Newswatch COVID-19 Digest: Thursday, March 26, 2020

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Here is the latest local, regional and national headlines on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for Thursday, March 26, 2020:

  • There have been 688 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Ontario. Eight of those have recovered. Thirteen people have died. Ontario recorded it largest single day jump yesterday with 100 new cases. The positive total includes four confirmed cases in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s jurisdiction – all in Prescott-Russell. The number of Ontario people tested is 35,635; 24,458 were negative and test results are pending for 10,489.
  • Canada’s confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case total is 2,792. The country has 27 COVID-19 related deaths – 13 in British Columbia, two in Alberta, eight in Ontario and four in Quebec.
  • Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says a Hawkesbury COVID-19 testing and assessment center was not as busy as he thought it would be. The clinic opened Monday – saw 72 people the first day and around 30 the second day. Since the pandemic declaration over a week ago, there have been roughly 350 COVID-19 tests done in the five eastern counties (SD&G, Prescott-Russell) – results are pending for 250 of them.
  • A COVID-19 situation at an ONRoute on Highway 401 near Ingleside this week was a “false alarm.” Roumeliotis says somebody said someone at the rest stop tested positive for coronavirus, causing an abrupt shutdown. “We have no record of any case of a positive individual working at the ONRoute in Ingleside.” The rest stop is back open.
  • The pandemic is taking its toll already on local business. A Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce survey shows 42 per cent of businesses surveyed say they will struggle to survive to the end of next month. Another 30 per cent say they won’t make it three months. The survey had 80 responses.
  • Ottawa has recorded its first COVID-19 related death. A man in his 90s ran a fever about a week-and-a-half ago. He was admitted to hospital on Friday and died yesterday. The city has also declared a state of emergency, giving the municipality more tools to fight the pandemic.
  • A federal government order for people returning to Canada to go into quarantine when they return to the country came into effect at midnight this morning. There is an exemption for essential workers already allowed to cross the Canada-U.S. border. More here. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says he’s particularly worried, as are his Highway 401 counterparts, because half the cases in the United States are in New York State – just across the river and border checkpoints.
  • As for who is enforcing the federal order, Roumeliotis says they were going to have a teleconference with federal officials Wednesday night. Cornwall Police Service spokesman Stephanie MacRae did not have an immediate answer on whether officers would be enforcing it.
  • The Ontario government has unveiled a $17 billion package to help the health sector, people and businesses during the pandemic. They include a one-time payment of $200 per child, 12 years old and younger, $250 for special needs children of the same age bracket, doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System payment for low-income seniors and suspending student OSAP loan payments for six months.
  • A number has been set up for businesses that have questions about the Ontario emergency order to close non-essential businesses. The Stop the Spread Business Information Line is 1-888-444-3659 and is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Cornwall will have access to a $200 million Ontario social services relief funding package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is in two programs: $50 million for people currently on Ontario Works/ODSP and “non social assistance clients” and $150 million for managers of social services, like food banks and shelters, to use for their programming and services. Both programs are application based.
  • A federal financial aid package is now on the books to help Canadians who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Eligible applicants will be able to collect $2,000 a month for four months. The online application system is expected to be launched soon and the finance minister says the money should be coming to Canadians by April 6.
  • To further protect seaway workers, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is modifying enhanced inspections of foreign ships. Under certain conditions, ships will be able to fill out a self-inspection report and a health declaration form. The seaway reserves the right to still inspect their ballast water.
  • Live in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and trying to keep the kids busy? The county says, even though libraries are closed, their electronic services are still online, including electronic books, audio books, magazines, newspapers and online courses. All you need is your library card and, if you don’t have one, you can register online for that too at their website. Libraries are closed until at least April 6.

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