Ontario to unveil plan to combat COVID-19 in long-term care homes

The Ontario government is set to unveil an enhanced plan to fight COVID-19 in the province’s long-term care homes today.

Premier Doug Ford says the front lines of the battle against the virus have shifted to seniors homes, with 114 outbreaks at such facilities across Ontario.

Ford says the province will provide more details on the plan, which will include more testing for residents and staff and increased infection control.

He says the province will also stop people from working in more than one of the homes at a time to limit the virus’s spread.

The government has also said it would be processing 8,000 COVID-19 tests a day by today, but did just under 5,000 on Monday.

Ford expressed frustration last week that Ontario has been testing for COVID-19 well below its capacity of 13,000 a day.

Ontario has seen 7,953 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Some 857 of those cases, or about 10.8 per cent of all cases, are health-care workers, according to the latest update.

The province’s official death toll currently sits at 334, though CBC News has compiled data from regional public health units and counted at least 411 deaths.

Ford and several cabinet ministers are scheduled to provide a daily briefing at 1:00 p.m. ET at Queen’s Park.

Electricity prices

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is delaying setting new electricity prices for the summer months.

The OEB typically adjusts rates for homes and small businesses on May 1, but says it will defer that move this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It says holding prices at the winter rates set last November will give consumers access to more power at a lower price.

Ford previously passed an order freezing hydro rates at off-peak prices until at least May 7.

Shutdown could be good for wildlife, researchers say

Meanwhile, wildlife experts say the physical distancing measures adopted to curb the spread of COVID-19 could have benefits for Ontario’s animal population.

Lakehead University wildlife professor Brian McLaren says animals are now less likely to be disturbed during the important mating and migration seasons.

Emily Rondel, vice-president of the Toronto Ornithological Club, agrees.

She speculates that improved air quality will likely boost the food chain from plants and insects up to birds and mammals.


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