Steve Sarkisian backs ‘Eyes of Texas’ song with racist roots

Local Journalism Initiative

Ford calls state of emergency

Durham surpassed 1,000 active cases as the province announced its second state of emergency plan Tuesday. Durham reported 108 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total active  cases in the region to 1,049. Of those, 1,005 are in home isolation, and  44 are in hospital, 16 of which are in the ICU. Durham has also seen 249 deaths, 202 of which were seniors in long-term care and retirement homes. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the state of emergency, effective  immediately, in a news conference Tuesday afternoon, with a  stay-at-home order beginning Thursday, Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m. Under this order, Ford says everyone must stay home and only travel  for essential trips, such as groceries and medical appointments. He says there will soon be some “really dark days ahead,” noting now  more than ever everyone needs to do their part – “stay home, save lives,  protect our health care system,” adding the system is on the “brink of  collapse.” “We’re at levels we have never seen before,” says Ford, adding cases  and deaths are at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic. He notes community spread also continues to escalate. “I know everyone is tired. I know everyone is sick of COVID,  including myself, I know everyone wants to return to normal,” Ford  continues, who notes reports and data show one-third of Ontarians are  not following public health guidelines. With many still travelling and gathering, he says it just takes a  moment to let the guard down, and that’s when it strikes. It’s a story  he says he’s hearing too many times. “Think of the teenager out with their friends, not wearing their  mask. They go home, pass it to their parents. Later that day at dinner,  the virus passes from parents to grandparents. Within days, the  grandparent is in the ICU and tragically passes.” “Stories like this are why we need to stay home, save lives,” he  adds. “My friends, I know the stay-at-home order is a drastic measure,  one we don’t take lightly.  Everyone must stay home to save lives.” As part of the new restrictions under the state of emergency, outdoor gatherings are now reduced to a limit of five people. As well, people are required to wear a mask in all indoor areas of  businesses or organizations that are open, as well as outdoors when  being physically distanced or more than two metres apart isn’t possible. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol  retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, may only be  open between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. However, these restricted  hours do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas  stations, convenience stores, and restaurants offering takeout or  delivery. Furthermore, non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey. Ford also notes enforcement and inspections will increase. He says  local police, bylaw officers and workplace inspectors will be enforcing  these new measures, noting, “bad actors who are caught, they will get  fined.” The province will be cracking down on big box stores as well, he adds. Ontario health officials reported 2,903 new COVID cases Tuesday,  bringing the total number of active cases across the province to 29,478. In all, as of Tuesday, Ontario has seen 226,908 cases of COVID-19.   So far, students in Durham Region will still be heading back to school for in-person learning on Jan. 25. However, students in hot-spot regions – Toronto, Peel, Hamilton,  York, and Windsor-Essex – will now be continuing with virtual learning  until Feb. 10. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will be providing updates  and recommendations on the remaining regions, including Durham Region,  by Jan. 20. New safety measures will also be implemented when students return for in-person learning. Masking is now required for students in Grades 1 through 3, and students will be required to wear masks while also outdoors. There will also be enhanced screening protocols and the province will be expanding its targeted testing. “As I’ve said from the beginning, when it comes to our children, I will not take any unnecessary risks,” says Ford.   Ford says the government will be supporting people in businesses  through these tough times, noting the 24-7 off-peak electricity rate  that is in place, providing $200 per child for the parents, and working  with the federal government to put in place a new CERB program to help  families and workers. He also notes the wage subsidy and rent relief program available to  help businesses, as well as the new Ontario Small Business Support grant  of up to $20,000 to help owners. The enforcement of residential evictions has also been suspended. Ford says as everyone stays home, the government continues to do everything it can to fight the virus. “My friends, we’re strong, we are resilient. I’ve seen how tough we  can be through the first wave and beyond, and as I’ve safe before, tough  times don’t last but tough people do, and we have the toughest people  in the world right here in Ontario.”Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express

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