the years, and it warms our hearts to know that bathroom #2 was broken one last time before it was all over.”

Earlier this week, Grant van Gameren’s Parkdale cocktail bar PrettyUgly was seized due to outstanding rent.


9 am Canada has over 66,000 cases of COVID-19

There are 66,434 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 4,569 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.

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