COVID-19: What you need to know for March 24 — morning edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 24, 2020

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This article was last updated at 11:51 a.m.

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

  • Public Health Ontario is reporting 85 new cases of COVID-19 this morning, and one new death. The total number of confirmed positive cases — 573 — includes eight that have been resolved and seven deaths; 10,074 cases are currently under investigation.

  • Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce today a slash in hydro rates to offset the increased costs of working from home. According to the Globe and Mail, the cost of the cut is expected to be $162 million, and it will last for 45 days.

  • The Ontario Construction Consortium is asking the provincial government to shut down construction sites for 14 days in the interest of worker safety, calling the current guidance from the government "contradictory."

  • The Ontario government has announced a new emergency order (similar to one already issued for hospitals) giving long-term-care homes the power to change labour and staffing rules . The order will allow long-term-care homes to change work assignments and work and shift schedules, cancel vacations, and more. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health, has also issued a directive restricting patients from having any short visits outside a long-term-care home to see friends or family.

  • The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is asking for more time and flexibility to deal with the government's mandatory-closure orders. "We call on the Province to give more time so that businesses can shift more complicated operations, such as payroll.  We also ask the Province to further define their list of essential workplaces as it has left ambiguity for some of our members," said CEO and President Rocco Rossi.

  • The Ontario government made its formal list of essential services public online Monday night, after ordering that all non-essential services close as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Liquor and beer stores will stay open, as will grocery stores, pharmacies, and cannabis retailers. Despite Premier Doug Ford's stern warnings that the industry "get your act together," construction sites in the residential sector will be allowed to continue operating.
  • The LCBO has announced that it will be closed on Mondays beginning March 30. Previously announced hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. will continue to apply Tuesday through Sunday. The press release indicates that "e-commerce delivery" and delivery through Foodora are also options.

  • The Canadian Hockey League playoffs and Memorial Cup have been cancelled.

Greater Toronto Area

  • TTC buses will no longer accept payment by cash, token, or youth or senior ticket in an attempt to minimize driver-rider contact. Riders will still be able to pay with Presto cards or Presto tickets. The change will not apply to Wheel-Trans passengers.

  • Activist group Fairbnb has launched a legal challenge against the ICE condominiums in downtown Toronto, claiming that the condo is knowingly flouting Toronto's rules regulating short-term rentals. "The risk of short-term transients coming and going during a pandemic is obvious," says a release from Fairbnb. 

  • A resident at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre has tested positive for COVID-19.

  • An employee at a Real Canadian Superstore in Oshawa has also tested positive. The location, on Gibb Street, has been closed for a deep clean. 

  • The City of Toronto is using cellphone tracking data from telecommunications companies, according to the Logic. The city hopes to understand where people are gathering in order to help its campaign to slow the spread of COVID-19. Mayor John Tory told an online video-conferencing event of tech entrepreneurs Monday evening that "the biggest enemy of fighting this thing is people congregating together." He went on to say that the data is "completely anonymous."

Indigenous

  • A member of the Six Nations Fire Services is being tested for COVID-19. People who came into contact with the individual must self-isolate as a precaution.

  • Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation has issued a reminder that all stores are closed, and it is discouraging people from visiting the reserve.
  • Citing poor medical-system capacity in northwestern Ontario, Grand Council Treaty 3 is advising all members of its 28 communities not to leave their homes, except to purchase food or medicine.

Northern

  • The Thunder Bay District Social Services Board now has limited office hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • There are now four cases of COVID-19 in the Porcupine Health Unit area.
  • Bombardier Canada has announced a shutdown of non-essential work. This will affect facilities in both Kingston and Thunder Bay. The aviation and rail manufacturer currently expects to resume work on April 26.

Eastern

  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre is appealing to the community for help in acquiring additional personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns.

  • The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec, have asked their residents to limit inter-provincial travel only to what is essential. "Please stay home, but if you have to cross the river to help relatives or friends, take all the necessary precautions," Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said in this morning's press release.
  • Two newly elected Liberal MPPs from the Ottawa area will not be taking their seats at Queen's Park when it resumes for a mini-budget tomorrow. Liberal MPP John Fraser's office confirmed that, while the byelection results in Ottawa–Vanier and Orleans have been certified by the chief electoral officer and published in the Ontario Gazette, due to the agreement limiting the number of members attending the legislature in person, MPPs Stephen Blais and Lucie Collard are not expected to take their seats at any set date. If their attendance is required urgently, they can be sworn in as MPPs and take their seats on the same day.

Southwestern

  • Some health-care workers deemed critical are being allowed to skip the 14-day self-isolation period after trips out of the country. "If we don't have them, patients will suffer," David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital told CBC Windsor today. Musyj notes that, because Windsor is a border city, people often cross the border to work

  • Guelph city council has approved fiscal-relief measures for residents and businesses. They include waiving parking-permit fees and transit fees for April and waiving the property-tax penalties or interest charges that would have otherwise applied in May.

  • A new online self-assessment tool developed by members of the London Middlesex Primary Care Alliance is intended to help people determine whether they need to seek further care and where to find it. The resource resembles a provincial COVID-19 self-assessment tool with one key difference — its data will be shared with area health professionals so that they can get a real-time glimpse into how the outbreak is affecting the health-care system, its developers told CBC London today.

  • Thanks, but not right now, is the response from Windsor officials to residents' desire to help out during the COVID-19 crisis. In a news release yesterday, the city reminded residents to maintain their social distance while putting out garbage and recycling after the city's garbage contractor reported that residents were approaching workers with offers to help. The municipality is also receiving offers to help from residents, but says that, while the gesture is appreciated, residents can best help by maintaining social distancing.

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