Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cornwall City Council practices some social distancing during a meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020. Mayor Bernadette Clement says council will meet again in the coming days to talk about tax deferment for residents. (YouTube/City of Cornwall via Newswatch Group)

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

  • There have been 214 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario. Five of those have been resolved. One person has died. The total includes a new confirmed case on Wednesday of a man in his 60s in Prescott-Russell who returned from the UK. There’s also the previous confirmed case of a SLC nursing student – also from Prescott-Russell. Both are in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit jurisdiction. The number of Ontario people tested is 13,897; 10,305 were negative and test results are pending for 3,378.
  • The EOHU is now retracing the steps of the man from Prescott-Russell who contracted the coronavirus after coming home from the UK on March 11. He was tested three days later (March 14) before going into self-isolation at home.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total is now more than 656. The country now has nine COVID-19 related deaths – seven in British Columbia, one in Ontario and one in Quebec.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump have mutually agreed to shut down the border to non-essential travel. That means no tourism and recreation related trips. Trade will not be affected, Trump tweeted. There are still exemptions for Canadians looking to get back home from foreign lands.
  • The Seaway International Bridge Corporation has created an Emergency Protocol Pass for Akwesasne residents. Those residents will hold up their photo bridge pass or band/INAC/status card to the toll booth agent, who will use the pass, reducing the handling of cards. Akwesasne declared a state of emergency on Monday (March 16). Grand Chief Abram Benedict says he’s been reassured the latest Canadian and American border directives “have no immediate impact on residents of Akwesasne.” The Akwesasne emergency operations center numbers are 613-575-5005 and 613-575-2331.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau announces $82 billion in economic measures to help Canadians. Those include a boost to the Child Care Benefit, delaying payment of income taxes until the end of August, a six month interest-free moratorium on Canada Student Loans, and a boost to Farm Credit Canada for farmers.
  • Premier Doug Ford says a Cornwall bar owner was “careless and reckless” by having a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Tuesday night. The bar had 30-50 people in close quarters while other bars and restaurants were closed by order under the provincial state of emergency. You can read that story here.
  • Like other SD&G municipalities, tax deferment will likely be coming for Cornwall taxpayers. In a Facebook Live video Wednesday night, Mayor Bernadette Clement says city council will get together in the next couple of days to work out the details. The mayor says “it’s a little more difficult for a city the size of Cornwall” to put the deferral in place.
  • The City of Cornwall has set up a hotline to deal with general city concerns and community support questions as the pandemic continues. It’s staffed by three people in the social services department during weekday business hours. The number is 613-933-6282 extension 3129.
  • Cornwall Municipal Works has stripped back its staffing in response to the pandemic. It’s only addressing emergencies. The number is 613-932-5354.
  • The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is receiving 400-500 calls a day for COVID-19 swab tests. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says paramedics have been trained to do house visits to do those tests, which could start in the next day or two. You have to be assessed by your doctor or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) in order to get the test. You can take the province’s self-assessment test first, here.
  • Winchester District Memorial Hospital is scaling back non-urgent tests, procedures and surgeries. Those include outpatient procedures, scopes, minor surgery and non-essential diagnostic tests. Emergency room and cancer care will continue as usual.
  • Saskatchewan and British Columbia have joined Ontario in declaring states of emergency, giving government more power to respond to the pandemic.
  • It’s a different kind of alcohol. Three Canadian distillers have switched up their plants to start making hand sanitizer. All three say they’ll either sell it at a low cost to cover production or just give it away. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has been hard to come by since the pandemic.

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.