October 2 2020 COVID-19 report


Dear Colleagues: Welcome to our Friday, October 2 report – now in the eighth month of COVID-19 in Ontario. Visit the COVID-19 Portal for the many resources RNAO offers on COVID-19. Find earlier update reports here, including thematic pieces in Doris’ COVID-19 Blog. RNAO media hits and releases on the pandemic can be found here. Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC can be found here. As always, feel free to share this report and links with anyone interested.

RNAO urges stricter measures to combat rapidly rising number of COVID-19 infections

RNAO has been increasingly alarmed at the rise of cases and the timid measures advanced by the Ontario government to flatten the second wave. Simply said, the later we act, the larger the price we will pay – both in illness, death, an overwhelmed healthcare system, and in economic costs. This is a basic lesson we learned during the first wave, and we are extremely worried. Today, RNAO issued a press release, reproduced below. We have also been intensively in the media making a call for immediate action. Our presence is also being felt in Twitter, again making that case – please RT here and here and here.

Here is the press release:

As the number of COVID-19 infections rises rapidly – almost doubling in just over two weeks (from 313 on Sept. 14 to 538 on Oct. 1), Ontario nurses urge Premier Ford’s government to immediately impose stricter public health measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent a full lockdown later on. This is something we have implored government officials to do, but their actions are timid and ineffective,” says RNAO’s CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun, adding “the numbers will get much higher unless immediate action is taken to stem the rising tide.”

Grinspun says the rising case counts demonstrate the need for much stronger public health measures to help reduce community spread. This means shutting down bars and not allowing inside table service in restaurants. RNAO also wants places of worship and gyms to be closed. “Anything we can do to limit gatherings of people within confined spaces will help stave off further spread of this virus and prevent illness and deaths,” says Grinspun.

“Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says he sees no need to return to stage two yet, however, we beg to differ. If we don’t act, we will see case counts way above 1,000 within a week.” Equally alarming, says Grinspun, is the fact that along with the increase in numbers, those who are becoming infected aren’t just in their 20s and 30s. The government’s own data shows that people who are between 40 and 59 are also being infected at higher rates.

Grinspun says “if the government heeds the advice nurses and other organizations are calling for, and if members of the public do their part by being vigilant – washing their hands, practising physical distancing and wearing a mask – we still have time to avoid another province-wide lockdown as has happened in other countries.”

RNAO says the government must also beef up its second wave preparations. “Let’s make sure the lessons learned from the first wave are actually in motion,” says Grinspun. A crucial start is making sure families are not shut out from their loved ones, yet again. Also, we need secure enough health professionals in place. “Nurses and others are exhausted from the long hours and extra shifts. And many have had no time off, even during the summer. Employers need to make sure there is enough capacity and surge capacity to deal with what’s coming,” adds Grinspun. 

Grinspun says this week’s government announcement promising more funding ($540 million) for long-term care (LTC) is “appreciated but is an example of too little, too late.” While it includes money earmarked for 15 attending nurse practitioners (NP) in LTC homes and 150 positions for infection prevention and control, “it’s not enough to shore up the army of health workers needed to fight the next battle and who should have been in place already.”  

At a time nurses and others have been working flat out, RNAO says it is also unfortunate that Minister for Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton recently remarked in the legislature that “you don’t just snap your fingers and make staffing appear,” when addressing a question about her ministry’s efforts to address staffing in nursing homes.

The reality is RNAO set up a program to address urgent staffing needs at the height of the pandemic. Already in operations on March 13, the program known as VIANurse linked nurses and PSWs with health-care organizations as the virus was surging. “Thousands of RNs, RPNs, NPs and nursing students were placed in 75 health organizations across the province, including telephone triage, public health units, hospitals, and in 241 nursing homes across the province,” says President Morgan Hoffarth. The program was de-activated on July 31 and will not re-open as government officials confirmed Thursday their site is fully functional.

Asked on Tuesday by Long-Term Care Commissioner Chair and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco and the members of the commission why it is not reactivating the program, RNAO officials explained that VIANurse was set up free of charge and operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deal with a pressing need at the height of the pandemic, and during a time the government’s own placement site was not open yet. “It was an emergency solution not a permanent one, with the hope that the government would respond accordingly to combat a second wave,” says Hoffarth.

“This virus will be with us until next year and that’s why efforts must be taken immediately to ensure we have the resources in place and enough nurses and other health workers, especially in LTC where full-time employment and benefits are necessary to ensure stable staffing,” adds Hoffarth.  

To facilitate those looking for employment and employers, RNAO says health organizations can use the association’s RN Careers job portal, which is the largest and most successful job seeking site in Ontario and in operation since 2005. It can link LTC homes, hospitals, public health units, home care agencies and other organizations with RNs, NPs and RPNs to ensure system care needs are met.  

Update on RNAO webinars and events

Health System Transformation & COVID-19 Webinars - On Monday, October 5, 6:45-8:00 pm we will be holding the next monthly webinar for health providers: The second wave: Are we ready, and what’s next to ameliorate suffering and ensure A Just Recovery For All? 

Last week’s Speech from the Throne addresses key policy imperatives RNAO outlined in a letter and call to action sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging that vulnerable people not be left behind as a result of COVID-19. Contrary to the accelerating spread of COVID-19 in Ontario – especially in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa -- the provincial government has so far adopted undersized public health measures.

The webinar will bring an up-to-date status on COVID-19 in Ontario, how prepared we are, and what is required in the coming months and years to secure a just recovery for all. A Just Recovery for All – a global movement endorsed by RNAO – shines a light on the actions needed to build a better and more inclusive society, and to seal the cracks of inequity exposed during the pandemic. RNAO focuses our message to the prime Minister on 1) Canada's seniors, especially those living in LTC and the need for National Standards linked to funding; 2) housing and targeted funding to end the suffering of persons experiencing homelessness; and 3) reinstatement of Canada's Chief Nursing Officer position to better inform health system and nursing policies and a national level.

Join us this coming Monday by registering here.

Information on past webinars, including videos and presentation slides, can be found here.  


Let’s Talk about Anti-Black Racism and Discrimination in Nursing  

Our monthly webinar series is designed for RNs, NPs and RPNs interested in receiving updates on RNAO’s Black Nurses Task Force and to engage in meaningful conversations that will inform the work of the Task Force. The Black Nurses Task Force has a mandate to tackle anti-Black racism and discrimination within the nursing profession. Media is welcome.

The upcoming webinar will be on Monday, October 19, 6:45-8:15 pm – stay tuned for details here. Information about past webinars, including presentation slides, can be found here.


Landscape and Emerging Issues with E- Cigarettes: Webinar Series

Webinar 1 of a 3 part series - Wednesday, October 14, 12:00 - 13:00 pm

Vaping Landscape and Overview 101

This webinar is in partnership with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), Community Health Nurses’ Initiatives group (CHNIG) and Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC).


  • understand the prevalence of vaping in Ontario and across Canada
  • understand the mechanism of vaping (primary focus: nicotine)
  • articulate health impacts of vaping
  • discuss how nurses and other health-care providers can provide clients with prevention, protection and cessation support

Guest speakers:

  • Dr. Robert Schwartz, PhD, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit
  • Mathew McGuigan, RN, BScN, Chatham Kent Public Health

Register now.


Nursing and Compassionate Care in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Virtual Symposium

The symposium will happen on Wednesday, 21 October, 1:00-4:30 pm.

A new era in health care and in nursing has begun. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual care delivery models in Canada. According to a recent Ipsos poll, in the next 10 years, Canadians envision a health-care system with health technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI) — such as predictive analytics and robotics. 

RNAO and AMS Healthcare are hosting a virtual pan-Canadian symposium to bring together nurses and other stakeholders to critically reflect and discuss this important topic. 

Join us at our virtual symposium to learn more about the emerging future and its potential impact on the nursing profession and the delivery of compassionate care.

Target audience: nurses in all roles and sectors, other health professionals, educators, health service administrators, researchers, policy makers, media and technology experts.

Program-at-a-glance: click here  Digital flyer: click here

The event is free, but registration is required. REGISTER NOW


Today is day #198 of RNAO’s #TogetherWeCanDoIt campaign. RNAO began this campaign on March 19 to cheer up health care workers and others in essential services. A central pillar of our campaign is #Maskathon to help spread the message and the actions of masks-for-all!

As the number of new cases in Ontario continues to grow with 732 on Friday, it’s clear we are moving into the thick of the second wave of COVID-19. And, meanwhile that we continue to urge our government to take swifter actions to halt the spread -- let’s get moving with actions we can take ourselves. Here are some: 1. If you can, work from home, 2. Use a mask anytime you are out and cover well your mouth and nose (I still see many people with the mask below their nose), 3. Use sanitizer or wash your hands before you put your mask and upon taking it off, and don’t touch your face while outside your home. 4. Keep your bubble to those with whom you live or a couple of friends that commit to your same bubble, 5. Remind your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors and just about anyone you know to protect themselves and others

We are in for another difficult period and we are all tired of it! Please do your best to get 6-8 hours of sleep – being tired makes us more irritable and inpatient. On the positive side, RNAO is here for you – always!!!!!!! Tell us about the important work you do. When you are not working, think of reading a good book, cocking a yummy meal while listening to music you love, joining our webinars, joining our facebook groups, join our virtual chapter meetings, do some good exercise (not at the gym), take walks, and join the #togetherwecandoit campaign! Building resilience through this challenging time will come handy, always! If you have other tips, please send those to pgbatten@rnao and we will feature those next Friday in our Blog

Visit our website for #Maskathon message alongside RNAO’s Maskathon Portal where you can borrow graphics for your own social media play! And, join us on the #Maskathon challenge by wearing your mask correctly, as together we educate and encourage everyoneto wear a mask including children!

Post your pics using #Maskathon because #TogetherWeCanDoIt.


MOH EOC Situational Report

We are posting each day the Daily Situational Reports from Ontario's MOH EOC at RNAO’s website. That way, you can access the Ministry’s guidance at any time.

For a more detailed Ontario epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, you can always go here.

Here is a segment from the latest Situation Report #251 for 2 October: 


Case count as of 10:00 am October 2, 2020 / Nombre de cas à 10h00 le 2 octobre 2020

Area / Région

Case count / Nombre de cas

Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier

Deaths / Décès

Change from yesterday / Changement par rapport à hier

Worldwide total /
Total mondial

34 549 338

+295 521

1 028 701

+8 440


160 535


9 319



52 980


(approx. 73 linked to data cleaning) ***

2 927


(approx. 74 linked to data cleaning) ***


Staying in touch       

Please continue to keep in touch and share questions, comments and challenges. Send these to me at dgrinspun@rnao.ca and copy my executive assistant, Peta-Gay (PG) Batten <pgbatten@rnao.ca>. RNAO’s Board of Directors and our entire staff want you to know: WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

Thank you deeply to each and all of you for being there for our communities – everywhere and in all roles! Together, in solidarity, we are stronger and more resilient. These continue to be tough times for many colleagues – especially those working in the front lines in countries around the world hit hard by evil COVID-19!

Remember, during stressful and exhausting times, the only silver lining is -- coming together and working as one people – for the good of all!

As case numbers are now consistently increasing in Canada – in particular in Quebec and Ontario – we must redouble our efforts to tackle COVID-19 with the best tools at hand: full, accurate and transparent information, public health swift actions, and individual accountability.

Doris Grinspun, RN,MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, O.ONT
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO



25 Sept - Nurses say throne speech advances A Just Recovery for All – go hee.

18 Sept - Is Your Hospital Using Blood Wisely? – go here.

18 Sept - RNAO calls to Delay Action on CNO Council Decision to Expand RPN Scope – go here.

11 Sept - International Overdose Awareness Day: Statement from RNAO – go here.

11 Sept - RNAO joins global movement: A Just Recovery for All – go here.

28 August - RNAO letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding Speech from the Throne – go here.

21 August - Black August and an update on RNAO’s Anti-Black Nursing Task Force – go here.

21 August - Winter Surge Planning: How one Ontario Health Team is Preparing – go here.

14 August - Insights from Cuba: Primary care as the focus of COVID-19 prevention – go here.

7 August - School reopening: Ontario government can still do the right thing on class sizes – go here.

31 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: Discussion – go here.

31 July - Important announcement regarding the VIANurse program – go here.

31 July - Government must immediately mandate hiring to avert second tragedy in LTC – go here.

24 July - Preparing for the second wave of COVID-19: What is the plan? – go here.

17 July - RNAO launches new social media campaign #Maskathon – go here.

17 July - RNAO calls on government to reunite families in LTC homes in Ontario – go here.

10 July - Nurses’ mental health, leave of absence and return to work experiences – go here.

10 July - RNAO continues to pursue family reunification in LTC – go here.

10 July - Support Zimbabwean nurses arrested and fired for protesting deteriorating pay and working conditions during pandemic – go here.

3 July -   RNAO launches task force to tackle anti-Black racism within the nursing profession – go here.

3 July -   Rather than praise, let’s protect our nurses – go here.

3 July -   Nurses celebrated diversity during Pride month – go here.

26 June - Nursing Home Basic Care Guarantee – go here.

26 June - Masks for all – the policy imperative in Canada – go here.

18 June - Annual General Meeting – an exhilarating week! – go here.

12 June - Petition on masks for Canada – go here.

12 June - LTC: RNAO releases list of 35 reports and recommendations dating back 20 years – go here.

6 June   - Statement – RNAO stands together with our Black sisters and brothers – go here.

3 June   - Adapting harm reduction during a pandemic – go here.

29 May - Foot care nurses – go here.

29 May - Update on pandemic pay; pandemic pay in consumption and treatment sites – go here.

28 May - RNAO Calls for Immediate Action in Response to the Canadian Armed Forces’ LTC report – go here.

26 May - Update on VIANurse – go here.

26 May - Ending homelessness: Will you join us to build a COVID-19 recovery for all? – go here.

24 May - Technology as a solution: Opportunities and pitfalls of COVID contact-tracing apps – go here.

21 May - Debunking PPE myths with Dr. Jeff Powis: Which masks should health care workers wear during COVID-19? – go here.

20 May - RNAO response to announcement of an independent commission into Ontario's long-term care system – go here.

19 May - With the pandemic curve flattening, VIANurse program will focus its effort on outbreaks – go here.

14 May - Nursing Week update – go here.

14 May - Pandemic puts health system to the test: Nurses have answers for shortfalls – go here.

14 May - Disappointment for not being included in pandemic pay – go here.

13 May - RNAO saddened by the loss RN Brian Beattie to COVID-19 – go here.

13 May - End racism and prejudice – go here.

12 May – Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO 3.0) – go here

11 May - Nurses share their successes and challenges during National Nursing Week – go here.

10 May - A story of hope, ingenuity, support and genuine care for an LTC resident – go here.

7 May    - Counting the missing deaths: Tracking the toll of the coronavirus outbreak – go here.

5 May    - Life on the front lines of the pandemic: Profile of RNAO member NP Daria Gefrerer – go here.

5 May    - Addressing differential access to virtual care due to technology inequities – go here.

3 May    - Being person-and-family-centred during COVID-19 – go here.

1 May    - Migrant agricultural workers and the COVID-19 crisis – go here.

30 April - COVID-19 pandemic in provincial institutions and correctional centres – go here.

28 April - Supporting First Nation Communities during COVID-19 – go here.

27 April - Responses to COVID-19 for persons experiencing homelessness in Toronto: An update – go here.

25 April - Lessons learned through a COVID-19 nursing home outbreak – go here.

25 April - Letter from a retired RN to Premier Ford: The problems with LTC were evident long before COVID – go here.

23 April - Working with seniors in long-term care requires specialized knowledge – go here.

22 April - Shaking the stigma: We need a proactive COVID-19 response for mental health and addiction – go here.

21 April - We Require Expanded and Accessible COVID-19 Data in Ontario – go here.

20 April - Can Loss of Smell and Taste Help Screen for COVID-19? – go here.

18 April - COVID, Trump and the World Health Organization – go here.

16 April - A Home Based Model To Confront COVID-19 – The Case Of The Balearic Islands – go here.

15 April - COVID-19 and the Challenges in Homecare – go here.

14 April - Reprocessing Of N95 – An Update – go here.

14 April - A New COVID-19 Facility For Persons Experiencing Homelessness In Toronto – go here

13 April - Practical Tips for Safe Use of Masks – go here.

10 April - Ontario’s Tragedy in Long Term Care Homes and Retirement Homes – go here.

10 April - RNAO Action – Supporting Long-Term Care – go here.

10 April - Update For Nursing Students – NCLEX Exam – go here.

9 April - Celebrating Passover, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and the start of Ramadan during a pandemic – go here.

9 April - Guidance on use of N95 mask – go here.

7 April - Sentinel surveillance and on-site testing in the homeless service sector – go here.

7 April - Reprocessing of n95 – safe? – go here.

5 April - We must change the way we do testing and case definition – go here.

5 April - Ringing the alarm bells on critical care beds – go here.

4 April - COVID-19, stay at home and domestic violence – go here.

We have posted earlier ones in my blog here. Please go and take a look.


Information Resources

Public Health Ontario maintains an excellent resource site on materials on COVID-19. This is an essential resource for Ontario health providers. 

Ontario’s health provider website is updated regularly with useful resources here.

Ontario’s public website on the COVID-19 is there to inform the general public – encourage your family and friends to access this public website. The WHO has provided an excellent link for you to share with members of the public here.

Please promote the use of Ontario’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool: It also has a guide where to seek care, if necessary. Its use will provide the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. Data will inform Ontario's ongoing response to keep individuals and families safe.

Health Canada's website provides the best information capturing all of Canada. It contains an outbreak update, Canada's response to the virus, travel advice, symptoms and treatment, and resources for health professionals.

The World Health Organization plays a central role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. See here and here.

You can find up-to-date global numbers in Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE.