COVID-19 Updates and Information - May 4th

Dear friends,

As Mental Health Week begins, it's more important than ever for us to take care of our own mental health, and to find new ways to connect with others while staying home. Mental Health Week is also a good reminder to be kind to ourselves, and remember that it’s normal to experience stress and anxiety as we cope with all of the adjustments to our lives. It’s okay to not feel okay. 

While it’s critical that we continue to practice physical distancing, there are still many supports and resources available for anyone who needs them. Visit mentalhealthweek.ca for tips on caring for your own mental health, including a mental health checklist, or call 211 any time for support.

I’m so proud of the way Torontonians have stepped up and responded to this crisis by looking out for one another, and ensuring that we’re all doing our part. But we aren’t out of the woods yet — we need to keep going. We’re a resilient city, and we will get through this together. 


Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

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

Community Gardens Reopen Under New Toronto Public Health Guidelines

As we begin to get the current COVID-19 outbreak under control, we can start adapting to our "new normal" – living with the persistent threat of another outbreak, and taking appropriate measures every day to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable members of our community. Under these circumstances, while some public services and amenities can resume, news rules and protocols must be in place to keep everyone safe. 

At the same time, food security and community support are of critical importance during this difficult period. I was happy to see last week’s announcement from the province that community and allotment gardens can re-open for the season if local health and safety guidelines are in place, and I am proud to have worked with the Food Policy Council on this important issue. 

Community gardens will now open on a location-by-location basis, under new guidelines developed by Toronto Public Health, including infection prevention measures and handwashing stations. 

Allotment gardens will begin to reopen the week of May 11. 

Community gardens exist on City of Toronto property as well as on private property. Allotment gardens are permitted through the City of Toronto and are located on City property. Through volunteers, Toronto’s community gardens provide between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds of fresh food to community agencies each year, and more than 1,300 people use the City’s allotment gardens to grow their own food and plants. 

The new guidelines provide clear instruction for garden use, hand washing hygiene, and cleaning and disinfection protocols. As with other physical distancing directives, the guidelines for gardens require that people maintain a two metre (six feet) distance from others in the garden at all times, and limits access to no more than 5 people in each garden parcel or allotment at a time. Gardens are only open for members to plant, maintain, and harvest food, and all events and programming remains cancelled. No visitors are allowed. 

In addition, because seniors age 70 and over and people with a weak immune system or pre-existing medical condition are at greater risk of COVID-19, it is recommended that these people remain home and do not participate in the gardens at this time. 

More information about community and allotment gardens is available at: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/parks-gardens-beaches/gardens-and-horticulture/urban-agriculture/


City Construction on Bathurst Street Begins this Month

While much of our focus during this time has been on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, city maintenance projects are still underway. Several necessary maintenance projects are being coordinated on Bathurst Street. The image above provides a visual on each stage of this work, and corresponding timelines. You can access the full construction notice here

Beginning the week of May 17, Bathurst Street from Front Street West to Fort York Boulevard will be closed to all vehicles (including cyclists) to accommodate bridge rehabilitation. 

Pedestrians will have access to one sidewalk, and cyclists can dismount and use the available sidewalk. This closure will continue through December 2020. The nearby Garrison Crossing Bridges and the yellow Puente de Luz will remain open for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the rail corridor. Please note that construction work on this project will take place seven days a week, from 7 am – 11 pm Monday to Saturday, and 9 am – 7 pm on Sundays. 

Beginning in June, Bathurst Street between Front Street West and King Street West will be partially closed for replacement of  the 145-year-old watermain and existing substandard water service connections. Road access will be reduced to one shared (single file) lane in each direction for cars and cyclists. Sidewalks on both sides of the Bathurst will remain open. Parking will not be allowed in the work zone. Please note that construction work on this project will take place from 7 am – 11 pm  Monday to Friday, and 7 am – 7 pm on Saturdays (with an exception for intersection work, which will occur from 7 am – 11 pm on weekends only). 

Once this section is completed, this area will reopen, and Bathurst Street between King Street West and Queen Street west will be partially closed (estimated to begin in August) under similar conditions. 

Finally, beginning in September, Bathurst Street between Wolseley Street and Dundas Street West will be partially closed for TTC track replacement. This work is estimated to take approximately four weeks, with sidewalks remaining open. Please note that construction work on this project will primarily occur during the following times, though some track work may occur 24/7: 7 am – 11 pm, Monday to Saturday; and 9 am – 7 pm on Sundays. 

It is important that all residents are still able to access the street and their neighbourhood during this time. If you have an accessibility or accommodation request, please contact the Public 

Consultation Unit at: downtownconstruction@toronto.ca or (416) 392-0472.

Due to the scheduled work, buses are replacing the 511 Bathurst streetcar for this period. TTC service information will be posted at www.TTC.ca

For some residents, I understand that construction and road closures can pose an additional challenge during these difficult times. However, this work is key to ensuring that our roads, water system, and public transit are safe and working well. This is all part of building and maintaining our great city. 

If you have any specific concerns or questions, please reach out to me at councillor_cressy@toronto.ca 


Mental Health Week

May 4th through 10th is Mental Health Week in Canada, and it's more important than ever for us to care for our own mental health, and to find new ways to connect with others while staying home. Visit mentalhealthweek.ca for tips and resources, or call 211 any time for support. 


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 spoke about data trends and the number of cases that we are seeing in our city. She explained that the numbers are important because they help us understand how the virus continues to spread. It is important to note that in a pandemic, it is not the data from any one given day that informs us; instead, it is the patterns and trends that we see over time. 

The current data is telling us that we are making progress, but new infections are still occuring. While the curve is flattening, we are not yet seeing a steady decrease in the number of new cases. This means that we likely have not yet passed the peak period. Dr. de Villa reminded us that we will not know that we have reached the peak of infections until we have passed that point. This is why it is critical that we all keep up with the public health measures that are in place. 

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

Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg

Today Chief Pegg shared that the City of Toronto continues to provide essential and critical services at full capacity. 

Chief Pegg shared that this coming week, the City will resume regular yard waste collection. By fully resuming this seasonal collection, the City is helping residents continue to stay home as much as possible by enabling gardening and outdoor work. The resumption of service also coincides with the reopening of garden centres.

The start of seasonal yard waste collection was suspended in March as part of the City’s COVID-19 response to ensure adequate staffing levels to continue the core collection of garbage, blue bin (recycling) and green bin (organics). The City recently resumed yard waste collection for four weeks and has determined that it can continue to provide the service on a regular basis. Read more about yard waste collection services resuming here

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