Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A notice inside Tim Hortons on Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall, Ont. on Monday, March 16, 2020 tells patrons they have to ask for products like napkins and ketchup. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Here is the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Wednesday, March 18, 2020:

  • There have been 188 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario. Five of those have been resolved. One person has died – a 77-year-old man from Barrie. The total includes the previous confirmed case in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit jurisdiction. The number of people tested is 11,171; 9,415 were negative and test results are pending for 1,567.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total is now more than 595. The country now has eight COVID-19 related deaths – seven in British Columbia, one in Ontario.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency, which is in effect until the end of the month. That means the following had to close immediately: all indoor recreation, all libraries, all private schools, all licenced child care centers, all bars and restaurants (except for take-out and delivery options), all theaters (including live performances) and all concert venues. Essential services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, will remain open. Crowds of 50 or more people are not allowed.
  • Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis took the state of emergency one step further, issuing a directive that people over 70 years old shouldn’t leave their home “unless absolutely necessary.”
  • Following Roumeliotis’ direction, the Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Diocese has cancelled all masses – both weekend and weekday services – through April 5, which is also Palm Sunday. Confession April 1-2 is also cancelled. No decisions yet on Holy Week or Easter.
  • Courts are largely shut down. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is closed through April 3, except for urgent matters. Only urgent matters are being heard by the Ontario Court of Justice.
  • Cornwall Coun. Glen Grant suggests that the Canada-U.S. border at Cornwall be closed to all non-commercial traffic. But Grant didn’t get support around the council table at a special council meeting on Monday night to write a letter to the federal government requesting that.
  • Cornwall City Council has cancelled its upcoming meeting for next Monday (March 23).
  • The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce has asked Cornwall City Council to defer property tax payments for commercial and industrial property owners. The chamber believes it would be an “essential move” to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic.
  • The region’s medical officer of health says he would personally wipe down any mail with disinfectant that he received. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis responded to a question from Cornwall Newswatch on handling mail, as a study suggests COVID-19 can live on some surfaces up to three days. You can read that story here.
  • Cornwall Transit is taking precautionary measures. The seats behind the bus driver are off limits. Hand sanitizer is available. Riders have to board at the back of the bus and some seats are blocked off to encourage social distancing. Extra cleaning is taking place.
  • Some area grocery stores are introducing safe times for seniors to shop. Among them are No Frills and Chartrand’s Your Independent Grocer in Alexandria. No Frills opened at 7:30 a.m. – 30 minutes before the normal opening time – while the Alexandria YIG is opening between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. seven days a week.
  • The South Nation Conservation Authority has limited non-essential travel, meetings and public of its facilities and programs. The administrative office on Victoria Street in Finch is closed until further notice. People should use the building’s drop box for paperwork, phone or email. A number of meetings have been postponed and the Maple Syrup Education Program is cancelled. Conservation areas remain open.
  • The Raisin Region Conservation Authority office on County Road 2 in Cornwall is closed until further notice. The Raisin River Canoe Race is cancelled.
  • Winchester District Memorial Hospital has stopped all patient visits, except for “compassionate grounds” and one support person for those giving birth (obstetrics patients).
  • The Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort is closed. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has already closed casinos in the province.
  • St. Lawrence College has asked all staff to work from home. Students and members of the public should not come to the campus. (This is now an all-campus decision for Brockville and Kingston. Cornwall was already closed due to the positive COVID-19 case of a nursing student). Students living on campus are being asked to go home, if they can.
  • In a bid to allay fears among staff and students, SLC issued a statement Tuesday saying it has been “assured” by the health unit, contacted anyone at risk for exposure to the region’s COVID-19 case – a 30-something nursing student from Prescott-Russell – has been contacted. SLC says the entire campus has been cleaned but is still closed under the provincial state of emergency.
  • The Municipality of South Dundas has closed its office to walk-ins on Ottawa Street in Morrisburg. Staff are still available by phone and email. A drop box in the lobby will take building permit, burn permit and dog tag applications. First installment of taxes has been pushed back to April 30.
  • O.P.P. detachments are open but have enhanced screen at the entrance. Criminal records checks are only being done if necessary or emergencies. You’re advised to call your detachment first before coming. Click here for the detachment contacts and emails. (the detachment email list is in a PDF at the top left of the page)
  • A Cornwall business is stepping up to help parents while their kids are at home during the pandemic. Kid’s Korner is offering $1,000 in board games and puzzles to parents in need. The store is run by Kevin and Leslie Ouderkirk.

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.