City reports 5 new cases of COVID-19, lowest since March
More than 13,700 people have recovered, Toronto Public Health says
Toronto has made "significant progress" in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as the number of new cases, hospitalizations and outbreaks in the city are all decreasing, says the city's medical officer of health.
Dr. Eileen de Villa told a city hall news conference on Monday that Toronto has a total of five new cases, the lowest daily case count since March 1. However, 58 infections were also reported over the weekend.
Despite the city's progress, De Villa said she's concerned about COVID-19 fatigue among young people who don't feel like they are at risk, and a resurgence of the virus that she's seeing in other Canadian cities further along in their reopening plans.
"The reality is that COVID-19 is still here, and we need everyone to stay focused on stopping its spread. We cannot let our guard down," she said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he knows people are tired of the restrictions, including the ongoing playground closures that would end under Stage 3.
But he said the only way everyone can move forward is if local COVID-19 indicators suggest the city isn't in danger of a resurgence of the novel coronavirus and going back into lockdown.
Health officials are reminding Torontonians that younger people are not immune and that even if you haven't been infected it does not mean that you cannot get the disease.
Concerns that virus could come 'roaring back'
De Villa said hanging out indoors for coffee, play dates for kids and dinners with people outside your social circle is not physical distancing.
"We need to stay ahead of the virus to keep moving forward into reopening," she said.
De Villa said her public health team is preparing for a future surge of infections in the city if or when Toronto moves to Stage 3 of reopening.
As of July 27, Toronto Public Health said 15,337 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the city and 13,722 people have recovered, an increase of 104 over the weekend. A total of 1,150 peopled have died from the virus.
Health officials said they have made recommendations to city council for the city to set up isolation spaces in hotel rooms for people who get COVID-19 and can't self-isolate at home, once it gets federal funding.
The reality is that COVID-19 is still here, and we need everyone to stay focused on stopping its spread. We cannot let our guard down.- Dr. Eileen de Villa
The city said talks with the federal government are going very well and they hope to reach a deal in the coming weeks.
Tory said he's had positive discussions with the Ontario government about whether Toronto can move into Stage 3. The city is awaiting a decision from the premier on Wednesday.
City officials also said they will be looking at reviewing the rules for bars and gyms under Stage 3.
Tory added that the city's progress is being threatened by infections from those venues and the private parties being reported across the GTA.
Federal, provincial governments helping city
Meanwhile, at a news conference on Monday, Ontario Premier Ford announced up to $4 billion would be provided for 444 municipalities in the province in partnership with the federal government.
The money will be used to support shelters, food banks, public health and transit systems, said Ford. "It's a great deal for Ontario."
Up to $2 billion will be allocated to public transit funding shared equally between the province and federal government.
That funding will help support transit operators that the province says have seen a significant decline in revenue during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the province announced a $7-billion COVID-19 recovery deal with the federal government. The funding is expected to partly go toward bailing out municipalities that are faced with soaring expenses and plunging revenues due to the pandemic — something city leaders like John Tory have repeatedly pushed for.
Tory called the announcement a "very positive" development after weeks of asking for financial support.
The city does not have confirmation of how much money it will get but it is expected to find out in the next few weeks.
"I'm hopeful we'll get the entire $1.3 billion but I can't say I'm expecting it," said Tory.
He also thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Ford and the Ontario finance minister for their work in helping municipalities across the province.
While Toronto waits for more details on funding, the city announced the launch of another municipal initiative called HistoricTO.
The plan will allow Toronto's historical museums and sites such as Fort York, Gibson House and Toddmorden Village to give tours.
HistoricTO starts on July 29 and the tours will last 60 minutes each. They will cover topics such as colonization, LGBTQ rights and Black history.
People planning to visit any of the sites will be asked to pay what they can. However, there is a suggested amount of $10 for admission. Tours will be physically distanced and must be booked in advance.
For those who would rather learn about the city's history from their home, Toronto museums are also working to put seldom seen artifacts online.
As the city continues to open up more spaces to the public, municipal officials are still concerned by the large gatherings they've seen in recent weeks at clubs, beaches and homes.
Tory said he doesn't want to announce beach closures but will do that if he has to.
"There is risk any time people gather closely but that risk is clearly higher when they gather indoors versus outdoors," said de Villa.
The city said bylaw officers visited 33 different establishments on the weekend.
Eight venues in were found to be in contravention of pandemic rules. Seven were given warnings and one was charged.