Toronto reaches 339 COVID-19 cases, city monitoring outbreaks at 3 long-term care facilities

Toronto has now recorded 339 cases of COVID-19 and health officials are monitoring outbreaks at three long-term care homes across the city.

The new total of positive cases represents an approximately nine per cent rise since Wednesday.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg delivered the city's daily briefing Thursday afternoon.

De Villa said 22 patients have been hospitalized, with 10 of them being treated in intensive care units. Around a quarter of all positive cases are the result of community spread, she added.

The city has recorded four deaths as a result of COVID-19, a total that remains unchanged since Wednesday.

De Villa said the city is concerned by outbreaks taking place at three long-term care facilities, including the Seven Oaks long term care home in Scarborough, where two residents have died.

"The spread of COVID-19 in the long-term care setting is especially concerning because we know the residents of these settings … are especially vulnerable," de Villa said.

She said an outbreak means there are two or more COVID-19 cases at the same location.

To prevent further spread of the disease, de Villa called on Toronto residents to make a stronger commitment to physical distancing. She pointed to strict laws that have been enacted in other Canadian municipalities and even orders in Europe that bar people from leaving their homes more than once per week.

"If people do not follow these protective measures, then stronger ones affecting our civil liberties will be put in place to protect our city," she said.

Tory urges landlords to help struggling tenants

Tory, who made his first public appearance since self-isolating after a business mission to London, urged the city's landlords to help tenants who may not be able to pay their rent on April 1.

He said "far too many" landlords have not yet provided any information about the possibility of deferrals or assistance for tenants whose finances have been shaken by the crisis.

"We have enough anxiety in this city among people who are concerned, they are afraid, for reasons related to health and their financial security and their future," he said.

"I strongly urge all property owners, big and smaller, to find ways to help their tenants who need help."

Tory also revealed new measures to gauge the damage to Toronto's economy in the event of a prolonged period of physical distancing and closures.

The city is asking business owners to fill out a survey about how the COVID-19 emergency has altered their business.

You can access the survey here.

Tory said the information will help the city better assist its business owners when the city begins its recovery from the pandemic.

"It will help us as we try to put plans in place to rebuild our economy after this incredible disruption," he said.