New expanded team to trace COVID-19 cases

Grant Boone
October 15, 2020

One hundred contact tracers were hired this week, the premier said in a press conference today. "Thanks to the absolute pros tracking down the data, we are reaching cases and contacts faster, with 30 public health units reaching 90 percent of cases within 24 hours".

Ontario is reporting 721 new COVID-19 cases today and its overall positivity rate now stands at three per cent, a development that the province's Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe concedes is "worrisome".

In a press release, the Ontario government said there "are now more than 2,750 case and contact management staff active across all public health units, tracing and managing COVID-19 cases ― up from approximately 1,500 staff in the spring". With the 600 new recruits and 600 Statistics Canada staff, the total will soon be almost 4,000. "Case and contact management is a key component of Ontario's fall preparedness plan. The members of this critical and growing workforce are all working to keep Ontarians safe and healthy".

To slow the spread of the virus, additional public health restrictions were put in place in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa ahead of the long weekend, including suspending indoor dining and shutting down gyms and movie theatres for the next 28 days.

But, as Etches pointed out, Tam also said people should listen to their local medical officers of health for advice.

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Novant Health UVA Health System maintains patient safety as a priority, especially with respect to COVID-19 concerns. Last winter, about 52% of people over age 65 received the flu vaccine , according to French health authorities.

Ontario has no plans to roll back any more jurisdictions to a modified version of Stage 2 as it did in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel, Premier Doug Ford says.

At the health unit's weekly media briefing on Tuesday, Gardner said Public Health Ontario is now providing a service and is doing about 20 per cent of the health unit's contacts. This user-friendly system significantly reduces duplication, speeds up processes and allows for more efficient case and contact management work to be completed. "It may reflect that less tests were done. however it also indicates that we see transmission in the community at this point, and that's no surprise".

There were another 96 cases reported in the nearly 5,000 schools across Ontario but the number of schools with cases fell by 15 to 421. More than four million Canadians have already downloaded the app to date and almost 1,000 COVID-19 positive Ontarians have sent anonymous alerts to their close contacts.

It's another sign Ontario isn't ready for the expected spread of COVID-19 this fall, said Green Leader Mike Schreiner.

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