Toronto Reflects on Third Anniversary of COVID-19

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The Rise of the Toronto Raptors

Toronto. – COVID Update – The City of Toronto is reflecting on the strength and resiliency of Torontonians on the third anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 confirmed in the city. Toronto’s first confirmed case, identified on January 25, 2020, was also Canada’s first confirmed case of the virus and launched an unprecedented response from the City and people across Toronto. The past three years have required sacrifice and strength as Torontonians rallied to protect the city’s most vulnerable residents against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

One year after the first case appeared in Toronto, on January 18, 2021, the City launched its first COVID-19 immunization clinic and worked collaboratively with Toronto Public Health (TPH), health care providers and community partners to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly and effectively as possible.
As of January 19, 2023, more than 7.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and boosters have been administered to eligible residents five years of age and older and more than 90 per cent of people age 12 and older have received two doses of vaccine.
Also launched in 2021, the innovative work of City’s Vaccine Engagement Teams (VETs) and community ambassadors has been a key component of the City’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan to help reduce barriers to COVID-19 vaccines, address hesitancy and increase vaccine confidence, access and uptake among equity-deserving communities across Toronto. The culturally diverse and multilingual community ambassadors and VETs have been integral to building trust and improving vaccine access and equity.
VETs operate through 17 geographic and population-specific consortiums made up of more than 150 health, community, and faith-based organizations. VETs have mobilized more than 720 community ambassadors, who reflect the diversity in culture, race and language of Toronto’s equity-deserving groups and, using personal networks, facilitate targeted outreach to individuals and communities where they work and live.
Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccination program is ongoing, with targeted outreach to protect seniors, children, homebound individuals, people experiencing homelessness, persons with a disability and those most likely to experience poor outcomes associated with COVID-19.
Team Toronto mobile clinics continue to bring vaccines into community and neighbourhood settings.
Toronto’s COVID-19 response timeline:
• January 25, 2020: First confirmed case of COVID-19 detected in Toronto
• March 11, 2020: World Health Organization (WHO) declares pandemic
• March 17, 2020: Government of Ontario declares a State of Emergency
• March 23, 2020: City of Toronto declares a State of Emergency
• September 12, 2020: TPH opens Canada’s first COVID-19 voluntary isolation site
• January 18, 2021: City of Toronto launches first proof-of-concept immunization clinic
• March 17, 2021: City of Toronto opens first three mass immunization clinics
• April 21, 2021: Team Toronto sprint strategy for 13 neighbourhoods announced
• June 27, 2021: Record-breaking 26,771 doses administered at Scotiabank Arena
• November 6, 2021: TPH offers appointments for third (booster) doses
• April 6, 2022: TPH announces eligibility and vaccine availability for fourth doses
• May 9, 2022: City of Toronto’s COVID-19 emergency declaration terminates
• September 26, 2022: TPH begins administering bivalent COVID-19 booster doses to those 18 years of age and older
Although three years have passed since Toronto’s first confirmed case, COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community. Toronto Public Health recommends that residents stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. Scientific data shows that individuals who have kept up to date with their vaccinations are better protected against serious consequences links to the virus and its variants compared to those who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.
COVID-19 and flu vaccination appointments continue to be available at all six City fixed-site immunization clinics to people six months of age and older. People five years of age and older attending a City-run or Team Toronto clinic, or a participating pharmacy, can be vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 in the same visit. Appointments for City-run clinics can be booked using the provincial vaccine appointment booking webpage: www.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
TPH reminds residents to continue taking simple but impactful actions to protect themselves, their families and those most at risk of serious COVID disease.
More information is available on the City’s Reduce Virus Spread Guide: www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reduce-virus-spread/.
The Burn: reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic through art
Toronto residents are invited to heal and cleanse through the restorative power of rising heat, ash, smoke and water. The Burn (www.toronto.ca/TheBurn), an interactive art installation inspired by the universally sacred elements of fire and water, provides a sanctuary for comfort and care with rituals of intention setting, releasing and letting go.
On now until March 11, residents are invited to engage with The Burn’s travelling vessels by setting healing intentions on wooden spheres. Following the tour, take part in a commemorative ceremony on Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, March 11, where the wooden spheres will be ignited for a 24-hour burn. Ashes from The Burn will be harvested, mixed into soil and spread across city gardens to honour the spirit of our collective healing. More information is available at www.toronto.ca/TheBurn.