Ontario Relaxes Long-Term Care Visit Rules As Province Reports Least COVID-19 Cases Since March

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Ontario is easing visitation rules for long-term care facilities as the province reports 102 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday – the least on the same day since March 25.As of today, up to two people can visit a loved one outside, long-term care minister Merrilee Fullerton said on Wednesday. Visitors no longer need to prove that they have taken a COVID-19 test in the previous two weeks.

Beginning July 22, people will be able to visit loved ones inside these homes, without the need for testing, Fullerton said.

The province has also said it will provide funding for air conditioning in long-term care homes, although Fullerton doesn’t say exactly how much money the government is committing. Officials say Ontario will make air conditioning mandatory in all new or renovated long-term care homes.

Premier Doug Ford pledged to change legislation to make air conditioning mandatory last week – one day after CBC News asked him about families worried about their loved ones living in suffocating conditions.

Speaking on Wednesday, Ford also re-announced funding for long-term care beds that its government had already promised in September.

Last fall, the government announced that it would spend $ 1.75 billion to create 15,000 new long-term care beds and modernize another 15,000. But on Wednesday, Ford reduced the number of beds, saying they would create 8,000 new long-term care beds with the money and refurbish 12,000 more. He said there would be 30,000 beds built over the next 10 years. Today’s announcement is the “first step in a number of new initiatives” to reach their goal, said Ford.

The 0.3% increase in the total number of cases brings the total in Ontario since the start of the outbreak to 37,052. Of these, 88.8% are considered resolved by the Ministry of Health. 135 more were resolved today.

Thirty-one of the province’s 34 public health units have reported at least five new confirmed new coronavirus infections, while 19 of these 31 have not confirmed any new cases.

There are now approximately 1,400 active cases of COVID-19 across the province.

The Ontario laboratory network has processed 23,769 tests for the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours. 22,029 others are in the queue waiting to be completed.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 115, the least since the province began reporting this figure in early April. Thirty-one of these people are treated in intensive care, while 22 are on ventilators.

The official death toll in the province of COVID-19 has increased by nine and is now 2,732. A CBC News count based on data coming directly from public health units puts the current death toll at 2,762.

Changes to come in long-term care visits

Meanwhile, the Minister of Long-Term Care today confirmed that the province will ease restrictions on visitors to long-term care facilities, which were originally put in place to help stop the spread of the disease.

Details of the impending changes were first reported by the Toronto Sun this morning.

Visitors to one of 626 long-term care homes in Ontario who plan to meet with a resident outside of Canada will no longer have to provide evidence that they have been tested for the new coronavirus during two previous weeks.

In addition, interior visits – currently limited to essential health workers and families of palliative care residents – will be authorized again on July 22.

Primary caregivers will also be allowed to see residents indoors. CBC News heard from a variety of families with long-term care relatives who were deeply concerned about the limits placed on primary caregivers and the effects on residents. Some doctors also vocally supported the return of essential caregivers to the institutions.

Ontario long-term care homes have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, with more than 1,800 residents who have died from the disease since the epidemic began in January. The ministry says it is currently monitoring ongoing epidemics in 38 establishments.

Child care operators call for full reopening

A group of Ontario daycare operators are asking the province to allow the area to reopen in September.

The six operators, all of whom are women, say a government plan that restricts capacity could result in the closure of some centers.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said this week that the province plans to increase the number of children allowed in day care starting July 27, from the current cohorts of 10 to 15 children.

Lecce said it should help restore 90% of the capacity of the province’s pre-pandemic child care system.

Providers call the cohort numbers “arbitrary” and say they will reduce available child care spaces for families.

The group says full capacity can be safely accommodated if they respect a strict physical distance and the school reopening recommendations made by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

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