toronto covid cases

Toronto residents demand to know where new COVID-19 cases are coming from

With case numbers jumping exponentially in recent days, it's safe to say that Ontario is currently surfing toward a second wave in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

We can see the wave swelling, we know from experience that we can ride it down safely, and we even have an idea (based on what we're told) of what's lurking under the surface.

What we don't have is a clear view of the water — something that would be helpful for individuals looking to avoid rough patches.

Ontarians are growing increasingly concerned over a lack of data regarding new COVID-19 infections in the province, particularly location-specific data that could show exactly where someone contracted the virus.

At the macro level, we know that new cases are significantly higher in some regions than others: Of today's 331 new infections, 112 came from Toronto. Another 71 were reported in Peel and 60 in Ottawa.

We also have an idea of who is more likely to contract COVID-19 these days.

Government data also shows that people under 40, who made up 67 per cent of today's newly-reported cases, are accounting for more and more of the provincial case total.

Public health officials have revealed potential reasons for the uptick, pointing mostly to large parties and gatherings like the GTA wedding linked to 23 new infections last week, and maintain a comprehensive database with cases broken down by age, sex, region and severity.

A few outbreaks at specific bars, restaurants and gyms have been disclosed by individual companies, like Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Mall, JOEY and GoodLife Fitness, and Toronto Public Health has issued public warnings regarding COVID-19 cases among employees at two local strip clubs.

The exact origins of most cases aren't publicized, however, if they're even known at all. As cases of the virus begin to spike again in Toronto, residents are calling upon this to change. But it's not so simple.

The government's COVID Alert app hasn't seen enough uploads to be completely effective, according to experts, and it can be difficult to pinpoint where someone contracted the coronavirus regardless.

Businesses aren't required to close down for cleaning after learning of infections in customers (though some do anyway).

They do need to tell the Ministry of Labour when an employee tests positive, but it's at the discretion of ministry inspectors to temporarily shut down a place. Or not.

This leaves plenty of space for speculation.

Some people in the city are blaming crowded streets for the second wave, while others say gyms are the culprit. Others still are pointing to restrictions lifted under Stage 3 of reopening that allow people to dine inside restaurants and bars again.

The government has yet to reveal any specific, industry-based COVID trends, but Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has alluded several times to spikes driven by risky social behaviour, such as breaking quarantine and ignoring social gathering limits.

"The fact is we're seeing COVID-19 infections in our city resulting from people choosing not to follow public health advice," said Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa earlier this month.

"Just this week, we identified new infections among people socializing indoors, without masks and at a close distance. These are exactly the kinds of situations that are contributing to virus spread in other parts of the country."

"Folks, I'm begging you, please cut out social gatherings," said Premier Doug Ford similarly on Monday. "It's just not worth it because COVID is ramping up again... we just can't have large social gatherings."

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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