The City of Toronto continues to provide support and services to targeted neighbourhoods with high COVID-19 cases

Today, Mayor John Tory, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), 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 and supports for neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 79,767 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 986 new cases today. Today's case numbers reflect 102 cases that were unavailable due to a provincial laboratory information system technical issue that happened earlier in the week and is now resolved. There are 474 people hospitalized. In total, 69,227 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 2,255 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-status-of-cases-in-toronto/.

Today, Dr. de Villa reported that for the first time in months, the effective COVID-19 reproductive number is below one – at 0.86. The Medical Officer of Health explained this means that overall each new case of COVID-19 is resulting in less than one additional new infection. The city now has a slight advantage over the virus, rather than the virus having the advantage over Toronto. There has also been a further decline in the seven-day moving average of new daily cases, which is now at 730, down from 772 as last reported on the monitoring dashboard.

Since the roll out of the City’s enhanced plan to provide targeted support to neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates, City staff and its partners have engaged with approximately 7,266 seniors, 18,937 adults between the ages 30 and 64, 5,903 young people between the ages of 15 to 29, and 5,378 children.

The enhanced plan focuses on expanding testing sites, intensifying education and engagement and advocating for those who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to work due to mandatory isolation. More information is available in the Enhanced COVID-19 Supports for Targeted Neighbourhoods backgrounder: https://www.toronto.ca/news/enhanced-covid-19-supports-for-targeted-neighbourhoods/.

The City has been working directly with the Local Health Integration Networks, Ontario Health, hospitals and community health providers to improve access to testing in these neighbourhoods. By supporting access to City facilities and resources, testing opportunities have been brought closer to where people live. Approximately 271 testing clinics have been booked in more than 20 different city-owned facilities including Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR) sites. Currently, 89 testing dates have been or will be undertaken over the month of January at 12 PFR locations. Community pop-up testing supported by Toronto Paramedic Services and the City’s health care partners continues in these neighbourhoods into the weekend.

Efforts to intensify community education, outreach and engagement to residents in these neighbourhoods, particularly amongst newcomers, include referring approximately 1,283 residents for case management supported by community partners (this includes referrals to  multiple support services or agencies); redesigning and translating resources into up to 30 languages and sharing them with community, newcomer, Indigenous and Black Community Cluster Tables, as well as with health system partners; referring more than 16,568 residents to food access supports such as food banks, the Red Cross food hamper program or direct door-to-door meal service; and providing integrated and culturally responsive mental health support to more than 7,000 residents through community partners.

Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is working closely with the City to identify and support mobile testing sites and to ensure there are culturally-appropriate environments to support racialized and newcomer communities, which includes support from partner agencies, telephone interpretation services and multi-language supports.

To support positive cases of tenants within TCHC locations, staff work with Toronto Public Health and regional health and social service providers in order conduct tenant outreach and registration, followed by door-to-door COVID-19 testing.

Since April 2020, TCHC has worked with health care providers to launch five door-to-door testing initiatives at TCHC Seniors Housing Unit buildings to reach tenants who are vulnerable or isolated. The most recent door-to-door testing took place last week where approximately 220 residents were tested. Since June 2020, 1,386 tenants in TCHC communities have accessed onsite, mobile or door-to-door testing.

In 2020, TCHC did more than 19,000 wellness checks of vulnerable tenants and seniors by telephone and door-knocking and began a second round of wellness checks this month.

An example of engagement work taking place includes several agencies (such as Black Creek Community Health Centre, Davenport Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre and Malvern Family Resource Centre) using peer-to-peer models and developing youth outreach strategies to engage youth who are having COVID-related difficulties. Another example includes agencies (such as Black Creek Community Health Centre, TAIBU Community Health Centre and Unison Health and Community Services) that have set up non-crisis hotlines related to COVID-19 needs and challenges. Such calls do not qualify as an emergency, but often need an immediate response. Such hotlines have been welcomed by residents who need multiple supports.

To better support Black residents who are vulnerable, the City has created a Black Scientific Taskforce of members of the Black community who are specialists in the development, regulation and distribution of vaccines as well as knowledge translation, who will convey scientific concepts into informative materials. Details about this group and the work they are doing will be shared in the coming weeks. Outreach and support for the Indigenous community has also been intensified through the enhanced plan through the City's Indigenous Cluster as part of the Community Coordination Plan and the Indigenous Affairs Office.

Support for residents who test positive and are unable to work due to mandatory isolation is important for vulnerable residents. Earlier this month the Government of Ontario announced an order to temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions to ensure that people are not forced to leave their homes while the provincial declaration of emergency is in effect. However, the City continues to advocate for income supports and newcomer access to COVID-19 services and supports.

The Province of Ontario’s state of emergency and stay-at-home order remain in effect for Toronto and across the province. The City urges all people to respect the COVID-19 orders and stay home as much as possible to save lives by reducing opportunities for COVID-19 to spread. 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:

“COVID-19 impacts all residents in this city but has had a bigger impact on some of our city’s neighbourhoods and communities. To ensure that all residents are protected and receiving the support they need, the City has been working to help expand provincial testing and education in targeted areas in the city. With the help of our partners, we have supported thousands of residents in our city. We will continue to do everything we can to support our residents which has only been made possible with the help of our partners. I want to thank all of the community agencies, City divisions and partners who are working to help residents get through this pandemic.” - Toronto Mayor John Tory

“Our COVID-19 Equity Action Plan is focused on making sure that people who are disproportionately impacted by this virus have access to the supports and protections they need. City staff have developed innovative partnerships and models to meet these challenges, including wrap-around services and outreach initiatives that make it possible for people to stay home and stay safe. To beat COVID, we must continue to do everything we can to protect the residents and communities hit hardest by this virus – that's what it means to all be in this together.”

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

“While COVID-19 is a threat to everyone, data shows that it imposes real and disproportionate burdens on racialized communities and lower income groups.  We must acknowledge how people's living and working conditions are contributing to these inequities. Any measure that makes it easier for people to remain safely in employment, or to stay home and apart from others when sick will generate significant returns and benefits in many ways for them and our entire community.”

- Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health

“Toronto Community Housing is working with the City, healthcare providers and local agencies to bring mobile testing clinics to our communities. This team approach is helping tenants who are seniors, vulnerable, or members of racialized and newcomer communities to get tested close to home and be connected to supports for daily living if they need them.”

- Kevin Marshman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Community Housing

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