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COVID-19 in Ontario: Concerns about protective equipment for front-line workers as cases near 2,400

The association that represents Ontario’s hospitals is sounding the alarm about dwindling supplies of personal protective equipment.

The Ontario Hospital Association says it is “extremely concerned” that many of the facilities are running low.

It says that as the number of COVID-19 cases in acute care units rise, many hospitals are experiencing a shortage, especially of masks.

The association is calling on the federal and provincial governments to clearly communicate when new supplies will be provided to specific hospitals.

Ontario had 2,392 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, when data from local health units was most recently uploaded to the province’s reporting system.

The official tally includes at least 37 deaths, though a CBC Toronto investigation found that number is likely considerably lower than the actual figure, given a delay in accounting for deaths in long-term care facilities throughout Ontario.

Updated numbers are expected around 10:30 a.m. ET.

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold his daily briefing at 1 p.m. from Queen’s Park, where he will be joined by Michael Tibollo, the associate minister of mental health and addictions.

Provincial health authorities are set to speak to media again at 3 p.m., while Toronto city officials will provide a local update at 3:45 p.m.

You’ll be able to watch all of those news conferences live in this story, so check back throughout the day.

Support for veterans

Meanwhile, Royal Canadian Legion branches are adapting their services to support veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s also warning that financial pressures could result in the closure of some branches.

The head of the national veterans and community service group says that despite the shut down of most branches, volunteers continue preparing hot meals, delivering groceries and providing online social links to struggling veterans.

Dominion President Thomas Irvine says the efforts come at a time when legion branches themselves are under considerable financial strain because of the pandemic.

He says their main sources of income — in-house restaurants and bars, as well as hosted events — have been cut off.

Power grid concerns

A group of personnel key to keeping Ontario’s electricity system functioning may end up locked down in their control centres due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This according to the head of the province’s power operator.

Independent Electricity System Operator CEO Peter Gregg says the measure has so far proven unnecessary.

He says that while about 90 per cent of staff were sent to work from home on March 13th, another 48 control-room operators deemed essential are still going into work.

He says it could come to a point where they can’t leave the workplace because without them, the power grid would fail.

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