Toronto

COVID-19 cases in Toronto continue to shift to younger age groups, mayor says

The age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto continues to shift to younger age groups, Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday.

Proportion of cases among those under 19 and those 20 to 29 has increased significantly

Mayor John Tory says in the most recent two weeks, the average age of COVID cases was 39 years old — compared to 52 years overall for the entire pandemic outbreak. (CBC)

The age distribution of reported COVID cases in Toronto continues to shift to younger age groups, Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Tory said that in the most recent two weeks, the average age of COVID cases was 39 years old — compared to 52 years overall for the entire pandemic outbreak.

"The proportion of cases among those who are less than 19 years of age and those 20 to 29 years of age has increased significantly in the last few weeks," he said.

The mayor is reminding residents that while younger people cases have generally not fallen severely ill from COVID-19 and are less likely to be hospitalized, they can still transmit the virus to others, especially to vulnerable groups.

Young people feel 'invincible': mayor

In Toronto, many young people live in multi-generational families and they make up a large part of the city's service-based work force, Tory said.

That's why, he says, it's important they remember they can still contract the virus and infect others.

"I know no young person would want to bring the virus home … but that is the situation we're worried about," Tory said.

"I know young people feel immortal and invincible… but I urge them to be cautious and to keep following the public health advice because it applies to them just as it applies to everybody else."

Beyond the usual communications methods, including the usual social media sites, Mayor John Tory says the city is exploring how it can get the COVID-19 message out to young people, including using TikTok and other platforms that can effectively reach them. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Beyond the usual communications methods, including the usual social media sites, Tory said the city is exploring how it can get the message out to young people, including using TikTok and other platforms.

"They need to hear this message loud and clear. COVID-19 remains a real risk — a risk to them and a risk to anyone they're in contact with, including older relatives," Tory said.

"Continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially among young people is crucial to a successful economic restart."

Need for continued vigilance

Tory said there is need for continued vigilance and adherence to public health measures to keep COVID-19 from making a resurgence in Toronto.

"COVID-19 is still here in the community and we cannot for one moment let down our guard," he said.

"Doing so would be to risk undoing all of the sacrifices we have made to save lives and keep people healthy."

Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto Public Health's associate medical officer of health. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto Public Health's associate medical officer of health, says while officials are seeing a higher proportion of cases in those who are under 19, Toronto has seen quite a reduction in cases overall.

"The total number of cases in that age group is still much lower than we saw earlier in the outbreak [and] some of this is also related to the fact that the older adults are [asymptomatic] so that's why children are getting the infection," Dubey said.

"We know from our data that about 60 per cent of those under 19 are getting their infection from close contacts from household settings, and so I think being able to prevent the transmission in the community, thus preventing it in households, will also help to prevent the spread in schools as well.

"Keeping the rates low in the community, which is the situation where we are right now, is going to be extremely crucial as we head into the reopening of schools because we know that if the cases are low in the community then there's less likely to be spread in schools," Dubey added

TDSB passes motion requiring all students to wear masks

The mayor's comments come one day after the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) passed a motion requiring all students to wear masks. Previously the plan was to make masks mandatory only for Grades 4 and up.

The board has also proposed a plan to reduce class sizes that it says will address crowding at elementary schools in Toronto neighbourhoods at the highest risk of COVID-19.

Chairman Alexander Brown said the new plan will see the leasing of additional space and the hiring of more teachers to limit the number of students in classes in those areas.

Brown said the board will vote on the new plan at a meeting on Thursday and it may still need approval from the province.

The Toronto District School Board has passed a motion requiring all students to wear masks. Previously the plan was to make masks mandatory only for Grade 4 and up. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The board's plan to cut all elementary school class sizes was rejected by the Ontario government last week because it also shortened the school day by 48 minutes.

The new TDSB plan will mean students have a 300-minute school day, as requested by the government. 

Brown said the board will also use the first two weeks of the academic year to stagger the start of school.

The TDSB also said 71 per cent of elementary students will return to school if class sizes are not reduced, compared to 78 per cent who would return if class sizes could be brought down to between 15 and 20 students.

It said 83 per cent of high school students will return to in-person lessons, also on the adapted model.

In Toronto, the board will send out a second survey with a new back-to-school plan.

The board's plan to cut all elementary school class sizes was rejected by the Ontario government last week because it also shortened the school day by 48 minutes.

With files from The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now