Toronto calls for quarantine centers for those living in overcrowded housing who test positive for COVID-19

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The City of Toronto is invited to provide voluntary housing where people who test positive for COVID-19 can isolate themselves if they live in overcrowded areas and cannot get away from others at home.

The city health council’s request comes after hearing updated Toronto public health data on marginalized groups at higher risk of contracting the virus on Thursday.

This includes the group that is the most “under-housed” – where the number of people per household exceeds typical capacity – that had the highest case rate, at 568 per 100,000 population.

Toronto Public Health told the board Thursday that this trend was the most “pronounced” of all the features examined in its study, with the case rate being almost four times higher among people living in areas with high rates overcrowding.

The board-endorsed recommendation Thursday calls on city council to ask city staff to work with public health agencies at the provincial and federal levels “to support Toronto’s public health work on the implementation a system of isolation / quarantine centers for volunteers, as well as other methods of achieving effective isolation for people who cannot effectively and safely isolate themselves at home. “

“The risk of COVID-19 shouldn’t depend on where you live, how much you make, or how many bathrooms you have in your home,” said council chair Coun. Joe Cressy said in a statement. “We must do everything we can to reduce vulnerabilities to this virus and ensure that everyone has an equal chance of reducing transmission and protecting those around them.

“In this case, it means working with our government partners to make sure people have a place to go if they cannot safely isolate themselves at home.” “

Toronto Public Health data also confirmed previous reports that case rates are higher in low-income areas with newcomers and that Blacks and other people of color are overrepresented in data on case.

Although the city as a whole has reached key indicators to allow Toronto to proceed to Stage 2 of the reopening of the province, which has seen the opening of patios, hair salons and other services, the Star previously reported how the northwest corner of the city was hit the hardest, looking at differences in workplace, housing and access to health care as risk factors.

The city, meanwhile, said it is preparing to return the city’s community centers to their normal uses. The roughly 200 homeless people living in these centers as temporary shelters were transferred to hotels.

In a press release, the city said it plans to open new locations to maintain a physical distance between all shelter beds and that, to date, nearly 290 people sleeping in outdoor camps have been transferred to hotels, temporary or permanent accommodation.

Premier Doug Ford on Thursday announced $ 150 million in assistance to municipalities to help improve homeless shelters and create housing opportunities.

When it was pointed out that the amount allocated among all municipalities would do little to help cities like Toronto, Ford said the province was “committed” to giving more money to municipalities, but criticized the federal government for delay the conclusion of an agreement.

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Tory, noting the “urgent” nature of the city’s funding needs, said he hoped the money would be matched by the federal government and that any bureaucratic disagreements would be resolved soon. According to him, given that the city bears unequal responsibility for the homeless in the region, it would make a fair share of the $ 150 million.

Toronto projects a deficit of at least $ 1.5 billion by the end of the year due to the pandemic.

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto journalist who covers City Hall and Star politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

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