City of Toronto update on COVID-19 – November 16, 2020

The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Today, Mayor John Tory, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto.

There are 35,130 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 538 new cases today. There are 176 people hospitalized. In total, 29,079 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,464 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform: www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-status-of-cases-in-toronto/.

Dr. de Villa provided an update on the impacts of public health measures. Following the implementation of modified Stage 2 measures, certain neighbourhoods with alarmingly heightened case rates – particularly where there is a high density of bars and restaurants – saw case rates per 100,000 population drop. For example, the Niagara neighbourhood had a case rate prior to October 10 of 164 cases per 100,000; by November 7, the two-week case rate for this neighbourhood had dropped to 35 per 100,000, a reduction of 129 cases per 100,000.

Toronto Public Health has now partnered with York University to further study if public health measures are yielding desired results. Researchers at the Laboratory for Industrial and Applied Mathematics have developed a transmission dynamics model for COVID-19 that shows how different public health measures have impacted the average number of contacts between people. Researchers found the average number of daily contacts per person was reduced from seven during the period following Stage 3 reopening, to less than five after reverting to a modified Stage 2 on October 10. This decline in person-to-person contact, in combination with other measures for self-protection, has the potential to lower COVID-19 case counts.

Last week, the Dr. de Villa issued an Order under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order strengthens COVID-19 protections for Toronto under the provincial Reopening Ontario Act to prevent the further spread of the virus and prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. The penalties associated with being found guilty of an offence under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (namely failure to comply with a s. 22 Order) range from up to $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a corporation.

Over the course of the weekend, City enforcement teams proactively inspected businesses for compliance with new regulations and orders and responded to complaints. One proactive initiative focused on the Entertainment District. Enforcement teams inspected approximately 80 restaurants and bars in this area; 71 were found to be in compliance, with five charges laid for non-compliant indoor dining and four warning letters issued. On City beaches, 31 tickets and 13 cautions were issued for illegal activity. Officers extinguished 30 illegal bonfires on Toronto beaches this weekend, including three left unattended.

Enforcement officers also responded to 25 complaints related to gatherings on private property this weekend. In Etobicoke, officers found a large birthday party being held in a commercial storage unit with more than 100 people in attendance. Officers shut down the party and laid charges under the Reopening Ontario Act against the organizer. Inspections into compliance with the Ontario Building Code and Ontario Fire Code for the event are also ongoing.

All people in Toronto should be adopting steps for self-protection. Dr. de Villa recommends individuals only consider leaving their homes for essential activities such as work, education and fresh air and exercise. As much as possible, residents are asked to limit contact to people in the same household, keep at least six feet apart from people not in the same household and wear a mask when outside of their homes, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult. Residents should wash hands frequently and remain at home when ill.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check http://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.