Toronto unveils plan to deal with second wave of COVID-19 that doctor calls inevitable

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City officials on Monday unveiled a plan to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 that the Toronto medical officer of health said is “inevitable” this fall.Dr Eileen de Villa told reporters during a virtual town hall press briefing that there was “no doubt” that there would be a resurgence of COVID-19, given the experience of other places, the reopening of schools across the city and the fact that most residents are not immune to the virus.

“From what we’ve seen elsewhere, the resurgence in Toronto is inevitable,” De Villa said.

“Even New Zealand, hailed as one of the leaders in the containment of COVID-19, has had to mobilize to fight the cases that have arisen. ”

She said the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota described three possible scenarios:

  • A series of small waves that will occur until 2021 and gradually diminish.
  • A large wave in the fall or winter followed by smaller waves after that, similar to what happened in the 1918-19 flu pandemic.
  • Slow burning transmission and occurrence of cases, but without a clear wave pattern.

“There’s no way of knowing what’s going to happen,” she said.

But Toronto needs to plan for more cases as schools reopen, she said.

“We plan on the basis of certain assumptions. While scientists are working with speed and determination, we still don’t expect highly effective treatments in the very near future, and we don’t anticipate vaccine availability until spring 2021 at the earliest. Until then, we have to find a way to live with COVID-19 in our city, ”De Villa said.

His comments came as officials explained how the city is preparing for a resurgence of the virus and how it will act to minimize that resurgence.

The city conducted a review of its response to COVID-19 in the first wave to determine what worked, what proved difficult, and what would be useful to implement going forward.

Grade 11 students Vanessa Trotman and Lucas Provias participate in a back-to-school demonstration at Wexford Collegiate School for Arts in Toronto on August 27. The city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says Toronto needs to plan for additional cases as schools reopen. (Evan Mitsui / CBC)

In a Monday press release, he said he was preparing for “several potential scenarios” with measures that will be based on the advice of the medical officer of health.

These plans include actions in the following areas:

  • Child care: In the event that licensed child care centers are required to close, the city said it will operate free child care services for essential workers again, if the province is willing to fund again these centers.
  • Long-term care homes: The city would implement infection prevention and monitor best practices and lessons learned from the first wave of COVID-19, take action to ensure the stability of staff resources, and allow visitors and designated essential caregivers to enter homes to support residents during outbreaks. .
  • Parks and recreation facilities: In the event that recreation facilities and park equipment were to close, the city said it would respond quickly to return to essential services. To respond to vulnerable populations and emergency social services, the city would modify facilities to create food distribution sites and expand its shelter system.
  • By-law Enforcement: Enforcement of City Permits and Standards, which is part of a coordinated law enforcement team of nine city divisions and the Toronto Police Force, will focus on enforcement provincial ordinances and municipal bylaws related to COVID-19.
  • Homelessness Support: The Shelter, Support and Housing Administration will continue to protect those experiencing homelessness and will continue to focus on providing permanent housing as the best solution to homelessness. Protective measures, such as physical distancing, will remain in place in shelters.
  • Homelessness assistance and cold weather planning: As the weather gets colder, plans include maintaining additional winter space and improved street outreach services to help people access shelter and accommodation and to allow them to leave the camps inside. The city is also exploring a model program to operate a warming center during extreme cold weather alerts.
  • Support for vulnerable residents: As part of the city’s community coordination plan, the city is working with nearly 400 community agencies to coordinate support for vulnerable communities. The city stands ready to scale up measures in response to a resurgence.
  • Including tax: service levels can be adjusted according to demand. The TTC continues to focus on protecting service on busy roads. The health and safety measures implemented on the system in response to COVID-19 will continue to be maintained.
  • Toronto Public Library: The focus will be on keeping buildings open to serve communities that need them most and on the hub between digital and in-person services, as needed, to meet surges in demand.

Mayor John Tory said, “All of these plans are aimed at minimizing the resurgence as much as possible.” (CBC)

Mayor John Tory said the city’s plans for a resurgence include strengthening case management and public health contacts, creating community outreach rapid response teams to combat the spread of the virus in hard-hit neighborhoods, developing specific health plans for schools and long-term care homes, and maintaining a supply of personal protective equipment.

Rapid Response Teams, which would be multilingual, would be in direct contact with people, agencies and organizations working in communities that have seen many cases.

“All of these plans are aimed at ensuring that we minimize the resurgence as much as possible,” Tory said in the statement.

Toronto reported 40 new cases on Monday. A total of 1,175 people have died from COVID-19 in the city. According to Toronto Public Health, the city has recorded a cumulative total of 16,044 cases, of which 14,498 have been resolved.

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