Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is recommending that the city offer quarantine centres for COVID-19 patients who can’t self-isolate at home. The recommendation was made — and unanimously approved — by the Toronto Board of Health on Thursday morning during a virtual meeting.
“The risk of COVID-19 shouldn’t depend on where you live, how much you make, or how many bathrooms you have in your home,” said the chair of Toronto’s board of health Joe Cressy. “That’s why the board of health is calling on the Feds and Province to help us create voluntary accommodation for people who are unable to self-isolate at home.”
We’re only ‘all in this together’ if we protect the most vulnerable. The time to act is now. pic.twitter.com/86wd3d5WdL
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) July 2, 2020
In Dr. de Villa’s report, she suggests that centralized voluntary quarantine centers should be used for specific cases where home isolation or quarantine is likely to be suboptimal. Large crowded households, where adequate space to social distance is unavailable, is one such example.
The report also references other major cities who are providing quarantine facilities. Chicago has set up a COVID-19 isolation facility at a hotel, complete with private general isolation rooms intended for residents experiencing mild cases of COVID-19, who are not in need of additional medical support, but who lack appropriate settings to isolate and recover. New York City is offering “Take Care Hotels” free of charge for any person who is unable to safely separate in their own home. New York’s program offers 1,200 rooms available now, with the goal to expand the number of rooms to 3,000 by late summer.
Toronto’s next steps involve staff engaging with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Health “to support Toronto Public Health’s work on the establishment of a volunteer isolation/quarantine centre system” as well as other methods to achieve effective isolation for people who can’t isolate at home.
In addition to voluntary accommodation options, the board of health is also supporting expanding access to outdoor spaces for physical activity. Enhancing data collection to assist communities most impacted by the virus is another target on the city’s COVID-19 response effort.