Earlier this week, the Province of Ontario announced their new COVID-19 Response Framework which should help guide how we respond to COVID-19 including targeted public health measures which are incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of transmission. This framework is designed to help keep schools and businesses open, maintain health system capacity while protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a 30 year old Black Trans woman on October 26, 2020, who died in hospital after being apprehended by police under the Mental Health Act. I extend my sincerest condolences to her family, friends and to our community deeply affected by yet another loss.
In a release from Toronto Police Service, officers responded to a break in call. Upon arrival, it was determined that no break in had occurred and there was a woman in crisis. While in police custody, she was transported to hospital and went into distress. Life saving measures were taken and unfortunately, she was pronounced deceased at 10:15 a.m. Subsequently, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been engaged and no further details have been released.
This morning it was heartbreaking to learn of a three-alarm fire and full evacuation at 96 Gerrard Street East, the Neill-Wycik Co-operative College, a long established student housing co-op. Toronto Fire Services (TFS) has been on site since midnight and they have assured me along with the co-op’s board president that everyone is safe and accounted for now. The Office of Emergency Management has been activated and they are working alongside the Red Cross and TFS to monitor the situation, and will continue to provide emergency support. I have conveyed my personal expectations and offers of support from the City directly to the President of the co-op board.
With Halloween behind us, I want to thank you for your ingenuity in successfully adapting your celebrations this year. Yesterday, Dr. de Villa reported that while there was significantly less door-to-door trick-or-treating, many of you showed your creativity with safely distanced costume parades and elaborate decor. BlogTO even published this article featuring some of the most creative and elaborate decorations I’ve ever seen!
Every Halloween, I look forward to dressing up in costume and going out to see friends on Church Street. Like other social traditions this year, we are being asked to adapt and find creative ways to celebrate. Maybe that looks like a candy hunt inside your home, or sitting down to watch a scary movie. Maybe you can dress up at home, and have a virtual costume party.
On Sunday, the Province of Ontario reported a record breaking 1,042 new cases of COVID-19. This is well above what we had seen in the spring. As before, Toronto Public Health following Provincial directives have enacted restrictions on gatherings and we have yet to see the effects of that action. That doesn’t mean it’s not working. We know it can take weeks before we see a dip in cases. Please continue practicing physical distancing, frequently washing your hands and only leaving your home for essential trips. I know this feels tedious, but remember that we are saving the lives of our neighbours, friends and loved ones in working to reduce community spread.
Late on Friday, we learned that the Government of Ontario issued a series of Minister's Zoning Orders (MZOs) affecting three sites in the West Don Lands: 373 Front Street East and 90 Mill Street (Blocks 3, 4 and 7), 125 and 125R Mill Street (Block 20) and 153 to 185 Eastern Avenue (Blocks 17 and 26). These MZOs were issued without notification to City Planning or the local Councillors offices, and were discovered by chance by a member of City Planning. The Province did not provide information about their implementation to either the City nor to City staff prior to them coming into force.
This week Canada hit another upsetting milestone with 200,000 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases in Toronto to 24,624 since March. Yesterday, Dr. de Villa confirmed yet again that our caseload is worryingly high. The local data paints a picture of resurgence telling us we have to remain on guard, however wearying or tedious or even normal the pandemic may feel.
Over the past months, we have seen dramatic events throughout our city, country, and across the globe. I know many of us are watching our American neighbours with anxious anticipation of their Presidential Election. While this is an incredibly important election, Toronto Centre is also in the middle of a Federal by-election brought on by Hon. Bill Morneau’s resignation in August.
Today I want to acknowledge the continued sacrifice we are each making. Yesterday, there were 296 reported new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, and an average of 209 per day over a seven day period. This is more than a 200% increase since the beginning of September. We cannot deny that urgent action was needed to interrupt the chain of transmission. I know it’s frustrating to see these civic restrictions once more.
Every day we continue to see a rise in new cases of COVID-19, with 807 new cases on Monday. I know these numbers are frightening, as they are well above what we saw this spring. As a result, the Province of Ontario took the urgent and necessary actions to close gyms, movie theatres, casinos, and prohibit indoor dining. These restrictions are in place across Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel and will continue for 28 days.
Today, like many Torontonians, I am looking ahead towards Thanksgiving this weekend. Like other holidays and special events, for many people, Thanksgiving will look very different this year and it should. There are 797 new cases across Ontario today. This is greater than the height of the pandemic this spring. For anyone still unsure about recommended gathering sizes, Dr de Villa has been clear - only celebrate with people in your own household. This can be an opportunity to create new traditions. Maybe you can share your favourite fall traditions with your roommates. If you live alone, join a virtual celebration, or get a take-out Thanksgiving feast from a local restaurant. It also can be as simple as calling a loved one and letting them know how thankful you are for their support. I know it can be hard being away from family, friends and loved ones but I am confident we can find creative ways to share in these holidays until it is safe to gather once more.
COVID-19 cases in Ontario and Toronto continue to rise at an alarming rate. I know that everyone is tired of these updates and there are cloudy days when I’m tired of them too. But I can not stress enough how serious the situation we are facing is right now, and how important it is that we all take action to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As we close September, we continue to see a rise in cases of COVID-19 with a reported 538 new cases today across Ontario, 229 of those cases in Toronto. According to the Toronto Star, the Province of Ontario can expect to see 1,000 cases daily in the coming weeks. As Premier Ford noted, we are in the second wave of this global pandemic. I know, for many, this is a scary thought. We must continue to strengthen our resolve and adhere to Toronto Public Health guidelines.
Yesterday, the City of Toronto recorded 381 new cases of COVID-19. Today, we recorded an additional 251 new cases. These are numbers we have not seen since May. In fact, over the weekend, Ontario reported the highest single-day increase we have ever had, a record 700 new cases of COVID-19.