covid assessment centre

Long lineups lead Toronto mayor to call for extended hours at COVID-19 test centres

Toronto residents have reported massive lineups outside the city's COVID-19 assessment centres in recent days, prompting the mayor to call on Premier Doug Ford to extend hours at some of these sites. 

Speaking at a press conference Monday morning, Mayor John Tory said he's heard reports of residents encountering excessively long lines outside testing centres and he plans to bring up the issue in a meeting with Premier Ford later today. 

"We simply have to re-examine what we are doing here and find a way to maybe make more testing available and I think the first step might be to extend the hours," Tory said.

The mayor's comments come as Ontario reported 313 new cases of the virus on Monday, marking the highest daily case count since the beginning of June. 

This also comes as Torontonians all over the city have been taking to social media in recent days to recount their experiences with long lineups outside test centres, with some saying they eventually gave up or were even turned away. 

Many are also using anecdotes of lineups to draw attention to the fact that schools are reopening and the weather is getting colder, all while new cases are consistently following a troubling upward trend. 

The province has, fortunately, expanded its daily testing capacity over the past few months, with nearly 30,000 tests processed throughout Ontario yesterday. 

Still, as demand continues to grow, Tory said extended hours and expanded testing capacity at the city's assessment centres will be needed to ensure everyone that needs to can get tested as we move into the second wave.

He added that he's heard personal reports of people who've been unable to get a test when they needed one, including someone who needed a negative COVID test in order to visit a loved one in long-term care.

"They said they went to three different places and the lineups were so long that they just didn't get in the lineup and thus didn't visit their loved one. I know the premier cares deeply about that and so do I," Tory said.

"On the one hand we have a good news story because we are testing many thousands more people than we were, before but on the other hand it is obviously not happening in a way that is convenient for those people who need the testing and I think we have to address that."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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