Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A notice outside MP Eric Duncan's constituency office in Cornwall, Ont. on Monday, March 16, 2020, stating the office is closed to walk-ins during the COVID-19 epidemic. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Here is the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

  • There have been 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario. Five of those have been resolved. That includes the one confirmed case in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit jurisdiction. The number of people tested is 10,178; 8,464 were negative and test results are pending for 1,537.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total is now more than 440. The country now has four COVID-19 related deaths – all in British Columbia.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada is closing its borders to most people who are not citizens or permanent residents. The exceptions are diplomats, flight crews, immediate families of Canadians and – for now – U.S. citizens. Akwesasne says its people are still able to freely travel across the border.
  • The Ontario government is recommending gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled to contain the spread of coronavirus. That includes private schools, restaurants and bars.
  • The City of Cornwall has closed its municipal offices for the week. Richelieu Day Care closed at the end of the day on Monday (March 16).
  • The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry has closed its administration building to public access and there will be minimal staff working inside the building.
  • The Cornwall Community Hospital has revised its visitation rules. Visitors will not be allowed for critical care patients, except for compassionate/palliative reasons. The rest stays the same – palliative care and obstetrics/pediatrics are two visitors at a time. ER is one visitor per patient.
  • Offices in Cornwall (340 Pitt Street), Alexandria (60 Anik Street) and Winchester (530 Fred Street) for SD&G’s social and housing services department are open for emergencies only. In-person appointments are being cancelled.
  • The Cornwall Police Service is asking the public to consider other options before coming to the police station, such as filing a report online for petty damage and mischief, lost property, minor thefts and stolen licence plates. You can find that online reporting tool here.
  • The pandemic is going to have a significant effect on Cornwall area small businesses with people practicing social distancing. Kelly Bergeron has set up the Cornwall Gift Certificates website where people can buy the gift certificates. The money goes to support the small businesses on a weekly basis. Patrons can print off the certificates and use them once the pandemic is over. Click here for the website.
  • Only dial 911 in a true emergency. That message from Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Services. Chief Bill Lister says people should only be calling for an ambulance for severe emergencies such as shortness of breath without a fever, chest pain, traumatic injuries or unconsciousness. The region’s medical officer of health says the majority of COVID-19 cases don’t require a hospital visit.
  • Local MP Eric Duncan has closed his constituency offices in Cornwall, Winchester and Morrisburg to walk-in traffic until further notice. The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program has been suspended until further notice. Staff are still available by phone during normal business hours at 1-888-805-2513.
  • The Township of North Glengarry, like many other SD&G municipalities, has cancelled all March break programming. That includes any events taking place at the Tim Hortons’ Dome, the Glengarry Sports Palace and the Maxville and District Sports Complex.
  • South Dundas has cancelled all its municipal council meetings and all committees of council.
  • The Agape Center has closed its soup kitchen for the remainder of the week. A decision on whether to open again will be made on the weekend. Food bank appointments are continuing as normal.
  • Premier Doug Ford says his government will introduce legislation to provide job-protected leave for employees in isolation or those who have to be away from work to care for children due to school and day care closures.
  • The Ontario government is adding staff – roughly 130 off-site nurses – to its Telehealth Ontario system to cut down on wait times and callbacks. The system has taken more than 8,000 COVID-19 related calls. The number is 1-866-797-0000.
  • To prevent spread of the virus within a jail setting, people convicted of low-risk crimes in Ontario who are serving sentences on weekends will only have to check in. Inmates will have to report to the facility and will be given a “temporary absence from custody” and allowed to return home. The new rule came into effect Friday (March 13). Personal visits to jails have also been suspended.
  • All Ontario small claims court sittings are suspended until further notice. Courthouses remain open and claims filings will continue.
  • The parent company of Tim Hortons is asking locations to close off all sit-down dining areas at its locations. Drive through, take out and delivery service only, effective Tuesday (March 17).
  • Cineplex is temporarily closing all movie theaters across the country from March 16 to April 2 to limit spread of COVID-19.
  • The Cornwall Senior Citizen Club at 119 Pitt Street is closed until further notice.
  • The South Glengarry Business and Community Awards, originally scheduled for April 4 at the Char-Lan Recreation Center, is postponed until a later date. A new date hasn’t been chosen yet.

Have a story or news release related to COVID-19? Send it along for possible inclusion in a future digest on Cornwall Newswatch. Email Please put “COVID-19 Digest” in the subject line.