LCBO to install barriers at check out, more long-term care deaths

The union that represents LCBO workers says the provincial alcohol retailer has agreed to install Plexiglass barriers at check-out counters to better protect staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) said in a statement that the LCBO will also committed to limiting the number of customers in any location at a given time and provide security guards to enforce the cap.

“If the LCBO is going to stay open, it must put in place any and all measures necessary to keep workers and the public safe,” said OPSEU President Smokey Thomas.

“We respect the decision to stay open to help a vulnerable population, however we want to ensure all the necessary precautions are implemented to protect our workers and the public.”

The LCBO was deemed an essential business by the provincial government earlier this week and will keep its doors open as many other retailers in Ontario shut down for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

There were 858 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario as of Thursday evening, including 15 deaths linked to the illness. Here’s what else is happening on Friday:

  • Updated numbers are expected from the province at 10:30 a.m. ET and again at 5:30 p.m.
  • Of the 170 new cases reported yesterday, 12 are hospitalized, including two women in their 20s.
  • Meanwhile, the chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Command Table — who is also the deputy health minister — will be providing an update today at 2 p.m. ET on the hospital situation in the province.

At that news conference, Helen Angus will be joined by the presidents of Ontario Health and the University Health Network to discuss how the province will address capacity issues in intensive care units.

Reporters will also likely have questions about the supply of personal protective equipment, after CBC News revealed Thursday that nurses and other frontline staff are already being told to ration the use of masks at major Toronto hospitals.

Toronto nurse makes tough choice

Marci Halls, a cardiac technologist at a Toronto hospital, spoke to CBC News Friday morning about her decision to send her young son to live with this grandparents in London, Ont., during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Being a single mom and coming to work, it gets really hard to keep your child safe,” she told News Network. “We run the risk, every time we leave for work, of bringing the virus back home.”

Halls documented her last day at home with her son in a series of Instagram posts.

“It was easily the hardest day of my life,” she said. “It’s just him and I so much. Not knowing when I’ll get to physically touch him again was just devastating.”

Halls said she hopes that her videos and posts will help the public understand the sacrifices that health-care workers are making, and encourage people to stay at home and take the outbreak seriously.

“There are so, so many major sacrifices being made every day by so many people on so many levels.”

Restaurant industry calls for help

Canadian restaurant owners and food service workers have started a campaign called #OneTable in an effort to secure federal support.

The group is calling for immediate financial relief, protection from being locked out of their locations by landlords and help to reopen and rehire employees once anti-coronavirus measures are eased.

It has also posted guides for restaurant and franchise owners, as well as others in the industry, who may have questions about how to handle the unprecedented circumstances.

More long-term care home deaths

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit says two members of a long-term care home have died after developing symptoms following a COVID-19 outbreak.

One resident died Tuesday and another on Wednesday at the Pinecrest Nursing Home.

The two who died were not tested for COVID-19.

The deaths came after three residents tested positive on March 20.

Fourteen staff members were confirmed to have tested positive as of Thursday, while four have had negative results and 16 are still waiting.

Thirty-three other people at the home have developed symptoms.

Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, the medical officer of health for the unit, calls it the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the province.


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