COVID News: Toronto officially ends municipal state of emergency

Posted Monday, May 9, 2022 10:49 a.m. EDT

Last updated Monday, May 9, 2022 at 11:40 a.m. EDT

Mayor John Tory officially ended the municipal state of emergency that had been in effect for a total of 777 days, calling it “just one more sign that the city is returning to a more normal state of existence”.

Tory made the announcement at a press conference outside Toronto City Hall on Monday morning.

He said while COVID-19 is far from over, the removal of the emergency declaration represents a “significant moment” in the more than two-year fight against the virus.

“We’re on the right track but I think we have to remind ourselves every day that it’s not over. So we keep doing the work,” he said. “But I think the kind of level of stress and the acute nature of the pandemic has receded a bit and that allows us to have days like today where we can remove the state of emergency while continuing with as much effort on things like vaccination .”

Tory said the official declaration of an emergency on March 23, 2020 gave the city additional staffing flexibility, ultimately allowing more than 1,700 of its workers to be temporarily reassigned to help support vaccination efforts. and maintain essential services.

However, all but 40 of those people have returned to their original jobs as the city moves away from an emergency response to COVID-19.

As part of this transition, the Toronto Board of Health will meet on May 16 to vote on a motion that would make its hyper-local vaccination campaign a permanent program, subject to additional funding provided by the province.

“The statement signaled our intent to fight COVID-19 with everything we had and now two years, a month and 17 days later and more than seven doses of vaccine later, there is no doubt that our collective efforts managed to get us to a better place,” Tory said. “I want people to understand that by removing our state of emergency in the city, we are not ending our fight against COVID. We know that COVID-19 is still active in the city and the work we have undertaken will not stop.

Improvement of public health indicators

The municipal emergency declaration was first issued on March 23, 2020.

At the time, there were only 304 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city and most were associated with recent travel.

Since then, Toronto has reported more than 312,000 confirmed cases and that number is considered a significant undercount due to limited PCR testing eligibility.

More than 4,200 residents have also died after contracting COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, De Villa called COVID-19 a “once in a lifetime public health crisis” and said she was “truly impressed with the resilience of Toronto residents” over the past two years. .

She said while all public health indicators are now “declining or stable”, residents should socialize outdoors as much as possible in the coming months and ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations.

She also warned that there is emerging research that indicates increased reinfection rates due to the new Omicron subvariant.

“It’s not a signal that we can let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19,” she said of the decision to end the municipal emergency. “Nor is it time to drop efforts to get Torontonians their next dose of vaccine.”

Melissa C. Keyes