COVID-19 Updates - July 2nd
Like many of us, over the past few months I’ve wished that things could just get back to normal. But the truth is, ‘normal’ in our city meant leaving many of our residents and communities behind.
This pandemic has exposed the health inequities in our city that existed long before COVID-19. The social determinants of health -- income, race, ethnicity, housing -- decide who gets sick, and who doesn’t. COVID-19 has preyed on poverty and systemic discrimination. As a result, it’s people working precarious frontline jobs that are most at risk. It’s racialized people and newcomers to Canada who are most at risk. It’s people who face long commutes, live in overcrowded homes, and struggle to get by -- many of the same people who were deemed essential workers during this pandemic -- who are most impacted.
So, while we all want this period to end, returning to normal isn’t good enough for those in our city that we need to take better care of.
Today at the Board of Health we approved important recommendations targeting COVID-19 and the social determinants of health. Now is the time for all levels of governments to act. There are no excuses when it comes to a second wave.
The time to act is now.
In this Edition
- Board of Health Approves Recommendations Targeting COVID-19 and Social Determinants of Health
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- Community Centres Preparing for Reopening
- Advice from Toronto Public Health on Safely Using Masks
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
Board of Health Approves Recommendations Targeting COVID-19 and Social Determinants of Health
At today's virtual meeting, the Toronto Board of Health unanimously approved a recommendation from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, calling on all three levels of government to work together to create voluntary accommodation options in Toronto for people who test positive for the virus but are unable to isolate at home.
The recommendation highlighted the reality that many Torontonians do not have access to extra bedrooms or bathrooms in which to self-isolate at home. If they test positive for the virus, they risk spreading COVID-19 to the people they live with. Other cities have implemented programs where people who test positive are provided with voluntary, free accommodation and services at a hotel or other establishment while they recover from the virus – a similar approach to the isolation and recovery facilities that the City established for people experiencing homelessness earlier in the pandemic.
This proposal was included along with other recommendations from our Medical Officer of Health to directly address the connections between COVID-19 and the social determinants of health – income, race and ethnicity, and occupation, to name a few. The Board approved a move to emphasize access to the outdoors and space for physical activity for vulnerable communities as part of the ActiveTO program, and to have the Medical Officer of Health work with the City’s Office of Recovery and Rebuild to prioritize approaches to addressing the social determinants of health for communities most impacted by COVID-19.
At today's meeting, Dr.de Villa also provided an update on the City's interactive maps of COVID-19 cases by neighbourhood. Recent data from the past three weeks has shown that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are higher in areas with a high proportion of low-income residents, newcomers to Canada, and people with core housing need (falling below adequacy, suitability, and/or affordability criteria).
At the same time, certain racialized groups are over-represented in areas with a higher COVID-19 case-rate, including people who are Black, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Latin American. Public health data also shows that the most common occupations associated with case investigations include factory workers, retail/customer service representatives, and select healthcare-related occupations. The communities most impacted by COVID-19 in recent weeks continue to be concentrated in the northwest of the city.
Toronto Public Health has begun collecting individual-level data on COVID-19 cases and Indigenous and ethno-racial identity, household income, and household size, in order to better understand which groups are disproportionately impacted by the virus. This data is currently being analyzed, with an update on individual-level socio-demographic data to be released later this month. TPH is also exploring a strategy to collect more socio-demographic information regarding COVID-19, including sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, and newcomer status, and developing a community engagement approach regarding data collection and release.
The risk of COVID-19 shouldn't depend on where you live, how much you make, or how many bathrooms you have in your home. We need to do everything we can to mitigate vulnerabilities to this virus, and to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to reduce transmission and protect their loved ones. In this case, that means working with our government partners to make sure people have somewhere to go if they can't safely self-isolate at home. As we continue to learn more about this virus and who it impacts, we can develop more responses that are directly targeted to stopping transmission and protecting marginalized people and communities in our city.
Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
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.
In her update, Dr. de Villa spoke about the third virtual Board of Health meeting that was held today, in which she provided an update on the City’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. As part of this presentation, she shared some updates to our interactive map of COVID-19 cases by neighbourhood and high-level socio-demographic data that indicate that some areas of Toronto have higher rates of COVID-19 than others. This includes some areas in the northwest corner of our city. However, it is important to note that every single area of our city has been impacted by COVID-19. You can view Dr. de Villa’s presentation here.
Dr. de Villa also noted that it is now just over a week since we moved into stage 2 of reopening. Entering this stage is a significant milestone for us and it took a great deal of work and sacrifice for us to get to this point. But while our COVID-19 case numbers have decreased, the virus continues to circulate in our city. We are still living with COVID-19, so we must continue to be careful.
We must not take the progress we've made for granted. We need to keep moving forward with care. For this reason, on June 30, Dr. de Villa asked City Council to require masks or face coverings in all enclosed public places. City Council voted unanimously in favour of this requirement which will be in effect as of July 7. This action will help us to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our health.
Since the start of this pandemic, Dr. de Villa has asked us to take care of each other. With this in mind, as you head outside to enjoy the fresh air and nice weather, please continue to keep your distance from others outside of your household. Please keep washing your hands and please keep taking care of each other by wearing your cloth mask or face covering when you are in enclosed public settings.
Community Centres Preparing for Reopening
All City of Toronto community centres have now been returned for community use after helping with the COVID-19 response. Today, about 200 individuals who had been staying in temporary sites in vacant community centres moved into hotels. Before any of the centres reopen for use by the community, they will undergo cleaning as per all recommended protocols.
Since mid-March, as part of a three-tier COVID-19 response focused on prevention, mitigation and recovery, the City has opened more than 30 new sites in hotels, community centres and expanded facilities for homeless clients with supports. This effort has included the reuse of vacant community centres as temporary shelter respites as a place for clients to physical distance inside with meals, showers, laundry and other supports. Clients were screened and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms was sent to an assessment centre for testing and to one of three isolation or recovery sites with health supports.
Use of these community centres made it possible for the City to achieve 100 percent physical distancing in all 75 existing shelter sites, as well as all temporary locations.
Since mid-March, the City has moved almost 3,200 people for physical distancing, as part of our ongoing commitment to providing inside space to the most vulnerable in our community. This has included moving more than 1,000 homeless clients into permanent housing and more than more than 170 clients into temporary housing.
The City continues to open new locations to maintain 100 percent physical distancing between all shelter beds. As well, to date, the City has moved almost 290 people sleeping outside from more than 30 encampments to indoor spaces, including hotels and interim and permanent housing.
Advice from Toronto Public Health on Safely Using Masks
Effective July 7, under the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw, everyone in Toronto is required to wear a mask or face covering when entering indoor public spaces. Masks or face coverings are now mandatory when travelling on the TTC.
Click here for more advice from Toronto Public Health on how to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering.
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.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
It is important 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
Call if you develop symptoms.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.