The number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto is rising again.
During a press briefing at city hall on September 2, the city’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa warned that an anticipated resurgence in new cases has begun ahead of the Labour Day long weekend.
Toronto Public Health officials confirmed a spike new infections, with 48 reported the past 24 hours. There have been a total of 123 new cases this week.
“This is concerning for all of us,” de Villa said. “As I shared in my last update, it isn’t a matter of if we’ll see more COVID-19 activity in our city, it’s a matter of when. I’m concerned because this is now what we’re starting to see.”
De Villa said the city has done a good job of keeping the number of new infections low in the summer since most people are socializing outdoors.
The recent COVID-19 cases are due to people bursting their social bubbles, bending rules and socializing indoors without masks on.
“Just this week we identified new infections amongst people socializing indoors without masks and at close distance,” she said. “These are exactly the kind of situations that are contributing to virus spread in other parts of the country.”
De Villa urged people to be extra vigilant over the long weekend.
“The choices we make this Labour Day weekend have the potential to affect all of us in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.
“I cannot emphasize enough just how critical our behaviour today is in determining what happens next. So I ask everyone to take a moment, to consider how they may be bending the rules, and to start today by resetting our habits.
“This will be critical to how we manage as a community in the next phase of this pandemic,” she added. “This is the only way we can protect each other, our economy, and make sure that we don’t go back to even more restrictive measures as we did in the spring.”
A focus on malls
Toronto Public Health staff will be heading out to shopping malls after staff at specific restaurants in within malls tested positive for COVID-19.
Cadillac Fairview said this week that staff at the Keg and JOEY Sherway Gardens tested positive. Both restaurants temporarily closed for deep cleaning and sanitation.
Meanwhile, Yorkdale’s JOEY location closed for 24 hours after a staffer tested positive. A staffer at Foot Locker in the same mall has also tested positive.
In a statement, the city said public health inspectors will ensure malls and retail spaces are complying with guidelines.
“Those shopping in person are encouraged to shop at times when stores may be less busy or to try shopping online, when possible,” the city said. “Residents should wear a mask and keep a physical distance while shopping, and always wash or sanitize their hands after being in a store or public place and not go out if they are feeling ill.”
Since the outbreak began, there have been 16,127 cases of COVID-19 in the city. There are 30 people hospitalized. In total, 14,565 people have recovered and 1,175 people have died.