City of Toronto taking unprecedented action to stop COVID-19, save lives, the healthcare system and the economy

1-Apr-2020

Today, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto, under the strong advice of its Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is taking action to aggressively halt the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.

Just two weeks ago, on March 18, Toronto had 145 COVID-19 cases, with 10 people in hospital. Four were in intensive care, there were no outbreaks and there were no COVID-19-related deaths.

As of March 31, Toronto has 763 cases of COVID-19, with 66 in hospital and 33 in intensive care. There are now 11 outbreaks reported and, tragically, eight deaths.

In the last two weeks alone, the economic loss to the retail sector is estimated to be $291 million.

To arrest COVID-19 more quickly, and to save lives, protect the healthcare system and ensure the economy and society can rebound more quickly, the following measures will take effect immediately for up to 12 weeks:

- All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days - All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days - Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons: o accessing healthcare or medication o shop for groceries once per week o walk their dogs o get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres - People returning from international travel must stay home, already a federal order - Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible - Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness - Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible - Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses.

The City, under the guidance of the Medical Officer of Health, will monitor cases and community transmission of COVID-19, adjusting the timing and measures as appropriate. If we do not take these actions today, the city will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020.

Mayor Tory strongly supports these unprecedented measures to save lives, protect health and give residents their lives back at the earliest possible date. The Mayor urged all residents to follow the guidance of public health officials to reduce substantial loss of life in Toronto, to protect the healthcare system, and to minimize the significant social and economic disruptions that will occur if new measures are not taken, noting these new measures will require tremendous sacrifice by the people of Toronto.

The City is asking residents to adhere to these orders and strong recommendations in the interest of public health and safety. While informing and educating the public in understanding why these measures are important, additional orders could be issued by the Medical Officer of Health, and in some cases, fines could be issued where there is non-compliance. City bylaw enforcement officers and the Toronto Police Service will work together to enforce the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

The City of Toronto is compiling a comprehensive list of resources and critical information to ensure businesses, the city’s most vulnerable, community groups and the public are kept informed during this unprecedented time. The City’s website is being updated and revamped with new information, daily. A public information campaign, in multiple languages, will help ensure a full understanding of what the public is being asked to do and, importantly, why.

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre remains fully activated at a Level 3 and will continue to respond and coordinate all activities associated with keeping Toronto safe. City staff are working in parallel on a recovery plan to ensure the City’s finances remain stable, as well as ensuring the stability of the Toronto Public Service. Later this week, the City will provide an update on its finances and workforce deployment.

By following the direction of public health officials and limiting COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers that keep the city functioning, we can ensure that emergency services, garbage collection, water, gas, electricity, public transportation, emergency daycare, and support for our most vulnerable can continue to function.

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

Quote:

"Our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has been clear that the healthcare system depends on these actions – failure to do more will result in its inability to manage. That would cost lives. The sacrifices we are asking people to make now will save lives and allow for a quicker recovery. Our public health professionals believe the additional actions being announced today – locking the city down as much as the municipal government possibly can – will save lives, flatten that curve down, and bring this wave of the pandemic to an end earlier than would otherwise have been the case." - Mayor John Tory

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