Here is a roundup of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Tuesday:
Ontario reports 379 new coronavirus cases, total reaches 4,726 and 153 deaths
Ontario reported 379 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday and 21 deaths, bringing the provincial total to 4,726 cases.
The death toll has risen to 153.
Greater Toronto Area public health units account for 51.5 per cent of all cases in the province.
Provincial officials also reported 1,802 patients have recovered from the virus.
Status of COVID-19 cases in Toronto
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said as of Tuesday afternoon, there were 1,218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 231 probable cases.
Of the confirmed and probable cases, she said 63 of the 142 hospitalized Toronto residents were in ICU beds.
City of Brampton closes cemeteries to public
The City of Brampton announced that as of Wednesday, all City-owned cemeteries would be closed indefinitely “to ensure the health and safety of residents and staff.”
Burials and burial plot sales will be allowed to continue on an appointment basis.
Seaton House reports confirmed COVID-19 case
Dr. Eileen de Villa confirmed on Tuesday that a man who was staying at Seaton House, a Toronto men’s shelter, has tested positive for COVID-19. It marks the sixth case of COVID-19 within the Toronto shelter system.
De Villa said Toronto Public Health is working with Seaton House to ensure proper infection prevention measures and physical distancing measures are in place.
“This includes enhanced cleaning and disinfection to reduce to risk of virus spread, prominently displaying signage on hand washing and infection protection control and active screening for symptoms for both staff and residents,” she said, adding that staff are working to reduce capacity and limit bunkbed at shelter sites in Toronto by moving people to alternative accommodations.
Cathy Crowe, a street nurse and an advocate, said more cases of COVID-19 will continue to happen within the shelter system.
“You have to almost think of shelters like long-term care facilities, only the people are more mobile and in some cases they have to move from shelter to drop in to another shelter,” Crowe said.
Toronto converts closed libraries to food banks
The City of Toronto has started to convert its closed libraries to food banks to help those more vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor John Tory said nine food banks will be opened in total across the city. Four have been opened and two more were scheduled to follow suit on Tuesday.
How to apply for the Ontario Government Support for Families initiative
The Ontario government announced support for families with children at home due to school and childcare closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Families can apply for the one-time payment online here.
The initiative was announced by the Ford government to “offset the cost of buying materials to support children’s learning, while they practice self-isolation and physical distancing,” according to the website.
1st batch of Ontario-made masks finished
Premier Doug Ford was at a Vaughan manufacturing facility Tuesday picking up the first round of Ontario-made masks amid the pandemic.
The masks are being made by The Woodbridge Group and the Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association.
“I was thrilled to see firsthand the fruition of their hard work and look forward to them ramping up production in the coming days to meet the demands of Ontario and soon other parts of the country,” Ford said in a statement.
Portal launched to recruit health-care workers
The Ontario government has created an online portal aimed at recruiting health-care workers.
The Health Workforce Matching Portal will allow skilled workers — including retired or non-active health-care professionals, internationally educated health-care workers, volunteers with experience and students — to apply to join the province’s fight against COVID-19.
Ontario government temporarily allows cannabis store curbside pickups, deliveries
Days after the Ontario government ordered cannabis retail stores to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said those businesses will be temporarily allowed to offer delivery and curbside pickup services.
According to a statement by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on Tuesday, the permission was granted through an emergency order by the provincial government in an effort to “help fight against the illegal cannabis market.”
The statement said the directive, which came into force on Tuesday, will last for 14 days and the services could continue if the broader provincial emergency order on business closures is extended.
Premier Doug Ford declares Easter Bunny ‘essential service’ amid COVID-19 outbreak
Children across Ontario will still be able to get their holiday chocolate as Premier Doug Ford officially deemed the Easter Bunny an essential service amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s so tough for the younger kids to explain what is going on right now … the kids have simple things they are worried about,” Ford said at a news conference Tuesday.
“So kids, the Easter Bunny is becoming an essential service and we’ll make sure they have the chocolates ready for Easter.”
— With files from Erica Vella