Yesterday, the City of Toronto hit a devastating milestone as we officially announced the 1000th death from COVID-19. This doesn’t include the unofficial deaths of people who died as a result of related COVID-19 causes as our efforts to slow down the rate of infection impacted so many services.
I want to extend my deepest sympathy to everyone who lost a loved one during this crisis. It is a very stark reminder that COVID-19 is a real threat, that we must continue to take seriously.
I also want to reflect and thank everyone again for your commitment over the last three months to physical distancing. 1000 lives is a devastating loss of life, and it could have been so much worse. The sacrifices you have made have had a real tangible impact, and I am heartened by everyone’s care for each other.
I know for many, the restrictions on visits to long-term care homes have been particularly difficult. Considering the severity of the crisis in seniors’ housing, for many it has been three months since they have been able to have any contact with their loved ones. I am grateful to see the restrictions on visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings begin to lift. Allowing family, friends and chosen family to be together is critical to combating social isolation.
Yesterday the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada announced a new case and contact management strategy to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves. In addition to hiring 1,700 new contact tracers they announced the launch of a new exposure notification app, COVID Alert, in partnership with the Federal Government. When the app is made available in two weeks, users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
I want to be clear that this app is not a substitute for following good public health advice. I urge you to be as vigilant as ever. Wearing a mask anytime you are shopping, on transit or inside somewhere with people who are not in your household is an important step to staying safe. Continue to wash your hands regularly with soap, avoid touching your face, and stay at least 2m away from people who are not in your household or social circle.
Toronto Public Health is already regularly exceeding the Provincial targets for contact tracing, reaching 90% of people within 24 hours of a confirmed case. Case and contact management is complex, especially as we continue to learn more about this new virus. Investigations into where the individual may have acquired COVID-19 provides Toronto Public Health the opportunity to work proactively to prevent further virus spread. Case and contact management has been and will remain a central component of its response as the city moves forward with reopening.
As we continue to move towards reopening our city, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to remember that our battle against COVID-19 is not over yet. We must all continue to take public health measures seriously to prevent further loss of life and protect the most vulnerable residents in our city.
One way we can care for each other is to donate blood, but unfortunately, this option is not available to everyone in our community. Every year, thousands of willing blood donors are turned away simply because of their sexuality. In Canada, men who have sex with men cannot donate blood unless they have been celibate for three months. It’s a damaging policy, especially now.
I am proud to join organizations across Canada in support of @endbloodban, a campaign calling for an end to Canada’s discriminatory blood donation ban. Learn more and join me by visiting www.allbloodisequal.ca.
The following ActiveTO Major Road closures that will be in place again this weekend, from Saturday, June 20 at 6 a.m. to Sunday, June 21 at 11 p.m:
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. As a result, the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed
- Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue (Kew Beach Avenue)
- Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue
Data released by the City of Toronto confirmed what we already know - when you make room for cyclists and pedestrians on our roads, people come out in droves. I can only hope that this is the beginning of a bigger conversation in Toronto about how we allocate space for residents. Permanently changing the configuration of popular pedestrian routes, like Yonge Street would have an incredibly positive impact on our social and economic recovery.
If you are enjoying these road closures, I encourage you to write to the Mayor and fill out this survey by June 30. Have your say on how Toronto can recover, rebuild and emerge from this pandemic even stronger.
To all the wonderful dads out there including my own, Happy Father’s Day! I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and restful weekend.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to our friends at Gerstein Crisis Centre who believe every person has the right to live a self-directed life and to pursue their greatest level of wellness and happiness.
The Gerstein Crisis Centre on Charles Street East has actively supported consumer survivor initiatives by employing consumer survivor run businesses (e.g. Abel Enterprises, Fresh Start Cleaning & Maintenance, Raging Spoon and Away Express) through all of their operations. They promote artists with lived experience and the Centre even has a beautiful collection of such artwork in their facilities. They house the Consumer Survivor Archives and remain strong supporters of their efforts.
Since 2009, hundreds of individuals have been working on their recovery through the FRESH (Finding Recovery through Exercise, Skills and Hope) Project, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) groups and WRAP Fitness sessions that we offer on an ongoing basis. Learn more about their services, and how you can help here.
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com to share examples of community care in your neighbourhood and ways you are supporting your community at this time. I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13. Every bit goes a long way!
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to ease our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:
- Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
- Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
- Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
- Wearing a cloth mask or face covering where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:
- In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
- Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
- Sick and going to a medical appointment.
Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.
How to Create a Safe Social Circles
As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.
Step 1: Start with your current circle: anyone you live with or who regularly comes into your household. Be sure to include anyone that would come into regular close contact with you and the people you live with. This may include:
- Family members, including children;
- Another parent to your child(ren) that lives outside the home; and
- Babysitters or caregivers.
If you add people outside of your household to your social circle, be sure to include anyone in their households as well. You may not see them often, but they would still be considered part of your current circle. Remember that everyone in a household must be part of the same social circle.
Step 2: If under 10 people, you can add members to your social circle: including another household, family members or friends. As you add additional members, ask yourself:
- Do they live with, or come into regular close contact with, anyone else? You may never see them, but they would still be considered part of your social circle; and
- What makes the most sense for you or your household? This could include another household with similarly-aged children or family members that you want to spend more time with.
If you live alone, you may want to start with family members or other close friends. People may, or may not, choose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance. Some people may be at risk of developing complications from COVID-19. For example:
- People over 70;
- People with compromised immune systems; and
- People with underlying medical conditions.
Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.
Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the social circle: That means they agree to join only one circle, and physically distance with anyone outside the circle.
Essential workers can be part of a social circle, so long as the other members are aware of the risks and agree to them.
Step 4: Keep your social circle safe: take reasonable precautions to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 for you and your social circle.
To keep the people in your social circle safe:
- Continue to follow public health advice, including frequent hand washing and sneezing and coughing into your sleeve; and
- Continue to physically distance with anyone outside your circle by keeping two-metres or six-feet apart from them.
If someone in your circle feels sick:
- They should immediately inform other members of the circle, self-isolate at home and not come into close contact with anyone, including other members of the social circl;.
- They should get tested. Find an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19; and,
- Everyone else in the circle should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should also be tested.
Step 5: Be true to your social circle: No one should be part of more than one circle.
The City of Toronto continues to safely and gradually open services and amenities. As residents head outside this weekend, they’re reminded of the importance of adhering to Toronto Public Health’s advice to wash their hands often, stay within their social circle of no more than 10 people, practice physical distancing, or wear a face covering or non-medical mask to protect others when in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Check the link for a guide to which City services and amenities are open and which remain closed this weekend
Toronto Public Health (TPH) is pleased to announce that each day this week it has exceeded the provincial target of reaching 90% of cases within 24 hours. This is a significant accomplishment and can be attributed to the dedicated staff assigned to the response efforts. To date, there have been nearly 14,000 cases of COVID-19 investigated by TPH.
The City of Toronto has created a virtual ceremony to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day. Due to ongoing COVID-19 measures, this year the ceremony will not be held live at Nathan Phillips Square, but instead will be hosted online, to ensure the health and safety of all. On National Indigenous Peoples Day, the public is encouraged to acknowledge and learn more about the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.
When: Sunday, June 21 at 5:30 a.m.
It will remain posted and be available online.
As the province safely and gradually reopens, the Ontario government is enhancing case and contact management to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves. These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, and, in partnership with the federal government, a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert.
Today, the Ontario government released its safety plan for the resumption of class for the 2020-21 school year, outlining scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can safely return to classrooms in September. The plan also provides choice to parents, enhanced online learning, and additional funding. While the decision to return to the normal school day routine will continue to be based on medical advice, boards and schools are being asked to plan for alternative scenarios that may need to be implemented in September depending on the province's COVID-19 situation
Ontario's driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin offering limited services across the province beginning Monday, June 22, 2020, with the expectation of restoring full services by September. This gradual, staggered approach, based on customer date of birth, will ensure that strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Government of Canada Updates
Use of the app will be voluntary. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, a health care provider will give them a unique temporary code, so they can upload their status anonymously to a national network. Other users who have downloaded the app and come in contact with that person will be notified, through the app, that they may have been exposed to the virus. The app will also provide users with information on steps they can take to keep themselves and others safe, and we are working with the provinces and territories so they can customize public health information based on their own jurisdiction.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
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.
Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
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, or to report people
Support for People Living with Homelessness
If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.
If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.