COVID-19 Community Health and Safety Resources

The health and safety of our clients, volunteers and staff is an ongoing priority at ESS. We are currently working with the Location Health Integration Network (LHIN) and Public Health on a daily basis to help prevent the potential exposure and transmission of COVID-19.

Persons most at risk are our vulnerable populations such as people with weakened immune systems, who are older in age or have a chronic disease.  Awareness, education, standard infection control and recommended social distancing practices are important steps we can all take to do our part in reducing the risk of transmission and keeping these populations safe.


* City of Toronto COVID-19 updates.

* Government of Ontario COVID-19 updates.

* Follow current updates from the Government of Ontario newsroom.


COVID-19 Vaccine Information


COVID-19 Information and Safety Resources

Source:  Ontario Ministry of Health (

What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses.  The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) causes a respiratory infection that originated in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.

Call 911 if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
  • severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
  • feeling confused or unsure of where you are
  • losing consciousness

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • chills
  • cough that’s new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
  • shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • headache that’s unusual or long lasting
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
  • muscle aches
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
  • falling down often
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite
If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19

If you begin to feel symptoms of COVID-19, you should:

  • go to a COVID-19 assessment centre to get tested
  • stay home and self-isolate unless you are going to the assessment centre
  • tell people you were in close physical contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms began to monitor their health and to self-isolate

Only call 911 if it is an emergency.

At-risk groups

Some groups are at higher risk of getting COVID-19. You may be in an at-risk group if you:

  • are 70 years old or older
  • are getting treatment that compromises (weakens) your immune system (for example, chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors)
  • have a condition that compromises (weakens) your immune system (for example, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder)
  • have a chronic (long-lasting) health condition (for example, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition)
  • regularly go to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment (for example, dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment)


4 steps for self-protection during the COVID-19 pandemic

How to Protect Yourself and Others

COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through close physical contact.

Close physical contact means:

  • being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area for over 15 minutes
  • living in the same home

There is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19, but there are things you should do to help prevent it from spreading.

Everyday actions

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home and self-isolate if you are sick

Poster: What you need to know to help you and your family stay healthy (PDF)

Physical distancing

Everyone in Ontario should practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people — this means you should:

  • stay home as much as possible – go grocery shopping once a week or less, only visit pharmacies and banks when necessary and place orders over the phone or online
  • staying at least two metres away from anyone you do not live with

Guide: How to practice social distancing

Learn where to get tested if you think you’ve been exposed to 

Face coverings (non-medical masks)

The best way to stop the spread of covid 19 is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.

When you go out, you must use a face covering (non-medical mask such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces, with some exceptions. This includes:

  • public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels)
  • workplaces, even those that are not open to the public
  • vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and

Note: It is mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in public indoor places in the City of Toronto.

Guides: Use of face masks fact sheet, How to wear a mask, Wearing a mask: Do’s and Don’ts.

Get tested for COVID-19

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get a free covid 19 test at:

  • covid 19 assessment centres (including mobile and temporary sites)
  • participating community labs
  • participating pharmacies

Some locations may have certain restrictions (for example, some are unable to test young children).

Find out what you need to know before, during, and after a test at an assessment centre, pharmacy, or community lab.

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease.

You should self-isolate if you:

  • are in an at-risk group
  • think you have symptoms of covid 19
  • think you have been exposed to someone with covid 19 or who has recently returned from travel

This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for critical reasons (like a medical emergency). Where possible, you should try to get what you need:

  • online
  • over the phone
  • from friends, family or neighbours

Your roommates or family you live with should self-isolate too, if they can.

When self-isolating you should:

  • Stay home
    • do not use public transportation, taxis or ride shares
    • do not go to work, school or other public places
    • your health care provider will tell you when it is safe to leave
    • This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for critical reasons (like a medical emergency).
    • Where possible, you should try to get what you need: online, over the phone, from friends, family or neighbours.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home
  • Avoid contact with others
  • Keep distance
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes (cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand)
  • Wash your hands
    • wash your hands often with soap and water
    • dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares
    • use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Wear a mask – make sure you properly wear, fit, remove and clean your face covering or mask.  Wear a face covering or mask when you:
    • leave your house to see a health care provider
    • are within two metres of other people or where it may be difficult to maintain physical distancing (for example, in a grocery store)

Read the Government of Canada’s guidance on how to self-isolate if you have:

Guide: How to self-isolate


COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources:


Government Health Resources:

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