COVID-19: What you need to know for March 19 — evening edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 19, 2020

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TVO.org reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 

Provincewide

  • During an emergency session at Queen's Park today, Premier Doug Ford announced two pieces of legislation, both of which received royal assent this afternoon. The first bill amends the Employment Standards Act to make sure that workers who have to stay home during a state of emergency are entitled to leave; the second bill allows municipalities to hold meetings with council members attending electronically, if necessary.

  • The government motion presented at Queen's Park today also calls the legislature back on Wednesday, March 25, for the presentation of an economic and fiscal update — a "mini-budget" — by Finance Minister Rod Phillips. Phillips has said previously that the update will include financial projections for only one year, given the global economic uncertainty.

  • Ford announced today that the province is suspending the requirement for Ontarians to renew their drivers licences, licence-plate stickers, health cards, and other forms of provincial identification. He also announced an immediate halt to eviction orders.

    He thanked the registered nurses and nurse practitioners who've come forward and made possible the expansion of the Telehealth system, which has increased the number of active phone lines from 500 to 2,000.

  • There are 43 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario today, bringing the provincial total to 257.

  • Air Canada says that it will “gradually suspend” most of its international flights by the end of this month.
  • Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Marts will be reducing their hours to give employees "extra time to clean, and to rest." They will also be limiting the number of customers allowed in their busiest locations.

Greater Toronto Area

  • Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said at a press conference this afternoon that, as of 1 p.m. today, there were 128 confirmed cases in Toronto, and 11 people were hospitalized. She encouraged non-essential businesses, such as hair and nail salons and clothing stores,  to close.
  • At the same press conference, Chief Matthew Pegg indicated that WheelTrans is currently being overwhelmed with requests from non-disabled people looking for rides to assessment centres. He emphasized that the service is intended for use only by patrons with disabilities.
  • Toronto's central intake facility for homeless-shelter services, on Peter Street, has been closed to walk-ins, as workers try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the shelter system. The phone lines remain operational; however, those without access to a phone will have to rely on shelter staff or street-outreach workers for help finding a bed. 

  • According to GO Transit, a rider who travelled from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Hamilton on a route 40 bus has tested positive for COVID-19. The passenger boarded at 6:10 p.m. on March 12. The driver of the vehicle has no symptoms and is self-isolating; the bus itself has been pulled from service. The transit service says that Hamilton Public Health has determined that the risk to other riders is low and that they do not need to be alerted.

Indigenous

  • Wabaseemoong (Whitedog First Nation) has declared a state of emergency. The community, located 100 kilometres north of Kenora, is limiting access to members only and requiring all visitors to be screened by nurses. Volunteers have been mobilized to check on elders.

  • Following the first case of COVID-19 in the Algoma region, Garden River First Nation is urging community members who have visited outside the community to self-isolate for 14 days and limit unnecessary trips.

Northern

Eastern

  • Hastings and Prince Edward Counties have reported their first confirmed case. The individual had recently returned from travel outside the country. 

  • The City of Belleville announced the closure of the Warming Centre at Victoria Avenue Baptist Church in order to comply with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health's recommendations against public gatherings.

  • Kingston has waived all hourly parking fees in an effort to "better support the essential travel needs of residents and commuters during the COVID-19 pandemic." 

  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit is "urgently seeking" public-health nurses for casual work to help with the response to COVID-19 in Pembroke. 

  • The number of confirmed cases at CFB Trenton, where repatriated Canadians travelling on the Grand Princess cruise ship have been quarantined since returning from the U.S. on March 10, has risen to nine

  • The National Arts Centre in Ottawa has teamed up with Facebook to create a $100,000 relief fund for artists. The money will provide artists' fees for live online performances, which will be shared on NAC's Facebook page. 

  • Peterborough Regional Health Centre is looking for people to provide child-care services for health-care workers in the region.
  • The City of Kingston has updated its Emergency Food/Meal Program with a list of places offering take-home meals and food baskets. 

Southwestern

  • Halton Region Public Health has confirmed a death related to COVID-19, the second in Ontario. According to the health unit's news release today, the man, in his fifties, had an underlying health condition and was being treated at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and Milton District Hospital.

  • London mayor Ed Holder today announced he's convening two task forces to look at the economic and social impact of COVID-19. Each will hold its first meeting on Friday via video and teleconference.

  • The Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services today confirmed its first case of community-transmitted COVID-19. The woman, in her twenties, has no record of recent travel or contact with a confirmed case. She is an employee of St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener and was working on March 13 — the day she was tested — while symptomatic but is now at home in self-isolation. 

  • The Region of Waterloo is advising residents today to think of city workers the next time they put out the garbage and make sure to place items such as used tissues and napkins in the garbage and not the green bin.

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