COVID-19 Updates - July 30th

Dear friends,

The Ontario Government has confirmed that tomorrow, we will enter Stage 3 of reopening. This is an important achievement for our city, and was only possible thanks to the commitment and dedication of residents across Toronto. 

However, we need to remember that the hard work is not over yet. COVID-19 will continue to pose a significant risk to our city until there is a widely-available treatment or vaccine. 

Increasingly, Toronto Public Health data shows that COVID-19 is exposing the deep inequalities present in our city, as this virus is disproportionately impacting people with lower incomes, who are racialized or visible minorities, who live in overcrowded housing and work in front-line and/or precarious workplaces. These are the people that we have to keep in mind as we cautiously move forward into the next stage of this pandemic. 

Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. Update on Toronto Moving to Stage 3
  2. Initial Findings from Toronto Public Health’s Data on COVID-19 and Social Determinants of Health 
  3. City Council Approves Mandatory Masks in Apartment and Condo Common Areas
  4. Voluntary Accommodation Options to Support Self-Isolation
  5. Accessible, Affordable Childcare is Essential to COVID-19 Recovery
  6. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
  7. Advice from Toronto Public Health on Safely Using Masks 
  8. Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  9. COVID-19 Information and Resources

Update on Toronto Moving to Stage 3


Click to watch video

Yesterday, the Ontario Government announced that Toronto will be moving forward to Stage 3 in the Province's reopening plan this Friday, July 31. In preparation for this transition, Toronto City Council has approved a series of recommendations from Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, which set out additional public health and safety measures in order to prevent a spike or new increase in COVID-19 cases.

Over the past five months, Torontonians have come together and made tremendous sacrifices to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city. Our collective efforts have been successful, not only at flattening the curve and protecting our health care system, but also in getting daily case counts down to the single digits. The challenge now is to make sure that this hard work is not squandered as we continue to reopen businesses and services in our city. 

Click here to read my full statement on Toronto's move to Stage 3

Residents can learn about what to expect and what is required as they begin to visit more establishments and take part in more activities at toronto.ca/ReopenTO.


Initial Findings from Toronto Public Health’s Data on COVID-19 and Social Determinants of Health 


Click to watch video

In May, Toronto Public Health began collecting individual-level data on ethno-racial identity, household income, and housing status from people with reported COVID-19 infections, in order to see if the pandemic is impacting some groups of people more than others. 

This afternoon, I joined our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, along with Mayor John Tory and Dr. Kwame McKenzie from the Wellesley Institute, to address Toronto Public Health’s early analysis of this data.

The initial findings are deeply concerning. 83% of COVID-19 cases in Toronto identified with a racialized group, though just over half of all Torontonians identify as a member of a racialized group. 

At the same time, approximately half (51%) of reported COVID-19 cases were living in households that are considered low income.

To put it plainly, COVID-19 is preying on the inequalities in our city. The data clearly shows that people who face systemic barriers are at far greater risk of contracting COVID-19, whether those barriers are poverty, racism, discrimination, unequal access to services, overcrowded housing, lack of workplace protections, or a combination of all of the above.

This data provides a roadmap for prevention. It will inform our recommendations on testing, including mobile and pop-up clinics; justifies and affirms the need for voluntary self-isolation facilities; and will guide our education and outreach efforts going forward. But it also demands long-term policy changes to fundamentally address poverty, housing stability, and structural racism. I will continue to work with our partners at Toronto Public Health and at the federal and provincial levels to meet this goal.


City Council Approves Mandatory Masks in Apartment and Condo Common Areas

Toronto City Council has voted in favour of a temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas in apartments and condominiums to protect the health and safety of our communities by reducing the spread of COVID-19. The strengthened safety measure responds to concerns that the opportunity for more close contact, especially in indoor settings, will result in more virus spread.

The new bylaw, recommended by the Medical Officer of Health and City Solicitor, will require building owners or operators to have a policy to ensure masks or face coverings are worn by individuals in the enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms, and post corresponding signage. 

The bylaw formalizes last week’s strong recommendation from Mayor Tory and the Medical Officer of Health for all building owners and operators to proactively require masks or face coverings in common areas. Like the City’s existing mask or face covering bylaw, the recommendation includes exemptions for individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years old, and other reasonable accommodations. The bylaw comes into effect on Wednesday, August 5.

Toronto Public Health has created guidance documents for commercial and residential buildings. The City of Toronto is also creating signage that building operators can print off and display in common areas. Signage will be available online.


Voluntary Accommodation Options to Support Self-Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19, you're told to self-isolate at home, in a separate bedroom and bathroom from the rest of your family. But what if you live in a crowded household? That's where voluntary self-isolation facilities come in. 

City Council has approved recommendations from our Medical Officer of Health that set out our plan for voluntary isolation sites for people with COVID-19 who can't safely self-isolate at home. 

The report on the recommendations shows why voluntary isolation options are needed. One study found that household transmission of COVID-19 was 30% — higher than SARS or MERS. This puts households that don't have the luxury of multiple bedrooms and bathrooms at high risk of family transmission.

Chicago and New York have led the way with voluntary isolation centres in hotel settings for people who test positive and need to safely isolate away from their families. Now, we're working with our Federal and Provincial partners on implementing a program model for Toronto.


Accessible, Affordable Child care is Essential to COVID-19 Recovery

For months now, parents have been doing the impossible. With schools and daycares closed, we’ve become full-time caregivers and educators, while, in many cases, continuing to work from home. This double duty is not only draining, it’s unsustainable.

Affordable, accessible child care isn’t a pipe dream. We have plenty of evidence that when there’s the political will, there’s a way.

Earlier this week, Today’s Parent published my op-ed on becoming a parent for the first time during COVID-19, and how we need to treat child care the same way we treat public school and health care: as an essential service, that is affordable and accessible for everyone.

Click here to read my op-ed


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 twice-weekly updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the press conferences live at 2pm, and access past updates here

Yesterday in her update, Dr. de Villa spoke about Toronto’s move to Stage 3 of the Province’s Reopening Framework. She acknowledged that while this is good news for getting more of our city back, we need to stay focused to prevent new cases or a spike in activity as much as we can.  

We need to proceed with caution and care as we move forward. Whether it is dining indoors at a local restaurant, attending a concert, going to the movies or visiting a library, please keep washing your hands, watching your distance, and wearing your mask. These measures are still needed to keep us as safe as possible as we move forward. 

Recent increases in COVID-19 cases reported in other cities that have reopened before us provide clear evidence of the potential for this virus to spread, if given the chance. We need to move forward with caution and care so we don't lose our progress.  To help us move forward as safely as possible, yesterday, City Council approved additional public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These measures were recommended as part of the provincial Stage 3 order applied to our city, recognizing that Stage 3 comes with more opportunity for close contact between people, especially in indoor settings. And, therefore, opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.  

In food and drink establishments, Dr. de Villa has recommended: 

  • Screening staff for COVID-19 symptoms at the start of every shift;
  • Requiring capacity limits of no more than 100 people indoors and 10 people per table;
  • Requiring customers to be seated at all times unless entering or leaving, using the washroom, or paying;
  • Keeping a customer log with contact information for at least one member of each party, along with the date and time. Information should be held for 30 days and provided to the team at Toronto Public Health, if needed for contact tracing.  

In condominiums and apartment buildings, given the number of people in those settings, Dr. de Villa recommended a temporary bylaw for buildings to have policies requiring the use of masks or face coverings in enclosed common spaces, such as lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms. Similar to the existing bylaw on mask use in indoor public spaces, there are exemptions, for example for people who are unable to wear a mask or face covering for medical reasons, children under two years of age, and other reasonable accommodations.

Our new reality is that we will continue living with COVID-19 until an effective treatment, or vaccine is available. Until then, there continues to be an ongoing risk of infection from this virus. For this reason, Dr. de Villa is once again asking that we all continue to wash our hands, keep a distance from others, wear a mask, and continue to take care of each other. 

Read Dr. de Villa’s full statement here.


Advice from Toronto Public Health on Safely Using Masks

Under the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw, everyone in Toronto is now required to wear a mask or face covering when entering indoor public spaces. Masks or face coverings are also 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

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