A Note from John About COVID-19 – Sept 25

A Note from John About COVID-19 – Sept 25

I was holding out hope that recent COVID spikes would cause enough Toronto residents to change their behaviour for us to see a leveling off the upward trend. After today, with its 237 new cases, I’m finding that increasingly less likely.

That’s at the tail end of a week that saw Toronto cases hit 1,104 – up from previous weeks of 617, 385, 265, 206, and 161. Simple math shows that, over those five weeks, the number of cases increased by 685%. Project that ahead to …

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Our Collective Responsibility

Our Collective Responsibility

Before the cold weather sends us indoors, before students are fully back to school, and before the second wave hits, COVID cases are rising at an alarming rate.

This week’s Toronto total is 617, up from 385 last week and 285 the week before. As recently as early August, we had it down to 141. You only need to chart that on the back of an envelope to see where this is heading.

Public Health officials began sounding the alarm several weeks ago when numbers started going …

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What’s New in COVID – July 17

What’s New in COVID

I spend lots of time – maybe too much – tracking this invisible but deadly threat, compiling reliable information I hope will help keep us safe. I’m careful, in this space, not to offer my own projections, and I encourage you to do your own research.

We should rely on advice from public health officials, based on a body of evidence they have at a point in time, while keeping in mind that this sometimes takes a while to emerge. Only after it …

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Mandatory Masks and Other Community News

Mandatory Masks and Other Community News

Dear Friends,

With several weeks of much lower case numbers and hospitalizations, we are slowly and carefully resuming small parts of our pre-pandemic lives. But let’s not lose sight of how quickly that progress can reverse – as we’ve seen in parts of the United States that opened up too much too fast and residents have resisted simple precautions.

Among the most important things we’ve learned about the virus is the extent to which it is spread by those not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) as well as …

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Police Defunding and Accountability

Police Defunding and Accountability

Dear Friends,

This past week, Council dealt with several policing issues and a motion to “defund” Toronto Police by 10%. In previous newsletters, I elaborated on why, on a close decision, I would not be supporting that exact cut right now. I thought a detailed explanation would show respect for those fighting inequality and demanding new and better ways of handling community safety.

While I believe firmly in the principal of reallocating police funding, the way the motion was presented to Council had several problems:

The 10% cut …

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Statement on Police Funding

Statement on Police Funding

Dear Friends,

At its June 29 meeting, Council will be discussing two proposals to change the way we do policing in our City and to fund a variety of programs aimed at combatting racism, inequality and other societal problems that form the roots of crime. Despite the similarities in these two plans, discussion has focused on a single major difference. The first motion, by Councillor Josh Matlow, calls for a 10% “defunding” of the Toronto Police Service while the other, from Mayor John Tory, doesn’t specify the amount …

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Green Button, Red Button

Green Button, Red Button

Dear Friends,

My desk in Council has two buttons: green for Yes, red for No. On major issues, you push these buttons many times, moving through multiple motions and amendments before reaching a single vote on the final package. If you see merit in parts of competing arguments, there is no button for that.

Which brings me to an upcoming vote at which members of Council will grapple with the convergence of multiple issues in a way that does not easily lend itself to a green button/red …

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The Need for Real Change

The Need for Real Change

Dear Neighbours,

Too often, discussions about prejudice and social injustice stay largely within the circles of those experiencing the sting of discriminatory treatment. But this week, who among us hasn’t been forced to examine our own actions – or collective inaction – on issues of race and inequality?

My office has received an unprecedented number of emails – 3,400 at last count – from Torontonians responding to the horrific “I Can’t Breathe” murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, captured on video and …

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COVID-19 Community Update (May 29)

COVID-19 Community Update (May 29)

Dear Neighbours,

As we move into another month of pandemic, almost everyone I speak with is puzzling over when they might resume some version of normal and what they should be doing to stay safe until then.

Is it now safer now to go out? When should I wear a mask and where do I get one? Should business be starting up again? Who is most at risk?

The answers to these questions can change daily as we learn more and move through various stages of the pandemic. …

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Yonge Street Now and in the Future

Yonge Street Now and in the Future

Dear Neighbours,

This week, my eyes are on the Yonge Street pavement but l’m looking towards the future.

Whenever we emerge from the terrible time of COVID, handshaking isn’t the only normal we shouldn’t be returning to. Many people are thinking about a city with more public outdoor space, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, more opportunities for social distancing, safe cycling networks to provide a better alternative to crowded transit or car travel, and outdoor patios to help restaurants recover.

Sounds a lot like Transform Yonge, a plan for …

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Face Masks – COVID Community Update

Face Masks – COVID Community Update

Dear Neighbours,

Since the start of the pandemic, the changing advice on face masks has led many residents to contact my office, seeking clarity. Who should wear a mask and when? Why has advice changed? Should everyone be required to wear a mask when out in public?

Because we should rely on Public Health and medical professionals for most of these answers, I have been reluctant to venture into this territory. But because it is difficult to find a comprehensive official source for this information, I am …

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John’s Update (May 12)

John’s Update (May 12)

Dear Neighbours,

First, the indisputably good news: Thanks to a very high level of co-operation from residents over the past two months, we have avoided the horrifying scenario under which the hospital system could have been overwhelmed. The curve of new COVID cases appears to be flattening, across the province and in Toronto.

Beyond that, the virus remains present, and the future remains uncertain at best.

We are faced with a jumble of confusing, sometimes contradictory, indicators: job losses and the stock market are going up at the …

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