69 deaths, 52 coronavirus outbreaks in Toronto retirement and long-term care homes

Apr 14 2020, 1:46 pm

The City of Toronto confirmed 69 COVID-19 related deaths and 52 outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes.

On Tuesday, Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eileen de Villa said the prevention focus for Toronto Public Health will be on this vulnerable demographic.

“The focus will be on local outbreak response,” de Villa said.

There has been one death and 14 outbreaks in retirement homes and 68 deaths and 38 outbreaks in long-term care homes.

There are 2,543 confirmed cases in the city, with 115 reported deaths. In addition, 223 are hospitalized and 90 patients are in ICU.

She said that specific data on cases per facility will not be provided for privacy concerns and that numbers are constantly changing.

De Villa also said that residents in long-term care homes have significant health needs and require help with most daily activities.

“They are the most frail and vulnerable in our community.”

Toronto Public Health works closely with all homes to implement infection control and best practices to actively prevent outbreaks. The long-term care home must report to their local public health department, who then investigate all reports to help implement effective measures.

According to de Villa, in Toronto’s long-term care and retirement homes, there are screenings for residents and staff twice a day, stronger physical distancing measures by cancelling group activities and restricting visitation to essential visits only, enhanced cleaning and to ensure PPE is being used to minimize health risks.

While more PPE is needed for long-term care homes, there is still a shortage of supplies province-wide.

According to Chief Matthew Pegg, there are 107 days of inventory for N95 masks under current usage, with 52 days for surgical masks, 51 days for gowns, and 26 days for face shields.

Earlier on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford announced a new emergency order mandating that healthcare employees at long-term care homes work at only one facility, effective midnight, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable populations.

“Tonight, a new emergency order will be put into effect so long-term care home workers can only work at one home,” Ford said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The premier said that hospitals have not seen the surge of patients that was expected, therefore allowing resources from hospitals to be reallocated to senior care facilities.

Around $240 million will be reallocated to support long-term care homes that are experiencing increased outbreaks of the virus across Ontario — 93 homes have outbreaks to date.

How residents can support local businesses

While long-term care homes in the city continue to be significantly impacted, the local economy is also taking a grave hit.

In order to help local businesses, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the pandemic.

The site is called, distantly.ca and Toronto residents who are able, can make a secure online donation to their favourite local business. These contributions will help to alleviate expenses, such as rent and payroll.

“Toronto’s main street businesses are critical to the success of our city. They are the backbones of our residential neighbourhoods, an important contributor to our quality of life, and are a part of what makes Toronto attractive for businesses to invest in,” Tory said.

The platform was developed in partnership with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), a non-profit umbrella organization working with Toronto’s 83 Business Improvement Areas, representing more than 40,000 business and property owners, and Digital Main Street, a City and TABIA initiative to help brick and mortar main street businesses open an online presence.

City staff are continuing to develop a range of solutions with partners in the community, to help small businesses while also continuing to advocate for additional support from the provincial and federal governments.