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COVID-19: Here's the situation in the Sault this week

Two new cases in Algoma this week
James Hopkin/SooToday

Public Health Ontario has reported 712 new COVID-19 cases today,

This week, new daily cases reported by the province have ranged from between 649 and 939.

Friday Oct. 9's 939 cases set a record for highest number of new cases reported in a day, and forced the government's hand in restricting indoor dining and gym facilities in COVID-19 hotspots like Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa.

Here's the latest local, provincial, and federal news regarding COVID-19 cases and funding that you need to know:

Two new cases reported by Algoma Public Health this week

On Friday, Algoma Public Health (APH) confirmed a new case of COVID-19 in the region, marking the area's 38th case. The health unit stated anyone who travelled on the morning Ontario Northland bus from the Sault to Sudbury and from Sudbury to Toronto on the afternoon of Oct. 7 may have been exposed to the virus.

Algoma University confirmed on Friday night that a positive case reported earlier by APH was a member of the campus community. 

On Saturday, another case was reported, bringing the total to 39.

Last week, three new cases were reported by the health unit. Two were linked to international travel.

Currently, there are four active cases in the Algoma region.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers from Algoma Public Health, updated on Friday: 

  • 49,741 tested
  • 39 positive
  • 0 deceased
  • 35 resolved

Total confirmed cases by area of residence: 

  • 34 in Sault Ste. Marie and area, with evidence of community spread
  • 2 in central and east Algoma
  • 3 in Elliot Lake and area
  • 0 in north Algoma

Week-long church event ruffles feathers in the Sault

Many Saultites expressed outrage when church-goers from across Canada attended Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre for a week of worship. As a result, hotel staff say they received insults and threats in the midst of the fallout.

In light of the public backlash, the management of Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre issued an apology on Saturday afternoon.

Moonlight Magic, tree lighting ceremony a no-go this year 

The city says there will be no in-person gathering for the Community Tree Lighting Ceremony and the popular Downtown Moonlight Magic shopping event, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The event, which normally draws in crowds of up to 5,000 people to the downtown core, would greatly exceed the province's emergency order preventing gatherings of more than 100 people in monitored outdoor events.

Read about the city's alternate plans to spread holiday cheer here.

Algoma U, Sault College competitive athletics cancelled until March 2021

On Thursday, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) announced an extension of the cancellation of all sanctioned sports. As a result, all OUA athletics at Algoma University will be on hold until at least March 31, 2021. Read the full statement from the school here.

The Ontario Colleges Athletic Association also announced Thursday afternoon that winter sports have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This forces the cancellation of winter sports at Sault College. Read more from the college here.

Federal and provincial governments react to surge in COVID-19 cases

As of this past Saturday at 12:01 a.m., new public health measures in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa regions were put in place halting indoor dining and fitness activities in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Premier Doug Ford also released details this week on how the province would spend $300 million to help offset fixed costs for restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new health measures.

The province has also committed to hire 500 more contact tracers and case managers. Ford says boots should be on the ground by mid-November.

The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) said this week the reopening of businesses over the summer improved its financial outlook for the province, but warns a second lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic could slow the province's economic recovery next year.

On Friday Oct. 9, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new initiatives for Canadian businesses that include updating support for commercial rent and mortgage payments with the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). On Tuesday, the federal government opened applications for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). This funding provides $500 per week for 26 weeks for those who are self-employed or who don't qualify for employment insurance.

On Tuesday, Trudeau confirmed that the federal government is continuing to provide surge support to provinces on processing tests and boosting testing capacity in response to COVID-19. He also stated that 28.5 million rapid tests will be sent to the provinces and territories "shortly."

In terms of the fast-approaching holiday, Canada's chief public health officer says trick-or-treating should be possible this Halloween as long as little goblins take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam cautions that parents should listen to local public health authorities for advice on their particular communities. Tam says outdoor trick-or-treating can be safe when people respect physical distancing, wear masks, use hand sanitizer and ensure treats are pre-packaged. 

Porter Airlines won't fly before Dec. 15

Porter Airlines fleet is staying grounded until just before the Christmas travel season arrives.

The Toronto-based airline on Tuesday announced it will extend its temporary service suspension until at least Dec. 15, the decision made because of continuing travel restrictions in place because of COVID-19.

Changes coming for Christmas Cheer due to COVID-19

Christmas Cheer will go ahead this year, but the volunteer-run organization says it won’t be accepting donations of any used items from the public or collecting food items from schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about how the fundraiser will work here.

Hospitals look for ways to increase capacity, ask Ontario government for help

Hospitals in Ontario are in talks with the government on ways to increase capacity as the province battles a second wave of COVID-19, while they continue to press for stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The president of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said some of the options being considered include setting up field hospitals, using hotel rooms for patients and taking over space in long-term care homes. Anthony Dale said hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have been creeping up and the government needs to take preventative action.

Uncertain spring gave way to banner golf season at area golf courses

COVID restrictions limiting activities outside of golf, as well as border and travel restrictions, contributed to a busy golf season here in the Sault. Read more by Frank Rupnik here.

Sheehan announces funding for local small, medium sized businesses 

While some of the $2.6 million in funding for small and medium sized business in the Sault and area is meant to help businesses innovate, commercialize products, and expand their operations, Sault MPP Terry Sheehan also says the funds will provide emergency COVID-19 response funding to help businesses survive. Read more about the recipients of the funding here.