Councillor Josh Matlow

COVID-19 October Updates

Distribution of COVID-19 Cases in Toronto and Ward 12

Did you know that Toronto Public Health provides a user friendly resource that maps the distribution of COVID-19 cases across Toronto neighbourhoods on its COVID-19 dashboard? COVID-19 cases are mapped by using the postal code of the case’s home address, but these locations don’t necessarily reflect where they acquired their infection. The outbreak-related cases live in the area and are often associated with outbreaks at different locations (including at workplaces, health care settings, or child care centres, for example.)

The interactive map allows residents to see recent and all case counts for each neighbourhood.  Recent cases are those identified within the 21 days before the date noted at the top of the map (i.e. the latest update to the database).  The maps are updated three times a week.You can hover over a neighbourhood on the map or type the name of your neighbourhood in the “Highlight” box.  There is also a comprehensive, downloadable Excel spreadsheet that includes case counts and case rates per 100,000 residents for each neighbourhood.  This helps to see where your neighbourhood ranks against others across the city.

Overall, Toronto Public Health has noticed increased numbers of COVID-19 cases throughout Toronto in recent weeks.  While the recent case counts (as of September 29) across Ward 12 vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood (from 5 to 33 new cases) the increases are consistent with what is currently being observed elsewhere in Toronto. Toronto Public Health continues to remind the public of the importance of supporting contact tracing efforts. This includes providing contact information when visiting businesses such as restaurants or gyms. To reduce virus spread in our city, everyone needs to do their part and adopt steps for self-protection: as much as possible limit contact with anyone you don’t live with; as often as possible, keep at least six feet apart from people you don’t live with; as often as possible, wear a mask when outside your home, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult; wash your hands frequently; and stay home when you are sick.

Toronto City Council votes unanimously to strengthen bylaws to prevent continued COVID-19 resurgence

Toronto City Council today voted unanimously in favour of stronger measures to protect residents from COVID-19 and slow the ongoing resurgence of the virus in the community. The measures adopted were recommended by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and are supported by data collected by Toronto Public Health.

Following this week’s Council vote, next Thursday, October 8, several new temporary bylaw amendments will come into force. To prevent COVID-19 activity and outbreaks in establishments serving food and drinks, these businesses will be required to:

  • Limit the total number of patrons permitted to be inside at any one time to 75 (down from 100)
  • Maintain a customer log for each patron, not just one person from the party
  • Limit the maximum number of people able to sit at each table, both inside and outside, to six people (down from 10)
  • Keep background music and any other background sounds, such as from televisions or other electronic sound producing devices, no louder than the volume of normal conversation (with the exception of live performances carried out in accordance with the provincial Stage 3 regulation).

To mitigate the impact of the new bylaw amendments on food and drink establishments, Council approved Mayor Tory’s request for City staff to explore ways the City can support the industry through winter patio options. Council has further voiced support for the Government of Ontario extending Regulation 719 through 2021, so liquor sales licensees can continue to sell beer, wine and spirits as part of a food order for takeout or delivery.

Council also voted to request that the Province of Ontario act to require masks or face coverings in all workplaces where physical distancing for employees and visitors is challenging. The move follows Toronto Public Health identifying that COVID-19 case clusters and outbreaks have occurred among staff and patrons in a diverse range of workplaces. Other provincial government actions supporting businesses endorsed by Council include:

  • Working with the province and the insurance industry to support small and medium hospitality businesses by preventing increases to policy cost and premiums
  • Urging the province to continue the pause on commercial evictions until the COVID-19 resurgence eases.

Existing temporary City of Toronto COVID-19 bylaws were also extended until the end of City Council’s first meeting in 2021. This includes the Physical Distancing in Public Spaces bylaws (322-2020 and 323-2020), the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering bylaws (541-2020 and 664-2020), the Public Health Measures for Bars and Restaurant in Chapter 545, Licensing and the COVID-19 amendments to Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings. Information on COVID-19-related bylaws is available on the City website.

These new bylaw amendments will be enforced by the City’s COVID-19 enforcement team. The enforcement team’s primary goals are reducing the transmission of COVID-19, helping prevent the virus from overwhelming the healthcare system and saving lives through enforcement of emergency orders and bylaws. Enforcement officers are on patrol across the city at all times, in addition to responding to complaints. Complaints can be made through 311.

Although these strengthened measures are coming into force, all people in Toronto are reminded to adopt steps for self-protection. As much as possible limit contact with anyone you don’t live with. As often as possible, keep at least six feet apart from people you don’t live with and wear a mask when outside your home, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult. Wash your hands frequently and remain at home when ill.

COVID-19 Pharmacy Tests

As of late September 25, select pharmacies offer testing by appointment for asymptomatic individuals who meet eligibility criteria, including:

  • contact of a confirmed positive case,
  • will be visiting a long-term care home,
  • are a worker or resident of a specified outbreak site (including LTC home, retirement home, or school),
  • other criteria.

For a list of pharmacies, visit Testing Locations.

Changes to the visitor policy and continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at City of Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes

Effective October 5, the City of Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes (LTC) will be restricting entrance to staff members, essential visitors and essential caregivers. This is the result of recent measures announced by the Provincial government to ensure that all long-term care homes in areas of highest community spread are able to continue to keep residents safe and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

An essential visitor includes a person visiting a very ill or palliative resident. An essential caregiver provides direct support to the resident, such as feeding, personal hygiene or assistance in decision-making. This person could be a family member, from the resident’s chosen family or a privately-hired caregiver. Essential visitors and essential caregivers may visit even if the home is experiencing an outbreak.

Essential caregivers must verbally attest to home staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks and have not subsequently tested positive; they must pass active screening, including taking their temperature before entering the home; and must receive training on COVID-19, infection prevention and control (IPAC) and personal protective equipment (PPE) practices. All essential caregivers, up to two per resident, must be registered with the LTC home.

Indoor and outdoor visits are cancelled. Virtual visits will continue and their frequency will be increased to meet the demand for residents without essential caregivers.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and impact people around the world, the health, safety and well-being of the residents at City of Toronto’s long-term care (LTC) homes, their families and the staff members who look after them continue to be a priority.

The City’s 10 long-term care homes are focused on following Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Toronto Public Health (TPH) guidelines and sector best practices to keep residents and staff members safe. The City’s tiered response includes prevention and mitigation strategies.

Prevention:

  • Enforcing enhanced active screening early, including taking temperatures twice daily for anyone entering the LTC homes
  • Enforcing masking protocols at all times
  • Enhancing infection, prevention and control (IPAC) practices and procedures including staff education, high-touch cleaning and disinfection

Mitigation:

  • Active surveillance and precautions, including isolation of residents if appropriate and necessary
  • Maintenance of physical distancing at all times
  • Use of personal protective equipment – mask, isolation gown, gloves and eye protection
  • Staff members are tested every two weeks and do not come to work or return to work until they are symptom-free
  • Staff have declared a single employer and are only working in one LTC home for the duration of the pandemic
  • Working with TPH and hospital partners to perform independent IPAC audits in the City’s LTC homes.

Staffing is also a major focus and in City of Toronto LTC homes, resources have been added by reassigning divisional and management staff, maximizing front-line staff availability, hiring and redeploying staff from other City divisions and using overtime, if required.

Regular communication with all stakeholders ensures any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are communicated to residents, their families and staff members at the home.

Toronto Public Health launches enhanced reporting dashboard in response to COVID-19 resurgence

A key role of public health in the battle against COVID-19 is to use current evidence and local data to inform decisions about public health actions to keep residents safer as we live with COVID-19. Today, Toronto Public Health is pleased to launch enhancements to the COVID-19 data dashboard. This updated dashboard will provide more detailed information to help residents better understand how this virus is affecting our community.

TPH received extensive feedback from residents and experts to improve the way that COVID-19 information is reported. The updates will help the public understand the local impact of COVID-19 in Toronto as the city faces a resurgence in cases and include:

  • Daily updates on new cases and weekday updates on outbreaks to provide more current information on the local situation and help residents see how COVID-19 activity is changing in our city.
  • More detailed weekly updates highlighting the data trends to be shared on Wednesdays. This will include additional graphs and figures to provide more insight into who is contracting COVID-19 in our community.
  • A summary of active outbreaks has been expanded to include additional institutions such as schools and child care centres. TPH will list the specific institutions where an outbreak has been identified and is under investigation.
  • TPH is also looking into addressing the Board of Health request at the September meeting to include a high-level summary of outbreaks in workplace settings at a later date. TPH will continue updating the dashboard as the local situation changes.

The City’s COVID-19 response is grounded by three key objectives: to prevent loss of life, preserve the capacity of the health system and minimize social, economic and broader health impacts. The COVID-19 monitoring dashboard also reports on key indicators of the COVID-19 response and health system capacity. Given the current resurgence in cases, this information is becoming even more critical to understanding how COVID19 is affecting our community and informing what public health actions are needed to keep residents safer. Since its launch on June 12, 2020, the monitoring dashboard has been viewed almost two million times.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

 

2020-10-06T17:36:01+00:00
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