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

  • The Canada-U.S. border closure, announced Wednesday, begins today, although, according to Global News, "the precise moment the ban is to go formally into effect" has yet to be determined. At a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that the closure will likely take full effect Friday night.
  • The Ontario legislature will hold an emergency session today.
  • The Ministry of Health had indicated that it plans to waive the three-month OHIP waiting period for Canadians who have been outside Ontario for more than seven months.
  • The St. Catharines Standard reported last night that temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter the country for agricultural work but will be required to adhere to a 14-day period of self-isolation. The Toronto Star reported yesterday that the ban would be lifted only for workers coming from the U.S.
  • Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has announced the closure of all provincial parks to the public until April 30. This includes all camping, day use, and access to public buildings.
  • The federal minister of health has signed an interim order allowing health-care workers to have "expedited access to COVID-19 diagnostic test kits and other medical devices."
  • Unifor wants income protection for auto workers as Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler suspend all North American operations. "Canadian auto workers must not bear the brunt of this crisis," said Jerry Diaz, the union's president in a news release on Wednesday. Honda and Toyota plants have also announced temporary shut-downs.

Greater Toronto Area

  • A TTC mechanic has tested positive for COVID-19; as a result, up to 170 employees will have to self-isolate.

  • The Toronto Star reports that University of Toronto modelling that suggests severe restrictions on public activity could last for months, not merely weeks. "Even eight-week and 16-week interventions weren’t enough to cut the surge of patients, hospitalizations and ICU admissions by half, or shift the peak of the epidemic by more than a couple months, the researchers found."

  • The TTC has released an update on operational changes: it is introducing all-door boarding on all vehicles; "starting shortly," Wheel-Trans will transport community-housing clients who've been identified as symptomatic to a health-care centre for testing and then to an isolation centre, if necessary; and employees who choose to wear masks will be permitted to do so.
  • The city has delayed the start of yard-waste collection, which was scheduled to start this week. Garbage and recycling will continue as scheduled.

Indigenous

Northern

  • The Algoma district has reported its first positive COVID-19 case, a woman in her fifties who returned from U.S. on a plane on March 15. Any Algoma resident who flew on Delta 4212 into Chippewa County International Airport on March 15 at 10:45 p.m. is being asked to contact Algoma Public Health or their local public-health authority.

  • Timmins Transit has waived fares and is asking riders to enter back via back of the bus. 

  • As of yesterday, Ontario Court of Justice sittings that were scheduled at satellite court sites in the Northwest Region, Dryden, Kenora, and Fort Frances will be held by audio or video from base courts.

Eastern

  • Ottawa's medical officer of health, Vera Etches, reported on CTV News Thursday morning that Ottawa has five new cases of COVID-19, bringing the city's total to 19. She also said it was important for people to understand that the numbers are "not the whole picture," and that the positive cases are people who likely became sick one to two weeks ago.

Southwestern

  • Middlesex London Health Unit has announced the opening of a second assessment centre in London; this one is in the city's east end. The centre opens today.

  • Owen Sound is scrapping downtown parking enforcement and will pick up garbage even if residents haven't added bag tags, the city announced Wednesday in a news release

  • London Hydro has announced plans to extend its winter disconnection policy to June 17. The utility's policy prevents the cut-off of power to residents who can't pay their bills during winter months.

  • Some staff at London Health Sciences University campus and Woodstock General Hospital are self-isolating after health workers at both hospitals tested positive for COVID-19. Both workers had contracted the virus while out of the country, and both had returned directly to work. Until yesterday, provincial policy allowed health-care workers to return directly to work after travel as long as they were not ill. Health minister Christine Elliott changed that policy on Wednesday following concerns raised about the southwestern Ontario health workers.

For more information:

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Canada-U.S. border closure would come into effect today. TVO.org regrets the error.

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