Whenever the assessment centre at Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital confirms a new case of COVID-19, Jeff Powis and his colleagues pop the patient’s address into Google Maps and look for patterns.
In the middle of May, something jumped out at Dr. Powis, the hospital’s medical director of infection control. Nine newly positive patients lived in the same high-rise building in Crescent Town, an impoverished pocket of residential towers on the city’s east side.
Worried that more transmission was happening below the radar, the hospital and its local partners in Crescent Town set up a mobile clinic, tested 410 people in eight days and found seven cases of COVID-19 that might otherwise have gone undetected.
“Our motivation was to get in there and go hunt it down,” Dr. Powis said, “rather than waiting for it to come to us.”
Taking testing directly to the communities likeliest to be hit with coronavirus outbreaks is the next phase in the battle against COVID-19, especially in the Greater Toronto Area, where daily case counts have stubbornly refused to drop.