TORONTO, July 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Since mid-March as COVID-19 began to spread in Ontario’s health care system, the Ontario Health Coalition has been tracking the numbers of residents/patients and staff that have contracted the virus in health and congregate care settings. As Phase 2 reopening began, the Coalition began tracking outbreaks in other industries. Two new tracking reports, one tracking the spread of COVID-19 in health & congregate care and the other tracking the spread in non-health care industries have been released today. Links to the reports and summaries of the Coalition’s findings are below.

In health care settings:

Here are the key findings from the most recent tracking report in health care settings across Ontario up to the afternoon of July 13. The full report contains charts with aggregates and listings of each facility with outbreaks by type and by region and including the numbers of patients/residents and staff infected. The Coalition has also provided details in the Summary & Charts section at the beginning of the report about the data that is no longer being reported by Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

  • The total number of people infected by COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings including staff and patients/residents is 11,357 as of July 13, up from 11,173 as of June 17, an increase of 184 people or 1.6 percent in two weeks, approximately half the growth rate from the previous four weeks when the increase was 3.1 percent.
  • The total number outbreaks that the Ontario Health Coalition found as of July 13 is 694 (including 595 resolved) in 570 facilities including hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, Public Health Units, clinics and other congregate care settings.  A month ago (June 17) we found 664 outbreaks (including 526 resolved) in 557 facilities. The number of outbreaks that are active across health care settings that we have found is now 99 compared to 138 four weeks prior (though we may not have been able to find all outbreaks as there is less public reporting now than there was in April through to early May).
  • We have added Chart A to show the new outbreaks that we have found since our last report on June 17. We have found 30 new outbreaks. In these new outbreaks there are a total of 36 staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings, and 27 patients/residents.
  • The total number of patients/residents that have been infected by COVID-19 has increased in the last month, though the rate of increase has slowed. By July 13 we have tracked a total of 6,934 patients/residents who have contracted COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings, an increase of 66 patients/residents in four weeks (since June 17) or 1.0 percent. This is down from the 2.3 percent increase we calculated June 2 - June 17.
  • The total number of staff that have been infected by COVID-19 has also increased but at a slower pace. By July 13 we have tracked a total of 4,394 staff members who have contracted COVID-19 in health and congregate care settings, an increase of 115 staff in four weeks (since June 17) or 2.6 percent. This is down from the 4.2 percent increase we calculated between June 2 and June 17.
  • Tragically, the death toll among patients, residents and staff in health and congregate care settings has continued to increase although the rate of increase has slowed. The Ontario Health Coalition is deeply sorry to report that as of July 13, we found a total of 2,153 patients and residents deceased in outbreaks in health and congregate care settings, up from 2,107 deceased as at June 17. That increase amounts to a heartbreaking 46 residents and patients over four weeks or an increase of 2.1 percent. This is significantly down from the 9.8 percent increase we calculated between June 2 and June 17.

In non-health care industries:

Here is the summary of findings from our latest tracking report on COVID-19 outbreaks in non-health care industries in Ontario up to the afternoon of July 14. The report shows the increase in outbreaks in the two weeks from June 30 – July 14. The full report lists all workplaces by industry where we have found outbreaks.

Public Health Ontario has recorded 113 active outbreaks as of July 11, 2020 in non-health industries with a cumulative total of 271 outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. The specifics of these outbreaks are underreported by local Public Health Units and the business details have been largely shielded from public scrutiny. This report lists all of the outbreaks we have been able to find in workplaces that are not health care settings. In our research we have found significant increases in COVID-19 transmission in public services (TTC, Parks & Recreation, LCBO), manufacturing, shelters, retail and agriculture sectors. In the last two weeks, shelters, agriculture and retail are showing the most serious new spread of COVID-19 that we have found and we must note that we have found only about 1/3 of the currently active workplace outbreaks that are reported in total by Public Health Ontario.

  • In the agriculture sector, COVID-19 infections continue to rise significantly. There are new outbreaks and a number of existing outbreaks that have seen a steep increase in the numbers of those who have contracted the virus. In Windsor-Essex the Public Health Unit reports that there has been an increase in COVID-19 in agriculture alone of 150 workers since June 29. In one facility in Chatham-Kent there 63 more workers that have contracted COVID-19 in the last month. In total we have found more than 1,244 workers infected in the agriculture sector and three deaths. This does not include food processing, which we have reported separately. It too has seen some large outbreaks though we did not find new outbreaks in the last two weeks.
  • There have been more than 50 outbreaks in retail stores that we have found, including at least 9 new outbreaks in the last two weeks.
  • There continue to be new outbreaks in homeless shelters including some shelters that had resolved outbreaks now seeing new cases emerge. This sector shows the second highest number of cases in industries outside of health care with 634 positive cases and 4 deaths that we have found.
  • There are two new outbreaks in developmental services which remain small at this point.
  • We have found new reports exposing outbreaks in public services (including TTC and transit, Parks & Recreation, Canada Post and LCBO stores) and in manufacturing. Some of these reports are not clear as to when the cases have occurred.

We are saddened to report that there have been at least 13 deaths as a result of outbreaks in the industries covered in this report. This number is undoubtedly low because reporting is so poor. To date, we have found:

  • Four deaths in York region resulting from workplace clusters. (no details provided)
  • Three deaths of residents in Toronto homeless shelters and one visitor.
  • Three deaths among migrant farm workers.
  • One death in the mining industry.
  • One death in food processing.

As reports that at least 26 flights have arrived in Canada with COVID-19 positive passengers in the last two weeks and as the numbers of people infected in Ontario have started to rise again, it is more important than ever that transparent reporting is implemented in order to minimize or prevent a second wave of the virus.

For more information: Natalie Mehra, executive director 416-230-6402.