Coronavirus: Premier Ford to make long-term care announcement after ‘horrific’ military report

TORONTO – Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement related to long-term care today, a day after a military report revealed allegations about five homes that the premier has called “horrific.”

Ford called in military assistance last month for five long-term care homes dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Canadian Armed Forces members say they observed cockroach infestations, aggressive feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Hospitals to temporarily manage 2 Ontario long-term care homes

Ford says Ontario has launched a “full investigation” into the allegations and will share the results with police so they can look into any possible criminal charges.

Four of the five homes are private, but Ford suggests creating a fully public system wouldn’t be feasible without financial help from Ottawa.

The number of long-term care homes dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks dropped to 135 on Wednesday from 150 the day before.

According to Ministry of Long-Term Care data, 1,587 residents and six staff members have died due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: Ontario to hold independent commission into long-term care home system

More than 200 residents alone have died at the five homes where the military has been assisting. Orchard Villa has now recorded 69 COVID-19 deaths, while Altamont has recorded 52 and Eatonville 42.

Hawthorne Place has seen 43 residents die – more than double the number of fatalities at the time military help was requested, and four more than Tuesday. Eleven residents have died at Grace Manor.

Other allegations in the military’s report include failure to isolate COVID-19-positive patients, stage four pressure ulcers (in which the damage can extend down to bone), expired medication, patients being left in soiled diapers, leaving food out of reach so residents miss meals, and “significant” fecal contamination in resident rooms.

The military report states that the province wants to transition military support from those homes where the situation has stabilized, and is looking to Downsview Long-Term Care Centre as the next location. That home has seen 52 deaths, up from 40 last week.

Provincewide, Ontario reported 292 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, and 32 more deaths.

It’s the second straight day of fewer than 300 new cases, which follows several consecutive days of more than 400.

The provincial total is now 26,483, an increase of 1.1 per cent over the previous day. The total includes 2,155 deaths and 20,372 resolved cases.

The number of tests reported on Wednesday jumped to 15,133, from just 9,875 the previous day. It’s the first time in 10 days that the province has come close to its goal of completing 16,000 tests per day.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

Meanwhile, Ontarians will not be allowed to dine in bars and restaurants, gather in groups larger than five or use playground equipment until at least mid-June.

The provincial government is extending its COVID-19 emergency orders until June 9.

READ MORE: Military teams raise concerns about conditions at Ontario care homes

The orders were last extended on May 19 and were set to expire May 29.

The orders include the closure of child-care centres, libraries except for pickup and delivery, theatres, and bars and restaurants except to provide takeout or delivery.

It also means Ontarians looking to beat the heat at public pools and splash pads are out of luck until at least June 9.

Ontario has been in a state of emergency since March 17, and it was last extended until June 2.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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