COVID cases double in Weston—faster than any community in Toronto

The number of COVID cases in the past 21 days has more than doubled in Weston. Last week, we had 26 cases in the past 21 days. This week, there were 57 cases in 21 days.

COVID is spreading faster here than in any other community in Toronto.

The number of new cases. From the city.
This maps shows the rate of new cases by population. From the city.

All the new cases have occurred outside healthcare facilities.

The disease continues to hit minority communities and poorer communities hardest.

From TPH
From TPH

You can explore the city data on their website.

Another Consequence of Covid-19

The (now deceased) Bank of Montreal branch on Weston Road and John Street. The bank where time stood still.

According to a friend in the banking business, online banking has expanded hugely during the pandemic. People who until recently have resisted modern technology are being been forced into the digital age. Huge resources have been diverted into teaching these customers how to use internet banking over the phone and apparently once they have tried it, many have found it surprisingly easy and have indicated they will continue after Covid goes away (2022?). They have been pleased with how easy it is to move money between accounts and don’t miss waiting in line although many also regret losing contact with a human teller.

As a result of the adoption of online banking by many more people, my source tells me that bank bosses are accelerating plans to close branches earlier than they dared hope a few months ago.We’re down to a precious few branches in Weston. Let’s hope that some will remain.

Thought of the day:Did you ever imagine that one day you’d put on a mask and enter a bank?

ActiveTO Quiet Streets launch dead on arrival.

Toronto the Careful™ has struck again.

Call me jaded but the plan to open up Toronto’s streets to pedestrians and cyclists seems to be (like most council actions in our fair city) massively underwhelming and certainly in Ward 5 the selection of streets doesn’t seem to address the spirit of the initiative. The idea was to ensure that, “people have space to get around on sidewalks while respecting physical distancing“. 

57 km or a minuscule 1.7% of Toronto’s 3,322 km of neighbourhood streets (excludes expressways, arterial and collector roads) will be temporarily signed and barricaded off to all but local traffic. York South-Weston is giving this treatment to 3.7 kilometres of its streets. Sadly none are in Weston or Mount Dennis.

The Ward 5 closed off streets will be:

StreetFromToLength
Bicknell AveRogers RdEglinton Ave 0.9 km
Silverthorn AveSt. Clair Ave WDonald Ave 

Total of 2.8 km

Donald AveSilverthorn AveHaverson Blvd
Haverson BlvdDonald AveCameron Ave
Blackthorn AveCameron AveEglinton Ave W

Source: Councillor Nunziata’s May 13 COVID Update.

Council felt the need to do something, and something, albeit timid and careful has been done. At least they restrained themselves from calling it a pilot. Additional streets will be considered ‘thereafter’.

The affected streets are shown with red dotted lines. Click to enlarge. Adapted from Google Maps.

According to Councillor Nunziata’s update, the criteria for selection of these streets was, “…several factors including, but not limited to, population density, equity, access to greenspace, car ownership rates, and traffic volumes.“. The councillor’s selection appears to be entirely inside her newly acquired constituency – Frank DiGiorgio’s  former Ward 12 so perhaps this is a little nod to them.

Incidentally, all but one of the selected streets have sidewalks on both sides so it’s hard to imagine crowds of people jostling for space.

Looking south from where Blackthorn Ave and Haverson Blvd meet at Cameron Ave. From Google Maps.

Readers are invited to suggest locations in Weston and Mount Dennis that might be more suitable. We will forward them to the councillor for future consideration.

Update: The city has published their list of ‘Quiet Streets’ and the Ward 5 selections are nowhere to be seen.

More thoughts from the lockdown.

It’s hard to get our heads around this pandemic. Let’s start with the important stuff instead of (note to self) watching the gong of doom all day.

How to avoid catching Covid-19.
Knowledge is power. For starters read this excellent blog post from an epidemiologist, it’s well worth the investment of your time as well as this article by Jonathan Kay that inspired it.

Bottom line: “Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.”

Wrong advice:
We were first told that face-masks were ineffective. Canadian medical officers of health are still tepid as to their protection value. Despite that, it appears that masks are very effective in containing the spread of Covid. Look at this comparison of jurisdictions and their use of masks along with testing and contact tracing.

from #Masks4all. Click to enlarge.

From #Masks4all.com

Frequent wearing of masks and better masks drives virus transmission towards zero (blue zone). From Researchgate.net.

Despite the evidence, health experts continue to twist themselves into pretzels and argue that their conflicting advice was correct each time.

Long term care homes:
The infection and death rate in profit-making homes is significantly higher than in non-profits  and it’s even lower in civic-run homes.  Legislation from an earlier P.C. government and low funding from Liberals along with decreased inspections has cost lives. Legislated staffing ratios and more frequent inspections are needed for all facilities. This is something that the Ford government doesn’t seem interested in. All Personal Support Workers – even those from agencies – should be paid well with benefits and restricted to one location only. Do we want anything less for the most vulnerable members of our society? (ambiguity intentional)

Paradox:
Isn’t it odd that many of our (now) most important workers were stiffed by Premier Ford when he blocked a minimum wage rise back in 2018. Now he’s offering some of them a temporary (4 month) $4 an hour raise, no doubt until it’s safe to ignore these essential workers once more.

B.S. O-Meter:
We’re hearing a lot more from politicians and health officials these days. The B.S. alarms should go off when any public figure says:

  • …thoughts and prayers…
  • You won’t believe…
  • We’ve made historic investments…
  • Each and every…
  • Let me be clear…
  • We’re gonna be laser focussed…
  • We’ll put an iron ring around our seniors…
  • Don’t go to your cottage to check on the plumbing…
  • …my career
  • Sentences using the first person pronoun (I).
  • No-one likes _____ more than I do…

Things that will never be the same again:

Office work:
Many office-based businesses have discovered that work can carry on from home quite efficiently with the added bonus of employees ponying up the accommodation and utility costs. Will we need as much office space in the future? Probably not. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Some friends work from home and hate the lack of social contact with colleagues along with the intrusion of work tasks into all hours of the day and night. If business can solve these issues, there will be a lot fewer commuters and less need to live in the city.

Spitting athletes:
The act of spitting can carry huge virus loads. If basketball, golf and tennis players can go a whole game without spitting or firing snot rockets, hockey and baseball players, cyclists (and everyone else) can and must.

Handshakes and hugs:
The ancient custom of bowing or the namaste hand clasp is looking better and better. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci.

From Osho News

Transportation:
TTC ridership is down 80%. Many people are fearful of travelling on any form of transit. Projections are that when numbers recover after the pandemic subsides, they will climb to less than 50% of pre-pandemic levels. This includes airplane and cruise line traffic.

We need more:

Pedestrian and park space:
We need more and it seems that Toronto is cautiously (what else) moving to improve pedestrian space so that people are able to occupy more of the road space since they are now in the majority in many parts of Toronto. How great would it be if Toronto restaurants could occupy patios outside their establishments with a minimum of red tape? Then again we live in Toronto the Careful™.

Cycling expansion:
When Toronto Council right-winger Denzil Minnan-Wong proposed to “…direct the General Manager, Transportation Services to explore the feasibility of implementing new technology including heated pavement to promote year-round cycling., our own Councillor Nunziata voted to defeat the motion. Doncha know there’s a pandemic on?

Oddly Mr. Minnan-Wong voted against his own motion. Toronto Council never fails to entertain.

Vote (Adopt Item)Apr-30-2020
Result: LostMajority Required – IE12.8 – Infrastructure and Environment Committee Recommendation 9 only
Yes: 8Brad Bradford, Joe Cressy, Paula Fletcher, Mike Layton, Jennifer McKelvie, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Kristyn Wong-Tam
No: 16Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailão, Mike Colle, Gary Crawford, John Filion, Michael Ford, Mark Grimes, Stephen Holyday, Jim Karygiannis, Cynthia Lai, Josh Matlow, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (Chair), James Pasternak, Michael Thompson, John Tory
Absent: 2Shelley Carroll, Jaye Robinson

Bless the Diavolitsis family although it’s sad that we need to raise charitable donations for our hospitals.

Local Weston and Mount Dennis business needs our patronage more than ever.

Canadian inventiveness and ‘Made In Canada’ labels may become a more common sight as we realize the sense of supporting local industry.

Education:
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has got his wish of increased distance learning and almost every student in the province is taking part in a giant online / distant learning experiment. The original goal of the Ford government was to cut education costs by requiring high school students to take four online credits. After an outcry the number was reduced to two credits but the pandemic may make online learning a necessity.

Lastly, universities coining gazillions of dollars from overseas students are learning that their golden goose has been cooked by Covid-19. In early 2020, more than 600,000 foreign students made Canada their learning playground. There’s simply no point in overseas students paying top dollar for courses at U of T or McGill if they can’t have the physical student experience of skipping classes and getting shitfaced, which is after all a major point of the exercise. No doubt accommodation and other repercussions will echo across the land when the students’ $22 billion and 170,000 related jobs disappear.

Local hospital ahead of the curve.

Humber River Hospital (CNW Group/Humber River Hospital) From Wikipedia.

If you saw this pandemic coming in January or even February, you’re not alone. Many Canadians watched in dismay while various politicians and their medical officers of health basically twiddled around. We were also told that face masks were ineffective but that’s another story.

There’s a Toronto company called Blue Dot and they analyze masses of data using artificial intelligence. Blue Dot was able to predict the spread of Zika along with other diseases using huge amounts of data that is mostly publicly available. They analyze this data and present conclusions to clients who can then plan accordingly. Blue Dot saw the Covid-19 pandemic coming as early as December and knew where and how it would spread from Wuhan long before any of our local experts or politicians did. The CBS show 60 Minutes covered Humber River Hospital’s use of Blue Dot’s services and it’s quite impressive to see what the application of artificial intelligence can do during a pandemic.

Let’s hope that some intelligent thinking and data usage will be used to guide lifting of the lockdown so that Canada can successfully emerge from its current medically induced coma.

Westmount Army and Navy seeks help.

Westmount Army and Navy Club.

Westmount Army and Navy Club has been around since 1938. It’s at 41 Kingdom Street off Scarlett Road just across the river in Greater Weston™. The idea of the club is to support veterans, family and friends along with the local community. They were serving the community before and after World War II and the Korean War and in 1954 the club became a refuge and coordination centre in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.

Nowadays, the club acts as a meeting spot for many in the community and members can enjoy a quiet drink while playing darts, cards, shuffleboard and the like. The club is occasionally rented for special events but COVID-19 has put paid to all of that.

Since closing on March 18th, revenue has stopped, vital maintenance work is ongoing and the utility bills keep coming. The club is entirely self-supporting and relies on nothing else.

The club is asking for community support through a gofundme campaign that if successful, will see them through the lockdown and help them get ready for their eventual re-opening when they can once again serve the community.

Find the gofundme link here.