COVID-19 Updates - June 12th
We are going to have to learn to live with the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Without a vaccine, the virus will not go away next week, next month, or even likely next year. This is a risk we will all have to continue to manage every single day.
Living with COVID-19 means living with risk, yes, but also doing everything we can to protect one another, and in particular, to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. Re-opening must be a gradual process that we re-assess each step of the way. These continue to be unprecedented times – but with a measured approach, we can balance the risks and help to keep people safe.
As we continue moving forward, your individual actions continue to be central to our city’s success. We all still have a role to play in keeping each other safe.
Let’s continue to work together to fight this virus, and build a better, more equitable city.
In this Edition
- New Data Dashboard Shows Where We Are in Fight Against COVID-19
- Toronto Public Health Expands Case and Contact Tracing Work
- Farmers Markets to Being Reopening this Weekend
- Demanding Affordable and Accessible Childcare
- Masks to Become Mandatory on the TTC
- CampTO Summer Programs to Begin July 13
- Encouraging Active Transportation - Bike Share Program Expansion
- Launch of SwimTO
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- Take Action: Toronto in Crisis - It’s Time for a New Deal for Toronto
- Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- Staying Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
New Data Dashboard Shows Where We Are in Fight Against COVID-19
As announced today, Toronto Public Health has created an online dashboard of key data and indicators in order to let Torontonians know where we are with respect to COVID-19 recovery. The COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard is now live on the City’s COVID-19 information webpage, under “Status of Cases in Toronto.”
The dashboard summarizes Toronto's status with respect to a core set of indicators that align with the Ontario Government’s Framework for Reopening, and were endorsed by all 34 local Medical Officers of Health across Ontario. The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic means we can only reopen our City if it’s safe to do so. Data on key indicators provides a comprehensive overview of the status of our public health response to the pandemic.
These indicators focus on criteria in the four following areas:
1: Virus Spread and Containment: Includes numbers on new COVID-19 cases and trends, the number of local outbreaks, and hospitalizations.
2: Laboratory Testing: Refers to lab testing trends, including the processing time for completing and reporting a test, and the percent of all tests that are positive.
3: Health System Capacity: Refers to acute and critical care capacity in local hospitals, including ICU bed and ventilator capacity.
4: Public Health System Capacity: Refers to indicators that monitor how quickly we are following up on positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts, for testing and self-isolation.
Each of the four categories receives a colour-code of Red (furthest from goal), Yellow (indicators haven’t met the goal, but are closer) to Green (goals have been achieved). At the present moment, our Health System Capacity is Green, while the other three categories are labelled as Yellow.
The dashboard will be updated regularly and with new information in order to reflect the evolving trends.
Making this information publicly available is important not only for informing key decisions going forward, but also for ensuring transparency and public trust. Torontonians should know what factors are being considered in opening up businesses, services, and local operations, and where we stand as a city in our ongoing work to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto Public Health Expands Case and Contact Tracing Work
Case and contact tracing, where public health staff work with COVID-19 patients to trace and isolate their recent contacts, is a key part of stopping the spread of COVID-19. Toronto Public Health now has over 700 people working on case and contact tracing, making it the largest team in the country.
All this hard work is paying off. Toronto Public Health staff are now reaching 87% of new cases within 24 hours of identification — helping to contain the virus and minimize spread. But we continue to struggle with a lab reporting system that is clunky, outdated, and inefficient.
Right now, testing labs are only reporting 23% of COVID-19 test results to Toronto Public Health within 24-hours, and only 55% within 48 hours. Until we can ensure that labs are reporting results in a timely manner, we can’t speed up case and contact tracing.
The reality is that the current lab reporting system isn’t working. Test results are delayed, and when they do arrive (often by fax), they are missing key information like the patient’s phone number. In the 21st century, we need a better, real-time provincial lab reporting system.
I’m glad that in the last week two provincial tables have been formed to tackle case and contact management improvements and digital solutions for the GTA in particular. Toronto Public Health is actively working at these tables, with the support of Toronto’s Technology Services Division.
Toronto Public Health staff is working with labs to try to fix the problems we’re seeing. Our Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that we continue to assess staff resources daily to ensure that we have enough people to meet the changing and ongoing needs of this important work.
The scope of our case and contact tracing work shows that the risk of COVID-19 continues to be very real in our city. We need to follow the advice of our Medical Officer of Health and continue to avoid the big Cs: close contact, confined spaces, and crowds. Only by following these instructions can we reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.
Farmers Markets to Begin Reopening this Weekend
My team and I have been working actively with the Toronto Food Policy Council and Toronto Public Health to ensure everyone in our City has access to healthy, affordable, sustainable, and culturally-acceptable food, and working towards a safe re-opening of farmers' markets in our neighbourhoods.
Farmers' markets are an important source of fresh and local food, and in many communities fill a gap left by supermarkets and large grocers. They also help to build strong community connections and networks of mutual care and support.
Toronto Public Health has prepared public health guidelines for farmers' markets organizers and vendors to help ensure the markets can open while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. These guidelines include recommendations for crowd control, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and cleaning.
The seasonal Saturday market at St. Lawrence Market will open tomorrow, June 13, on Market Street between The Esplanade and Wilton Street. It will run weekly until November, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while shopping at the market.
Many markets will need some additional time to get organized and adopt the public health guidelines. City of Toronto staff will help to ensure that markets in parks and public squares in areas of Toronto facing food insecurity are prioritized. A list of farmers' markets is available at https://www.greenbeltfresh.ca/. Please check with individual markets for opening dates.
Demanding Affordable and Accessible Childcare
COVID-19 has demonstrated just how essential childcare is. Our city and economy simply cannot operate without accessible and affordable childcare. Now more than ever we need an actual plan for childcare in Ontario.
Announcing that childcare can re-open without any details for how centres can afford to implement necessary public health measures is not a plan. Childcare was already unaffordable and inaccessible before COVID-19. Now, when you implement necessary public health measures, you also reduce capacity. Childcare was already over-capacity, so where will kids go? When you reduce capacity, that also means less fees to fund the centres. So, where’s the money, and where’s the plan?
There’s no economic recovery without childcare. It’s time to build a Provincial childcare system that is actually affordable and accessible for all.
Don’t just hope for it, demand it. And, make your voice heard by signing this open letter from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
Masks to Become Mandatory on the TTC
On the advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the TTC intends to make face coverings mandatory as of July 2. This can help to stop the spread of germs and respiratory droplets to those around you when physical distancing is challenging, reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the city. Exemptions will be made for children under two years of age and for those who have medical considerations or are unable to put on or take off a face covering.
The TTC will be providing 1 million non-medical masks to transit riders, with a targeted distribution focus for priority and vulnerable neighbourhoods.
CampTO Summer Programs to Begin July 13
Our City of Toronto summer camps are important to many families. Summer camps provide positive social interactions, enhance childhood development, and provide young people with jobs and work experience. These programs are especially important for vulnerable kids, who may not be able to access these experiences and opportunities elsewhere.
That’s why City staff have been working around the clock to create an alternative program: CampTO. CampTO is a modified summer camp program that can operate safely and in line with public health guidelines.
The City of Toronto will begin to offer summer camps across the city starting on July 13 as part of the CampTO initiative, following the Province of Ontario announcement that summer day camps can operate during the Phase 2 reopening.
CampTO will offer more than 32,000 registered camp spaces for children between the ages of 6 and 12 over eight weeks, at approximately 150 locations across the city. CampTO will include traditional day camp experiences, including dance, drama, music, arts and crafts and active games. In addition to camps offered at Parks, Forestry and Recreation locations, CampTO will also be offered at six Toronto History Museum sites and one City art centre.
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, CampTO programs will meet health guidelines designed in consultation with Toronto Public Health and in alignment with provincial health guidelines for day camps. Guidelines include lower ratios and capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning.
Programs will be available for viewing on June 13 at http://www.toronto.ca/camps
Registration for CampTO will take place beginning at 7 a.m. on:
- Wednesday, June 24 for Etobicoke/York and Scarborough districts
- Thursday, June 25 for Toronto/East York, West Toronto/York and North York districts
The quickest and easiest way to register is online at efun.toronto.ca. Phone registration will also be available at 416-396-7378. As civic centres and community recreation facilities remain closed, in-person registration will not be available.
Residents can call 416-396-7378 Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for help preparing for registration. Extended hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 7p.m. will be offered on June 22 and 23. Information on free programs and subsidies for recreation programs is available at http://www.toronto.ca/lowcostrecreation
Encouraging Active Transportation - Bike Share Program Expansion
As we begin to transition to recovery in Toronto and more businesses and workplaces open back up, how we will get around is an ongoing challenge. With the expansion of the City’s ActiveTO program which includes new bike lanes across Toronto, we must also ensure that we are providing options to encourage the use of our expanded cycling network.
The City has announced that the 2020 Bike Share program expansion will add a total of 1,850 new bicycles, 160 stations and 3,615 docking points to the already expansive network. As a result of this announcement, the system will grow to a total of 6,850 bikes, 625 stations, and 12,000 docking points.
In line with previous expansions, the new Bike Share locations are designed to act as an extension of the public transit system by connecting to TTC subway stations and stops. The new Bike Share stations will also be strategically placed along ActiveTO routes.
A new feature of this year’s expansion is the launch of an e-bike pilot program that will be ready later this summer. The 300 pedal assist e-bikes and 10 e-bike charging stations for the pilot are included in the total expansion numbers. Further details on the e-bike pilot program will be announced in the near future.
In an effort to prioritize health and safety, Bike Share Toronto has ramped up its cleaning program during the COVID-19 crisis. As bikes are regularly in use and exposed to the environment, Bike Share strongly recommends that riders follow the recommended personal hygiene measures by cleaning each bike before use.
Launch of SwimTO to help Torontonians Cool Down this Summer
The City of Toronto has announced SwimTO – a plan to help ensure that all Torontonians can safely access outdoor aquatic recreation and cool down during hot summer temperatures as the city begins to reopen. City staff are preparing now so that the City’s beaches, outdoor pools, wading pools, and splash pads can safely operate when the Province allows Toronto to enter Phase 2 of reopening.
With the approach of hot summer weather and the extended closure of many indoor public spaces, it’s vital that Torontonians have opportunities to cool down outdoors. When permitted, the City plans to open its outdoor aquatic amenities to prevent heat related-illnesses while continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto beaches have remained open in the same way green spaces in parks have been open. Beaches are not closed under Province of Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the SwimTO plan, lifeguards will return to six of Toronto’s swimming beaches on Monday, June 22. Lifeguards will supervise each location daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Swimming without the supervision of a lifeguard or outside designated swim areas is not recommended. The City will provide lifeguard supervision on swimming beaches coupled with comprehensive crowd management. Beach water quality testing and analysis will be completed by Toronto Public Health to ensure people can swim safely at Toronto beaches.
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.
Today in her update, Dr. de Villa spoke about how as we move forward with reopening our city, it is critical that we continue monitoring our progress towards our COVID-19 response objectives: to prevent loss of life, preserve the capacity of our health system and minimize social, economic and broader health impacts.
Dr. de Villa also announced the launch of the City’s new COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard.
This dashboard summarizes our current local situation using a core set of indicators that aligns with the Province's Framework for Reopening and was endorsed by Medical Officers of Health from around the province. As such, these indicators ensure a consistent assessment of how we are progressing in our local COVID-19 response.
Dr. de Villa explained each section of the dashboard, how the information is used to monitor how we are progressing, and in which areas further action is needed.
Take Action: Toronto in Crisis - It’s Time for a New Deal for Toronto
We know that our cities can lead the way to recovery and become stronger and more sustainable than ever before — but only if we invest in them. That's why we need a New Deal for cities.
Progress Toronto has put together a petition urging the Federal and Provincial governments to provide immediate financial relief to cities and commit to a new deal that will help build a Toronto that works for everyone.
Take action and make your voice heard by signing the petition here.
Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector
Our vibrant arts and cultural sector is critical to the fabric of our city. There are many ways to continue to support Toronto arts and culture from home:
- 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.
- Arts@Home: Bringing Toronto’s arts sector together for you, delivered straight to your couch. Many of Toronto’s leading arts organizations are reaching beyond traditional practice to come together and freely share digital content that brings the arts into your home.
- Stay, Play & Learn at Home: Tour a museum exhibit, watch a live concert, play interactive games, do DIY science experiments, try a new recipe, and much more.
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.
Staying Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Advice from Toronto Public Health and Available Supports
We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of months. It’s been 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.
If you need access to, or are seeking information on social and community supports and services, you can call 211 for non-emergency requests and information.
Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports. You can call 211 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, text 21166, live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.
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
Advice from Toronto Public Health on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
Now that the warmer weather has arrived, many people are spending time outdoors for physical and mental health.
When spending time outdoors, refer to this information from Toronto Public Health;
- COVID-19 spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking
- Droplets can spread up to 6 feet (2 metres) so close, prolonged contact poses the highest risk
- When cycling, running, or walking, step aside or pass others quickly and courteously
- The risk for catching COVID-19 while passing someone is low
If sick, you must stay home and self-isolate
- People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
- Limit contact with other household members
- Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate
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:
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.