City of Toronto prioritizes health and safety measures across service areas to protect residents, staff and communities from COVID-19 and variants

The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19 and is proactively taking steps to address COVID-19 variants, including the U.K variant. Toronto Public Health (TPH) continues to work with congregate settings, facilities and City divisions to increase infection prevention and control measures (IPAC) to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and any variant strains.

The most effective action Torontonians can do to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home as much as possible. The Province of Ontario’s state of emergency and stay-at-home order remain in effect for Toronto and across the province.

TPH has established comprehensive IPAC measures in shelters and other congregate living settings, child care centres, paramedic services, long-term care homes and other City divisions. Yesterday, the City announced the measures being taken to keep residents and staff safe in the City’s directly operated long-term care homes. Examples of the additional actions underway across City services include:

  • TPH continues to work with congregate settings when COVID-19 cases are identified to ensure that measures are in place to prevent further virus spread and assess the potential for ongoing risk of transmission to staff and vulnerable residents. TPH acts on all available information to assess the potential health risk and begins a careful investigation of each unique situation.
  • To protect people in the shelter system, the City continues to maintain physical distancing, distribute up to 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) weekly, require mandatory use of masks for clients and staff, conduct quality assurance visits to confirm compliance with IPAC measures, conduct active daily symptom screening, and provide transportation for clients to testing. On-site testing is coordinated as needed and staffing resources are being expanded at the isolation and recovery program to increase capacity if needed.
  • Daily screening is conducted at City-run child care centres, in addition to mandatory masks and eye protection, frequent cleaning and disinfection of toys and equipment, regular IPAC audits and the development of policies, procedures and a comprehensive training program.
  • Parks, Forestry and Recreation has established more than 50 COVID-19 service guidelines, including enhanced cleaning procedures for amenities and high touch surfaces, the establishment of lower capacities that allow for more effective physical distancing at City facilities and the collection of information for contact tracing purposes. The City has also established online reservation and ticket sale systems and developed a Winter Plan for parks, recognizing the added pressure on outdoor spaces. The division continues to provide space to partner agencies for pop-up COVID-19 testing, food banks and immunization clinics.
  • Toronto Paramedic Services has implemented a number of strict IPAC measures, including pre-screening all 911 callers for COVID-19 symptoms, conducting point-of-care risk assessments from a two-metre distance, wearing additional PPE and deep cleaning equipment, vehicles and facilities. Paramedic Services has also established a Staff Support Centre for centralized screening, contact tracing, testing referral and infectious disease exposure reporting. The division continues to provide mobile COVID-19 testing and flu vaccinations for vulnerable populations and congregate settings.
  • As detailed in a news release yesterday, City-run long-term care homes are following all public health recommendations and remain focused on rigorous IPAC practices at all times, including daily monitoring for symptoms of all residents and staff, weekly surveillance testing for all staff and essential caregivers, mandatory masks and PPE, pre-planning for isolation home areas, added staffing resources, enhanced air quality and continued vaccination clinics.
The City will continue to monitor changes resulting from these additional actions over the coming weeks; however, it remains imperative that all people in the city respect COVID-19 orders and stay home as much as possible to save lives by reducing opportunities for COVID-19 and any variant to spread.

Vaccine allotments for the City are determined by the Province of Ontario. Once the vaccine supply is re-established and provided to the City, immunization clinics will reopen as quickly as possible, in partnership with the Province and TPH. For the latest information, visit https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/.

Please review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures. The guide communicates some of what is and what is not, permitted under the provincial Lockdown Regulation that remains in effect and the new stay-at-home order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The guide can be found at www.toronto.ca/lockdownguide.

Quotes:

“The City is doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and any variants. Throughout this pandemic, we have been focused on protecting people's health and saving lives. Toronto Public Health is working closely with congregate settings and facilities across the city to establish additional infection prevention and control measures. It’s also critical for residents to continue doing their part by staying home as much as possible – we need to work together to stop of the spread of the virus and save lives.”

- Mayor John Tory

"I know staff in our congregate settings, such as long-term care homes, are working quickly and doing everything they can to protect Torontonians. We must continue enhancing the City’s IPAC measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep residents safe, especially our most vulnerable populations."

- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

"We are in a critical time: much depends on the actions we take in the coming days and weeks to control the spread of new, more-transmissible variants. With this in mind, City staff are working around the clock to scale up health and safety measures, and to ensure that our essential services are able to operate in ways that are safe for both residents and frontline workers."

- Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Board of Health Chair

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