Toronto City Councillor and Health Board Chair Joe Cressy is fully supporting a proposal that would provide accommodation, like free hotel rooms, to vulnerable residents who test positive for COVID-19 but cannot self-isolate at home.
In a statement, Cressy said that a report from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, will be considered on July 2 by the Health Board.
“I wish to express my strong support for Dr. de Villa’s recommendations, and to stress just how important it is that we provide accommodation for people who are under-housed, or do not have enough space to safely isolate without putting their families or other members of their household at risk,” Cressy said.
Toronto Public Health has shown that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on low-income people living in large households.
In these settings isolating at home can put other household members at risk.
My statement in support of a new isolation accommodation program: pic.twitter.com/8KcafvkNKn
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) June 24, 2020
The councillor also addressed the need to respond to how the virus is affecting people differently based on their socioeconomic position.
He says the City has moved quickly to ensure accommodation options for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for coronavirus through dedicated isolation and recovery centres.
Therefore, he’s calling on “inter-government collaboration” to create accommodation for people who have homes but need a separate place to stay while they recover from the virus — using Chicago and New York as examples for tackling this same issue.
Both cities are offering free hotels to positive patients who need to self-isolate.
Local Toronto data shows that the virus disproportionately impacts households in low-income communities. And it is also known that the rate of transmission is high.
To date, the basic medical advice for people who test positive has been to self-isolate at home and to stay in a separate bedroom and bathroom to minimize transmission risk.
However, Cressy points out that for many in Toronto, having multiple bedrooms and bathrooms is not a reality.
“People may be able to recover at home, but not without potentially infecting those closest to them,” he said.
“Everyone in our city deserves to have access to a safe space to recover from COVID-19 without putting their loved ones at risk.”
For him, the need to address the social determinants of health in relation to the virus is critical when tackling health inequities and protecting vulnerable residents in Toronto.