Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Saturday, March 21, 2020

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis speaks about 'flattening the curve' of cases through self-isolation and social distancing on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 -- the same day the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a worldwide pandemic. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Here is the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Saturday, March 21, 2020:

  • There have been 318 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 19,511; 13,718 were negative and test results are pending for 5,475.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total hit a new benchmark Friday, surpassing 1,000 cases. The total is now more than 1,016. The country now has 13 COVID-19 related deaths – nine in British Columbia, one in Alberta, two in Ontario and one in Quebec – the most recent death happened in B.C.
  • The region’s first COVID-19 testing and assessment center will open Monday (March 23) at 750 Laurier Street in Hawkesbury. It will be only for people with “moderate, worsening (but non-severe) symptoms” like a fever and worsening cough. Just because you show up, doesn’t guarantee a test as it’s based on symptoms, travel history and contact history. It will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is meant to take pressure of hospital ERs, 911 and paramedics.
  • There are plans for an assessment center in Winchester at the Lions Club hall on Albert Street. The Winchester District Memorial Hospital says there’s no opening date yet because of the “very small number” of patients with coronavirus symptoms.
  • Home testing by local paramedics is now underway. The service is only for “vulnerable individuals” based on Ontario Ministry of Health criteria. If you’re 70 or older, have a chronic health condition or compromised immune system and think you have COVID-19, call the health unit at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120 any day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for an assessment.
  • Cornwall City Council passed a plan Friday to defer municipal taxes for people and businesses. The first two installments – due March 31 and April 30 – are now due May 15 and June 15. More on that story here.
  • A Cornwall bar that threw a St. Patrick’s Day shindig while an Ontario state of emergency was in effect is now the subject of a police investigation, Cornwall Police Chief Danny Aikman shared with the city’s mayor Thursday night. Read that story here.
  • Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis is urging people coming back to the region as they repatriate to self-isolate for 14 days. The self-isolation is a very strong recommendation but enforcement is very difficult, given the number of people who are ordered to do so. The health unit has received about 3-4 calls from people complaining about others not staying indoors.
  • Canada and the U.S. have reached an agreement to turn away “irregular migrants” at the border. It’s meant to address difficulty in testing refugee claimants for COVID-19. The Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic went into effect at midnight to all but long-haul truckers, medial professionals and those crossing for work.
  • Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has tested negative for coronavirus. He had self-isolated at home with flu-like symptoms after travel.
  • Manitoba has declared a state of emergency, joining British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The state of emergency allows a province or territory to put extraordinary measure in place for health and safety of residents.
  • The Ontario government has launched a learn-at-home online education to help bridge the gap during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be available through TVO/TFO. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says technology will be provided for students who don’t have access to it. You can find more at the province’s Learn at Home portal.

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.