September 30, 2020

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Ontario COVID-19 deaths jump past 100; caseload more than 4,000

TORONTO - Another 25 people in Ontario have succumbed to COVID-19, bringing the provincial death toll for those who have tested positive for the virus to 119, health authorities reported on Sunday.

The fatalities came as the overall known caseload jumped past the 4,000 mark with more than 400 new ones reported. More than 150 people were on ventilators.

More than three dozen outbreaks have now been reported in nursing homes across the province. The frail elderly are at particular risk for the coronavirus, which can produce no or mild symptoms, but can also cause lethal pneumonia.

In Bobcaygeon, Ont., another resident of Pinecrest Nursing Home died, bringing the virus death toll in the 65-bed facility to 23. It is one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus in the country. At least 24 staff members at the facility have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who has urged people to stay home except for essential outings, had no public events on Sunday, nor did Mayor John Tory of Toronto, which has about half the cases in the province.

Tory, however, did put out a short video in which he, too, urged people to stay home despite good weather.

"We're going to break the back of this virus if we do this," Tory said.

The latest Toronto figures indicate 25 doctors, nurses and other health-care workers have been infected.

Ontario has projected between 3,000 and 15,000 lives could be lost to the pandemic even with stiff stay-home restrictions.

On Sunday, the union representing correctional officers said about 40 inmates of a large women's prison in southwestern Ontario were locked down due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Six inmates at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., were infected, Correctional Service Canada said.

It's the only federal prison in Ontario to have reported an outbreak.

Federal correctional authorities also confirmed at least 36 employees — including a guard at Grand Valley — have reported testing positive.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said staff were being given protective equipment if they need to interact closely with inmates, the union said.

The pandemic has prompted most businesses and public facilities to close down, causing financial havoc across the country.

Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath called on the provincial government to spend up to $1.15 billion to help small and medium-sized businesses, charities and community-based non-profits survive.

"We not only want them to survive, we want them to be able to keep staff on the payroll as much as possible," Horwath said in a statement.

The previously announced federal wage subsidy was welcome but simply not enough, Horwath said. The NDP proposal calls among other things for a 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy of up to $10,000 a month for three months and a freeze on utility payments.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday that people can start applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Monday. Direct-deposit applicants should get $2,000 a month starting within five days, while those using mail should see their money in 10 days, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2020.

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