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COVID-19 update: 24 cases in the Haut-Saint-Laurent; most parents say no to school

Sarah Rennie and Nadia Geukjian

Premier François Legault announced during a briefing earlier today that while retail stores outside of the greater Montreal area were able to open as of May 4, those in Montreal would see their opening date postponed to May 18. The government plan had originally slated businesses to open in the greater Montreal area on May 11.

Public Health Director Horacio Arruda said that while the rest of the province was still meeting conditions for reopening, a jump in confirmed cases and hospitalizations over the last few days had removed the leeway necessary for the re-opening of the city. At the same time, Legault insisted that he would wait to decide whether to push back the timeline for the opening of schools. At the moment, elementary schools outside the greater Montreal area are scheduled to open on May 11, while those in Montreal will open on May 19.

The Premier was forced to address a statement made by the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) that asserted the nine English-language boards were ready to flex their constitutional muscle and would only open schools if they could guarantee the safety of students, teachers, and staff. Legault argued that it was not up to the boards to make this decision, but rather the Ministry of Education. In an interview Monday afternoon on CBC, QESBA Executive Director Russell Copeman suggested all the English-language boards were requesting from the Ministry was the flexibility to determine whether they were able to ensure public health measures could be respected in the schools before they are opened to students.

The government has maintained the return to school is not mandatory and that parents who are able can keep their children at home. Six elementary schools from the New Frontiers School Board are scheduled to reopen on May 11. According to the results of a survey submitted by parents, the NFSB is expecting only about 32% of students to be attending come next Monday.

Cases still on the rise

The number of confirmed cases in the province increased by 758 to a total of 32,623, with 1,772 individuals currently fighting the virus in hospital, including 218 in intensive care. An additional 75 deaths attributed to the coronavirus were also announced today, bringing the total across the province to 2,280.

The numbers continue to rise in the Montérégie as well, with 157 new cases confirmed between Sunday and Monday for a total of 3,890. There have now been 167 deaths in the region, an increase of 14 since Sunday. Of those who have lost their lives, the majority were residents in private seniors’ residences (72), however a significant number of individuals were also residents of CHSLDs (47), still living at home (37), or in hospital (8).

The number of confirmed cases has increased in the Haut-Saint-Laurent Local Health Network (LHN) to 24, and the numbers have also increased in neighbouring regions as well. The number of positive cases in the Suroît LHN is now 199, while the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN is reporting 379 cases, and the Jardins-Roussillon LHN now counts 535 cases.

Legault ended his briefing by reminding Quebecers it was imperative all continue to respect the social distancing measure of 2 metres, especially now that parts of the province are opening up.

Feds invest in online healthcare

Trudeau announced over the weekend that his government will be putting $240 million into healthcare online. A virtual platform for mental health will provide help to people experiencing difficulties and stress during this COVID-19 pandemic. Another online platform will provide videoconferencing possibilities for people who need to speak with a doctor but do not need to see a doctor in person. “You can stay safe at home while getting care, and hospitals can stay focused on those who need it most,” Trudeau explained.

Trudeau also announced that this month eligible families will see an additional $300 per child added to their regular Canada Child Benefit.
As part of the briefing, Trudeau also said that a Supply Council, under the direction of Procurement Minister Anita Anand, has been set up to find creative solutions to keep up the supply of protective and medical equipment during the pandemic.
In closing, Trudeau asked that everyone stay positive. “This isn’t going to last forever” and “we’re going to get through this together.”

During his briefing on Monday, Trudeau announced Canada would be investing $850 million in funding to the global race to find a vaccine for COVID-19.


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