Staying Informed About COVID-19 - March 22nd Updates

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that we learned, this afternoon, of the first death in Toronto due to COVID-19. The family and loved ones of this person are in our thoughts today.

We have to continue to make every effort, together, to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19. That means diligently following the public health advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa, to practice social distancing, wash our hands often and thoroughly, avoid touching our faces with unwashed hands, and to stay home if possible -- especially when we are ill. 

We owe our thanks and our support to all the frontline workers who cannot stay home at this time. This includes healthcare and hospital workers, delivery workers, emergency services, long-term care workers, shelter staff, and everyone who keeps essential retail like grocery stores and pharmacies stocked and open. Practicing social distancing and thorough handwashing helps to protect frontline workers, so they can keep playing their important roles in the response to COVID-19.

The City of Toronto and our government partners have a major role to play in supporting frontline workers. Today, the Province authorized the City of Toronto to open four, 24/7 emergency childcare facilities for the children of essential and critical workers. A service like this has never been provided in Toronto before. More information about that is in my email newsletter below.

These past weeks have been a challenge and test for every single Torontonian, in ways large and small. The closure of schools and many businesses, the self-isolation of returning travellers, and the social distancing being practiced by everyone, has resulted in personal and economic hardship for so many. These measures are vitally necessary to protect public health and keep our loved ones safe. We will rise to the test of this critical moment together.

Sincerely,

Joe


City of Toronto to Open Child Care for Essential and Critical Service Workers

In the midst of this pandemic, there are many workers across our city who do not have the option to self-isolate. They are on the frontlines, working 24/7 ensuring that we are prepared for any scenario. We owe our deepest thanks and ongoing support to all those on the frontlines working to ensure that our community is safe and healthy. As a City we are doing everything we can to support them.

In a very important development today, the Provincial Government approved our request to allow the City of Toronto to provide 24-hour childcare for children of essential and critical service workers.

With the Provincial authorization the City of Toronto will open four licensed child care centres specifically to provide care for children of essential service workers. We will scale up or down based on demand. 

To support these essential workers, licensed child care will be available for children from infants to age 12, and will operate 24/7 -- a first for Toronto. The service will be free, at no cost to eligible parents.

These four child care centres, in existing City-run child care facilities and operated and staffed by City of Toronto licensed child care workers, will provide up to 240 spaces spread across Toronto at any given time. The service can be scaled up or down as required by demand for the spaces.

Additional measures will be used, in consultation with Toronto Public Health and the City's Occupational Health and Safety program, to maintain a healthy and safe environment. Precautions will include daily screening of children and families prior to admission, increased cleaning, and reduced group sizes.

We are working flat out to open these spaces as quickly as possible this week, including a registration process for families. Essential and critical workers have been defined by the Province and a list of those services will be made available shortly.

If you or someone you know might benefit from accessing these new City-operated child care services, please check for updates in the coming days on the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 website.


March 22nd - 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, the head of the City’s Office of Emergency Management, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, and other City division leaders have been providing daily updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. Click here to read past updates

March Break travellers must self-isolate for 14 days

For those returning from abroad following March break, self-isolation is critical to helping mitigate the continued spread of COVID-19. Anyone who has returned to Canada, including from the United States, is asked to self-isolate for 14 days

Encouraging social distancing

Toronto Public Health is reinforcing the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The best way for Torontonians to contribute to the public health response is to continue the proactive measures of social distancing (and if sick, self-isolation). 

In addition to the requirement that dine-in restaurants, bars, theatres, and nightclubs close temporarily, many non-essential businesses have done the same. But now is the time to take social distancing even more seriously. 

Every social interaction that doesn't happen, helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Toronto Public Health is encouraging non-essential businesses, such as nail salons and clothing stores, to do their part in promoting social distancing.

While exercise and enjoying the outdoors is important for those who are not self-isolating, gathering in playgrounds may pose a risk to the health of families and the wider community. To that end, the City is erecting signage near playgrounds reminding the public of the importance of social distancing and that playgrounds are not sanitized. 

Please do your part to protect those most vulnerable - practice social distancing, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. We're all in this together.

Enforcement of Provincial order closing businesses

Last week, the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency and issued an order closing businesses including bars, sit-down restaurants, and nightclubs. Based on proactive inspections by the City of Toronto, we know that the vast majority of businesses are in compliance, but a small number may not be. Complaints and requests for enforcement can be sent to the City and will be responded to on a priority basis.

While enforcement of provincial orders is carried out by police, the public is asked to not call 911 with reports of open businesses and instead direct calls to 311. This will help keep the 911 lines clear for urgent emergencies only.


Affected City Services & Facilities

Based on recommendations from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, to help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection in Toronto and protect vulnerable populations including seniors, people with compromised immune systems, and individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Toronto has cancelled most City-operated programs and closed a number of City facilities.

Essential and/or critical services will remain operational. Examples of these essential services include emergency services, shelters, and Toronto Water. 

Preparations and planning for these types of service changes have been underway since lessons learned during SARS. As a city we will continue to base our actions on the best experts and evidence, and will continue working closely with all levels of government to keep our community safe and healthy.  

Updates on impacted City services can continue to be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/affected-city-services/ 


Additional Supports for Vulnerable Residents 

In Toronto we look after each other, and we will rise to the test of this critical moment together. This means ensuring that all members of our community are supported, and doing everything we can to ensure that all Torontonians remain healthy and safe.

On Friday we announced additional measures that the City of Toronto is taking to assist essential service workers and vulnerable residents such as seniors; people affected by untreated trauma, mental health and addictions; people in need of housing supports and emergency food access; and people with disabilities. 

After months of preparation, the City's response to this rapidly evolving situation is ongoing. As we go through this challenging time, one important measurement of how well we did, will be how we took care of our most vulnerable community members, and our frontline workers. This is a top priority, and we are working around the clock to ensure no one is left behind.

See my website for more details about supports for vulnerable residents, including food security, and ways to connect volunteers with organizations.


38 Ways to Use the Library from Home

Although all Toronto Public Library branches are closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Library still has a lot of things for everyone to read, listen to, watch, learn, and do online. There’s something for every kid and adult alike. From e-books to streaming video, and podcasts to online education, visit the Library’s website for 38 ways to use the Library from home.


What is Social Distancing? We All Need to do Our Part

Every Torontonian must do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staying informed, being rigorous about strong individual hygiene practices, and enacting social distancing are measures we must all take. But what is social distancing?

Social distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Social distancing includes, but is not limited to:

  • talking to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible
  • avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential
  • avoiding non-essential trips in the community
  • keeping the windows down if you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare
  • limiting or cancelling group gatherings
  • holding virtual meetings
  • spending time outside and in settings where people can maintain a 6 feet distance from each other

Please note: that these guidelines are not meant to say “you must stay in your home!”

You can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store. We simply recommend that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 6 feet from those around you. 

Remember: While you may not feel sick, and while we know these measures are an inconvenience, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.


What is Self-Isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.

Even if you do not have symptoms, it is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days if: 

  • You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America).
  • You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has:
    • Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada. 

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