COVID-19 and Ward 10 Updates - October 8th

Dear friends,

We’re already in the second wave of COVID-19 in Toronto. Yesterday, our Medical Officer of Health shared preliminary modeling on what the next six months of our fight against this virus could look like. These projections have serious implications for our city.

The modeling also shows that with swift, targeted interventions, we can save lives, keep schools open and preserve the capacity of our health care system. The data is clear. Other places that have taken action provide a road map. We can still beat this second wave, if we act now.

Below you will find the details on the modeling projections presented by our Medical Officer of Health, and what each of us can do to stop the spread of this virus and keep our city safe.  

Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Recommends the Province Take Immediate Action to Stop the Further Spread of COVID-19 
  2. Update on Toronto Public Health Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting
  3. City of Toronto Urges Everyone to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Household Members Only
  4. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health 
  5. Share Your Island Story
  6. City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  7. COVID-19 Information and Resources

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Recommends the Province Take Immediate Action to Stop the Further Spread of COVID-19

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has written to the Province of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, with strong recommendations to significantly reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto continues to increase. We are now experiencing an exponential growth of COVID-19 infections. The seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases, starting on September 1, was 40. On September 17, it was 84, and on September 29, it was 236 – an almost six-fold increase.

Some cities and countries that have experienced a resurgence in cases have taken swift actions to reduce the spread of the virus, with great success. Other areas that have failed to act early have faced months of rising cases.

Dr. de Villa has proposed the following public health recommendations, in a letter sent to the Ontario Government on October 2nd. These recommendations, if adopted by the Province, would be in place for a 28-day “pause” period to halt transmission: 

  1. Prohibit indoor dining at bars and restaurants (patio dining, takeout and delivery permitted to continue) 
  2. Discontinue indoor group classes in gyms and indoor sports team activities
  3. Require that large event venues submit detailed plans to Toronto Public Health demonstrating how they will comply with public health measures, such as seating that ensures physical distancing and a method for contact tracing
  4. Strongly recommend that individuals adjust behavior to only leaving their homes for essential trips (such as work, education, exercise and fresh air, healthcare appointments and the purchase of food or other necessities)

These recommendations are based on evidence on emerging outbreaks in our city, and the risk of heightened risk of virus transmission between people from separate households who are in close contact in indoor settings. 

Between September 20 and 26, there were 45 active community outbreaks. Of these outbreaks, 44 percent were in restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. Socializing in bars and restaurants is contributing to significant exposures and outbreaks. Last weekend, Toronto Public Health notified the public of a possible exposure to 1,700 people at the Yonge Street Warehouse, and another 600 exposures at Regulars Bar. Both establishments have cooperated with the public health investigation.

We know any new restrictions on businesses will hit many workers and small businesses especially hard. That's why we have committed to do everything we can to support the hospitality industry going into fall and winter season. We will continue working non-stop with the Federal and Provincial governments to ensure financial relief for employees and businesses and a restriction on commercial evictions.

These recommendations, while important for stopping the spread of COVID-19, are currently not in force. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the CIty of Toronto do not have the authority to implement them without the approval of the Ontario Government.  As such, Dr. de Villa has requested that the Province use their legislative authority to enact these changes. The Ontario Government has noted they are considering the changes but has yet to commit to action. 


Update on Toronto Public Health Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting

This pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities and injustices of our society. Collecting, analysing, and sharing sociodemographic data continues to be absolutely essential for understanding the uneven impact of COVID-19 on communities, and for guiding the pandemic response of Toronto Public Health and all governments.

Due to the high volume of cases of COVID-19 reported each day, Toronto Public Health has had to make adaptations to contact tracing work on a temporary basis. Despite these adjustments, our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa, has confirmed that Toronto Public Health is fully committed to continuing to collect and analyze sociodemographic data as it relates to COVID-19 in our city. 

In late September, public health units including Toronto Public Health also started to receive data from the Province of Ontario on the proportion of COVID-19 tests returning with positive results, broken down by individual neighbourhoods. Our data-sharing agreement with the Province prescribes certain limitations on how the data is published in order to protect individual privacy. Currently, Toronto Public Health is working hard to process and prepare this data for release, so that it can be shared with the public on a regular basis. 


City of Toronto Urges Everyone to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Household Members Only

At yesterday’s COVID-19 update, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, again urged residents to not hold big Thanksgiving gatherings and to limit celebrations to only the people you live with, in the same household, under the same roof. For those who live alone, the safest option is to join others virtually.

We know how much everyone has already sacrificed, and how frustrating it can be to be asked to do even more. But this will not go on forever. 

If we act now, we can protect ourselves, our city, and our economy from even greater turmoil down the road. That's why we are asking you, once again, to do your part to take care of yourselves, and of each other.


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 presented preliminary modeling on what the next six months of our fight against this virus could look like.

One well-established tool for measuring the rate of change of an outbreak and estimating what lies ahead, is the effective reproductive number also known as R. In the simplest terms, R is a measure of viral transmission, how many people one person, on average, will infect.  

If the R is below 1, it means each new case is generating less than one new infection and that the outbreak will slowly die out. If the R value is at 1, the amount of illness in a community is stable. It isn’t getting better but it isn’t getting worse.  Anything above 1 means each infection is generating more than one new case and the outbreak is growing. 

With Toronto’s current level of transmission (an R of 1.2), we expect to see disease activity in the next few weeks of October that would exceed our April peak. But, if the virus is left unchecked, heading into November, things can get much worse. Infections continue to rise week over week, peaking between early March and early May 2021.

Dr. de Villa also shared a model with projections that take into account interventions (changes to the status quo) that could help stop the spread of COVID-19. The above figure shows that given an R of 1.2 in early October (where we are now), and given that we know it takes about four weeks to see the benefits of interventions start to emerge, we can see that escalating public health measures dramatically drives transmissibility down.

If measures are implemented to control COVID-19 spread at the end of October, by the end of May 2021, the total number of people infected would be 6 times lower, compared to a scenario of taking no action. The later the intervention, the lesser the decrease in cases. 

But in any scenario, Dr. de Villa reminded us that we aren’t just passive observers. We do not need to wait to protect ourselves and those around us. That’s why it is vital to think of plans as a choice between things you need to do and things you want to do. Your actions – the choices you make – play a significant part in arresting and even reversing the spread of COVID-19.

Read Dr. de Villa’s full update here.


Share Your Island Story

The Island means something different to everyone. As part of the upcoming Toronto Island Park Master Plan project, the City is reflecting on the unique role the Island plays in the lives of Torontonians of all walks of life – before we collectively reimagine its future. 

We want to hear from you! Share a post, send a video, write a story, make some art – whatever feels right. Because every Island story is worth sharing.

Click here to learn more and share your Island story


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

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