COVID-19 Updates and Information - April 27th

Dear friends,

I hope you were able to spend some time over the weekend connecting virtually with friends and family. I know that it is especially difficult right now to be physically apart from loved ones, but we need to remember that the sacrifices we make today will save lives tomorrow. 

The public health measures we have been following over the past six weeks are working, and the City and the Province have begun planning for an eventual reopening and recovery phase of our COVID-19 response. While this is good news, we are not out of the woods just yet. It is critical that we continue to follow the guidelines that are in place. We owe it to front-line essential workers to continue to stay home. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees, couriers, shelter staff, firefighters, and other essential workers have been working around the clock to keep us healthy, fed, and safe. They protect us; it’s on us to protect them, by continuing to stay home. 

I’d like to thank everyone that has been reading this e-newsletter over the past month, staying informed, and sharing important information from our public health experts. 

We’re all in this together, we all have a role to play, and we will get through this. 


Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. CurbTO Program Launches to Increase Space on Sidewalk Hotspots
  2. Public Health Measures for Community Gardens
  3. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management 
  4. Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  5. City Hall Live Online
  6. DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
  7. Advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Regarding the Use of Masks
  8. Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  9. Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 
  10. Supporting Local Businesses
  11. Physical Distancing – We All Need to do Our Part
  12. What is Self-Isolation?
  13. Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
  14. COVID-19 Information and Resources

CurbTO Program Launches to Increase Space on Sidewalk Hotspots

In each stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, our response has been guided by the best advice of our public health experts.

As announced this afternoon, Toronto Public Health is recommending that the City begin using curb lanes to support physical distancing, in locations where businesses need additional sidewalk space for safe line-ups.

Toronto Public Health, Transportation Services, and Toronto Police have collaborated to identify sidewalk areas where there are lineups or congested pedestrian traffic. Beginning today, the City will be implementing Curb Lane Pedestrian Zones in select locations, making more space for physical distancing on the sidewalks by expanding into curb lane areas. In addition to areas around grocery stores and pharmacies, spaces near community services like food banks will be prioritized. 

While Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that full road closures are not being considered at this time due to public health concerns, this initiative signals the start of rethinking of how we use and share public space. As we move forward into our recovery phase, I will continue to advocate for the needs of all road users, and for redesigns that make our streets safe and accessible for everyone. 

The City is also creating Temporary Parking Pick-up Zones, where drivers and delivery couriers can temporarily park for up to 10 minutes in special spots close to essential businesses, to expedite food and medicine pickups. As residents are following public health guidelines and staying home as much as possible, deliveries and pickups of essential goods have increased in demand — and are especially critical for people who are in self-isolation. 

Ten locations have been selected for the first implementation round of Curb Lane Pedestrian Zones and Temporary Parking Pick-up Zones. In the coming weeks, the CurbTO program will be expanded to 100 hotspot areas across the City. More information will be available on a program webpage, along with an online map to show where CurbTO Pedestrian Zones and Parking Pick-up Zones are located. 


Public Health Measures for Community Gardens

The Ontario Government is amending the provincial emergency orders to allow community gardens to re-open, once local public health rules are in place to keep everyone safe. Community gardens are critical to local food production and food security for families and food banks. They also help to build strong connections and mutual care and support networks, and provide essential nourishment to our community. 

My team and I have been working actively with the Toronto Food Policy Council to ensure everyone in our City has access to healthy, affordable, sustainable, and culturally-acceptable food, and exploring how community gardens can re-open while keeping everyone safe.

Toronto Public Health is now working to finalize public health measures for community gardens and the 2020 growing season, including instructions on physical distancing and cleaning and sanitation of shared equipment and services. I anticipate hearing more from our public health experts shortly, and will provide updates as soon as possible. 


Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management 

Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa and other City division leaders have been providing daily updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the daily press conferences live at 3:45pm, and access past updates here

Update from Dr. Eileen de Villa

Today Dr. de Villa shared that in order for us to be successful in reopening our city, we must continue with public health measures until it is safe to no longer do so. We are still in the middle of our local pandemic outbreak, and Dr. de Villa highlighted this by pointing to the recent announcement by the provincial government that all public schools will remain closed until at least May 31. 

Dr. de Villa acknowledged that as time goes on, and the weather becomes warmer, many of us are having a harder time staying at home and experiencing stress and anxiety. She shared some tips and resources that can help:

  • Connect with others. Take time every day to check in with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Play a virtual game or have a video chat. 
  • Be active. This doesn’t need to be a big production, it can be simple. Try an online fitness class or app. If you do go outside for a walk or run, stay 6 feet apart from others. 
  • Keep learning. Try a new recipe, or read a book that’s been sitting on your shelf. 
  • Be mindful of how you’re feeling. Take time to be reflective and pay attention to your feelings.
  • Give back. Offer to get groceries for a neighbour, or donate to a local food bank. 
  • Take care of yourself. The City has many resources available for anyone that needs support. Call 211 at any time or visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-mental-health-resources/ 

Read all of Dr. de Villa’s past statements here

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

Today Chief Pegg shared that the Emergency Operations Centre has now launched a comprehensive, city-wide personal protective equipment (PPE) management portal and dashboard to support the City’s response to COVID-19. The portal provides real-time tracking of PPE supplies across the city, as well as analytics to predict future PPE needs. 

Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.


City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map

The City of Toronto has created a COVID-19 Essential Service Mapping Tool

This tool has up-to-date service listings across Toronto, including food banks, meal delivery programs, community health services and more. Additional layers and details are being updated daily by 211 Toronto. 


City Hall Live Online

To help support Toronto artists and lift the spirits of residents during this outbreak, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund, has moved its City Hall Live performance program online.

Since 2016, local artists have performed in Nathan Phillips Square as part of City Hall Live’s music series to provide paid performance opportunities for Toronto musicians across all genres. To date, City Hall Live has showcased more than 150 local artists, working with numerous Toronto music organizations, festivals, and events.

Under the necessary restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, artists are taking their shows online. The series will run Monday through Friday, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., with two shows per day until the end of June. More than 100 local artists will be directly compensated for 30-minute performances from their homes, livestreamed via Facebook Live at facebook.com/City-Hall-Live-106149534367134.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant economic impact on Toronto residents and businesses, including the music community, in particular small venues and individual musicians. During each performance, viewers can choose to make a donation, 100 percent of which will support Unison's work to help musicians and music industry workers.


DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts 

Over the past month, Ward 10 residents have reached out to my office to ask how they can help with our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the City launched the DonateTO online portal, making it easy for businesses and residents to make direct donations of products, services, and funds in support of the City’s relief efforts.

Our ongoing response to the pandemic includes new efforts to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, including isolated seniors and people experiencing homelesness. The City is currently working with a range of community partners to enhance much-needed services and supports. 

Residents and businesses can help by contributing donations of personal protective equipment, non-perishable food, other goods and services, and financial gifts. Residents can also use the DonateTO portal to find out about volunteer opportunities in their community.  Any questions about donations can be directed to donate@toronto.ca

In Toronto, we take care of each other. I want to recognize and thank all the Ward 10 residents who have been helping out their neighbours and our community during this difficult time, and all the frontline staff who are working tirelessly to support our City’s relief efforts. 


Protecting Yourself and Others from COVID-19 — Advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Regarding the Use of Masks 

There have been many questions about the use of masks when out in public over the last few days. 

Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr, Eileen de Villa, has been clear — the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid close contact with others. This means staying at home as much as possible, and when you go out, practicing physical distancing.  

Additionally, you should wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean and free of virus. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a statement on the use of non-medical masks. They have advised that while wearing a non-medical mask (such as a homemade cloth mask) in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it from other people's germs, it may stop you from spreading your germs to other people. This is especially true in situations when it is difficult to keep a distance of 6 feet from others. 

This new advice is based on the emerging science that people may be contagious even if they don't have symptoms.  Dr. de Villa has advised that masks alone are not an effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and that this is not a recommendation for everyone to wear a mask at all times.

When you do leave your home to seek medical care, or for essential supplies, practicing physical distancing is the next best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also the best way to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. In these situations, wearing a cloth mask can prevent your respiratory droplets and your germs from coming into contact with others. What this means is even if you don't have symptoms, by wearing a cloth mask, you may be better able to avoid spreading your germs to other people. 

Dr. de Villa has been clear:

  • Wearing a cloth mask, or scarf has not been proven to protect the person wearing it from the germs of others. 
  • Wearing a cloth mask, or scarf, is also not a replacement for following proven prevention measures such as staying home, physical distancing and handwashing. 
  • Wearing a non-medical mask is just one more thing you can do, if you choose to, to help protect others.  

If you decide to wear a cloth mask, you should use it properly and safely. This means:

  • Making sure the mask fits your face properly. 
  • Not sharing your mask with others.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before putting it on
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after taking it off
  • Avoid touching your face when you put the mask on and off.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it. 

Medical masks should be kept for healthcare workers and first responders. We have to ensure that these essential workers have the supplies they need to take good care of us. 

Everyone still needs to do the right things: stay home, stay safe, and continue to take care of each other. 


Advice from Toronto Public Health – Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of weeks – from practicing physical distancing, to working from home, to caring for children home from school, to keeping a distance from our elderly family members and friends – it’s an adjustment, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to not feel okay. But through all of this, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. 

It’s also important for all of us to remember to care for our own mental health during this time. In previous updates I shared tips and resources from Toronto Public Health on staying emotionally healthy and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view and share. 


Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 

Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to physical distancing measures, there are still social services supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few. Call 211, text 21166, or live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.

A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working together to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues. 

Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.

211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.


Supporting Local Businesses

Our small and independent businesses are vital to the fabric of our city, and it’s critical that we support them as much as possible during these difficult and uncertain times. Here are some ways we can all do our part:

  • Shop local: although businesses have had to close their doors to the public to allow for physical distancing, many are still offering takeout and delivery options. Many local fitness studios and gyms are offering online classes. Some businesses that provide in-person services are offering pre-booking and gift cards for future use. Contact your favourite local business to see how you can support them during this challenging time. 
  • Donate through distantly.ca: the City of Toronto is highlighting the launch of an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform allows customers to continue to support local main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons. Visit distantly.ca to learn more and donate. 
  • Participate in #TakeOutDay: a Canada-wide campaign, #TakeOutDay is now every Wednesday as a show of support for our favourite local restaurants. Restaurants are doing their part by staying open for takeout. Now it's your turn to take an active part in support of an industry that employs millions of people across our country. Let's make Wednesdays #TakeoutDay. Learn more at canadatakeout.com

Physical Distancing  We All Need to do Our Part

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we need everyone to stay home, as much as possible. Avoid close contact and keep a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) from others. Everyone has a role to play. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community. It’s time to step up, not out. #StayHomeTO

Limit your trips outdoors

  • Minimize trips for groceries, medication and other essentials, ideally to once a week
  • Offer to pick up essentials for neighbours, especially vulnerable community members
  • Ideally, order supplies online
  • Avoid crowded places when exercising or walking the dog outdoors
  • Consider doing aerobics or online exercise classes at home
  • Limit the number of people in elevators to keep distance and use an elbow to press buttons
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and exiting buildings
  • Use tap to pay rather than handling money
  • Greet others from a distance with a wave or a nod

When taking transit or taxi

  • Travel during non-peak hours to avoid prolonged close contact with others
  • Take shorter trips rather than one long trip
  • With taxi and ride share, sit in the back and open windows
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often and avoid touching your face

Avoid physical gatherings

  • Work from home, if possible
  • Facilitate virtual meetings (video or teleconferencing)
  • Cancel all group gatherings, parties or playdates with other children
  • Gatherings with more than 5 people are not allowed (excluding people who live together)
  • Do not go to playgrounds
  • Schedule virtual parties or playdates
  • Connect with loves ones by phone, email video or social media
  • Do not visit loved ones in long-term care homes, retirement homes or other care settings

If sick, stay home and self-isolate

  • People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
  • Limit contact with household members
  • Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate

What is Self-Isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed not to leave your home and to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. 

You must stay home and self-isolate if you have:

  • A lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, do not require hospitalization, and a medical practitioner has indicated that you can recover at home
  • Symptoms of COVID-19, even if you have not been tested
  • Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms
  • Travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, within the past 14 days

For your protection, you should self-isolate if:

  • You are over 70 years of age
  • You have a weak immune system
  • You have a medical condition

Read more about how to self-isolate here


Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York

The rapidly-evolving COVID-19 response requires all levels of government to work closely together. 

I am in regular contact with my Provincial and Federal counterparts regarding the evolving COVID-19 response and how to best support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations.

Please visit their websites for more information on the Provincial and Federal responses:

MPP Chris Glover
MP Adam Vaughan


COVID-19 Information and Resources

Now is not the time for panic or misinformation. Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Please visit the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for the up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19

Government COVID-19 websites

City of Toronto
Province of Ontario
Government of Canada

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms.
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.
Telephone: 311
TTY: 416-338-0889