Dozens of Toronto neighbourhoods are currently COVID-19 free for the first time in months, according to data released by the city.
The latest data covering roughly 140 Toronto neighbourhoods shows 31 of these communities are reporting zero cases of the novel coronavirus.
Some neighbourhoods that are reporting no new cases are official COVID-19 hot spots, including Scarborough Village, Morningside, Thorncliffe Park and several others.
Ahmed Hussein, the CEO of The Neighbourhood Organization in Thorncliffe, told CTV News Toronto that his community has worked very hard to get where they are today.
Many of the communities in Toronto hot spots once perceived as “vaccine hesitant,” including Thorncliffe Park, showed up in masses to vaccination centres and pop-ups with people waiting hours to get their shot.
“This is good news for the work that we have done,” Hussein told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday, adding that mobile testing, bringing vaccines to people and appointing community ambassadors have played a major part in the success.
“The ambassadors live in the community, the same buildings, speak the language of the community and know people who are able to talk to people and have that conversation [about vaccines],” Hussein said.
“We worked hard to reduce the numbers of cases and also increase the vaccine uptake. We worked toward a goal that we provide information to the community.”
Many people in hot spot communities are essential workers who disproportionately bear the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working front-line jobs throughout the pandemic, coupled with a lack of support from governments, residents in these areas became more vulnerable to contracting the disease.
Since the pandemic started, COVID-19 rates in hot spots were striking. Thorncliffe Park logged 9,617 cases per 100,000 people, Scarborough Village logged 11,068 cases per 100,000 people and Morningside logged 8,445 cases per 100,000 people.
In comparison, in more wealthy neighbourhoods, which got a head start on vaccinations and where many people worked from home, the case counts were much lower.
Forest Hill, which currently has nine cases, saw 2,246 cases per 100,000 people over the course of the pandemic and Lawrence Park South, another wealthy Toronto neighbourhood, saw 2,075 cases per 100,000 people and currently has no new cases.
In response to the disparity, health officials and community members are continuing to target hot spot regions in Toronto to increase vaccination rates.
“It is enormously, enormously satisfying to be able to report figures like these to you,” Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said.
“I’m also sure there are many people who want to get vaccinated but can barely get everything else done in a day, who struggle to get vaccines close to home”
Hussein said the neighbourhoods his organization is supporting are not giving up their fight.
“This is the time now that you really have to do it in small groups, mobile teams, because this final group is the hard to reach people,” he said. “We have been successful in doing that and we want to enhance that.
“We won’t stop till everyone who is eligible for vaccine gets one.”