Mayor John Tory said that TTC buses will be converted into COVID-19 mobile testing for infection hotspots in the city.
During a press conference on Monday, Tory said that this is part of the Toronto COVID-19 Equity Action Plan to assist residents “who need help the most right now.”
While the city has asked for financial support from the federal and provincial governments, Tory said, “we need help with this plan but [are] not waiting for that funding to come.”
Already Toronto City Council has pushed forward the plan to expand sites to allow for more testing, easier access to it, and enhanced outreach to convince people to get tested.
Partnering with the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) in the city’s northwest end, which has a high infection rate, the city is using reconfigured TTC buses to make testing sites, which will be coming out this week.
“This brings it right to people, and we will expand to other areas as well. This has been done in partnerships with healthcare providers, TTC, and Toronto paramedic services.”
The #TTC is pleased to be partnering with the @cityoftoronto to roll out mobile #COVID19 testing sites.
The vehicles are decommissioned buses we have been supplying to Paramedic Services and will be driven by TTC instructors.
They will not come from available bus service. pic.twitter.com/tLYvdnA1xh
— TTCStuart 🚈🗣️ (@TTCStuart) December 7, 2020
According to Councillor Joe Cressy, Board of Health Chair, the Equity Action Plan outlines current and enhanced measures to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable residents and communities, as revealed by public health data.
Where race and income data was available, Toronto Public Health found that 77% of people who contracted COVID-19 identify with a racialized group, though only 52% of the city identifies as non-white. As a result, Torontonians that identify with a racialized group are 3.16 times as likely to contract the virus as white Torontonians.
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At the same time, nearly half of all coronavirus cases live in low-income households, compared to 30% of the general population. A person living in a lower-income household is 2.17 times as likely to contract coronavirus as someone who doesn’t.
“While Toronto’s Equity Action Plan is the first municipal COVID-19 response plan to explicitly embed an equity lens and outcomes, it is not an endpoint. The Plan includes 25 concrete actions, including increased supports for testing, community outreach to facilitate safe isolation, programs to enable access to food and wifi for vulnerable residents, and measures to improve transit on crowded bus routes,” Cressy said in a statement.