Today is a strange day. It was supposed to be the first day back-to-school following March Break but the COVID-19 pandemic still has schools closed, most businesses closed and Canadians wondering what is coming next?
Number of Infections:
Here is where the numbers in Canada stand: As of Sunday evening, there are 425 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Six people have died and eight people have recovered. Across Canada there are now 1,472 confirmed cases with 21 deaths. The latest update from Waterloo Region public health says there are now 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area. A man in his 20s tested positive at Grand River Hospital and is now self-isolating at home. One of the 15, a man in his 70’s is hospitalized.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to rise in Canada. 21 people have now died from the pandemic. The latest victim is a man in his 80s who passed away yesterday afternoon in eastern Ontario. By the end of Sunday there were 1,472 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 across the country. The infections are surging as the federal government continues to warn people about the consequences if they don’t stay at home and practice social distancing.
Canada Pulls Out Of The Olympics:
Canada won’t be at the Tokyo Olympics this summer unless the Games are pushed back by a year. The Canada Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee have issued joint statements regarding their non-participation. The scheduled start date for the Tokyo Olympics is July 24th and the Paralympics are slated to follow on August 25th. The COC’s statement comes amid a chorus of criticism aimed at the International Olympic Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IOC now says it’s considering a postponement.
#TeamCanada will not send athletes to Games in summer 2020 due to COVID-19 risks.
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) March 23, 2020
Warning from The Federal Health Minister:
Tough talk from the federal health minister: Patty Hajdu is reiterating her strong words about the consequences people will face if Canadians don’t follow the directives of health authorities about staying at home and socially distancing. Hajdu says there are powers under the Quarantine Act to levy fines or even criminal charges against people defying self-isolation orders.
Here is the news conference:
Parliament To Resume Tomorrow:
The House of Commons will reconvene tomorrow to discuss the pandemic crisis. The prime minister made the announcement at his daily media briefing yesterday. Justin Trudeau also set aside any thought of using federal emergency measures just yet to get people to comply with social distancing and self-isolation.
Federal Ad Campaign:
The federal government’s 30-million-dollar ad campaign to advise Canadians about how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 begins today. The ads — two in English and two in French — feature Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. In them, she urges Canadians to keep their distance from one another and to practice good personal hygiene. The 15-second ads will be on TV, radio and in print and will run until at least the end of April.
Over 280,000 Canadians have used our online #COVID19 self assessment tool since we launched it yesterday. If you have symptoms, take the self-assessment at https://t.co/Nat7B3QNco. pic.twitter.com/i4b1vouPKp
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 22, 2020
Drive-Test Centres Closing:
The Ontario government has announced all drive-test centres will close. Health Minister Christine Elliott and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the closures will take effect today and will be in place until further notice. They say it was a mutual decision with the service provider and that they, “have a responsibility to Ontarians to ensure that we take every possible step to enable social distancing.” Current drivers won’t lose their licences and applicants for licences won’t lose paid test fees. If anyone receives a “fail to keep an appointment” penalty fee, the government said it will be waived.
To read the media release: CLICK HERE (You will be redirected)
Manufacturing in Ontario:
Premier Ford is asking manufacturers to help address a shortage of key medical supplies. Ford says the province has established a dedicated team and a website to help companies contact the government if they’re able to produce much-needed items like ventilators, face masks, surgical gowns, protective eye-wear and hand sanitizers to reach out. Some companies have already answered the call, such as distillers who are now creating hand sanitizer with alcohol.
Hotels for the Homeless:
Doug Ford says the province has received offers from hotels willing to house homeless people during the COVID-19 crisis. The premier told a new conference yesterday that it’s one of many measures the province is considering to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many homeless people in California are now being sheltered in hotels by the government to help prevent the spread of the disease amongst the vulnerable group.
The Ontario Real Estate association is calling on all realtors to stop holding open houses during the province’s battle with COVID-19. The association is asking realtors to encourage their clients to organize virtual tours instead. It says modern realtors have access to video teleconferencing and digital signings to go through the home-selling process, which could help curb the spread of COVID-19.
— OREA (@OREAinfo) March 21, 2020
Full and part-time front-line workers at Loblaw are getting a $2 an hour pay increase during of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery stores are an essential part of the supply chain and the company wants to shore up it’s work force. Over at Sobey’s, plexiglas shields are being installed at cash registers. The company says they are to protect staff and customers from the coronavirus. Meanwhile at Walmart, they are hiring 10,000 more employees to work in their stores and distribution centres. The company says it’s experiencing high demand for pickup and delivery and has decided to now allow home grocery deliveries to be left at a customer’s door to minimize contact.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says New York City’s hospitals are just 10 days from running out of basic supplies to deal with COVID-19. He says people will literally die if the hospitals aren’t re-supplied. De Blasio is calling on the federal government to boost the city’s quickly dwindling supply of protective equipment. New York also faces a potentially deadly lack of ventilators to treat those infected. Health-care workers say they’re being asked to reuse and ration disposable masks and gloves.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus outbreak emerged, is now allowing limited movement as its months-long lockdown gradually eases. The municipal government says residents whose health is classified as “green” on an electronic database will be allowed to leave their residential neighbourhoods if they have proof that they are returning to work. Wuhan has the bulk of China’s more than 81,000 virus cases.
More than 50 nurses were exposed to COVID-19 at St. Mary’s Hospital, according to a news release from the Ontario Nurses’ Association. The O.N.A. President says the nurses were exposed while caring for a patient in the emergency department who was screened for influenza, but not the coronavirus. The release also claims more nurses were then exposed to COVID-19 by a co-worker resulting in several workers becoming sick. They are calling on St. Mary’s to work with local O.N.A. leaders and their front-line workers to dispatch COVID-19 testing and support for nurses who were exposed.
The Region has announced all municipal playgrounds and skate parks are closed, effectively immediately. They will stay shut down until further notice. The Region says we need to keep practising social distancing, staff can’t effectively clean and disinfect the equipment and we need to be extra cautious. They point out for now all local parks and trails remain open.
GRCA Closing Parks:
The Grand River Conservation Authority has closed all parks due to public safety concerns. The GRCA says they have seen an increase in visitors during the pandemic. Some were in large groups. They also report illegal parking and people entering areas that were closed, so the parks are no shut down. The closure is in effect from today through April 6th. Anyone found in one of their parks during the closure will be charged with trespassing.
University of Waterloo:
The U of W has announced they are shutting their buildings down tomorrow and students will finish their spring term online. In a statement they said the Spring Term will begin May 11. In-person course activity will not be offered. All courses and exams will take place online.
Hospitals Looking for Donations:
The Grand River Hospital Foundation is asking for donations. They say they need hand sanitizer, N-95 respirator masks, surgical masks, procedural masks and cash. Anything donated will go towards urgent hospital needs related to the pandemic. Donations must come in an unopened, sealed box or container. To donate go to their website or call the hospital.
Free Taxi Rides:
Waterloo Taxi has announced they are offering free rides to seniors and those with disabilities to get them to and from grocery stores and pharmacies. The free rides will be available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – between 6:30am and 8am – to stores offering a golden hour.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CBC News via YouTube screenshot