Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Friday, March 20, 2020

With the walk-in entrance sealed, two men on bicycles try unsuccessfully to order coffee through the drive thru window at this Tim Hortons on McConnell Avenue in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, March 19, 2020. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Here is the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Friday, March 20, 2020:

  • There have been 258 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario. Five of those have been resolved. Two people have died. The positive total includes the two confirmed cases in Prescott-Russell, in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit jurisdiction. The number of Ontario people tested is 16,650; 12,421 were negative and test results are pending for 3,971.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total is now more than 870. The country now has 12 COVID-19 related deaths – eight in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in Ontario and one in Quebec.
  • More information on that second case of COVID-19 in Prescott-Russell. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says the man in his 60s was picked up by his son at the Ottawa airport March 11 after coming back from the United Kingdom. Roumeliotis says the son and the man’s wife are the only two people he came in contact with. The man started showing symptoms when he got home and then went to an Ottawa testing site but was not anywhere else in the community. The man is “stable” and the wife and son are both on self-isolation.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it may take “weeks to months” of social-distancing measures before they’re lifted as the country deals with the pandemic.
  • The Canada-U.S. border restrictions on non-essential travel are expected to be in place as early as tonight (Friday). There are provisions to allow Canadians back into the country who are trying to get home.
  • Cornwall City Council will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. Council will deal with some pandemic planning, staff appointments and tax deferment for local residents. If approved, the March 31 and April 30 tax installments would be moved to May 15 and June 15 respectively – interest-free.
  • Cornwall Community Hospital is postponing non-urgent surgery, outpatient procedures and non-urgent diagnostic tests. The Community Addiction and Mental Health Center is not accepting walk-ins or unscheduled appointments. Most services are moving to phone or e-therapy.
  • Cornwall Transit is reducing service, running routes every hour during the morning and evening and every half hour during midday and afternoons. Service will run hourly on Saturdays. Community bus service is not running Wednesdays or Saturdays. Handi-Transit will still handle essential trips.
  • Staff of local MPP Jim McDonell are working remotely. They’re still reachable through the Cornwall constituency phone numbers 613-933-6513 or 1-800-514-9660.
  • Scammers aren’t taking time off during the coronavirus pandemic. The Cornwall Police Service put out an alert Thursday, warning people to be wary of spoofed government information and other too-good-to-be-true deals, especially on high demand items like hand sanitizer and cleaning products.
  • The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry will send all non-essential staff home to work from home, effective Monday. Those essential services staying on are road maintenance, emergency communication, police and EMS. The county says most of its staff were already working remotely.
  • North Stormont has postponed its March 24 council meeting until further notice.
  • If your driver’s licence or health card is going to expire, don’t worry about it. The Ontario government has suspended renewals of driver’s licences, licence plate stickers, commercial vehicle operator registration certificates and health cards. The cards will stay valid until the chief medical officer of health picks a date once the “current situation improves.” The move is meant to keep people away from Service Ontario centers.
  • The government also sat Thursday with 26 MPPs, passing legislation unanimously to protect jobs for workers who self-isolate or quarantine. The law will also give local municipal councils for flexibility to operate while maintaining social distancing. Local MPP Jim McDonnell wasn’t one of the 26 in Toronto.
  • On Thursday, Italy surpassed China with the most coronavirus-related deaths in the world at 3,405. China was 3,249 yesterday. (Source: John Hopkins University)
  • New Brunswick has been added to the growing list of provinces that have declared a state of emergency.
  • Federal Foreign Affairs Minster Francois-Philippe Champagne has been tested for COVID-19 and is self-isolating with flu-like symptoms.
  • Through donated tablets, residents at Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge now have a connection to loved ones outside the long term care facility. They can video chat through Skype and Google Duo.
  • In Northern New York, the chamber of commerce in Massena is trying to get people through the pandemic while supporting business and the community with an e-bingo. The bingo squares include community initiatives like purchasing gift cards or picking weeds in a neighbour’s yard. In return, people who complete rows on the card and submit it get discounts to the chamber’s online gift store.
  • Transition Cornwall+ is moving its 6th annual Seedy Saturday online. It will be this Saturday (March 21) at 10:30 a.m. Vendor interviews, workshops and demonstrations will be on Facebook Live. If you can’t live stream, the event will be available later on their page here.

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

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