There are 5 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton, and 32 in total
The new numbers come as the province orders all non-essential businesses to close
Five more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hamilton in the last 24 hours, for a total of 32 cases, says the city's medical officer of health.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson said there were 27 cases as of Sunday and by Monday, that had changed. Three are in hospital and two in a long-term care facility (Heritage Green in Stoney Creek).
Of the cases, four per cent are over the age of 80, and 26 per cent are aged 65 to 79 — both groups considered high risk for falling seriously ill with the new coronavirus.
About 550 people have visited the city's assessment centres since they were set up seven days ago and staff have tested 102 people since March 19. All but two of the 30 confirmed cases are travel-related, Richardson said, but the other two indicate the virus is spreading in the community.
Richardson's update came an hour after Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential stores and services close starting Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.
"This decision was not made lightly, and the gravity of this order does not escape me," said Ford at a news conference, adding the order will be in place for at least 14 days. He also said it's unlikely students will be back in school by April 6.
The announcement was made as the province confirmed 78 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday morning, raising the province's total to 503.
The government will release a list of what constitutes essential and non-essential on Tuesday, but Ford insisted residents will be able to buy food and medicine and other essential products, and that "the power will stay on" and telecommunications tools will continue to run.
A senior government source said there are no plans to close the LCBO and the Beer Store.
Richardson has been giving regular updates with Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Paul Johnson, director of the city's emergency operations centre. Eisenberger reiterated that people need to stay two metres away from those they don't live with, and to act as if they're infected themselves. That's the only way to slow the spread, he said.
"It is critically important that you maintain that everywhere all the time," he said of social distancing.
"It does not mean go out and have a pickup game of basketball. It does not mean go out to the park and do a pickup game of soccer or football. It means you've got to stay away from one another to make sure we're not spreading this throughout our community."
Johnson told people to only use HSR when necessary, such as when getting groceries, attending medical appointments, or going to work if they can't work from home. Someone going to get tested for COVID-19 should not take the bus.
When people are on the bus, they should maintain a six-foot buffer. HSR is constantly reevaluating its schedule so the buses aren't too crowded, he said.
HSR ridership was down by nearly 20,000 people yesterday compared to the same Sunday last year, the city says.
Here are some other highlights from Monday's update:
- The Hunter Street GO station ticket counter will close as of Tuesday, and remain closed until at least April 6. Customers will be unable to get HSR fare products, including tickets, passes, DARTS books, taxi scrips and senior annual pass renewals there, Johnson said. Seniors shouldn't worry if they can't get their passes renewed, he said. They can use HSR anyway.
- The taxi scrip program has been suspended until further notice. If you are a current taxi scrip or DARTS client, call 905-529-1717 to book an essential trip using your client ID number.
- Curbside leaf and yard waste collection is suspended starting Tuesday. Hang onto it, the city said, or take it to a community recycling centre.
- Playground structures are closed. Don't touch them, Johnson said. Go to the park if you can maintain social distancing, but the city "strongly recommends" not using the playground equipment. The city is also putting up warning signs.
- The city is easing some parking restrictions. It's granting 30 free minutes at all municipal car parks (except the York parkade and the convention centre), and at all on-street meters. It's also suspending the 12-hour time limit for parking on city streets, on-street signed time limit regulations in residential areas, parking-related fines for vehicles with expired Ontario license plate stickers, and commercial vehicle time limit regulations. Tickets may still be given "in exceptional circumstances" where there's a significant traffic safety issue. All other parking laws will be enforced.
The city also asks that residents take the follow measures around waste collection:
- Put used tissues and napkins in the garbage, not the green bin.
- Use liner bags (either paper or certified compostable plastic) in the green bin.
- Ensure that all material placed in garbage bins is bagged, not kept loose.
- Follow the advice of Public Health and keep a physical social distance of at least two metres from waste collection staff.